Graham Ruthven on a manager who's gone from a rolling contract to four year contract
Never one to overlook the importance of the team over the individual, Brendan Rodgers name checked every single Celtic employee in his programme notes on Saturday after the Hoops clinched the Scottish Premiership title last week.
Everyone from top goalscorer Moussa Dembele to majority shareholder Dermot Desmond to payroll manager Vanessa Clinton was mentioned.
But make no mistake, Rodgers deserves more credit than most for the success enjoyed by Celtic this season. They are on course to complete an historic campaign, already securing two parts of a somewhat inevitable Treble, with the Hoops still unbeaten in domestic competition since Rodgers took over in the summer.
Even in a league that is defined by the gap between the best and the rest, Celtic’s dominance this season is unprecedented, and it looks set to continue for quite some time to come with Rodgers putting pen to paper on a new four-year deal at the club last week. The former Liverpool boss feels at home in Glasgow, which is just as well considering he’s now contracted to stay there until 2021.
Celtic made a big deal of Rodgers’ new deal, cancelling the manager’s pre-match press conference and teasing a “major announcement” over the course of the day. They were more than justified in doing so, with the Northern Irishman’s decision to commit to the club in the long term a watershed moment, not just for the Hoops but for the Scottish game in general.
Under Rodgers Celtic are set for the greatest spell of dominance in Scottish football history. The only thing that can stop them isn’t Aberdeen, Rangers or any other rival, but Celtic themselves. Or rather, Rodgers. It’s difficult to envisage anyone toppling the Hoops with the Northern Irishman in charge such is the way he has revitalised every aspect of the club in less than a year. As long as he stays, Celtic will stay on top.
The symbolism of Rodgers’ contract renewal was blatant. 10 has become something of a mythical milestone in Scottish football, with both Celtic and Rangers only ever managing to rack up nine consecutive league titles over the course of their history.
But with six titles already notched and the competition unlikely to catch up any time soon Celtic are closer to 10 in a row than ever before. Everyone associated with the club knows it, including Rodgers who made a point of gesturing with 10 fingers to the Celtic support after the home win over Kilmarnock on Saturday. His new four-year deal will give him a run at reaching the milestone.
“It is a young squad, we have got some real good experience in there as well and over the course of four years that allows that group to develop and improve and I want to be a part of it,” Rodgers explained after signing on, citing the young, exciting squad at the club as a major factor behind his decision.
“Players will always look at the manager and see how long he is connected to the club. If I am committed to the club fully, hopefully that makes it a little bit easier for them to make that decision.”
Indeed, with Rodgers now committed to the club for the foreseeable future there is greater chance that many of his star players will now follow suit in doing the same. Dembele might prove difficult to keep hold of past the end of the season, with a host of Premier League clubs set to pick up their interest in the 20-year-old striker when the transfer window opens again this summer, but tying down the likes of Kieran Tierney and Stuart Armstrong among others may now be easier.
Celtic will most likely go the whole domestic season unbeaten, clinching a treble of trophies while maybe even setting a record points tally, but the most formidable thing about what Rodgers has achieved at the club is that would only represent a starting point. This Celtic team is capable of even better and under Rodgers they have the chance to prove it.