Brendan Rodgers has an Ange Postecoglou problem as former Celtic boss makes support act claim

Gordon Strachan has his say on the current situation at Celtic
Brendan Rodgers' Celtic side have struggled to reach the heights set under Ange Postecoglou last season. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)Brendan Rodgers' Celtic side have struggled to reach the heights set under Ange Postecoglou last season. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)
Brendan Rodgers' Celtic side have struggled to reach the heights set under Ange Postecoglou last season. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)

Gordon Strachan has defended Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers after insisting that taking over from Ange Postecoglou was akin to “headlining a concert with The Rolling Stones as your support act”.

While Postecoglou was hero-worshipped by the Celtic support for his relentless brand of attacking football before quitting to join Tottenham at the end of last season, Rodgers has come in for some criticism as the Parkhead side struggle to reach the heights set under his predecessor.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Celtic won five out of six trophies during Postecoglou’s two-year reign and lifted a treble last term but the League Cup has already been relinquished to Rangers while the title race is now neck-and-neck after a seven-point advantage was squandered.

Rodgers was similarly revered during his first spell in charge of Celtic as seven successive domestic trophies were secured but then soured his relationship with supporters when quitting for Leicester midway through his third season.

Some of that ill-feeling still lingers but former Celtic boss Strachan – who knows all about the challenges of replacing a popular figure in the Parkhead dugout having taken over from Martin O'Neill in the summer of 2005 – insists the success of Postecoglou has made things more difficult for the Northern Irishman this time around.

"Following in the footsteps of Ange Postecoglou isn’t an easy task for any manager," he told Lord Ping. "It’s like headlining a concert with The Rolling Stones as your support act. All the best trying to follow that, and that’s what it’s like at Celtic at the moment.

“Brendan knew what he was getting into when he came back to Celtic, and he wanted that challenge. Is the league a little bit more difficult compared to when he last there? I would argue that it might be. The one thing that I’ve seen over the last few years is that teams like St Mirren, Hearts, Hibs, they are becoming more physical and are making it more difficult for the likes of Celtic. There has been an emphasis on height and strength over the last couple of years and I think that’s shown by the limited number of home-grown players that are coming through in Scotland at the moment.

“The media will ask Brendan why his team aren’t performing as well as we know they can, and he’ll give honest answers that are then written as excuses, so management can be a bit of a word game sometimes. I think Brendan can play the media game well – I wouldn’t like to take him on at Scrabble (laughs).”

Celtic could be knocked off the top of the Scottish Premiership on Wednesday night as Rangers host Ross County at Ibrox in their game in hand. A win by three goals or more would send Philippe Clement’s side top of the standings.

Strachan continued: "I’ve spoken about this before but taking over from a successful manager is always really difficult. How do you put your own spin on the job without plagiarising or just copying the man that was in the seat before you arrived? It’s a horrible prospect for managers to deal with.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Did people think that Brendan was going to come to Celtic, grow a beard, put on some weight and start talking with an Australian accent? That was never going to work. It can be hard to make tactical changes to winning teams – Gio Van Bronckhorst had that problem at Rangers after Steven Gerrard left. Brendan would have known that going into the job.

"Brendan is only half way through the season into his second spell at the club. He is just getting started. It’s been difficult for him to find that balance. If you try and change too much, the players get a bit spooked. I think we’ve seen glimpses from his Celtic side – they’ve played some nice stuff in parts – but the issue is that the Celtic fans have been in a position where they have completely dominated teams for two years. That is what the fans are missing at the moment. It’s not easy for Brendan or the fans.”



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.