Rodgers restructuring Celtic with added Champions League ambitious

I’m not so sure about awarding Brendan Rodgers the elite manager tag, as it only really applies to his time Scottish football.

The elite manager tag, I believe goes to managers that can showcase their talents upon the biggest stage of European football within the Champions League.

So Brendan Rodgers has got someway to go yet, for such an elite manager tag can be applied to himself, or of course it can be applied if we are going to stick to referencing domestic football only.

I was in favour of Brendan Rodgers returning, as I actually thought he could change and improve the structure within the club, at all levels. Change takes time to be achieved, and I actually believe Rodgers has done better in that regards last season, more so than the actual success he eventually achieved winning a league and Scottish Cup double.

There’s no doubts about it, last summer Rodgers actually took on a far bigger job than he first thought and I reckon he still has some way to go before he gets the club closer to the way he wants it.

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I believe Rodgers is trying to change that mindset within our club, with focus really starting to turn to the bigger picture of Champions League football, something that Ange Postecoglou also talked about during his first year but strangely not so much in his second season as Celtic manager.

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou reacts during the UEFA Champions League group F match between Celtic FC and Real Madrid at Celtic Park on September 06, 2022. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

I would say, it still remains Brendan’s biggest ambition for our club, and as yet he hasn’t been able to make his mark at that level.

What tends to go unnoticed for Celtic, is the impact the eight homegrown rule has, especially when you consider that it takes up a third of our squad places available in the Champions League. For example, just how many teams next season within the CL, actually struggle to comply with that rule, in making up that quota within their squads, in the manner that we have continued to do so, for so long?

Ange had no interest whatsoever, as was confirmed by the game time, he gave to our Scottish players in general.

Celtic v Motherwell – Rocco Vata during the Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Saturday April 22, 2023. Photo Steve Welsh

Rodgers has identified a huge problem within our club, and has already made significant strides in trying to resolve the problem. Yet it’s looking like it might be unsuccessful in regards of Rocco Vata, but I still believe that he is being badly advised, and maybe an attitude of thinking he’s already better than he really is. Watford ahead of Celtic is an interesting choice to say the least, but it’s Rocco’s career and he has to do what is right for him.

Possibly he’s not a youngster that Brendan Rodgers is prepared to waste his time on, given his reluctance to sign the multiple contract offers he’s reportedly been offered by the club. Maybe in that instance it’s better for both parties to go their separate ways with no hard feelings.

Returning to the main point, it hasn’t been plain sailing for Rodgers in his first season back at Celtic. The overall squad needed restructuring to a greater extent than he first imagined. We saw last season just how important it remains to have squad depth in place, to tackle injuries and putting rotation plans in place, to keep a squad fresh for the back end of the season, when the trophies are handed out.

It worked out well in the end last season, even if it wasn’t the way that Rodgers had planned and wanted it to play out. Rodgers also had to struggle to achieve forgiveness from sections of the support, for leaving or being pushed out of the club the first around. He has achieved that and it;s now a non-issue going forward.

Personally didn’t bother me, but like many I questioned his playing style and tactical approach taken at times with my biggest gripe being the failure on too many occasions to get established treble winning players to actually preform to the levels, we know that they were capable of.

Brendan got that right in the end, when it matter most but I believe that was more down to Rodgers changing his approach to the adjustments he was trying to introduce, that were struggling to be applied and delivered within games.

I can’t vision seeing that being an aspect of concern next season, with so many players, far more use to Rodgers methods now and the transition from Postecoglou’s unique style of gunho football being replaced by the more measured approach Rodgers favours.

Brendan is also in a much better position now to identify the type of players he wants to fit into the overall structure of the squad, far better than where we where last summer.

I believe Rodgers is only getting started on the overall structure of changes within our club, that when eventually completed will have ourselves in a much stronger position. That would mean that guaranteed success still has to be achieved within Scottish football, and keeping that elite manager intact in domestic football at least.

Yet he still has the ambition to increase that elite manager tag, by implying and growing that within the biggest stage of the Champions League also. I would like to think that the board actually share the same vision as Brendan Rodgers, or will keeping the Rangers relevant take preference as it has done in the past?

I believe the majority of our support, do share the manager’s vision now, and I hope that the board will follow suit, but you can never be overly confident that they will fund the signings that will be necessary.

Rodgers still has a fair amount of pressure with his job, which always applies at a big club with huge demands. And that is going to become more relevant over the summer with incoming players and the impact they will have upon the team and within our overall squad.

There’s still some amount of work to be done yet, and the time factor is starting to become of greater concern for the support. I’m expecting for all the work to be completed over this summer, in changing the overall structure of the squad totally completed, but still expect our squad to have a far stronger overall look about it, than last season all the same.

I’m really looking forward to the challenges ahead within the Champions League next season, especially with the new format possibly suiting ourselves far better. The overall squad will have to be far stronger, to match the increasing demands also within games.

There won’t be any real easy periods involved next season, especially if you consider how these Champions League games are going to impact upon Scottish Premiership matches, as no longer do we operate in a game where the same individual players can be expected to play nearly every minute of every game.

Celtic v St Mirren – Santa Claus carries the trophy to the pitch after the Premiership match at Celtic Park, on Saturday May 18, 2024. If you know, you know. Photo Andrew Milligan

I would like to think that the elite manager tag can be applied more freely regarding Rodgers next season, and getting far more success at Champions League level. But I’m only a supporter of the club, that involves supporting decisions that might not be to my own liking, and Brendan Rodgers can certainly help to make the whole process involved far easier for ourselves.

That’s what a real elite manager is capable of doing for a club, and nothing to suggest that Rodgers can’t achieve his ambition with Celtic this time around.


About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds 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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