I AM working off memory here, but I seem to recall honeymoon periods tend to last just a shade longer than 48 hours.
And, yet, that is the unpleasant prospect facing Philippe Clement as he begins his new job this weekend.
As you would expect, the Belgian has been talking the talk since his appointment as manager of the Ibrox outfit six days ago, the club’s FOURTH team boss in fewer than two years. Steven Gerrard triggered the managerial musical chairs in Govan when he vamoosed to Aston Villa on November 11 2021.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst, the Dutchman with a more than fair CV as an accomplished player at the club, was appointed as the Scouser’s successor a week later and, after guiding the side to a Europa League Final in Seville in May last season, was handed his P45 exactly one year and seven days after his introduction to the blazer and marble staircase.
THE WAY WE WERE…Ange Postecoglou and Giovanni van Bronckhorst embrace after Celtic’s 3-2 derby triumph in April at Parkhead.
In swept the fastest gums in the west in the shape of Michael Beale. He was given the gig on November 28 2022 after some very public and embarrassing schmoozing with the hierarchy and supporters. Not exactly praiseworthy considering the club already had a manager in place at the time.
Under the weight of unfulfilled promises, the trapdoor buckled and collapsed three weeks ago with the wittering, mouthy Englishman propelled towards soccer’s twilight zone.
Clement has now exchanged the glitz and glamour of Monte Carlo for the grime and grit of Govan and he will take his first tentative steps onto an exceptionally shaky tightrope against Hibs on the south side of the city this afternoon.
The 49-year-old 38 times-capped international defender will have enough savvy to realise what he is facing. A loss will afford Celtic the opportunity of going 10 points clear when they take on Hearts at Tynecastle tomorrow.
Depending on which side of the Great Divide you choose to stand, that is either the worst or best case scenario.
It could go the other way, of course. That’s the beauty of football.
Either way, Clement will be aware that the Follow-Follow brigade can only too swiftly and vociferously become Storm Bluenose if they are not overly-enthralled with what is being presented in front of them on a regular basis. This lot have surpassed Olympian standards in growling.
HELLO AND GOODBYE…Brendan Rodgers prepares to shake hands with Michael Beale after Celtic’s 1-0 victory at a hostile Ibrox last month.
The Belgian may even be more than a tad bemused after hearing about the raucous jeers and raging scorn that engulfed the final whistle of the home league match against Motherwell a month ago. And that was a game the hosts actually won 1-0, despite a fairly unconvincing overall display that fooled no-one.
At least, Clement has a safety net of a three-and-a-half year contract. It may be worth noting that predecessors Van Bronckhorst and Beale also had identical terms, but it didn’t deflect the bullet when they came into the line of sights of an under-pressure and panicking hierarchy.
And you better believe these guys will react by reaching for the P45 again if – or when – they find themselves under siege from unhappy hordes.
If Clement listens closely, he may just detect the crackle of the thin ice under his brown brogues if things are not going according to plan this weekend.
NEWSFLASH: The new man has just tempered rampant and misguided optimisim among the truly desperate by declaring he is “not Harry Potter with a magic stick.” Listen, Phil, old son, nobody is Harry Potter.