The era of Ronny Deila at Celtic was uninspiring, to say the least despite two league titles, and while the board have taken a huge amount of flak over the years Brendan Rodgers’ appointment as Celtic manager has brought excitement to Celtic and Scottish football.
If you needed any proof of the excitement you can only turn to the newspapers on Saturday morning which focused on Brendan Rodgers’ appointments and downgraded that day’s Scottish Cup Final inside – before all the trouble ensued.
While Scottish football was still coming to terms with the disgraceful scenes on Saturday at Hampden Park between Hibernian and Rangers fans – around 10,000 Celtic fans streamed into Parkhead on Monday evening to welcome their new manager.
That in itself is a clear sign of the masterstroke that the Celtic hierarchy have pulled off. Rodgers’ unveiling as Celtic manager drew bigger crowds at the stadium than Martin O’Neill, Neil Lennon, Robbie Keane and others have brought – that is how big this signing is for Celtic.
It was standing room only at his press conference also as journalists packed into the media room to heard what the Northern Irishman had to say – not many managerial appointments in Scottish football have that level of interest.
Celtic fans of every age welcomed Rodgers as he walked out of the tunnel, they sang his name, they sang Celtic songs and they cheered as he held his scarf aloft beside the Premiership trophy on the pitch in front of a crowd that most Scottish clubs can only dream of.
While his comment about Celtic not being a step down from the English Premier League is pure PR rhetoric, being from a Celtic-minded family, Rodgers knows how big the club is – not only in Scotland and the rest of the UK but also worldwide – and his passion for the job oozed out of him when he spoke to the press and the crowd inside Celtic Park.
His entrance to the club in front of so many fans was ‘mental’ [in the words of the man himself]he now has a lot to live up to. He follows in the footsteps of the greats and the not so greats – but he starts with a blank canvas and must prove himself worthy of the Celtic job and the fans adulation.
He must deliver another league title, champions League group stage football and above all he must wipe the floor of those who think they have a good given right to their place in the top flight because of who they are rather than what they do on the pitch. But above all he must bring back entertaining and attacking football to Parkhead which will attract the fans back and drive season ticket sales up.
Rodgers’ first job at the club is to look at the 31-man squad and trim it down to what he prefers to work with ‘a tighter squad’ – of around two players per position and three goalkeepers. While the fans know who they want to leave the club, Rodgers will give every player a chance to prove himself before deciding their future at the club – but he has to do this quickly and prepare his new look squad [with some new additions]for his second job, Celtic’s first Champions League qualifier on the 12th/13th July.
A new revolution has started at Celtic and while Scottish football focuses on the hooliganism from two sets of supporters on Saturday, Celtic fans can look back at this weekend with excitement and delight that they have bagged a manager worthy of the stature of the club.
Now his job starts and he must deliver what the club wants, what he wants and above all what the fans want. Success on all fronts.