It became apparent in recent days that Scott Brown following 14 years and 22 honours, was indeed intent on bringing the curtain down on one of the all-time greatest Celtic careers. A turn of events that will see the 35-year-old begin a new chapter with a player-coach role as of next season under new Aberdeen manager and long-time friend Stephen Glass. A turn of events too that, when first reported a fortnight ago, blindsided a number of us, in truth.
Yet, even if it had subsequently attained an inevitability, reading Brown’s statement about what he can bring to the Pittodrie club was still arresting. It could be no other way when, as Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell - another whose trophy-laden era at the club is coming to an end - stated in appropriately acknowledging Brown’s extraordinary contribution “he has lived and breathed the club and...cause - day after day, across a decade and a half, giving his heart and soul to Celtic.”
Among the innumerable aspects to admire over Brown’s total-immersion to his team’s “cause”, even grudgingly, is the fact the midfielder never allowed sentiment to intrude in his in-game approach. The Celtic captain of 11 years has been a ruthless warrior whose attitude to winning is very much from the ‘by any means necessary’ school. It has meant sledging and demeaning opponents at times to upset their concentration - a fair few of these adversaries in Aberdeen colours, it must be said. This should not be confused with Brown’s humanity away from the fray, which was illustrated before Sunday’s derby in his supreme gesture of publicly offering support to Rangers’ Glen Kamara over the abhorrent racist abuse he has suffered.
Not out of any spite, but the same ruthlessness should be applied to how Brown’s last two months at Celtic play out. Interim manager John Kennedy probably won’t take this course of action, but Brown should immediately be retired as a first-pick. He is part of the past, a glorious past, but Kennedy’s mantra has been of the need to move forward from the 10-in-a-row collapse. By the very nature of Brown’s understandable decision to go where he is wanted, rather than stay at a club where he could be unwanted by a yet-to-be-appointed new manager, he cannot fit the Kennedy philosophy.
As his showing against Rangers demonstrated, Brown is in fine fettle currently. However, the post-split Premiership games for Kennedy and Celtic should be about building up the under-cooked squad members sure to remain at the club beyond the summer. The Scottish Cup should be treated likewise.
Ismaila Soro, across the turn of the year, emerged as a player then preferred to Brown who had potential to bring energy to the anchor role the veteran’s ageing legs did not appear to be providing. The Ivorian’s form may have subsequently shaded, but the 22-year-old should be given the next two months to further develop with a run of starts to add to the mere 12 he has at present. It doesn’t mean Brown never playing again for the club, but he shouldn’t in a position of holding back the progress of Soro. Brown is such the consummate pro that, deep down, even he would surely appreciate that.