Brendan Rodgers, who has been installed as one of the favourites to replace Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager, has admitted he is uncertain when his tenure at Celtic will come to an end but insists he will “never tire” of leading the Scottish champions to victories like the one they enjoyed at Hampden last Sunday.
Following the announcement yesterday morning that Wenger will step down at the end of the season following almost 22 years in charge of Arsenal, former Swansea and Liverpool boss Rodgers was quickly ranked by bookmakers as a frontrunner for the role.
The speculation intensified when Celtic’s major shareholder Dermot Desmond, in a rare media interview, revealed he would not stand in Rodgers’ way if the opportunity to move to Arsenal presented itself.
“I’m glad that he’s the favourite because he deserves to be,” said Desmond. “He’s an outstanding person. We wouldn’t like him to leave but we can’t force anybody to stay. Hopefully his love for the club and the set-up there will induce him to stay at Celtic.
“I don’t think you can put handcuffs on anybody if they want to go to a club as big as Arsenal, but it will be Brendan’s decision and Brendan’s decision only.”
Rodgers stands on the verge of Scottish football history as the first manager to lead a club to back-to-back domestic trebles. Having won all three trophies in his first campaign at Celtic without losing a match, he has already retained the League Cup this season.
The Premiership title will be formally retained if Celtic beat Hibs at Easter Road today, with a Scottish Cup final appearance against Motherwell at Hampden on 19 May secured by last weekend’s 4-0 rout of Rangers which extended his unbeaten run in Old Firm games to ten.
Rodgers has also guided Celtic into the group stage of the Champions League in both of his seasons at the club so far but says further challenges remain to continue motivating him at the club.
“It’s a bigger picture for me,” said Rodgers. “I’m living the dream here and one day it will finish. However that is and whenever that is, I don’t know. Then I’ll go back into the real world again.
“But while I’m here, I want to give it the very best I can and try to create a standard and legacy here that will make people look back and say ‘You know, he did alright – for a supporter’. Sometimes that doesn’t work out.
“Of course the priority for me is to help the team, to win and try to inspire the supporters, to give them as many great moments as I can.
“But there are other sides of the club I want to help. It’s a bigger spectrum for me. Football is my job, that’s what I’m paid to do. But can I help and support other elements of the club to grow? I don’t get tired of that.
“We just won a big semi-final, playing really well. Compared to some of those other games we played when I first came in, it is night and day in terms of the difference.
“I can see development and improvement. If you beat your great rival 4-0 and play so well, keeping your supporters happy, you don’t get tired of that.
“When you do well nowadays, everyone tries to push you on. There may be a point in my time here when I think I’ve done absolutely everything. That’s not now. There are still challenges for me here that can really test you to the limit.
“It’s also about happiness. If you look at the modern game, when you are happy you can work well.”
Rangers manager Graeme Murty, who spent time at Reading with Rodgers, believes the Northern Irishman is ideally suited for the Arsenal job.
“Having known Brendan for a long time, I think it would be a good fit and a good ethos and I could see it happening,” said Murty. “If it does, I wish him good luck.”