When he was transforming the Scottish football pecking order to deliver Celtic from the league wilderness, the club’s supporters took to referring to Martin O’Neill as The Blessed Martin.
A prophet in their land, Celtic assistant Chris Davies’ use of the word “followers” to articulate how players have responded to Brendan Rodgers’ “phenomenal” ten-month stewardship suggests that the soon-to-be six times champions now have The Guru. Meanwhile, by spreading the club credo from a higher position than mere ordinary members of the squad, Davies would present Celtic captain Scott Brown as Rodgers’ chief priest.
“I think it’s about leadership, as it is in any organisation. We just happen to be in a football club,” Rodgers’ disciple Davies offered of what has allowed Celtic to be within two victories of claiming the championship, two-third of the way to a treble and an unbeaten domestic season. “Our leader is someone who demands a certain level from himself. He demands that level from his followers, the players and the staff.
“He expects you to meet that. Therefore you become relentless. He can only demand that if he’s demanded it from himself.
“I’ve seen managers over the years who have made similar demands of the players, without making those same demands of themselves. As a leader – and that is the vital aspect – Brendan’s always been the same. He’s extremely hard working, dedicated to his profession and a winner. The players feed off that. They see Brendan – and us as a staff – as being relentless so they can be relentless.
“I’ve worked with him at different clubs and he’s always very well respected by the players. You are trying to create this mentality where we defend the badge and we’re all together.
“You’re always better in numbers. And that’s the spirit we’ve tried to create here. But that needs strong leadership.
“We’ve got a big squad with lots of different possibilities, and different scenarios occur during a season. Brendan’s leadership for everyone is so important. There is a big staff here and he is the big decision-maker. He is the one we all look to. He sets the vision and we all try to get there.”
Davies didn’t blanche the other day when it was put to him that, effectively, Rodgers has almost established a cult among his adherents on the playing staff. The Celtic No 2 did not downplay the importance of making Brown,the dressing room’s most influential figure, an immediate true believer in Rodgers.
“A massive, massive thing is your senior players. As a manager he’s developed very good relationships with leadership players and captains – like Garry Monk [at Swansea] , Steven Gerrard [at Liverpool] and now Scott Brown. These are people that can relate to Brendan because of the way he is. They respect him.
“Scott Brown is a perfect example of a leader in the dressing room. Every single day, even in the warm up, he is at his maximum. He is one of the best trainers I’ve ever seen. He matches up to the world class players I have worked with in terms of mentality.
“He is well respected, the players follow that as well. Senior players are vital is the point I’m trying to make. We’ve got that, not just in Scott Brown, but he’s the shining example.
“For sure. I mentioned Garry Monk who is now at Leeds doing a fantastic job and Steven Gerrard will go on to become a really good manager. And Scott Brown I’m certain will become a good manager one day too.
“He lives the game, he’s intelligent, he has leadership qualities, and he lives the game inside out.
“He’s still got plenty of football left in him and he’s been really good this year. We’re looking forward to the next few years of him performing on the pitch but after that I think he will go into management and he will be very good if he does.”
Brown, after all, will always be able to seek wisdom from his mentor when that time comes.