Exclusive – Pat Nevin on Postecoglou, Rodgers and Clement

If you told Celtic fans at the start of last season that Brendan Rodgers would be back at the helm, you’d have been laughed out of Paradise…

Brendan Rodgers. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Or if you stopped to think for a minute who could possibly replace Ange Postecoglou, who was incredibly successful as Celtic manager and hugely popular with the Celtic support, then you’d have struggled to come up with a suitable candidate.

After Rodgers controversial switch to Leicester City from Celtic in 2019, fans vowed to never trust him again. Thankfully, when he returned to the club in 2023 after the departure of Ange Postecoglou, most fans left their anger at the door and welcomed the gaffer back to Glasgow with a lukewarm welcome.

The former Scotland international winger and one-time Celtic supporter, Pat Nevin has been considering the start that Rodgers has made since his return and reckons that it’s been up-to-standard.

Speaking exclusively to  Jessica Elliott from The Celtic Star today, in an interview conducted on behalf of OCB Scores, Nevin outlined his thoughts on the first six months of Brendan’s second spell as Celtic manager and the comparison with Ange Postecoglou: “If I could use a golfing analogy, I would say par. Certainly not under par, clearly not over par. Just par.

“Purely because the feeling Ange brought to the club, to the fans, the fact that there was such an incredible connection between the fanbase and the manager. Ange saw Celtic fans the way Celtic fans see themselves. You know, scoring an early goal but pressing on regardless, don’t care, we want to attack, kind of football. It’s hard because you’re comparing it to Ange.

Brendan Rodgers – Media conference at Celtic Park on October 3, 2023 on the eve of their UEFA Champions League  match against Lazio. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

“Obviously not winning the first cup and not having a great time in Europe isn’t great and had the game against (the)Rangers been lost I think there’s a totally different narrative, but that game was won so at the moment, par, but he’s got to win the league.”

Speaking on how Celtic can kick on and get the league secured, Nevin said: “I’m intrigued to see if Brendan is given enough rope. If he is allowed to make the changes he wants, not just in personnel, but team style as well.

“We forget that Ange’s style was incredible. When he’s going down to England, people are going “wow, isn’t this amazing”. It’s hard to keep that up and if that isn’t your preferred style, you need to bring in your own and I think that’s what Brendan needs.

“I know some Celtic fans will never forgive him for leaving the way he did but he certainly deserves the rest of this season and the start of next season to see what it looks like he’s building. He’s got a history at the club where he wins trophies, so Brendan deserves a little bit of time. Saying that, I still expect him to win trophies between now and the end of the season.”

Of course, Celtic aren’t the only one with a new manager, as our title rivals have also got a new man in charge.

Philippe Clement was appointed as the manager of theRangers in October 2023 after Mick Beale was shown the door. Since the Belgian’s arrival, they’ve managed to win the League Cup and guide the team to the Europa League last 16. The bounce wasn’t enough to overcome the Hoops though, as theRangers lost 2-1 at Celtic Park in a game that saw Celtic remain clear at the top of the league and in the driving seat.

“Calm doon Big Man, it wis AFFSIDE”

So on the subject of a possible title challenge from theRangers, Nevin said: “Everywhere on the field, I actually think they’ve improved. Look at their defence, the stats are really good under Clement. They are a much more organised side, midfield and back, but the problem is up front when you come up against quality.

“They did well in Europe, qualified top of their group in the Europa League, but they need to ask that question of if they can score goals against the best teams. And when I say the best teams, when you’re away from home in the Scottish Premiership you’ve got to be able to stand up to it, but more importantly, it’s against Celtic.

“Now, maybe more so than the past, it’s about those games. If you manage to win all of them or not lose any of them, there’s a chance you’ll win the league if you’re Celtic or (the)Rangers. I think that’s where the question is just now, and we’ll wait to see if their new striker will be good enough.”

If (the)Rangers win their two games in hand, they will still sit two points behind Celtic after losing in the Glasgow Derby. They fell to defeat in a friendly against Hertha Berlin on Saturday, with Clement being shown a red card after complaining about a decision made by the referee Complaining about decisions… Some things never change, eh? Clement’s reaction to the offside penalty claim at Celtic was massively over the top, given that he was well aware that the offside would have been given. This all starts to suggest that the pressure is building on the big Belgian.

Celtic return to Scottish Premiership action on Saturday, 27 January when the Bhoys take on Ross County at Celtic Park. Before that it’s Buckie Thistle this Sunday in the Scottish Cup. Brendan Rodgers will be looking to win both competitions and by then he might just find himself well under par with the Celtic support.

Jessica Elliott

Wikipedia: Patrick Kevin Francis Michael Nevin (born 6 September 1963) is a Scottish former professional footballer who played as a winger. In a 20-year career, he appeared for Clyde, Chelsea, Everton, Tranmere Rovers, Kilmarnock and Motherwell. He won 28 caps for Scotland, scattered across a ten-year international career, and was selected for the UEFA Euro 1992 finals squad.  Since retiring as a player, Nevin has worked as a chief executive of Motherwell and as a football writer and broadcaster.


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I'm a student journalist and Celtic supporter. I'm delighted to have been recently appointed women's football writer for The Celtic Star, where the coverage of the Celtic FC Women's team has been incredible and unrivalled over the past three seasons.

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