Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic prophecy is coming into view and could be his greatest achievement

Brendan Rodgers addresses fans outside
Brendan Rodgers addresses fans outside -Credit:SNS Group

'For those who are with me and have always been with me, let’s enjoy the journey. For those who I need to convince, I’ll see you here in May…’

Those were bold words from Brendan Rodgers when he stood outside Celtic Park last June in front of a few hundred diehards. Rangers fans used them to bash him a fair bit up until the last few weeks. But Hoops supporters are now convinced the Rodgers Prophecy is going to come to pass. Perhaps Parkhead punters should cool their jets just a tad for now. This is only April. The league is not done and dusted yet, even if if is starting to look like the wheels have come off at Rangers, along with engine blowing a gasket. Rodgers will know that as well.

And he’ll also know if he does come good on his word and ended up outside the stadium with shiny pots in each hand, the achievement will arguably be up there as his greatest achievement at Celtic. That might sound sacrilegious to some fans, who – understandably – hold up the Invincible Treble as one of the all-time great seasons.

But this year has been a different kind of challenge. In fact, it’s been a different set of challenges. Rodgers has had to deal with more nonsense this year than he did in his entire first spell at the club. Back then the only bumps in the road involved a few sore European encounters and wondering what the heck Leigh Griffiths was up to any any given time. This year? Rodgers could write a few new chapters in the coaching manual with what he’s had to deal with.

Civil war with a section of the fans, actual war in the Middle East, key men going through the revolving door in the treatment room, the club’s recruitment department falling to bits, a minor, ridiculous sexism storm, and Rangers looking – for a while at least – like they’d got their act together under a proper manager.

All of these factors has given this season a whiff of the covid campaign, when Sod’s Law – which suggests anything that can go wrong, will – managed to sink Neil Lennon’s 10-in-a-Row bid. Yet now everything is starting to fall into place for Rodgers and Celtic. He said last week, this is the time in the year when his club comes alive.

The same can be said about him. There have been times when he’s looked scunnered with it all. He’s been frustrated with transfer business, exasperated with officials and VAR, even slightly grumpy with the media, who have asked awkward questions when first time around the toughest poser he had to field was what he was having for his tea that night.

Some of it has been justified. Celtic haven’t been firing on all cylinders all of this season and scrutiny comes with his gig. Some of it has been harsh, and even perhaps a bit personal.

Yet a lot more of it has come from his own support than the slightly more balanced analysis from the scribes and broadcasters. Rodgers has circled the wagons though and pulled out every trick in the manager’s handbook, while adding a few of his own.

There has been a siege mentality around the place and it might just be starting to pay off. Rodgers will entitled to tell everyone I told you so if his Prophecy rings true.

Some will still say he’s fortunate to be sitting in pole position and that’s it’s down to the major wobble across the city. It’s certainly helped. But so has the fact Rodgers and his squad have turned up the heat to force the nervous breakdown at Rangers.

When the Ibrox side hit top spot in February, it looked like the title was only going one way. When Celtic lost to Hearts the day after Rangers unexpectedly crashed at home to Motherwell, it seemed like a major chance gone to seize back the momentum.

Instead, Rodgers regrouped and put the foot down. The late goals at Hibs and Motherwell before then are starting to look absolutely colossal for Celts and hammer blows to Gers. The Light Blues have visibly wilted as the weeks have rolled on while the champions have grown in stature and belief.

While Philippe Clement has developed a 1000-yard stare in recent weeks, Rodgers have got tunnel vision. It’s got through to his players as well. When asked last week about the pressure of the business end, Adam Idah had the gaze of a man about to tuck into a tasty tornado steak.

Meanwhile their rival are making a meal of things and look like they can’t trust the next botty burp. Idah – who was so vital to those big Hibs and Motherwell wins, as well as the crucial draw at Ibrox – is a fairly quiet lad, he’s confident rather than arrogant, but there is a sense of enjoying the thrill of the fight. Unlike across the city.

But Rodgers and Celtic can’t get the chicken calculators out just yet. Some of the squad issues that have held them back at times this term are still there. And they have to assume they will still need to see out the remaining five games of the league campaign without defeat.

But the Rodgers Prophecy is very much coming in to view and if he pulls this off there will be far more than a few hundred fans outside Parkhead to greet him. There will be thousands – and no more doubters.