Welcome to Paradise, Brendan

Back in May 2012 I began this blog as a personal pastime. I had contributed to a few other Celtic websites before and after this, but I decided to go it alone.

Celtic had won the SPL and the landscape of Scottish Football was in the middle of a saga. To escape said saga, I wrote about two football managers ascending in the game south of the border.

Brendan Rodgers and Paul Lambert had each taken ‘bigger’ jobs within a day of each other. Their stock was on the rise so Liverpool came swooping in to take Rodgers from Swansea and Villa took Lambert from Norwich.

They had both managed to survive their promotion seasons with their Championship clubs finishing. They even finished next to each other on the same points separated purely by goal difference.

Despite having a similar path and success with each of those Championship clubs, it was not so fortunate following their moves. Neither achieved the goal of winning trophies and both were sacked, albeit in different seasons.

One of those men I have retained my admiration for. The other, not so much.

And whad’ya know? That man, Brendan Rodgers, is now in the Celtic hot seat.

Now, play this down all you like. This is by no means a minor appointment – it’s a bit of a coup!

In the days and weeks leading up to this announcement, there have been a several favourites. Getting Rodgers was seen as impossible.

The fact that he has signed on speaks volumes about Celtic’s ambitions. It is also a credit to the new manager and his interest in this club.

Celtic and Rodgers are in a similar place right now. The club require upgrading for Europe, a voice in the dressing room and a plan on match days.

The new head coach needs a club to repair his managerial wounds and a platform to rebuild his reputation. This could be the beginning of something beautiful for both parties.

As I said to a couple of friends, Rodgers should be aiming for somewhere on the scale between Gordon Strachan (WGS) and Martin O’Neill (MON). That means bums on seats, Champions League football and entertaining the fans again.

Now before someone bashes me and points out the differences between the two previous Celtic managers, let me explain something. We had no idea what MON would do but it changed the club forever.

WGS took things one step further in the Champions League. What Rodgers needs to do is pin the tail on the donkey somewhere between those two men and make his own story.

I think he is the man to take Celtic forward right now and I’m confident in his ability. He may well emerge as a man we cannot retain the services of further down the line, but right now Rodgers can do a job at Celtic and that is why Dermot Desmond has made this happen.

Like him or loathe him, we’ve snared a guy who two seasons ago was out of our league. Since being sacked by Liverpool, he has become more attainable.

To ensure his signature though, Celtic have had to invest. That means settling financial terms, projecting expectations and demonstrating what you are offering to make that happen.

In Scotland, money will always be the Achilles heel of the game. There isn’t the customer base, stadia or media that can flog this league to the outside world nor is there a significant TV deal.

So for Celtic to draw in Rodgers is quite something. Whatever terms he is on, Brendan is here and I am hopeful he will bring success to Celtic Park.

The club need someone to man manage, lead, make effective decisions and with any luck get the best out of this group of players we have accrued over a few seasons. It isn’t an easy task, particularly with sort of attention this job comes with and the limited resources to do it with but that is why Celtic have had to aim higher.

Celtic have significantly more funding than the rest of Scottish clubs. It isn’t nearly as much as some of these clubs in Europe though.

Still, Celtic have exited Europe against teams with smaller finances recently so it isn’t just about the money. This is about motivation, tactics, team selection and recruitment.

It is worth mentioning that of all the men mentioned for this role, Rodgers is by far the outstanding candidate. Furthermore, he was the man fans felt least likely to accept an offer given his growth in the game.

There aren’t too many men out there to have managed two of the world’s greatest clubs. Whilst Liverpool wasn’t an overwhelming success, Brendan came very close to winning the Premier League.

Celtic have shown their intent here and the timing is perfect. It isn’t even June and we’ve installed a big name.

Roy Keane was said to have turned the job down two years ago due to lack of transfer funds. If there is more on offer this time it is evident that whilst he may have been more interested this time around, he wasn’t number one choice as he was in 2014.

Does Brendan have the qualities we desire? I think so.

Can he do great things? We’ll find out.

Was there a better, more viable candidate out there? Not in my opinion.

So we are in for an interesting journey. I’ll say it again, I think this could be the best appointment since MON.

Welcome to Paradise, Brendan.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

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Just a coincidence?

If Paul Lambert’s Blackburn Rovers exit this summer is purely a coincidence then we can ignore the bookies odds shifting David Moyes off top spot for the Celtic job. Given that it could be too much of a coincidence though, we should perhaps prepare ourselves for what is coming.

Lambert was a fans favourite during his eight years at Celtic as a player. He was certainly one of the best midfielders ever to play at the club in recent years so bookmark that thought for later.

On the management front he has rarely spent much time at any one club. His CV represents a man wishing to progress without sticking around for too long.

In 2005 his first role was at Livingston and of course came with zero managerial experience. Livi were not a big club but they were still playing in the top flight in Scotland.

That tenure was short lasting just nine months and if I am being honest, a job he should never have got. A few months on, he was installed at League Two side Wycombe Wanderers where he would have a decent innings in a spell lasting less than two years.

After a failure to progress in the playoffs with Wycombe, Lambert was off again in 2008. Later that same year, he took up the job at Colchester United in League One.

Whilst not achieving any success in yet another period of less than a year in charge, he did manage to beat his next employers. After defeating Norwich City 7-1 in the beginning of the 2009-2010 season, he was appointed as their manager.

At last, Lambert was looking like sticking around at a club rather than pursuing the fast track management career path. He managed back to back promotions from League one to the Championship and then onto the Premier League.

Having acheived that and surviving in the top flight in his first season, his stock was high. Then Aston Villa came knocking and probably for the first time in his managerial career he made a poor choice.

Lambert was doing a a fine job at Norwich but he decided to jump ship once more. Perhaps he thought he wouldn’t survive a second season with Norwich and had a better chance with Villa?

No matter, he was lured with relative ease. Villa were a bigger club, no doubts there, but they had their faults.

For many this was a poison chalice. Ownership had changed hands in recent years and fans were still concerned about the club’s progress.

In his third season at Villa and with no real progress, he and the club parted ways. In many respects this was an accident waiting to happen.

Up until Norwich City, Lambert had been progressing through the leagues without any real success. Every job had been a stepping stone to the next.

That career arc is not uncommon but when you strike something good as he did with Norwich City he should have held on to it. Aston Villa was never a good move.

Having exited the West Midlands club in early 2015, he was out of the game for several months. Then Blackburn Rovers came calling later that year and Lambert answered the call.

Personally, I felt this might be a good move to get his managerial career back online again. However, having just activated a release clause in his contract after less than a year in charge, Lambert is on the move once more.

With Celtic in the hunt for a new manager, Lambert being a former player and a fans favourite it is hard to ignore the obvious. Is this purely a coincidence though or are we looking at Celtic’s next managerial appointment?

A few years ago I had no problem with Lambert’s credentials but when he moved to Villa I had my doubts. That transpired to be a major error and I would be concerned about his loyalty and application at Celtic given his managerial CV particularly when playing down managing in Scotland in the past.

So if the club are serious about him, is it based upon his playing career and affcetion with the fans more than his managerial one? I’d have a player like Lambert in my team any day of the week but as a manager, I’m not so certain but I would not put it past the club to pull this kind if stunt again.

As of now, my preferred candidates are David Moyes, Michael O’Neill and Brendan Rodgers. In no particular order it has to be said.

These are guys of the stature the club need to be aiming for. Whether we are ambitious enough to procure any of their services we will soon find out.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac