A Question of Celtic’s Ambition

Brendan Rodgers

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A week ago I wrote a thread on twitter outlining my thoughts on Brendan Rodger’s rumoured return.

The responses I received varied from, “Is this Peter Lawwell’s burner phone?” to people completely agreeing with me.

However, many who agreed with me also still felt Rodgers was the best choice. I’m not sure he is but I can see why many feel this to be the case.

(The thread can be read in full here)

From the replies, it seems to mainly be a question of comfort around who the alternative might be.

Many would have preferred we go for Kjetil Knutsen. He’s certainly impressed at his time with FC Bodo/Glimt.

Daniel Farke was another linked who has some experience at the top level. His record in the German and English top tiers appear to make most feel he’d be a poor choice.

Others mentioned were some highly rated young coaches such as Ipswich Towns Kieran McKenna or the young Italian coach Francesco Farioli.

Most felt uncomfortable with appointing Enzo Maresca due to his one managerial job ending in failure with Parma.

So I get why people have gotten on board with Rodgers.

I’d argue that there are many managers out there who have impressed to this stage in their career that would see the Celtic job as an attractive option.

Particularly with 2 of our last 3 managers having moved on to big jobs in the EPL.

I accept that there are not many around at the moment who have a history with winning trophies.

One thing I’d say is that Rodgers himself had not won a trophy prior to taking the Celtic job (or even the Liverpool job) last time around.

I’d also say that not many of the managers out there have been in charge of a club like Liverpool who would be expected to have won a trophy during their time in charge.

Every summer the talk is of how important winning the league the following season is and how we cant take a gamble as the rewards of winning the league are so great.

Every appointment is a gamble and Brendan Rodgers is definitely not a sure thing.

A Level of Ambition

I do accept that having someone who knows the club and the league will help. There is also the clear evidence that Brendan Rodgers improves football players too.

However, there are reasons Rodgers is available just now and that no top EPL clubs are currently looking to appoint him.

I covered a lot of them in my thread so I wont go over it again here but one thing bothered me when I saw the replies.

There seems to have been a downturn in many peoples ambitions of what we can hope to achieve in the wake of Ange’s departure.

I hope this is temporary, but many of the replies I have been getting are along the lines of, “We need to be realistic”.

I had someone tell me just yesterday that they’d prefer us to fall into the Europa League than progress in the Champions League as we are not a Champions League side.

I want us to be a Champions League side.

Cameron Carter-Vickers In Action Against Real Madrid
Cameron Carter-Vickers In Action Against Real Madrid

Not only that, I want us to be a side that can compete at that level.

I believe Ange truly felt we could go deep into the tournament given time and intelligent/creative player trading.

Brendan on the other hand stated when he left that he had taken us as far as he felt he could. In his defence, I’d add that since then the football environment has changed significantly in our favour. I’ve outlined more about that later in this piece.

He will essentially be taking over with Celtic further along than he felt he could take us back in 2019. I truly hope his ambitions for what we can achieve have changed.

What Are My Ambitions For Celtic?

At the risk of appearing very “Balance Sheet FC”, Ange took charge with the clubs revenue around £60m. This year I believe we are on course for it to be around £115m. We’ve also added (at a modest estimation) £100m worth of value to our playing staff. All within 2 seasons.

That is the revenue of a club that should be able to compete for 3rd place in the Champions League groups.

Its around the same as clubs like RB Salzburg who make up for a modest TV deal by profiting greatly from player trading.

I think we are now at or around their level without having any particularly great success via player trading.

The excellent Football Observatory have a report on net transfer spending for the past 5 seasons.

Celtic current sit on £16m net profit in this period. There are loads of clubs from various leagues using player trading to try to close the gap on clubs from the richer leagues.

I expect Celtic will start to climb this table over the next few seasons.

The next aim I’d suggest would be to catch up with the likes of Ajax (around £160m in 2022) and some of the pot 2 teams. I now think that’s possible and within reach over the next decade.

It will take a level of player trading that we’ve never witnessed before but I do think there are factors that give us an advantage we’ve never had until very recently.

What are these Advantages?

I’ve outlined here what I think are 5 huge advantages that Celtic now have.

Big 5 Leagues Now Becoming a Big 1 League

Football has changed rapidly over the past 5 years. There used to be a Big 5 and then the rest. There is now a Big 1. Its the EPL.

The latest Deloitte richest club top 30 has 16 EPL clubs in it. 11 from the top 20.

