BRENDAN RODGERS is back in charge of Celtic after an absence of over four years.
The Irishman won seven successive domestic honours during his first spell as manager after arriving in May 2016.
It was a rollercoaster two and a half years before he departed Parkhead in hasty and controversial exit.
Life was rarely dull when the charismatic gaffer was around.
In another CQN EXCLUSIVE series, we will celebrate Rodgers’ second homecoming by going back right to the start of his Celtic adventure.
Author Alex Gordon, who has had fifteen Celtic books published, including ‘50 Flags Plus One‘, ‘CELTIC: The Awakening‘ and ‘That Season in Paradise‘, opens the pages of another publication, ‘The History Bhoys‘, to chart the progress of an extrardinary character.
IT IS inconceivable that any of Celtic’s previous seventeen managers enduring a more excruciating competitive debut than Brendan Rodgers.
LINCOLN RED IMPS 1 CELTIC 0. That was the preposterous, nonsensical scoreline that ricocheted around European football on the Tuesday evening of July 12, 2016. It was a result so implausible it was met everywhere with outright incredulity.
Semi-professional teams from Gibraltar should not beat the champions of Scotland. The local cop should not score the winning goal.
Off the top of my head, I can only think of The Titanic having a more disastrous first appearance.
It was not the voyage of discovery the new Parkhead boss would have envisaged or anticipated when he agreed to take over from Ronny Deila exactly fifty-two days beforehand.
The Norwegian’s two-year reign came to an end, mainly due to two unarguable factors: the abject failure of his team to respond to the challenge from a Rangers side – one not competent enough to claim Premiership status – during a dismal Scottish Cup semi-final performance that ended in the ignominy of a penalty-kick shoot-out exit.
And his indisputable inability to make an impression among Europe’s elite.
LOST IN EUROPE…Ronny Deila struggled to make an impact among the elite.
In the previous two campaigns, Deila demonstrated he did not have the quality or the nous to deal with the game at that level. In his first season, Celtic failed to reach the Champions League group stages when they lost 1-0 at home to the mediocre Slovenians of NK Maribor, toppling out on a 2-1 aggregate.
That had followed a remarkable reprieve when it was discovered Poland’s Legia Warsaw had fielded an ineligible player – for only a couple of minutes – after they had coasted to a 6-1 aggregate triumph, winning home and away.
The following year, it was the turn of Malmo to end Celtic’s hopes following a tepid display in the second leg in Sweden.
Celtic arrived with a 3-2 advantage and that was dismantled after two routine corner-kicks had created panic in the penalty box, the second decisive goal, somehow so typical of the lacklustre showing, bouncing into the net off Hoops defender Dedryck Boyata.
TOMORROW: Don’t miss the second instalment of the remarkable Brendan Rodgers Story so far.