Celtic with the appointment of Brendan Rodgers recently, may have decided to finally come out of the self-imposed hibernation they opted for with the demise of Glasgow Rangers some years back.
It was shortly before the much expected ‘liquidation’ of Rangers that I was last in Glasgow. I had never been to Ibrox and was determined I would not have that failing on my football supporters CV should the famous stadium indeed become a TESCO store, with two pizzas for a pound. So, over I went in their final season in the SPL, not once but twice and duly got gobbed, not once but TWICE!! Gobbed in strictly footballing terms of course. Being over-night in a hotel on both occasions I over indulged and attended both games badly hung-over. Rangers duly administered the Glasga kiss and the jaggy bonnet and booted my taig Irish arse back home ‘tae think again’.
But at least I was finally able to say I had been to Ibrox. Impressive it certainly was. Two fantastic days out and to see that place erupt all around you like a delayed detonator after a goal was indeed a new experience, ‘sadly-depressingly’ incredible.
The Celtic fans cared not. For as the Larne contingent of the Rangers supporters who shook hands with me in congratulations on one of the mornings in the hotel lobby confirmed, Glasgow Celtic was already SPL champions. So it was with hand-shakes and smiles that the Rangers lads and ladies in their t-shirts ‘WE DON’T DO WALKING AWAY’ smiled over their shoulders at me when I advised them not to have too much fun. When Rangers won 3-2 and 4-2 on respective weekend trips the Bhoys continued to sing ‘yer Rangers til July-Rangers til July’.
Unsurprisingly there has been no fun for any of us since! Rangers fans have been filling Ibrox and subsequently milked out of £75 million to win the Scottish 3rd Division in a round of business scandals at Ibrox akin to vultures feeding off a dead carcass. But they are now back with a very decent manager and Celtic with a half empty stadium for some time (and a business plan that didn’t require Rangers indeed!) got a very savage wake-up call in the semi-final of the Scottish Cup when Rangers dumped them out. Rangers fans have to be on a high in spite of losing the final to Hibs. After 100 years of misery something had to give for the wee Hibs. Glasgow Celtic for its part now has a fan base depressed almost beyond hope at the club's deliberate lack of ambition over the last five deliberately wasted seasons. They are now waking up again slowly with the return of Rangers, with the departure of yes man Deila and the appointment of Brendan Rodgers.
The question is can Rodgers be his own man? I ask it myself as a supporter/fan of Celtic who refused to have my eye wiped like the Rangers fan base and was close to swapping haggis and ‘arite the noo Jimmy’ for vino tinto and tapas and ‘Ola amigo’ in Sevilla or Valencia with Ryanair flights so cheap. No footballing BREXIT for me!
So, is Brendan Rodgers the man to reawaken the passion and desire in Celtic? When Ronnie Deila was appointed from an unknown club with gates of under 6000 fans in spite of Henrik Larsen and Roy Keane being interested in the manger's position at Celtic I was long enough in the tooth to know that Celtic were effectively ‘liquidating’ all ambition themselves. No HMRC tax man would be required to inflict their demise. The Euros are fast approaching and once more footballers will have a stage upon which to display their talent and footballing skills. It will be another shop window for the players in the run up to a new domestic football season. Managers will also be under the spotlight and in recent weeks there has been some food for thought on the managerial front and some strange and morally questionable antics by clubs in their signing of managers. So as we await the upcoming football extravaganza it is perhaps worth taking a closer look at the football magic roundabout that would leave Dougal and Zebedee dizzy. It truly is a funny old game.
Deila was plying his trade at Stromsgodset. Aye, not a typo and no I’ve never heard of them before or since his appointment at Celtic myself either. His claim to fame was having ‘observed’ coaching at Ajax, Manchester City and Liverpool. Peter Lawwell declared Deila as the perfect fit for Celtic at the time. His CV boasted two under 21 caps for Norway and being a qualified school teacher. Oh yes, and here’s the rub Brendan, he was also a self-declared ‘yes-man’. Interview nailed. Thanks for your interest Roy and Henrik. See ya. In his defence Deila has since somewhat surprisingly been described as a Jurgen Klopp style manager in the making in a BBC Sport article on June 6th 2014 no less, an amazing claim to say the least. A claim that has to rank right up there with the dodgy dossier claims and those WMDs claims in the run up the Iraq invasion. It certainly creates a similar sense of shock and awe!
But managerial comparisons and links are nothing new. The man Mourinho has just replaced at Manchester United, LGV, was his (Mourinho) boss at Barcelona after Sir Bobby Robson had departed. Mourinho was in charge of the youth or second team and translator was his other official position at the club. Indeed in a further twist Brendan Rodgers was ‘spotted’ by Mourinho when he was at Chelsea and subsequently drafted into the club's backroom staff.
So on the jolly Magic Roundabout that is football management, Deila who oversaw the deliberate hibernation of Celtic in the absence of Rangers without as much as a murmur (it was in the contract) and who was incredibly likened to Klopp, is gone: sacked at Park Head. Brendan Rodgers who was Mourinho’s understudy and almost won the EPL for Liverpool with exciting attacking football which had even me hoping they would do it, only to fall short after that Stevie G-slip against Chelsea of all clubs, was also sacked some time ago by Liverpool and has now been appointed by post hibernation Celtic. Meanwhile the real Klopp, (not Deila) is enjoying a wonderful spell at Liverpool, Brendan’s old club.
The appointment of Mourinho at Manchester United was done under a very dark cloud of betrayal, where LVG is concerned. Certainly from a neutral perspective it left the club looking ruthless and shabby. The man’s pain at the hands of the UK media was only relieved by his abandonment by the Manchester United board. The arrival of the self-declared ‘Special’ one may not be the panacea the Manchester United fans dream of. He lost the Chelsea dressing room and needlessly took it out on a female Physiotherapist member of staff. His only saviour may be that for all the £250,000,000 LGV spent to lift the FA Cup, there are no recognisable huge names or egos in the united dressing room. So, he may have a chance there to reinstate his ‘special’ status. It will depend on whom he spends his allocated £250,000,000 on after the shop window event starting in France next week. First credential for signing for United will be a smaller ego than Jose’.
Brendan Rodgers, the ‘norn-iron’ bhoy on the other hand won’t have to worry about that type of dilemma falling onto his managerial desk at Celtic. Lawwell and Co. will be unlikely to release too much cash. The Celtic support will be waiting to see if Brendan can wrest some worthwhile transfer dosh from the tight fisted board to invest in some decent signings rather than the disgusting practice of deliberately buying key players from the SPL opposition and hogging the local market and spotlight. Hope springs eternal and an estimated 17,000 fans went to Paradise to welcome Brendan to the job. Personally I will be like the 30,000 odd who stayed at home on a regular basis and I’ll keep my powder dry for a while yet. Having experienced the Kelly and White era and the need for Fergus McCann’s intervention, I’ll not be getting too excited just yet. Tradition dies just as hard at Celtic as it does at Rangers. Skinflint is the MO. It will be an interesting summer in footballing terms in more ways than one.
After the Euros and the upcoming transfer sagas I will decide if it is haggis and the jaggy bonnet or the vino tinto and a sombrero for me. However, it really is hard to beat the Glasgow roar either at Ibrox or Paradise. I do love a ‘romantic weekend’ in Glasga where the motto racism in sport is unnecessary and indeed unheard of, coz we don’t do racism in Glasga, we do 90 minutes of sectarianism … and we do it exceptionally well!
It must be 6pm …. All aboard the Magic Roundabout!!