Jose Mourinho’s star pupil was the outstanding candidate for Celtic post, insists Peter Lawwell

  • Brendan Rodgers has signed a 12-month contract as Celtic manager 
  • Rodgers once served under Jose Mourinho as Chelsea youth team coach 
  • New Celtic boss had roles at Watford, Reading, Swansea and Liverpool

In the eyes of Peter Lawwell, Celtic might just have landed their very own Special One.

The Parkhead chief executive insists there were others who impressed, who made their mark, during the process set in motion to find Ronny Deila's replacement. In the end, however, he is adamant Brendan Rodgers stood above them all.

By successfully concluding a 12-month rolling contract agreement with the 43-year-old, Lawwell firmly believes Celtic have secured an exceptional manager capable of restoring the club's European standing.

Brendan Rodgers has signed a 12-month contract to succeed Ronny Deila as Celtic's new manager

Brendan Rodgers has signed a 12-month contract to succeed Ronny Deila as Celtic's new manager

Rodgers was once hand-picked by Jose Mourinho to become Chelsea's youth team coach, accelerating a process of development that would lead to front-line posts at Watford, Reading, Swansea and, most recently, Liverpool.

Twelve years on from his selection by the original, self-proclaimed Special One, the qualities that set Rodgers apart – both professionally and personally – were emphasised by Lawwell at a gala unveiling inside Celtic Park.

'The first thing to say is to welcome Brendan and his family,' insisted Lawwell. 'This is a very special football club and I think we've got a very special manager.

'There was huge interest in the job. We met a number of candidates who were of the highest calibre. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them because they were very impressive.

'But Brendan was the outstanding candidate and we were delighted that he accepted when we made the offer to him.

'He is a manager of the highest calibre. He is known around the world as a fantastic coach, a fantastic manager and a fantastic man.

'The added value is that he has a great affinity and affection for Celtic. That is very important when you come to this magnificent football club.

'So I think we have a very special man, a very special manager and I'm really hopeful that there are special times ahead for this club.'

David Moyes, Malky Mackay and Neil Lennon were among the other candidates with whom discussions were held following Deila's decision to step down.

There was a profound contrast between the Norwegian's arrival and what Parkhead witnessed yesterday.

Rodgers used to travel from Northern Ireland to Glasgow with his cousins to watch the Hoops

Rodgers used to travel from Northern Ireland to Glasgow with his cousins to watch the Hoops

In 2014, Celtic fans were still Googling Deila's name even as he was sitting in front of the microphones and cameras. Rodgers, of course, needed no such introduction.

By 6pm, the old main stand at Parkhead was pretty much full, with supporters spreading further round the stadium.

In all around 10,000 fans turned out to see Rodgers, to bask in the sunshine and delight in an appointment that aims to re-energise the club.

Rodgers had spoken earlier of his determination to fill this stadium once again, a declaration that drew applause from those fans listening to the media conference via a PA system. This wasn't a bad start without a ball being kicked.

'Brendan is the manager, so in that sense his remit is exactly the same as Ronny,' said Lawwell, when asked about the comparison.

'He is in charge of the football department, all aspects of it – as was Ronny. So that means recruitment, medical, performance analysis and all the other functions.

Rodgers' family members, who have been l;ifelong Celtic fans, were invited to Parkhead on Monday

Rodgers' family members, who have been l;ifelong Celtic fans, were invited to Parkhead on Monday

'In terms of the actual job it is the same. But Brendan brings a little more experience than Ronny from his time in England and with Liverpool.

'So in terms of his experience of the intensity that comes with working with a large football club, he probably brings that with him to a greater degree than Ronny did.'

A backroom team will soon follow Rodgers. Then it will be time to make decisions on the squad. Who stays, who goes, who will be added?

As ever, the latter aspect will be of particular interest. Rodgers is coming here as the best paid manager in Celtic's history, earning a salary in the region of £1.7million. There will also be a further outlay on transfers to help reshape the squad.

Clearly, Rodgers is working in a very different market to that which he knew before. The £30m or so he once spent on bringing Christian Benteke to Liverpool would cover Celtic's net outgoings on players for years to come.

The former Liverpool manager Rodgers was greeted by thousands of fan at his unveiling 

The former Liverpool manager Rodgers was greeted by thousands of fan at his unveiling 

Lawwell made it clear there will be funds available. But there will be no lavish departure from the model of the recent past. Securing 'value' will be key.

'We only met a week ago, so we have to sit down, assess the squad, see what is required and then take it from there,' said Lawwell.

'We haven't really discussed that. What we have to realise here, and we have said this many times, is that we live within our means at Celtic and we create value.

'We can create value from finding players and developing players. And we can do that with our own players. It is a bit of both.

'If there are players out there who we feel can complement what we are doing then that will be there, as it was with Ronny.'

Rodgers, who previously managed Liverpool and Swansea, is known for his free-flowing, attacking style

Rodgers, who previously managed Liverpool and Swansea, is known for his free-flowing, attacking style

Lawwell was then pressed on whether, in hindsight, Celtic might have spent more to try and qualify for the Champions League after two successive failures under Deila.

'Of course it is easy to talk in hindsight,' he responded. 'In my time, I don't think the manager has been told 'no' many times in terms of not being able to go for a certain player.

'People who come to the job understand how we work. They understand the restrictions. And in the vast majority of times they work well within that.

'It's about assessing what you have, looking where the gaps are and trying to fill those gaps with the best available players within the financial constraints of being a Scottish football club.' 

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