In Brendan Rodgers’ first competitive game in charge of Celtic, they lost 1-0 in embarrassing fashion to Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar, during their second qualifying round of the Champions League.
The semi-professional side, whose goal was scored by Lee Casciaro, a police officer, have given Celtic a challenge to turn the game around next week.
Under Ronny Deila, Celtic had failed to reach the group stages of the Champions League for the last two seasons, and as it stands, they need to turn the tie around to reach the next qualifiers this season too.
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The main reason stated for Rodgers’ appointment by the club was that he would be the man to take Celtic to the next level in Europe, given that they have been dominant domestically for a long period.
The events at the Victoria Stadium in Gibraltar may make that hard to imagine, but in the long-term, Rodgers will turn it around.
His first task is to win next week at Celtic Park, and then progress in the next qualifier after that. Winning next week should be easier: Celtic had chances to win the game on Tuesday, but did not take them. You would imagine they will only get more when at home next week. An early goal could see a large margin of victory, and put the previous result to one side.
Despite the shock loss, Rodgers will take Celtic forward in so many other ways too.
His reputation will attract better players to the club, having made his name at Liverpool, Swansea City, and others before that.
At the moment, Celtic have good players, and have won the Scottish title for the last five seasons, but Rodgers will attract even more well-known names, for example Moussa Dembele, who recently arrived from Fulham despite Premier League interest. Celtic’s team when Rodgers departs, will definitely be better than the one he inherited at the start.
Rodgers also brings an attractive and distinctive style of play that will make going to watch them more enjoyable.
Ronny Deila came with a clear way he wanted to play, having used it successfully at Stromsgodset in Norway previously, but Rodgers will be able to make much more of a mark.
Not only will the results improve due to a change in style, but Celtic will become known for good football too, opening up marketing opportunities and creating more of a brand. Swansea, for example, play a distinctive style even now, several years after Rodgers left, and are renowned for it.
The football they play will be similar to the football that Celtic will play when they have grasped Rodgers’ methods: high energy, passing, and exciting attacking movements.
Experience at clubs with a large support with high expectations is vital going into a club like Celtic. Deila perhaps underestimated the scale of the club and found it hard to adjust; having worked at Liverpool, and been a Celtic fan, Brendan Rodgers will not have the same problem.
He knows exactly what is required and has the quality to carry it out too. Celtic are a big club, and it takes a certain type of manager to be able to cope. Rodgers has proved before that he can.
Despite his reign at Liverpool ending limply, Rodgers is still a good coach. Celtic will undoubtedly benefit from his methods, and anyone with any doubts as to his ability must overlook the defeat in Gibraltar and focus on the positives.
There is still more than enough time to turn the tie around, and once that is done, the focus can then switch to the future; a future which is bright with such a talented coach in charge. They say a manager is only as good as his last result, but this is certainly an exception.
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