BRENDAN RODGERS has confirmed that he has not had a fall-out with the Board of Directors at Celtic. He re-stated that he respects the job that they have done but pointed out that unless his ambitions for the club are matched then he will leave Celtic.
That’s where we are this morning.
“My ambition is for Celtic. Every manager is ambitious but, for me, it’s inherently about the club.
“We’ve done a double Treble and been Invincible in one of those seasons to set a British record for unbeaten games.
“We don’t want to stand still. How do we improve? We improve in Europe and in order to do that, it’s simple, we need quality players.
“The minute I start thinking otherwise and get comfortable, then progress stops.
“In football, you can’t afford to do that. It’s too late once the rot sets in. It’s too late and I’ve always tried to guard against it.
“Especially after our first season, we built on it last year. We want to keep building it.
“But I totally respect how difficult it can be, the financial side is tough at times.”
On John McGinn, the one that got away, Rodgers revealed the he had a long conversation with him earlier this week. After pursuing the player all summer Celtic eventually lost out to Aston Villa who paid just £2.75million for the Scotland International.
That price was matched by Celtic this week – some in the controlled fans media claimed that Celtic had made that offer first and it was Villa that matched it. That’s contrary to what Neil Lennon said as the transfer unfolded. That narrative was also given to the BBC before Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with AEK Athens.
The manager was dealing with all of this and speaking to an Aston Villa bound player hours before the most important game of our season! Incredible!
“I spoke to John at length on Wednesday. He was already gone, I just spoke to him, just to wish him all the very best.
“It was a great move for him, disappointment for us of course, especially when you are a lifelong Celtic supporter.
“But he is joining another illustrious club with a great history and wonderful training facilities and a good manager and an opportunity to go play in England.
“He has developed a lot these last couple of years. He is a good age, a prime age at 23, and I wish him all the very best.
“When I called, I already had an indication of where he was at.
“It was just a call out of courtesy really. He is a young man that I would like to see do well.”
McGinn was clearly a Rodgers target that was not delivered – for whatever the reason. Rodgers was asked how the move for the new arrival, Australian teenager Daniel Arzani, came about.
“It doesn’t really matter to be honest,” Brendan said.
“It was an opportunity that arose so we will see how it goes. Our job is to grow this squad to be as strong as it can be. He is a real talent and we’ll see how that talent develops.”
Arzani, although a welcome addition, is almost certainly a signing that has come from the list of targets set out by Brendan Rodgers.
Rodgers confirmed though that the deal to sign the Australian teenager is near completion but that it will be a while before he can be considered for a place in the team.
“He has completed on the Man City side, virtually most of it is completed on our side.
“He has been up here today so, like I say, we hope for that to complete over the next few days.
“He hasn’t done anything since his last game with Australia a little while back so he is going to have to come in and adjust and get up to speed before we can even consider him for a game.”
And if the Manchester City connection is being mentioned one wonders if the enquiry for Jason Denayer was a manager initiative or one that came from the strong working relationship that Peter Lawwell has with the English Champions.
Denayer seems to have knocked us back anyway, think that’s three times now!
Asked if it would be over at Celtic if he stopped pushing to take the team forward, Brendan said: “Yeah. My job is done then. Terminado. Gone.
“But that’s the challenge. You have to test yourself to the limit. You have to be courageous as a club.
“It’s a joy to work here. I love my life here and enjoy being the manager here.
“But it’s no good if I just sit back and get comfortable. Being comfortable is the enemy of progress.
“I never allow it in my own life or professional life. You see it in sports and in industry. The minute you think you’re doing okay, it can quickly disappear – and that’s the greatest institutions.
“You have to be mindful of that and keep getting stronger and stronger.”
Rodgers though stressed there has been no fall-out, so his remarks this week are a consequence of him looking at the tangible results of the summer recruitment and being frustrated and disappointed by the lack of progress.
“Dermott, Peter and Ian all want what is best for Celtic. Critically, they are major shareholders and run the club. I have to respect that, and I do.
“My ambition is for Celtic. Every manager is ambitious, but, for me, it’s inherently about the club. We’ve done a double treble, been invincible in one of those seasons, set a British record for unbeaten games.
“We don’t want to stand still. How do we improve? We improve in Europe and in order to do that, it’s simple, is quality players.
“The minute I start thinking otherwise and get comfortable, then progress stops. In football you can’t afford to do that.
“It’s too late once the rot sets in. It’s too late. I’ve always tried to guard against it. Especially after our first season, we built on it last year. We want to keep building on it.
“I totally respect how difficult it can be, the financial side is tough at times. I have a huge respect for the board here – absolutely. They have run the club strategically very, very well.
“Me coming into here and what I have seen in the past couple of years, I have real good relations with every one of them. There is not an issue there at all. My focus is on doing the best for Celtic.
“Deep down I am a supporter, but I am also a professional manager. I also look for the help that is needed to take the team to the next level if that is what the demand is.
“I will always push for that.”