21 Aug The Brendan Rodgers factor
Can anyone stop the Rodgers revolution? by Peter Martin
If Brendan Rodgers sticks it out until 2020 in Glasgow, Celtic will be celebrating ten in a row.
I’m watching a side evolving from the ponderous and clueless Ronny Deila era to a slick European passing outfit under the Northern Irishman.
Rodgers is walking on water at the minute, his words lapped up as if he was delivering a sermon on the mount to his religious followers.
The manager has an ethos, a game-plan and a strategy that his first eleven understand and equally his second eleven seem to as well after a comfortable win over Kilmarnock on Saturday.
This is 52 and counting for Rodgers’ side domestically and I believe only Aberdeen at the tail end of October stand an outside chance at Pittodrie of halting this juggernaut’s unbeaten run.
Players that were considered surplus to requirements over a year ago have been revitalised under the manager. New players have slotted in to the system with ease and, rather ominously, there are more new faces on the way to try and satisfy the manager’s desire for group stages and beyond in Europe.
The stats on the park are impressive for Celtic; the financial figures off it are even more so. If you add the half term £18m profit from last season, the additional payments from Uefa in the second term and winning the league, the kitty is healthy.
Throw in the season ticket money from this season, the sale of players, the £30m on the way from Champions league involvement and the possible bonus from Virgil van Dijk’s sell on and you have a club out of sight financially in Scotland.
There are no slackers and no excuses tolerated by the manager. I am reliably informed, he does not suffer a drop in standards from anyone. The smile and friendly manner for public viewing is in stark contrast to anyone who upsets him on a training field.
I’ve watched many a Celtic side go gung-ho for the first twenty minutes of a match to try and break down the opposition, not Celtic under Rodgers. The plan is possession, probe, left to right, probe, possession, probe and then in behind for a scoring opportunity. It’s like a relentless knocking on the door until eventually it caves in.
Patrick Roberts, one centre-half in, one out and another striker purchased should just about complete the shopping list for the manager in this window.
If Rodgers gets the calibre he’s looking for, I don’t see anyone handing out a 7-0 trouncing to his team in the group stages this season.
It will be interesting to see what lessons Celtic have learned from last season to take into this season’s group stages. The draw will be eagerly anticipated, with most Celtic supporters praying for a trip to Real Madrid and throw in Liverpool for good measure!
All this positivity around Celtic is good for Celtic, but not good news for Rangers. A successful Celtic usually means a Rangers manager loses his job. Warburton’s ‘Predictables’ have been replaced by Caixinha’s ‘Transitionals’. There is only so much time afforded to a manager’s philosophy before fans start passing judgement on the reality.
If Rangers slip any further behind Celtic before their first clash in September, I fear Pedro could be out by October!
The only way Celtic will be stopped this season and beyond is if a billionaire Chinese loyalist pops up declaring his love for Rangers and pumps millions into the team.
Other than that, Brendan Rodgers heading back to the Premier league in England ahead of time could offer a glimmer of hope to Rangers and others, but I wouldn’t bet on it.