Football/Soccer

Two managers, a treble treble but still plenty of unhappy Celtic fans

Rangers' Ryan Kent (left) and Celtic's Scott Brown clash during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow on Sunday March 31, 2019. Picture by Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.
Stephen O'Reilly

Two managers, a treble treble but still plenty of unhappy Celtic fans, at least until the second manager of last season delivered the league title and Scottish Cup to add to the league cup already won by the first manager.

By any standards Brendan Rodgers delivered a huge amount of joy to the Hoops support in the two and a half years he was at the helm.

But the manner of his departure to take over at Leicester City – midway through the season – turned him from golden boy to a Judas in many eyes.

And the conspiracy theories abounded; He was pushed; he left because he couldn't get on with the board; it was all about money; etc.

Just for the record, the club wished him well and said the Carnlough man wanted to fulfil a personal ambition while Rodgers wished the club well and more recently said he hoped that the support would come to remember his achievements rather than the manner of parting.

And what achievements.

His first season saw Celtic unbeaten domestically while the second term delivered the second successive treble.

He even left his successor, Neil Lennon, with the first part of defending that treble already in the bag and an eight-point lead at the top of the table.

But if Rodgers has work to do to get back into the affections of the Hoops support, Lennon faced the task of proving that he could fill the successful shoes left by his predecessor.

The recent performances against Rangers will not have helped his case.

While Lennon was quick to praise the job done by his predecessor, he was on the other hand not slow to emphasise his desire for a more direct style of play.

The Lurgan man started his task on February 27 with a 2-1 victory at Hearts – but needing Edouard to supply the decisive score in the second minute of extra time.

The 2-1 win over Rangers at Celtic Park at the end of March effectively ended any realistic challenge.

Edouard gave Celtic a first-half lead, Ryan Kent equalised after the break but James Forrest wrapped up the points with two minutes left.

Whether it was Rodgers's team or Lennon's style of play, the league title was clinched with two games to spare courtesy of a 3-0 win over Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

Two trophies down and just the Scottish Cup to go.

Hearts stood in the way of another piece of history and it looked like they might frustrate the formbook when taking the lead through Ryan Edwards seven minutes into the second half.

But Celtic and Lennon were not to be denied. Edouard equalised 10 minutes later and scored the winner with eight minutes of the season left.

Lennon was Rodgers's temporary replacement up until that point.

That all changed immediately after the cup victory when Peter Lawell announced that the Lurgan man had been appointed for his second spell as manager.

 

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Football/Soccer