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Clever Bhoy Brendan Rodgers can succeed just like compatriots Martin and Neil

By Steven Beacom

Brendan Rodgers has history with Celtic. As a young boy his dad Malachy regaled him with tales of the legendary Jock Stein and how he guided the Hoops to European Cup glory in 1967.

Rodgers, who has a staggering recall of matches, players and training sessions, never forgot.

That's why when Celtic came calling earlier this month he took the interest seriously.

Prior to that, after leaving Liverpool last October, Carnlough's most famous son felt his next job would be back in the Premier League.

He was hardly out of the door at Anfield when approaches started to come his way from Sunderland, Swansea and Aston Villa, but after three rollercoaster years at Anfield, the 43-year-old decided to enjoy an extended break.

Lately though his feet have been itching and his intention was always to make his managerial comeback in the summer.

The fact that it is with Celtic might even have surprised himself a little.

The Glasgow giants interviewed a number of candidates to replace Ronny Deila but it was Rodgers who left the biggest impression on them.

And once the offer arrived, Rodgers went with his heart and his head to deliver a positive response, recognising his family's attachment to the club which still exists and the vast potential that surrounds Celtic when things are going well.

Deila didn't deliver want the fans demanded.

Rodgers is sure he can.

Getting the sack at Liverpool was tough for Rodgers to take.

After all in 2014, he almost led the Reds to their first league title since 1990 and felt he deserved more time to turn around a troubled start to the campaign.

Learning from his time on Merseyside, the Ulsterman is confident that he will step into the hotseat at Parkhead a better manager than the one which departed Anfield.

Out of Celtic's last six managers, Rodgers is the third from Northern Ireland - Martin O'Neill and Neil Lennon were the others.

Both of them were mentioned as succsesors to Deila and Lennon had talks with the Celtic hierarchy.

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill was another contender.

You get the feeling Celtic were always going to turn to someone from our wee country.

Rodgers is a good choice.

Not only does he know the history of the club, which Celtic fans appreciate, but he only has eyes on a bright future for the Bhoys and has enough self belief to bring any doubters with him.

He's a clever character with expert man management skills and will relish the return of Rangers to the top flight of Scottish football rather than fear it.

Deila looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights when Rangers were beating his Celtic team in the Scottish Cup semi-final this season.

Rodgers will have the courage of his convictions, much like O'Neill and Lennon before him.

The new man will know all too well, of course, that the current Celtic side is not a patch on those managed by his compatriots, but will feel that with his coaching abilities he will improve the existing players and with shrewd recruitment can enhance the squad.

Rodgers will have a budget of around £15 million for the summer ahead of the important Champions League qualifiers.

He must spend it wisely because qualifying for the lucrative group stages of Europe's premier tournament won't just make him a hero with the fans, it will give the players huge confidence in their domestic battles with Rangers.

Celtic fans are desperate for a record 10 consecutive titles.

I expect Rodgers to add to the five in a row they already have, but will be surprised if he is around to see the champion reign to double figures.

It's worth noting he has signed a 12 month rolling contract.

Expect to see him back in the Premier League in a few years.

Before then, though, I fancy he will have given Celtic fans much to cheer.

Belfast Telegraph


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