Brendan Rodgers’ biggest betrayal is state he has left Celtic’s squad in – Keith Jackson

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The Celtic squad is going to need overhauled in the summer after a number of short term and poor signings.

It may take some time for Celtic’s supporters to fully digest what has just been done to them.

Yesterday morning, as the realisation began to dawn that Brendan Rodgers had left them in the darkness of night for another club, they reacted to the news as if it was some kind of monstrous betrayal.

An act of treachery on a scale not seen since Maurice Johnston crossed the great divide to collect his 30 pieces of silver.

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Or at least that’s how it felt as Rodgers scarpered south, chased by a tidal wave of animosity and ill will, having told Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell that he would rather cut and run for Leicester City right now than stay in Paradise for one day longer.

Peter Lawwell arrives at the training ground (Image: Daily Record)

But the truth of the matter is this, Rodgers had been sign-posting his intentions to get back across the border for some considerable time and those who chose not to pay attention to the messages he was sending out, did so from a position of deliberate self-denial.

They needed to believe Rodgers really was ‘Here for 10-in-a-row’ because to consider anything else would have been to accept that the manager was not as all consumed by chasing down this Holy Grail as they were. And that would have felt like a betrayal in itself.

But the penny ought to have been dropping some time ago, especially last summer when the sound of unrest behind the scenes became too loud to ignore.

Having cleaned up back-to-back domestic Trebles, Rodgers used this unprecedented position of power to start turning up the heat on his board of directors and on Lawwell in particular following the club’s failed bid to land John McGinn from Hibs.

Not signing John McGinn was a big blow for Brendan Rodgers (Image: SNS Group)

When Rodgers was asked if one day his patience might be broken by the limits of the club’s ambitions, he said: “Yeah. My job is done then. Terminado. Gone.”

It may have sounded a bit David Brent. Rodgers is prone to such lapses.

But the message was clear and it was effectively the beginning of the end. His relationship with Lawwell was seriously strained and even though both men swallowed their pride and got on about their respective jobs in the best interests of the club, a parting of the ways seemed inevitable.

Lawwell will not utter a bad word about Rodgers and nor can he. The manager’s work at the club and his results on the pitch have been close to immaculate over the last two and half years.

Seven straight major trophies are a permanent testament to his managerial excellence. Rodgers hardly put a foot wrong in all his time here and enjoyed a period of unblemished dominance like no other in Scottish football history.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers (Image: PA)

But Lawwell, like the rest of the club’s supporters, will have been left with a bitter taste in the mouth at the indecent manner in which Rodgers has chosen to head for the hills – just when a treble Treble was all but within his grasp.

The lure of England’s Premier League was just too strong for Rodgers to ignore. His wages, which had risen to around £65k a week in Glasgow, will most likely be doubled overnight. But, perhaps even more importantly, his spending power in the transfer market will also be uncapped.

He is joining a club which is already paying wages way in excess of £100k a week to players such as Jamie Vardy, Harry Maguire and Kasper Schmeichel.

This opens up a whole new stratosphere of possibilities in the transfer market and Rodgers will also see it as an opportunity to prove that, armed with such resources, he can take his miracle working to an entirely different level.

Jamie Vardy is one of Leicester’s key players (Image: Icon Sport/Getty)

Spend it well and Leicester could be his stepping stone back into one of the most highly cherished jobs in English football. That’s what Rodgers will be thinking and it makes perfect sense.

Was he going to turn such riches and this pathway down purely because of his emotional ties to Celtic? Or risk having it closed off by opting to stay put for a few more weeks in order to finish off the job he started this season?

Not in the real world he wasn’t.

No, the ire Celtic’s fans are harbouring right now is wasted on the mere fact that Rodgers has chosen to walk on without them. He was always going to go. But what they really can feel aggrieved about is what he leaves behind.

The short-termism applied during January’s transfer market was another tell tale sign that this split was on the cards. It looked for all the world as if Celtic were planning for no further down the line than the end of this season.

Brendan Rodgers

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Now that Rodgers has bailed ahead of time, he will leave it to his successor to pick up the pieces of this broken strategy while welcoming Fliip Benkovic back to the King Power as soon as the campaign is over.

Dedryck Boyata also seems certain to move on which will leave Neil Lennon, or whoever else takes on the job on a full-time basis this summer, with a huge void in the heart of Celtic’s defence and only weeks to fix it before European qualifiers begin.

But that’s not all. Right-back Jeremy Toljan will return to Dortmund when his loan deal expires and Rodgers may be among a host of managers with an eye on luring left-back Kieran Tierney down south when the market opens for business.

So a whole new back four may be required at Parkhead.

Neil Lennon during his first spell as Celtic manager (Image: SNS)

With Timothy Weah and Oliver Burke also returning to their parent clubs, the sheer size of this rebuild looks positively daunting.

And it will become even more difficult to finance if Celtic ask the next manager to start
trimming the fat which has been allowed to gather around the club’s waistband during these last two-and-a-half years of high rolling.

Of course, someone like Lennon may make a persuasive case but the days of managers throwing their weight around appear to be long gone, as he discovered for himself at Easter Road only a few weeks ago. Just ask Maurizio Sarri.
Lennon may just be the right man at the right time in terms of finishing off the job Rodgers started this term. But fixing the mess left behind in the longer term? That could be the biggest challenge he’s faced over his three stints at the club.

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