It’s been less than two months since Ange Postecoglou caught us all on the hop by swapping life in Glasgow for the bright lights of London just days after lifting the Scottish Cup on the final day of last season.
Completing a world record eight domestic treble as your final act isn’t a bad way to go but it was still a sting in the tail for many of us who were anticipating a continuation of life under Ange for at least the foreseeable future.
Such is the pace of life at Celtic however the Australian has very quickly become yesterday’s man.
With five trophies from six during his two seasons at Parkhead history will look more than kindly on his achievements, but as they say you’re only as good as your last game/trophy/treble and it’s time for the focus to now shift fully to what lies in store this season and beyond.
There was no time to dwell on Postecoglou’s exit with Michael Nicholson and the Celtic board acting swiftly to sweep Brendan Rodgers back in to Paradise for a surprise second spell in the hot-seat.
It’s not something I thought I’d find myself typing on the dawn of the new season, but here we are and I have to say I’ve been energised by his appointment and by what it may bring.
Rodgers was the undoubted best candidate for the job, and to have such a talented operator back at the helm bodes well for the future.
The vast majority of the fan base also look to have bought into his return and the Irishman was afforded a warm welcome on his return to the dugout on Tuesday night against Atletico Madrid. Something I’m sure he will have been pleased to have now got out of the way.
If he can pick up where he left off in terms of trophies, add some progress in Europe along the way, and develop players like we know he can then all will be forgiven.
AN EDUCATIONAL PRE-SEASON
A pre-season that’s seen the Bhoys travel to Portugal, Japan and then Dublin has allowed Rodgers plenty of time with his first team squad and he’ll have gathered valuable information about his new side in the four games played.
We’ve spoken previously about how pre-season results don’t matter (well, not really…) but two wins, a draw and one loss have allowed for a comprehensive assessment of the tools Rodgers currently has to work with.
A goals tally of 9 goals for and 9 goals against also makes for interesting reading.
With strong hints towards further recruitments in the remaining weeks of the window it’ll be interesting to see which positions Rodgers now prioritises.
Goalkeeper and left-back seems to be the verdict from most fans but for numerous reasons an additional striker must also be considered.
QUESTIONS FOR RODGERS TO ANSWER
All of a sudden the real stuff starts on Saturday as we take on Ross County on Flag Day at Celtic Park (12.30pm kick off) so how prepared are we for that?
A centre half pairing of Stephen Welsh and Liam Scales raised some eyebrows ahead of last week’s game against Wolves, but with Cameron Carter-Vickers returning from injury on Tuesday to partner new signing Maik Nawrocki those fears seem to have been appeased.
With Carl Starfelt also now back available the manager now has a big call to make in the heart of his defence.
Likewise a new midfield dilemma has emerged with some quick maths telling us that six players into three positions doesn’t quite add up.
McGregor, Hatate and O’Riley were the first choices for the most part under Ange Postecoglou but David Turnbull, Kwon and Odin Thiago Holm have all now emerged as genuine contenders.
We should find out Brendan Rodgers first competitive starting XI from his new reign around 11.15am on Saturday morning and it should provide answers to the above as well as some other remaining questions.
THE CHALLENGES AHEAD
Despite the squad not quite being where Rodgers and many fans would like it to be we should be more than capable of handling the challenge of a Ross County side who only maintained their Premiership status following a play-off win against Partick Thistle.
However with trips to Pittodrie and Ibrox scheduled in the weeks ahead, as well as a Champions League campaign that kicks off in mid-September, there’s no doubt there are tougher tests in store.
So are Brendan Rodgers and his new look side ready for those challenges?
Nearly would probably be the fair answer at this moment in time, but if further key additions can be recruited to join the five new Bhoys that are already in the door then the hope is that we certainly will be.
Anticipation is building nicely ahead of the big kick off as we all wait to see what Brendan Rodgers v2.0 brings to the table!
Listen to the latest episode of The Celtic Exchange Weekly here as we discuss we discuss debuts Flag Day in Paradise, debuts from the new Bhoys & tributes to a one club man!
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