Brendan Rodgers At Celtic: The First Report Card


With just a few weeks left before Christmas and the New Year is seems like an appropriate time to assess Brendan Rodgers start at Celtic Football Club.

Well to be honest it has been an almost perfect start.

His transfer business looks astute, the Hoops already secured their first trophy of the campaign, his side are running away from the rest in the Scottish Premiership and they qualified for the Champions League giving a good account of themselves.

You can also add that they play attractive football, have a squad full of goals, they thumped Old Firm rivals Rangers and Brendan’s also managed to get captain Scott Brown playing at his peak again!

Of his new signings Moussa Dembele and Scott Sinclair look to be special purchases.

Young French striker Dembele has been an absolute bargain buy from Fulham, with Celtic only paying a compensation fee for the hitman. His hat-trick against Rangers was sublime and seemed to lay down a marker. Moussa showed against Europe’s elite that he isn’t fazed by the big occasion. He’s already being linked with £20m+ transfers away from Glasgow. Rodgers has stated that he thinks that the youngster will stay beyond this winter, so the Celtic faithful can be thankful for that.

Brendan has showed he has no problem playing younger players that he sees promise in and that has been rewarded with Dembele’s fine form.

Scott Sinclair had a miserable time of it last term with Aston Villa but Rodgers, who had worked with the forward at Swansea, has managed to get the best out of the £3m man. His close control, pace and the timing of his runs often causes havoc in the opposition penalty area. Sinclair currently leads the Premiership scoring charts with his nine goals in twelve appearances.

Captain Brown looks to be a totally different animal under Rodgers. During the Ronny Deila era, Scott had started to look sluggish, predictable and a bit injury prone. That’s changed now and he’s dominating midfield battles again, he often seems to have added energy and oomph in his game.

It’s not just Brown who is playing better under Rodgers the same can be said about Stuart Armstrong, Tom Rogic and James Forrest.

An attribute I like from Brendan’s time at Liverpool was his ability to give players a chance to prove themselves.

Early on during his era at Anfield, it seemed that Rodgers wasn’t overly impressed with Jordan Henderson and he was ready to sell the midfielder. But the English midfielder worked hard, returned to the first team and never looked back!

It’s testament to a good man manager that he gives players another chance to impress him. It has happened at Parkhead too.

Goalkeeper Craig Gordon didn’t enjoy a fabulous start to this campaign and was dropped in favour of new arrival Dorus de Vries. The Dutch goalie didn’t grasp that chance and Gordon was returned to his starting berth and has looked better between the sticks.

The Scottish keeper recently revealed the time out is what he needed to kickstart his Celtic career:

“Perhaps a step back was what I needed. You don’t see that at the time and it was disappointing not to be in the team for four or five games, but it gave me the time to really focus on what was needed to play in this team.”  

Croatian central defender Jozo Šimunović had a frustrating debut season with the Hoops and looked to be on his way out of Celtic Park when the club accept a bid from Torino in the summer. That deal would fall through but many still thought Šimunović chances of getting back into the Celtic team were slim.

But Rodgers has used the defender, he looks to be finding his feet in Glasgow and forming a good partnership with Erik Sviatchenko.

These instances show everyone at the club that even if they’re currently not playing it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a route back into the starting eleven.

Domestically they’ve only had one tiny blip (drawing away with Inverness Caley Thistle) and they’ve been dominating in games against their nearest rivals. Even when they go behind they don’t give up and have that aura about them that they want to win every game!

If I have one small criticism for this Rodgers side, it’s that the defence is still a bit vulnerable at times.

They were humbled against Barcelona 7-0 at the Camp Nou. They’ve also conceded two or more against Motherwell, St Johnstone, Caley Thistle, Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Man City and Borussia Monchengladbach.

So that’s probably an area that could still be improved upon.

The next test for Rodgers at Celtic will be keeping up the momentum and guarding against any complacency.

The Northern Irishman has walked into the club and lifted the mood instantly. The players have bought into his ideas and they’ve almost implemented them perfectly on the park.

The crowd at Celtic Park has awoken from the slumber that Deila’s tenure had them in but it’s all about progression and Rodgers and his staff need to make sure that they keep getting the best out of their squad.

This Celtic side have the chance to grab the club’s next treble triumph and that’s significantly down to the arrival of Brendan Rodgers.

Fantastic start but it’s now all about carrying that on!

If I were grading it as a school teacher it would be:

Grade A: Brendan has settled in really well and his leadership skills have been extremely impressive.

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