Some Celtic fans won’t acknowledge it but, the return of Rangers to the Premiership has suddenly re-ignited Dermot Desmond’s ambition and delivered a genuinely top drawer manager in Brendan Rodgers to the current Premiership champions.
The timing of the news was classic Jock Stein from Celtic’s boardroom, just enough time to move Rangers v Hibernian in the Scottish cup final to a sidebar of most back pages of the tabloid newspapers.
I was waiting to see the level of Celtic’s ambition with the appointment of a new manager to succeed the thoroughly uninspiring Ronny Deila.
The questions came thick and fast after the Norwegian’s departure. Will it be another boss easily controlled by board members? Will he solely decide on transfer policy? Can he deliver exciting, entertaining and, most importantly of all, winning football?
David Moyes was, for me, the only other credible contender, if the club were truly ambitious. The others would not have sold season tickets the way Rodgers will.
Let’s be brutal, Brendan Rodgers has won nothing on his CV. (Play-offs not applicable) The Liverpool story was one which almost delivered the ultimate prize but for a monumental collapse against Crystal Palace and a slip up against Chelsea that Steven Gerrard will take to his grave.
The Premier League eventually slipped from his grasp and the departure of one of the world’s best strikers, Luis Suarez, sealed his fate soon after.
However, that is all water under the bridge and invaluable experience as he embarks on a job that will test his calm demeanour to the full.
The remit is simple. Celtic in the group stages of the Champions League, punching above their weight and taking a few big scalps in a packed stadium filled with happy supporters singing you’ll never walk alone.
He’s well used to the tune from his Liverpool days but, he won’t be used to the 24/7 nature of this job. Conspiracy theories abound, from dodgy decisions to a Scottish mainstream media with an agenda.
He’ll get it all rammed down his throat but, he must rise above it and listen for the echoes of words he undoubtedly shared with Tommy Burns at Reading telling him what Celtic is all about.
I can see great similarities with the way Rodgers’ football teams play and Tommy’s Celtic side in the 90’s. Tommy Burns would have won many titles with Celtic had he been given the funds to match Rangers on an even playing field.
In a role reversal, Celtic will now face Rangers with a manager able to outspend the Ibrox club and replicate the style of play that Tam simply adored.
Having spoken to Celtic chairman Ian Bankier on the Celtic walkway just a couple of hours after the announcement, I get a real sense that the board haven’t been this excited about a manager since Martin O’Neill walked through the doors some 16 years ago.
Dermot Desmond deserves tremendous credit for this bold statement of intent.
The board were rightly criticised for hiring a man out of his depth in Ronny Deila, with a strategy that seemed scatter-brained at best from signings to style of play.
The defeat to Rangers in the Scottish cup final was the straw that broke the Camel’s back and probably Dermot’s golf club.
The gauntlet had been thrown down and the departing fans wanted a response. Act now for 10 in a row or start covering the empty seats with more flags on the top tier.
They now have the response they were craving.
Scottish football can’t match the riches of the Premier League in England but we have to work with what we have on offer.
The arrival of Rodgers at Celtic is a brilliant signing. Rangers have a thoroughly decent man in Mark Warburton with a team playing good football.
Aberdeen have a good manager in Derek McInnes and high hopes of a new stadium on the horizon and Hearts, guided by the impressive Ann Budge, have plans in place for a new stand to make Tynecastle one of the best stadiums for atmosphere in the country.
It all sets us up for an exciting season and hopes of a better future for our game.