Written by our guest writer, Gary Smith. https://twitter.com/Gstar21986
Disgusted and dismayed, just a couple of emotions that the Celtic fans awoke to on Tuesday morning when the news broke that their manager Brendan Rodgers had opened talks with Leicester City.
Rodgers had outfoxed everyone when he iterated his desire to head back down south only two and a half years after landing his `Dream Job`. A quote incidentally, straight from the Irishman`s lips after leaving the promised land of the Premier League. Now traumatising is a word usually synonymous with tragedies or world wars; however this is how the majority of Celtic fans described their feelings by Tuesday afternoon as it was becoming increasingly likely that Rodgers wouldn’t be coming back to Glasgow.Embed from Getty Images
Monday 23 rd May 2016 is a day that will go down in the clubs folklore as over 10,000 fans had packed out Celtic Park to get a glimpse of their new manager. This was an unprecedented scenario that had never been seen in Glasgow before. The plan was originally to parade Brendan outside the stadium on those famous old steps, however word was quickly spreading and demand to see the former Liverpool boss grew, hour by hour. It was a glorious summers evening and by 6pm the lifelong Celtic fan made his entrance down the tunnel and onto the hallowed turf to a chorus of `For It`s A Grand Old Team` and `Here We Go Ten In A Row`. Make no bones about it the Celtic faithful may have previously THOUGHT they were capable of achieving the infamous 10, now with Rodgers at the helm they were CERTAIN that the club could eclipse the feat.
The Irishman couldn’t have asked for a better start as Celtic came through the qualifying rounds of Europe`s top tournament to reach the Group Stages of the Champions League where they would face Manchester City, Anderlecht and Borussia Monchengladbach. City were semi-finalists the previous season and the Bhoys looked comfortable playing with Pep Guardiola`s superstars as they secured points home and away with the pair playing out sensational score draws in both legs.
Rodgers was in for a baptism of fire in the opening fixture of the league campaign as Celtic travelled to the capital to face Hearts. New signing Scott Sinclair bagged a late winner and got the manager off to a flyer. What followed in his debut season was the stuff of dreams, Derby day mauling’s handed out to the blue side of Glasgow as his side beat Rangers 5-1 at Parkhead but more impressively at Ibrox. Celtic became known that year as `The Invincibles` as they swept all before them including a last minute winner against Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup Final which caused scenes of unbridled joy at Hampden as the players celebrated in amongst a section of the fans.
Second season syndrome didn’t affect Rodgers and his side as they ensured they would be dining with Europe`s finest again, Some of the biggest names would continue to grace Celtic Park, namely Bayern Munich and French giants PSG, European football would end for Celtic in the last 32 stage of the Europa League against Russian side Zenit St Petersburg. The clubs invincible streak unbelievably kept going until a heavy defeat at the place where it all began the previous season. Hearts dished out a 4-0 rout of the Premiership Champions and so the run ended at 69.Embed from Getty Images
The players picked themselves back up and got on with continuing domestic dominance, in doing so retained not only the League Cup and their seventh consecutive Premiership trophy but also made it a clean sweep yet again completing the double treble, remarkably never been done before in Scottish football. Brendan Rodgers and his Celtic side were smashing record after record most notably beating their greatest rivals to collect the Premiership crown. A 5-0 demolition job at home in front their adoring fans was certainly a day that will live long in the memory.
Season 2018-19 began and the team weren’t exactly firing on all cylinders as they had been in previous seasons. More points dropped than before and a first failure to reach the Champions league group stages, albeit progression through the Europa League gave off the effect that this was to be not only Celtic`s biggest challenge yet but a test of the gaffers resolve. However when Celtic defeated Aberdeen in yet another cup final back in December, the feeling of de ja vu was starting to re-emerge.
When Claude Puel and Neil Lennon got the sack last month from their respective clubs alarm bells really should have been ringing for Celtic fans up and down the country. However with the success of the past two seasons and the fact that Rodgers continued to reiterate his desire to stay at the` club of his dreams`, the fans were clearly in denial as they scoffed every rumour and question about their gaffers future.
With the ink dry not only on Brendan Rodgers contract with Leicester City but also with Neil Lennon`s contract at Celtic, he now has a handful of games left to try and get the club he adores over the line for the season. An eight point cushion now stands between Celtic and Rangers and a Scottish Cup Quarter final tie at Easter road against Lennon`s former employers sets us up for a tantalising finish to a season which is due to end in the most bizarre scenario. A campaign which was started by one Northern Irishman will be finished by another one.
The question on everyone`s lips is though, if Neil Lennon delivers an unbelievable Triple Treble what does that spell for the rest of the Scottish league and their ability to try and topple this team of title winners?
Gary Smith is a Freelance sports writer who has previously had stints at The Daily Record and Evening Times as well as NUFCfans. He is a massive sports fan and has played at Celtic Park as well as appeared in the Official Team photo for the Newcastle United team.