When managers arrive at Celtic Football Club they nigh-on always deliver the same clichéd sound bites to the press regarding the size of our “massive club”, our “magnificent history” in the game, and of course, our “incredible fans”, who are regarded as “the best” or “one of the best” sets of supporters in world football (depending on how well they stick to the script).
These are usually spouted during the incumbent manager’s opening press conference, and whilst they are widely acknowledged as simply a buzzword checklist, they are welcomed as an indicator that the incoming coach at least understands the minimum of who Celtic are as a club.
This is what has come to be expected of incoming Celtic managers. No less, but certainly no more.
Our recently departed manager arrived in the East End of Glasgow with a different agenda. Sailing in on an all-engulfing sense of euphoria (myself very much included), Rodgers set about ensuring everybody in Scotland was aware of just how much of a “Celtic man” he was as he stood before thousands realising his “lifelong dream” of managing the club.
Every opportunity he had over the following two & a half years, Rodgers spewed out the same gushing sentiments about how “honoured” he was to be in such position.
Many managers and players have come and gone, with varying levels of success, at Celtic Football Club. Rodgers’ domestic achievements are unprecedented. Yet he departs the recipient of unanimous animosity unlike any figure I can remember in recent history. Are we simply bitter that an undeniably great manager has left us for someone else?
Of course not. Had Rodgers seen out the season, delivering his third and Celtic’s eighth title in a row (not forgetting a potential treble treble), he would have left with everyone’s blessing and with a legacy only rivalled by a select few legends of the club.
The relationship between manager and boardroom had clearly, and very publicly, become strained since the hangovers of the double treble celebrations started to kick in last July, and had Rodgers waited and walked in the summer the current anger would have been overwhelming directed in just one place.
As it goes, the man with his own portrait hanging on the wall at home, has taken all the attention away from the powers that be and dropped the spotlight firmly upon himself. Precisely how he likes it.
Rodgers has abandoned Celtic Football Club: the staff; the supporters; and tellingly “his” players, at the most vital stage of the season. All to join a middle of the road club with nothing left to play for this campaign back down in the glitz and glamour of the English Premier League.
The speed at which the appointment was finalised, alongside the certainty of the bookmakers odds of who would take over following Puel’s departure, indicate these discussions had been ongoing for a period of time. That it was a matter of when Rodgers would replace Puel, and not if.
If yesterday evening’s reports are to be believed Leicester were even willing to wait until the summer to get their man, whereas Rodgers himself pushed for an immediate move, taking with him his coaching team as well as almost the entire backroom staff that has been built up over recent seasons at the club. John Kennedy, Stevie Woods and Tim Williamson refraining from jumping ship, against Rodgers’ wishes.
With a playing squad soon to be depleted by short term loanees returning to their parent clubs and out of contract players departing for pastures new. Rodgers has not only left Celtic in the lurch regarding our immediate future, but has also drained us of any continuity in terms of the behind-the-scenes structure which has contributed to our incredible recent success.
For a man who constantly speaks of “class” in his approach, and of always aiming to do “things the right way”, Rodgers leaves behind a legacy of destruction for the benefit of personal (financial) gain, with his achievements tarnished.
The faux-gratitude towards Celtic and his perpetual pretence of a love for the club simply doesn’t wash anymore.
Just like the perma-tan and the sparkling veneers, beneath the facade, the true colours masked by deceit, alas shine through.
The “lifelong fan” who had never stepped foot inside Celtic Park before being appointed as manager, should never be allowed back through the doors again.