Five key things Brendan Rodgers must achieve as manager of Celtic

Brendan Rodgers will be expected to deliver at Celtic
Brendan Rodgers will be expected to deliver at Celtic

Brendan Rodgers has been announced as the 18th manager in Celtic’s history.

Here are key issues the new man in charge will have to address if he is to make a success of himself at Parkhead.

1. Seal a Champions League spot

Do this in his first few weeks in the job and Ronny Deila’s replacement will find he has made life a whole lot easier for himself. The Norwegian failed to cash in on Rangers’ financial implosion by leading his side to the big-money group stages, despite having three goes at qualifying for Europe’s premier competition. That allowed £30million of potential revenue to slip through the club’s fingers - a sum which would have put them out of sight upon the Gers’ top-flight return. A Champions League windfall would go a long way to ensuring Celtic remain on top.

2. Rebalance the squad

The make-up of Rodgers’ new group is all wrong. Too big and stacked in the wrong areas, it left Deila looking like he had no idea what his strongest line-up was. While short on options at the back and with only one credible striking option in 40-goal Leigh Griffiths, the new boss has 17 midfielders to choose from - plus another five out on loan at other clubs. Kris Commons is arguably the most talented individual in the entire Celtic squad but was never trusted by Deila. The boss could have made a statement and moved the former Scotland forward on. Instead the club allowed him to hang around and sulk after handing him a fresh two-year deal. Rodgers will have to quickly strip out the dead wood and beef up the defence and forward areas.

3. Make better use of resources

One of the main reasons Deila was hired by chief executive Peter Lawwell was because of his track record of bringing through youngsters such as Martin Odegaard at former club Stromsgodset. He was expected to polish up the raw talent plucked out by Celtic’s scouts from around the world but in the end found himself relying on many of predecessor Neil Lennon’s signings as his own buys failed. Almost £4million was wasted on flops Stefan Scepovic and Nadir Ciftci, with more spent on the likes of Gary Mackay-Steven, Stuart Armstrong, Dedryck Boyata, Scott Allan and Ryan Christie who have either disappointed so far or been frozen out. Rodgers next must produce a much better success rate in the transfer market.

4. Reconnect with the fans

Deila certainly knew how to whip the passionate Celtic faithful into a frenzy with the ‘Ronny Roar’. But that did not disguise the fact that many Hoops supporters have grown disillusioned with the direction their club has been going in recent years. The average gate at Parkhead this year is 44,321 - meaning every time the Hoops run out at home there have been around 16,000 empty seats. When Lennon took over in 2010, he promised to restore the “thunder” to Celtic Park - Rodgers needs to repeat the trick.

5. Hold off Rangers’ resurgence

The 64,000-dollar question over the last four years has been just what state will the Ibrox club be in when they finally make their return to the top flight. Sunday’s Old Firm victory at Hampden gave the clearest answer yet. In the space of 10 months, Mark Warburton has developed a dynamic squad capable of producing spellbinding football. The Englishman insists there is still a gap to be bridged if his side are to challenge the Hoops’ dominance, but after the Light Blues passed their old foes off the Hampden pitch at the weekend, that appears to be an overly cautious statement. The first derby clash will be an important marker for the season ahead and a victory for Celtic’s new manager might slow down some of the momentum Rangers are building.