We got quite a fascinating insight into how football teams operate when Brendan Rodgers told Celtic TV that he met with Callum McGregor last week, to discuss the squad and get Callum’s view on the status of the club. This was before Brendan put pen to paper or Celtic had secured the services of John Kennedy for next season.
It demonstrates the role of team captain at Celtic, which has been in place for well over a decade now. Callum inherited Scott Brown’s role as the first line of discipline for the squad, responsible for ensuring the managers’ wishes are carried out when coaching staff are not present. Callum’s assessment of his teammates will be invaluable to the new boss.
If there was a bigger takeaway from the interview, it was Brendan’s endorsement of the recruitment regime he inherited. Celtic confirmed the signing of Norwegian midfielder Odin Thiago Holm (20) yesterday. Brendan confirmed he met the player on Monday, but that he was a target of the recruitment process that brought us so many valuable players in recent times.
Player trading is fundamental to Celtic’s prospects. We need to buy and sell well or forever tread water. You and I discussed a weakness in this area last time Brendan was in town. Yesterday, the manager noted how impressed he was with head of scouting and recruitment, “Mark [Lawwell] has done a brilliant job……He has done a great job.”
Soon after Brendan took over in 2016, we discussed how his time at Liverpool brought experience no one at Celtic had. Previous managers and coaches came from less-resourceful clubs, Celtic were still stuck in 20th century ways. Brendan raised the bar significantly. Mark Lawwell’s tutelage at City Football Group revolutionised Celtic’s recruitment, starting with Ange Postecoglou’s appointment in 2021.
We tried to upscale in this area before with the appointment of the much-maligned Lee Congerton in 2017. Lee worked with Brendan at Chelsea, where he was chief scout during the early Abramovic era. After six years in London, he went to Hamburg as technical director, then to Sunderland (subsequently relegated) before Celtic.
It was an impressive CV, few clubs in the world recruited more than Chelsea during that era and the technical acuity of German football is renowned. Looking back, Chelsea’s approach could be described as scattergun, while a once-lofty Hamburg (subsequently relegated) have been left behind by a dozen-or-so smaller, technically better rivals. Lee followed Brendan to Leicester (subsequently relegated) and is now at Atalanta.
Recruiting the right players within budget and selling at the right time – it is a two sided process – is the only way Celtic can achieve improvements in the European arena. Hopefully we’ll benefit lots from educations at Liverpool and City Group.
Welcome to Celtic, Odin.