Brendan Rodgers and Celtic are at crossroads of ambitions as fans will spot one thing a mile away - Hugh Keevins

I presume Brendan Rodgers will simply bypass Celtic’s board and speak directly to Dermot Desmond about his summer transfer budget.

Desmond, the effective owner of the club, was the man who ignored all others in positions of authority to make Rodgers the highest-paid manager in the history of Scottish football following Ange Postecoglou’s departure for Spurs a year ago. Organ grinders and monkeys and all that kind of stuff.

The howls of protest from those who were outraged by that decision to welcome Rodgers back never at any point registered with Desmond. And never will influence him in any way. Now Rodgers has arrived at a re-run of that time in 2000 when Desmond bankrolled Martin O’Neill to cover the arrival of such as Chris Sutton, John Hartson and Alan Thompson at Celtic Park.

Winning the league title, and the Champions League windfall that comes with it, means Rodgers has access to more money than ever before. Fans have always been told expensive players come with the complication of demanding a lot of money in wages.

Are Celtic, with well over £100million at their disposal, not in a financial position now where they can afford exotic transfer fees and lavish salaries? Rodgers, on a reputed wage of £3million a year, has proved conclusively that you get what you pay for.

Over at Ibrox, meanwhile, they are carrying out an
inventory of their own while awaiting the Scottish Cup Final with Celtic on Saturday. Adding that trophy to the Viaplay Cup would surely equate with a fairly successful season for Philippe Clement after inheriting a mess from Michael Beale.

Losing – and going a complete season with no wins over Celtic – adds up to a guilty verdict. The gallery Clement has played to for weeks will now form the jury members who will deliver their verdict on him when the final whistle blows at Hampden.

Sentence on the Belgian will be deferred until the start of next season, when fans can assess the strength of the squad he has assembled to replace the one that will break up through natural wastage in the coming months.

Rangers’ manager has readily embraced the football culture in his adopted city since coming here from Belgium. But, if domestic problems arise, the embrace can turn into the Glasgow Kiss, administered by the disillusioned support.

They might fear even worse is to come if the team across the road on the other side of the city build from a position of strength. Clement went back to the gallery after losing to Celtic in the league last weekend and sold them his public declaration there was “no gap” between the clubs.

It was an observation on a par with his “moral victory” over Rodgers’ side after a draw at Ibrox and the random arithmetical gambit that Rangers had one point more than Celtic if you factored in the last six months alone.

But there most certainly is a gap – an attainment gap. The 12 titles out of the last 13 for Celtic is statistical proof and the gap could widen still further if Rodgers is allowed to buy proper players in the close season.

The manager’s press conference after last weekend’s derby win was a masterclass in the manipulation of a pivotal moment.

He had the stage and milked it for all it was worth. There was a hint of menace in his voice and an air of agitation about his demeanour as he put his critics in their place and promised a grandstand finale to the season.

There can now be an anatomical analysis of what lies ahead in the Hampden showpiece. The head-to-head between the clubs so far – one draw and three defeats for Rangers – obliges Clement’s side to go toe-to-toe with Celtic. Failure brings the Ibrox manager face-to-face with confrontation.

Whatever the outcome, Rodgers, in particular, and Celtic in general, are at a crossroads in terms of the club’s ambition given the unprecedented level of wealth they enjoy. They won the title by a margin that could have been even greater on the back of 10 points out of 12 against their greatest rivals.

But the squad suffered from the negative effects of a conveyor belt of ill-considered signings who will have to be offloaded to make room for undeniable quality. Having all that money and spending it wisely is a legally permitted form of performance enhancement.

Having all that money and spending it in a miserly fashion is a dereliction of duty and a betrayal of the fans who gathered in their thousands at midnight outside Celtic Park to welcome the new champions back from Kilmarnock on Wednesday.

The supporters will be able to tell which is which from a mile away. And so will Rodgers.