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Celtic

Brendan Rodgers: Celtic’s unbeaten run may never be surpassed

Martyn Cooke

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Celtic
Photo: Reuters

Celtic’s 69-game unbeaten domestic run came to an abrupt halt on Sunday afternoon after they were out-played, out-fought and out-thought by Hearts, but Brendan Rodgers believes that his team have set a record that may never be surpassed.

And, he may well be right.

The reigning Scottish champions were emphatically beaten 4-0 in Edinburgh, something that their Northern Irish manager admitted following the contest, but the defeat was immediately followed by a glowing reflection on the previous 584 days. Rodgers told BBC Sport that his players had “set a record that may well never be beaten” – and it is hard to disagree.

The statistics that back up Celtic’s unbeaten run are astonishing.

The Hoops’ last loss prior to Sunday was in May 2016, a run of 69-games and 584 days without tasting defeat against Scottish opposition that transferred into four domestic trophies and an entire season unbeaten. Celtic won 60 of those contests, scoring 197 goals and conceding just 40, on their way to breaking a 100-year British record that had never before been challenged.

There are those that attempt to dismiss the achievement, tending to either point to the financial disparity between the Scottish champions and the remainder of the league or declare Scottish football as being little more than a ‘pub league’. However, that does little to explain why no one else in the past century has accomplished such a feat.

The reality is that Celtic supporters have been privy to witnessing Rodgers construct the most dominant Scottish team that the domestic game has ever seen and the club, manager and players should receive the praise that they deserve.

It is difficult to imagine any other Scottish team replicating or bettering Celtic’s achievements any time soon, especially considering the financial composition of football north of the boarder, and the feat signifies that Rodgers’ managerial reputation has been rebuilt.

He arrived at Celtic Park just over eighteen months ago battered and bruised from a turbulent final few months in charge of Anfield, despite the fact, barring an unfortunate Steven Gerrard slip, he would have guided the club to the title.

However, Celtic’s unbeaten run has rekindled his reputation and attention will now turn towards what the 44-year-old’s long term plans are.

Rodgers has already accomplished almost everything possible at Celtic. He secured the treble in his first season, something that he looks set to repeat this campaign, and in reality there is minimal opposition on the domestic front to challenge the Hoops’ dominance.

Furthermore, it is difficult to see the club making much of an inroad in European competitions, as demonstrated by the recent Champions League group stage, leaving the question: what more can Rodgers achieve at Celtic Park?

Maybe that is a question for the future. For now, Rodgers is focused on securing further silverware declaring that “We hit the reset button and look to get three points in our next game. Now that the run is finished, we want to get back to winning ways as quickly as possible.”

Maybe the upcoming fixture against Partick Thistle will be the start of another unbeaten run…

Martyn is currently a PTA and Research Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). In addition to his teaching role he is also undertaking a PhD in Sports History that is exploring the origins and development of football in Staffordshire. Prior to working at MMU, Martyn spent a decade operating in the sport and leisure industry in a variety of roles including as a Sports Development Officers, PE Teacher, Football Coach and Operation Manager.

Celtic

Jon Flanagan could be perfect solution to problem Celtic position

The defender worked under Celtic boss Rodgers at Liverpool.

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Celtic look set to win yet another Scottish Premiership title under Brendan Rodgers this season. Despite some rocky patches and a brief period where Rangers started to gain ground on their Old Firm rivals, the Bhoys are in the driving seat once again.

But some improvements need to be made to the squad if Celtic are going to continue their dominance of Scottish football.

One area in particular that needs to be addressed is the right-back position. Mikael Lustig’s best years certainly appear to be behind him whilst the likes of Christian Gamboa and Dedryck Boyata cannot be considered long-term solutions.

So who could Celtic boss Rodgers bring in to improve the position?

One name that immediately springs to mind is his former Liverpool full-back, Jon Flanagan.

Back in the 2013-14 season Rodgers nearly guided a Luis Suarez inspired Liverpool to the Premier League title. His left-back for much of the season was the breakout performer Flanagan.

He was excellent whether asked to play at left or his natural position of right-back as Liverpool finished a close second to Manchester City. Flanagan’s impressive form even saw him make the England standby list for the World Cup that summer.

(Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images)

Since then, Flanagan has seen his career harpooned by injuries. Knee problems left him out of action for much of the two seasons after. Off the field, woes have also blighted the young Liverpudlian.

But he is currently proving his fitness during a loan spell at Bolton Wanderers and a fresh start for the player in Glasgow could be the perfect move. Flanagan would fit in perfectly to the Celtic side at right-back and would also offer them options as a left-back cover.

It is easy to forget just how close Flanagan came to winning the Premier League and heading to the World Cup just four years ago. Rodgers will certainly have not forgotten about his former full-back and there won’t be many better options available to Celtic this summer if they are to strengthen the right-back position.

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Celtic

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers should rekindle Martin Odegaard interest this summer

The Real Madrid wonderkid trained with Celtic boss Rodgers at Liverpool back in 2014.

