As I set off for Easter Road, I never once thought of Brendan Rodgers. Sitting in the North Stand the previous weekend watching Celtic fail to beat a stubborn Livingstone, I never once thought of Brendan Rodgers. Going about my daily business, unless his name is brought up on the radio or I’m watching Match of the Day, I never think of Brendan Rodgers.
This has been a surprising volte-face for me as for the immediate days after he chucked us for Leicester City, all I could think of was Brendan, Bloody, Rodgers. I was consumed by his treacherous act, engulfed with hate for him and annoyed at myself for falling hook, line and sinker for his ‘Cut me, I bleed Green and White’ act.
But now – nothing. He is an irrelevance. Rodgers may have given me some of the greatest moments in my life watching Celtic, but his legacy is spoiled beyond repair. If we do manage to make the 10, he will obviously be a part of it, but I cannot look back at those two-plus years of his stewardship with any fondness. All those wonderful trebles, the Invincible season, the complete domination over the Ibrox club, all sullied.
I’ve got recordings of all the trouncing of Sevco which I used to watch regularly but now I can’t be bothered. In my mind, I know I should focus on the fact it was the players who won the tackles, scored the goals and won the medals, but I cannot seem to extirpate that snake-oil salesman from my memory. I could take defeats under Brendan, I could put up with the humiliations in Europe under Brendan and even if he hadn’t managed to reach the Holy Grail, I could forgive that too, but this? This was Brendan ‘Fredo’ Rodgers plotting against the Celtic Family. He broke my heart; he broke all our hearts.
How did he do it? How did he get away with fooling us all for so long? Well, I suppose it helped that he delivered every trophy that he set out to win. We had nothing to complain about, nothing to question, no sign of lack of commitment on his part. When you’re dazzled by the shine from a never ending conveyor belt of trophies, it’s hard to make out a runaway train, until it’s too damn late.
The similitude to the David Murray Years at Ibrox is not lost on me, although there was over a decade of evidence against the former Rangers owner. Nah, I’m not going to compare the Celtic support to the gullible fans of the deid club.
The truth is, there was no obvious signs that Rodgers did not love the club and that his commitment to achieving the 10 was absolute. He said as much in more than a few interviews and he certainly wasn’t shy in raising his palms in the 10 motion. Granted, with the white teeth, all-year tan and Brent-esque quotes, there may have been a degree of conceitedness and even falseness about his character, but it’s making some leap to imagine that a man who sometimes acts like a prat, is one day going to f**k off halfway through a season, while on the brink of a mind-blowing Treble-Treble, and to a mid-table EPL club, at that. I mean, didn’t he work with dyed-in-the-wool Celtic hero Tommy Burns and promised that as long as he was in charge, Danny McGrain would have a job for life?
Of course, near the end of his time at Celtic there was the Dembele issue, when the Frenchman complained that Rodgers had went back on his word regarding his transfer but who was really going to take the side of a troublesome foreigner over someone who claimed to have such an emotional attachment to the club? Pas moi! I suppose the one flag that could have been raised was when he abruptly left Watford to hook up with Reading after days previously talking of “loyalty” and “integrity” and dismissing rumours linking him with the club. Mmm? But after all the verbose and verbiage from our Brendan, what Celtic fan is going to trawl away back to 2009 and consider that one day he might do the same to us? Managers leave clubs all the time to better themselves but hadn’t he arrived at his destiny to take over “One of the greatest in clubs in the world …”
But leave he did and what’s more galling is that he seems completely nonplussed about the whole carnage he’s left back in the East End of Glasgow. That he declared that one day he would like to return to Dear Old Paradise and is convinced he will be welcomed back, is frankly worrying. Surely even narcissists have a modicum of self-awareness. Seems this live one, doesn’t.
Time to go all Michael Caine: ‘And all you had to do was finish the bloody season off!’ It wasn’t much to ask? Was it? Grit those pearly-whites, help us over the line and go with our blessing.
From reports, Leicester seemed fine with such an arrangement but Rodgers couldn’t wait to blow the bloody Parkhead doors off and high tail it down to the King Power Stadium. And in one final act of treachery, that would do justice to any Shakespearean villain, he tried to pinch the bulk of our backroom staff. It’s almost like in the final days, he hated us. Fair enough, there was undoubtedly major issues in his relationship with Peter Lawwell and it looked very much like players who he had no knowledge of were been foisted on him, but if he was as big a Celtic man as he repeatedly claimed, a couple of months of biting your lip should not have been that difficult to do. Especially, when the reward was so great – a chance to be revered as one of Celtic’s greatest ever managers.
And let’s be honest here, he was well on the way to achieving just that. In normal circumstances, this would be the ideal juncture to detail Rodgers’ triumphs and failures, wax lyrical about his superb coaching abilities and his undoubted talent in developing players, but I’m not going to. I can’t be arsed. Frankly, he doesn’t deserve it. This is a rant and like every Celtic fan, I think I’ve got the right to vent my spleen without having to be all controlled and reasonable. The one thing I will say, and unsurprisingly it’s a negative, is that his record in Europe was abysmal. Wait, I can do better than that – it was f**king diabolical and embarrassing. 7-0 and 7-1 capitulations is something I won’t miss from the Rodgers’ era.
So now, as I’m about to set off to see Celtic once again, I’m not thinking of Brendan Rodgers. Despite the venomous nature of the article seeming to contradict that statement, I can assure you my only thoughts now are for the team he abandoned and the real Celtic man who stepped into the breach, Neil Lennon. Because football moves on so quickly and with a title and a Treble-Treble to win the new Leicester manager has become merely a footnote in Celtic’s illustrious history. For a man with such a colossal ego, it wasn’t quite the epitaph he would have been hoping for. Shame that!
John Molloy has had a love affair with Celtic since he first heard the cries of “Cel-tic, Cel-tic” from his house in Toryglen. John’s first experience of Celtic Park was in a 1980 ECWC Q1 match against Diosgyor Miskolc and the game had such a profound effect on him, that he describes the first time he peered across a floodlit Paradise as similar to a religious experience. As a committed devotee of the Celtic cult, John is a season ticket holder, shareholder and owner of a Larsson bobblehead.