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Predictable answers, often short responses, blank eyes- the return of Rodgers has left Mail reporter a broken man

Gary Keown is the perfect Scottish football columnist.

With experience going back to the early nineties he has a tonne of memories to call upon covering the heyday of newspapers and even the O**F*** rivalry.

Today’s business is a pale imitation of the nineties excitement and headlines.

Keown has written for almost all of the Scottish titles covering the serious and the bizarre, when it was discovered that Mark Viduka had upped sticks and left Celtic late in 1998 there was only one Scottish based reporter sent to Australia to track down the back story. With a few hours notice Keown had his bag packed and sent on a Quantos with no known return date.

Today’s columnist has never had any fondness of Celtic. He always kept things professional through his reporting days and now as a columnist he can let some steam off. It seems that Brendan Rodgers Version 1 nearly destroyed him but it did carry the consolation of easy copy for newspapers.

For a few weeks earlier this year (late May to be accurate) there looked to be some hope for Keown and his ilk as Ange Postecoglou ducked and dived around the Spurs question.

The Daily Mail columnist can see right through Micky Beale and the illusions being carved by fan media and associated cheerleaders but Celtic minus Ange at least offered a 50-50 chance of some trophies at Ibrox.

For almost all bears the Return of Rodgers wasn’t in their thoughts. After reporting on 17 Celtic trophy wins out of 21 the last thing that Keown wanted was another winning machine in charge of the hoops.

Focussing on fan reaction from February 2019 has provided some media detractors with something to hang onto. They have called fans two faced which is at least a trait that they are very familiar with.

Sarcasm is gushing from Keown’s latest angry missive in the Mail:

Outwith the displays of choreographed hypocrisy — cheering him to the rafters in the pre-season friendly with Athletic Bilbao after writing him off as ‘a rat’ and ganging up online to go after any ‘outsiders’ who may have questioned his grand return — even Celtic punters seem decidedly underwhelmed by it all.

Right now, the Second Coming of Brendan Rodgers feels about as exhilarating as sitting through a repeat of Escape to the Chateau with the other half on a dreich Tuesday. Even Rodgers, himself, doesn’t exude anything like the charisma and electricity of old.

First time round, spending time in his company was exciting. He was full of it, bristling with energy and stories and lines and ambitions. Being in his orbit, even for a short time in the dressing rooms at Lennoxtown on a Friday or whenever, was rewarding. It was enjoyable. And informative. It was a buzz. 

The fact you came out shaking your head some days — like when he signed Charly Musonda and insisted Real Madrid wanted him based on a game he didn’t even play in — was all part of the fun.

Watching his pre-Kilmarnock press conference from afar a couple of days ago, though, the difference was stark. It was just boring.  Paint-by-numbers. Predictable answers, often short responses, blank eyes. Not the Rodgers we knew and loved — and some later loathed.

Later he adds:

Rodgers — and everyone else with Celtic at heart — might have expected more than Gustaf Lagerbielke, Maik Nawrocki and some blokes from South Korea. Yet, the boss seems accepting of the new order of things.

It’s just that he seems cowed somehow. Subdued. Is it age? Tiredness? Hurt from the way things ended at Leicester? He has already made it clear he suffers no regret over the way he left Celtic last time — and nor should he — but the fire in the eyes is weak.

It seems that Rodgers has noticed the decline of old media since he left, he no longer puts on a bit of a show for them which is hardly surprising given the predictable nature of the questioning with many desperate for Beale to end their decade of pain. Some can’t hold back on the dismay Rodgers return has caused them, personally and professionally.

The problem is that Keown is smart enough to see through the rookie boss at Ibrox. The bluster that has a younger generation of reporters portraying Beale as some sort of footballing visionary. The wizard of the training ground is now getting treated seriously as a coach and manager, so seriously that sizeable elements of the media have dismissed 29 games last season with the clock starting at Kilmarnock a fortnight ago.

Since Murray and Smith, Keown has heard all of the Ibrox visionaries and watched Celtic pile up the trophies while dominating the back pages and pull-outs.

Beale is a messenger, just like Charles Green, Mark Warburton, Pedro Caixinha, Craig Mather and now James Bisgrove and Beale.

When this Revolution! implodes Keown knows what comes next. European progress is in the balance for Rodgers but if Keown was to place a bet on where this season’s trophies will end up in May he wouldn’t be lumping on the Brains Behind Gerrard triggering scenes of vandalism and destruction in George Square.

More Selik celebrations is the last thing that he wants to cover in May, just like Brodge I.

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1 Comment

  • by Captain Swing
    Posted August 20, 2023 9:16 am 0Likes

    I usually warn against overconfidence, hubris and complacency. But I just can’t see Beale as anything more than a bengal lancer who has got where he is by his questionable cockney patter and other people seeing things in him which simply aren’t there.

    He seems to have built a new iBrox team around the 1980s Wimbledon model, except it’s not even a very good version of that because they had real fight (often far too much of it). They’ve lost to Kilmarnock and struggled against a threadbare Morton side that could only list 4 substitutes.

    I expect PSV Eindhoven to tear them a new arsehole and after that I think he’d be in serious lumber.

    It is of course possible they could beat us next month by throwing absolutely everything at us in a hate-filled atmosphere with a refereeing team obliging with leniency for their brutality and perhaps a few honest mistakes thrown in to assist, but this wouldn’t be the end of the world (unless you’re near George Square afterwards, where it might look like it is) because I look at their team and just don’t see anything to get concerned about there.

    They are so predictable and soft-centred that they will drop points here there and everywhere, so any points we did lose to them will be made up elsewhere.

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