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Celtic will be looking to continue improving their side this summer, with reasons to be fearful of some of the other teams around them catching up. Despite their recent humiliation, Rangers have improved this season. Aberdeen remain strong whilst Neil Lennon and Steve Clarke are working wonders at Hibernian and Kilmarnock respectively.

So this summer, some new faces can be expected at Parkhead. With rumours of Tom Rogic and Scott Sinclair potentially seeking pastures new and Patrick Roberts’ loan spell coming to an end, attacking midfield might be an area Celtic look to improve.

One player who Brendan Rodgers wanted before could be the perfect option this summer. The player in question is Martin Odegaard.

(<> at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on May 23, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.

Dubbed a wonderkid after making his senior Norway debut aged 15, plenty of teams from across Europe wanted the attacker in 2015. One such club was Celtic, as reported by the Express. Managed by his former Stromsgodset boss Ronny Deila, interest from Glasgow made perfect sense.

Another team interested were Liverpool. As reported by the Daily Mail, the talented teen even trained with the first-team at Melwood in 2014.

In the end, Odegaard moved to Real Madrid but has found life difficult in Spain. Last winter he was sent out on an 18-month loan deal to Heerenveen. That deal in the Netherlands is now coming to an end and Real will likely look to loan out the Norwegian again this summer. The 19-year-old still does not look up to the standard necessary to be a regular for the Spanish side.

Celtic would be the perfect location for the player.

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Firstly, after playing in the Dutch league, Odegaard will be able to handle the similar level of Scottish football.

Then there is the fact Rodgers is clearly a fan. The Northern Irishman was keen on bringing him to Anfield, so bringing him to Celtic would be a no-brainer.

Then there is the commercial impact of such a move. Odegaard is still big news and many would follow Celtic’s progress to see if they can get the best out of the Norwegian starlet.

As for Odegaard, he would also have some welcome company. 20-year-old compatriot Kristoffer Ajer is a good friend of the Celtic defender, who has come on leaps and bounds under the guidance of Rodgers.

His time in Holland has been a learning curve but a move to Celtic looks like it would suit Odegaard much better.

It would be a perfect chance for Odegaard to remind the football world just why he was the most wanted player on the planet four years ago.

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Arsenal

Despite Celtic success, Arsenal should avoid Brendan Rodgers

Arsenal will be faced with looking for a new manager this summer.

Jake Jackman

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Photo: Getty Images

The end had been coming for a long time, but it was a surprise on Friday when Arsene Wenger announced he would be standing down as Arsenal manager.

The tributes quickly followed and a manager that had cut a sorry figure for the past few seasons was forgotten. Instead, his successes and impact on English football became the focus.

It is too soon to tell who the club’s priority target is to replace their legendary manager, but the early favourite with the bookies is Brendan Rodgers.

The Northern Irishman is arguably the best British coach in football at the moment and his experience at two big clubs, Liverpool and Celtic, puts him in contention for the Arsenal job.

The Celtic majority shareholder has already commented on the rumours and told Sky Sports that the club wouldn’t stand in Rodgers’ way if he wanted to move back to the Premier League with Arsenal:

“I’m glad he’s the favourite. He’s an outstanding person. We wouldn’t want him to leave but we won’t force him to stay. Hopefully, his love for the club and the setup here will enduce him to stay at the club.”

Although they provide a good starting point, the odds from various bookmakers aren’t reliable at this stage of the recruitment process. It would be expected that Arsenal have a number of managers in mind, but there is a long way to go before an appointment is made.

A number of the media have already talked up Rodgers as the best candidate for the role, due to his style of football and experience at two big British clubs. At Liverpool, he came close to winning the club’s first Premier League title during the 2013-14 season and got the team playing some excellent football.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The 45-year-old has continued to impress with Celtic as he guided the club to an unbeaten domestic season during his first year in charge. There are question marks over the quality of the Scottish League, but Rodgers has stood out as the best manager the club have had in a number of years.

In addition to the domestic success, he has overseen some good performances in Europe, albeit their overall achievements on the continent have been modest.

By being the best British candidate, there will be a lot of people pushing for Rodgers to get the job, but it would be a poor appointment by Arsenal.

Despite his Liverpool teams playing some exciting football, he failed to win a single trophy during his time at Anfield. He came close to lifting the Premier League title, but in hindsight, the reason for that was the genius of Luis Suarez and goal-scoring form of Daniel Sturridge rather than the influence of Rodgers.

The best managers deliver results on a regular basis and can establish their team as regular contenders. The 2013-14 season will be remembered fondly by Liverpool fans, but their failure to build on it didn’t reflect well on Rodgers. They were quickly knocked out of both the Champions League and the Europa League before limping along to a 6th place finish.

During his time at Anfield, Rodgers did okay without ever looking like he belonged at one of England’s biggest clubs. His success at Celtic has seen him repair his reputation, but it is a huge change to go from being the dominant team in Scotland to rebuilding Arsenal.

The Gunners need to bring in a proven winner to instantly win over the players and have the authority to rebuild the club from top to bottom. Rodgers isn’t that man. He needs to show he can win major honours outside of Scotland before being considered for a top Premier League job again.

This summer is too soon for him and Arsenal would be foolish to consider him as an option.

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