Scott Brown will aim to qualify for his coaching badges this summer. But he isn’t considering finishing playing yet.
Asked how Scott Brown the manager would treat Scott Brown the player at this juncture of his career, the 33- year-old replied: “Give him a six-year deal!”
That would take him into his 40th year. The way he is playing – and looking – it’s not beyond the realms of possibility.
Scotland’s troubles following his international retirement helps reinforce the suspicion Brown is playing as well as ever just now. His absence as RB Saltzburg ran over the top of Celtic in the second half of their recent Europa League clash was noted too. He will be back in his usual place for this weekend’s league clash with former club, Hibs.
But there’s always need to look to the future. Brown’s current deal runs out at the end of the season. In theory he can speak to other clubs in just a few weeks’ time. But Celtic’s desire to incorporate him into the coaching staff means there’s little chance the skipper would ever consider moving on.
He’s already held detailed discussions with manager Brendan Rodgers and chief executive Peter Lawwell about the next step. Brown has started coaching younger age groups at Celtic and has been seen in the dugout at Under 20s/reserve games in recent years.
“Myself, the gaffer and Peter have been chatting and it seems to have gone well,” Brown revealed. “I am just concentrating on playing right now. I’ll go and do my badges in the summer but I’ll see how long my legs last before I think about moving upstairs.
“It’s a great honour to be playing at the club for so long and for them to be helping me out with a coaching role, whether it’s under-16s or whatever.
“It’s an exceptional place to get a start. I’ve learned a lot under the manager here and the previous managers.”
He has observed a new way of working since being brought to the club by Gordon Strachan in 2007 and then worked under Tony Mowbray (again), Neil Lennon, Ronny Deila and now Rodgers. He broke through under Bobby Williamson at Hibs and so was exposed to a more robust way of managing players. Not that he would ever criticise Williamson, who gave him his start and was the first manager to “trust” him. But things are different now.
“There’s a new way of working,” he said. “It’s not laid-back but it’s about sitting down and thinking about how you are working. You are still looking to outsmart other managers tactically. It’s about game awareness more than shouting and throwing pots of tea at people.
“Am I more Lenny than Brendan? I don’t know. Lenny didn’t throw pots of tea either. He worked with Martin O’Neill and Gordon, two top bosses. I don’t know about Martin but Gordon had a bit of both [about him]. He was great on the field but he could snap as well.
“Whether it’s now or ten years ago, to be a good manager you need a bit of both. You take a bit from every manager you work with when you go down that road.”
Not that he’s preparing to go down “that road” quite yet. “I’m still playing so I’ve not thought about managing the club one day!” he said. “You never know. The manager here now has set a great standard and I still have a lot to learn.
“I’m learning every day, from his sessions, the way he deals with situations, the media, public, everything. It’s all first class. That’s why he has the reputation of being a top manager.”
Brown proposes John Kennedy as someone who has done things properly. The Celtic first-team coach, who had to retire from playing at just 26 after sustaining serious knee injuries, endeavoured to educate himself about everything he could, initially as a scout. He is a now a valuable member of Rodgers’ backroom staff after being brought into the fold by Deila.
“You need to become a coach before you become a manager,” said Brown. “You can’t just jump in with both feet.
“I look at John Kennedy, he’s done it the right way. He started as a scout, was on the computer and doing bits and bobs then out watching games, doing his license and [then] he got his chance under Ronny Deila.
“He’s really kicked on and has been great for the manager and for us. You can talk to Kendo about how to put on a session and he’s really helped me going through my B Licence. He’ll be a great help when it comes to my A as well. I’m watching games differently and I’ve started taking notes – although there’s lots of spelling mistakes!”
Brown is already observing and rating others: James Forrest, his own team-mate, for example. The skipper reckons Forrest was the best player in Scotland last season, high praise indeed since Brown himself lifted both the Scottish football writers’ and players’ player awards. He describes Forrest as a managers’ dream.
“Jamesie was my player of the year last year – by far,” said Brown. “He was exceptional for us and for Scotland. What more can you ask for? He’s added goals to his game this last few years, he produced decoy runs and is defending as well as attacking.
“It just shows the spirit of the wee man that whatever manager comes in he is always one of the first names on the team-sheet. He creates chances and is very unselfish. That’s what you want in a teammate.
“The only thing he doesn’t have is a song – we need to get one for him. Maybe ‘Wee Jamesie’!”