The other Big 4 leagues are falling behind. Many of their big clubs have put themselves into financial difficulty trying to keep up and are now beginning to act far more modestly than before.

As the money (and talent) flow to the EPL clubs, much of that comes from the other Big 4 Leagues.

What I am saying is that 5 years ago we were behind almost 96 clubs in the pecking order. I don’t think that’s the case now. Everyone is competing for a position below the 20 EPL clubs. We can now find a place much higher in that list.


With almost all players (and coaches) wanting to compete in the EPL, Celtic have a unique advantage over clubs in every other league.

We share a common language, climate and a similar culture with the league everyone wants to play in. Sure the quality of our competition can improve but any footballer moving to the EPL will want to hit the ground running straight away.

Scottish football can be the place where players spend a few seasons adapting so they can make an instant impression moving to the EPL.

There was an interesting article last week with Kyogo’s agent/interpreter Akihito Ido where he discusses just that and how he helped Kyogo settle into a completely different way of life.

“We don’t know what is going to happen or where Kyogo is going to be. During these two seasons, he has learned how to deal with new environments, a new culture, new managers and new team-mates.”

Free Scoring Celtic - Led by Kyogo Furuhashi
Free Scoring Celtic – Led by Kyogo Furuhashi

For players wanting to make this move, having already learned to speak English and get used to the climate and demonstrating they can perform in this environment should make coming to a club like Celtic more attractive. Its something we can capitalise upon.

Its a big selling point of joining Celtic nowadays over signing for a club where they’d need to adapt first to that country before having to adapt once more when they move to the EPL.

Big Club Experience

Celtic are a huge club. Its a club where players play under great expectation to win every game. Playing in front of 60,000 fans. Regularly winning trophies. The experience gained from playing for Celtic should be another selling point. Akihito Ido also touched on this in his interview.

“The offers we had before were from good clubs. But none of them had the history and reputation of Celtic.”

Work Permit Changes

Until relatively recently, Celtic have been competing with clubs around Europe without access to many of the players those clubs could purchase.

The work permit rule changes are a game changer.

We’re seeing it already.

If there is a top prospect from anywhere in the world that one of the Portuguese, Belgian, Dutch or Austrian giants are after, we can now sign them too.

Its a matter of convincing the players that Celtic is the club that will help them develop before moving on to the EPL.

New Champions League Format

Finally, and I think its a big one. The Champions League format changes will now give players moving to Celtic a minimum of 8 Champions League games.

If we were to avoid the bottom 8 of the league table (which should be possible with a bit of luck), players will have 10 Champions League level games.

That should be a good way to offset the less glamourous domestic games that are possibly a harder sell to potential signings.

An Exciting Future

I’m not saying Celtic will be competing to win the Champions League any time soon.

Though we might!

What I am saying is that things that have changed recently that should make us optimistic about what the club can achieve going forward.

I think Ange saw this and was excited by it. I think he expected that he would need to demonstrate it for a while longer before one of the big clubs came for him.

The fact that he hasn’t is possibly a good thing for Celtic. As long as we continue on the path we are on.

We should want to be where the EPL shop from for players and coaches.

The more they do so, the stronger we should get. The better our sales perform, the more our next set of sales will go for.

The more successful we are at demonstrating Celtic are a genuine pathway to top EPL clubs, the more attractive we will be to very best talent who are one step away from becoming EPL standard footballers.

This can be an exciting time for Celtic. I just hope everyone at the club can see what’s possible and can match the ambition I believe Ange had for us.

If Rodgers is to be the new manager then I hope he too can see what may now be possible and has a greater level of ambition for the club than he had back in 2019.

Tune in to the latest episode of The Celtic Exchange Weekly as we analyse Ange’s Celtic Departure, Assess the Early Front Runners To Replace Him, And Discuss How It May Impact The First Team Squad.

Available wherever you get your podcasts, by clicking the player below, or by listening here at The Celtic Exchange website.

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2 thoughts on “A Question of Celtic’s Ambition”

  1. I think he was sick of celtic board mainly lawal hackling over money he can afford to
    Get his bonus a d let other teams into take them john McGhin was not the only one thst what hurt hopefully that stops offer your best if they dont except move on agents players will know celtic board dont mess about an the offers there for two days or less then your chance id gone

    1. Looks liked changed days at Celtic under Michael Nicholson Jack. Looking forward to the new campaign under Brendan Rodgers!

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