Rodgers and Kewell can transform Celtic’s wingers

One of the major highlights that I was delighted to read about following the official announcement that Brendan Rodgers will return to Paradise as manager of the football club again, is that we have managed to retain the services of key backroom staff members.

Photo by Stuart Wallace/BPI/S

John Kennedy of course, whom Rodgers wanted desperately to stay in situ before his arrival through the famous Parkhead gates once again, will be sticking around as his trusted lieutenant and number two in all matters relating to the first-team. Gavin Strachan is another who will be retained for Rodgers’ second tenure in charge of the Scottish Premiership Champions and he will be equally as handy to the new boss as Kennedy.

Kennedy and Strachan already have that continuity aspect running through the club and will be able to help Rodgers in terms of identifying where we need to develop and get better and also the personalities that inhabit Lennoxtown at this current moment in time. The human aspect will be essential moving forward as Rodgers’ man-management is a key feature of his fantastic coaching skills.

Celtic’s Australian coach Harry Kewell leads a training session at Lennoxtown. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

More than most though, I was delighted that we will be keeping hold of Ange’s countryman and one who I was certain would be heading for the exit door with the former Yokohama F. Marinos man, Harry Kewell. Kewell’s addition to the club and backroom staff this time last summer was a nice adrenaline booster and it freshened things up a bit too, as he inherited John Kennedy and Gavin Strachan. A change is as good as a rest as they say.

However, more crucially, it’s Kewell’s dedication and work with our wingers that I’m most excited about as we head into this close-season with Brendan Rodgers as manager once more. Kewell has definitely improved Daizen Maeda’s game since he joined the Hoops’ coaching staff and there will be plenty more work to do this summer and next season as he looks to develop even more and add some more finesse to that terrific engine and cheetah-like pace.

Moreover, the return of Mikey Johnston to the club after his much needed spell away in a different environment at Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal could prove to be significant. Rodgers had tremendous faith in Mikey and introduced him to the first-team during his last spell as manager. Sure, young Mikey has suffered from a lack of confidence and form – not helped of course by injuries – but working with both Kewell and Rodgers could really be the catalyst to make him a proper Celtic player this time.

Hibernian v Celtic – cinch Premiership – Easter Road Celtic s Rocco Vata right and Hibernian s Elie Youan battle for the ball. Photo Malcolm Mackenzie

Then there’s the young Irishman, Rocco Vata, who was given little tasters here and there under Ange in a Celtic first-team. He is still very raw but the potential is clearly there and you can see it shining through every time he has a little cameo appearance in the side. Hopefully Rodgers and Kewell can turn him into our own Harvey Barnes, following the success Rodgers had with the young Englishman at Leicester City.

Exciting times lie ahead for our wingers, that’s for sure!

Paul Gillespie

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email

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