Brendan Crossan: Brendan Rodgers tarnishes his own legacy at Celtic by mid-season walk-out
A DOZEN more games and Brendan Rodgers’ status as a Celtic legend was assured. Just 12 more games.
When you strip everything away, including the discord felt among the fans towards the Celtic board, it's hard to escape the conclusion that Brendan Rodgers is singularly responsible for jeopardising his own legacy at the club.
Were relationships within Celtic Park so unpalatable that his exit couldn’t wait for a few more months?
A man who professed to be fulfilling a childhood dream and who regularly re-cited the goose-bumped words of club legends such as Jock Stein and Tommy Burns leaves with still so much at stake.
He said he'd taken the club as far as he could: to the end of February?
Who leaves a club – any club – during a title run-in? And for who? Leicester City?
A club sitting in no-man’s land in the English Premiership.
A club that has already lived the dream of winning the league title and won’t get near those dizzy heights again no matter what alchemy Brendan Rodgers brings to the King Power Stadium.
Leicester City will happily bob along.
They'll pass the ball a lot more, they'll be easy on the eye, and they'll finish eighth or ninth.
Just watch as the off-the-record briefings find their way into newspapers and social media sites over the coming days and weeks about why Rodgers couldn’t stay a day longer in Paradise.
In fact, it has started already.
Some publications in Scotland are reporting that Rodgers threatened to quit if the board had gone ahead and sold Dedryck Boyata to Fulham for £9m last summer.
Did Rodgers not already know the fiscal realities of Celtic Football Club before he agreed to join them?
For better or worse, Celtic's strategy has been to buy promising players from around Europe at good prices, shave off their rough edges and sell them on for a dramatic profit.
Of course, for an ambitious manager such as Rodgers, they are the frustrating realities at the club; realities, I'm sure, that have frustrated the club’s fans in equal measure.
In the midst of the all the finger pointing, however, it must not be forgotten Celtic’s wage bill - £59m per year - has virtually doubled since Ronny Deila’s time in charge, so there has been significant investment, perhaps not to the level where Rodgers feels he can make an impact in Europe.
During his hugely successful domestic reign, Celtic’s Champions League nights were very much to be endured rather than enjoyed and the manager must take his fair share of responsibility for not making a better impression on the European stage.
From his days at Reading and Swansea City, Rodgers was always destined for big things.
His attention to detail and his steadfast commitment to playing possession football – especially in the rough and tumble environment of the Championship – were glowing features of Rodgers’ philosophy.
He deservedly landed the Liverpool job and was one Stevie Gerrard slip away from ending the Anfield club’s interminable wait for a league championship and legendary status at the club. A future Hall of Famer.
Liverpool were a joy to watch under Rodgers.
The Carnlough man was at the forefront of football’s new intelligentsia.
Of course, the wheels came off the following season and he lost his job. But few people doubted that was the end of Rodgers.
He'd too much to offer the game. His chance would come again.
His statement when he left Liverpool had class written all over it. Even his harshest critic could only applaud the man’s humility in how he dealt with his own departure from Anfield.
Brendan Rodgers and Celtic was a match made in heaven. Nobody summed it up better than Alison McConnell of Glasgow’s Evening Times who wrote: “Brendan Rodgers had Celtic at hello.”
The club would climb out of the doldrums by playing a brand of football befitting of the legends of the past.
At every press conference, Rodgers spoke like a statesman. He brought order, respect, humility to the Celtic job.
He was the fans’ unmistakable messiah – and the manager knew his history. He was one of their own.
But when you sift through all the fine prose and quotes from Rodgers about the importance of being Celtic manager and emphasizing the privilege, it all seems a bit vacuous now.
There isn’t a manager on these islands who wouldn’t like their board or their chairman to give them more money to spend on players.
But a manager’s job is to extract the absolute maximum out of his playing pool and leave others to run the finances of the club.
History, in all likelihood, will repeat itself at Leicester where he will realise the club won’t be able to compete for the best players and that there will be no special European nights at the King Power.
The banner the Celtic supporters unfurled at Tynecastle on Wednesday night cut their former boss to the bone, but it was hard to disagree with the sentiment that Rodgers had moved to a club where mediocrity is its currency.
In a few short seasons, Rodgers revolutionized Celtic Football Club.
Clearly, his ambition out-stripped the Celtic board's.
He was obviously a restless employee who wanted to get back into the English Premier League.
Everyone gets that. But timing is everything.
You do these things at the end of a campaign - not in February; not in the middle of trying to capture another treble; not when a few points swing in the title race could put a very different complexion on the top of the Scottish Premier League table, and not when you're in the latter stages of a cup competition.
Overall, Rodgers did a fantastic job for Celtic.
But, sadly, his body of work will always be overshadowed by his decision to walk out on the club mid-season.
A rich legacy has undoubtedly been tarnished by a decision that he may come to regret the further he travels in life and in management.