Hugh reckons Gers finally has a man of substance in the dugout to try and lay a glove on Rodgers.
Philippe Clement will, by now, appreciate he has left behind the earth’s atmosphere and landed on Planet Glasgow.
Not so much Outer Space as Inner Turmoil. The place where there is nothing but gravity. The new Rangers manager used his introduction to the media on Tuesday to say he would need time to make his mark at Ibrox. He had the maximum time allotted between 3 pm and 5 pm yesterday afternoon when Rangers played Hibs.
The meter is now running. Celtic have won 11 of the last 12 league titles. Rangers have won two trophies in 12 years. That is all he needs to know. Clement has the financial security of a contract safeguarding his arrival at, and exit from, Ibrox so substantial it comes into the golden handcuffs category. Rangers have taken a financial gamble because they believe they have invested in a man of substance. And this is where starting today, Brendan Rodgers comes into the equation.
The Belgian is the first heavyweight opponent Brendan has had to face as Celtic manager – the first time out or the Second Coming. When the ref blows his whistle at Tynecastle at 2.15 pm today it will signal the start of arguably the toughest week in Rodgers’ life at Celtic.
Hearts away is always a challenge characterized by contentious VAR decisions and late goals. Athletico Madrid – Antoine Griezmann and all – at home in the Champions League on Wednesday night has the risk of disruption off the park as well as on it because of the political wing of Celtic’s support.
And then there are Hibs away next weekend while Clement looks to see what early running he can make in a league title race rebooted after the removal of Michael Beale. The Talkative One fitted the pattern of Rodgers’ life at Celtic. Up until now.
First of all, he was confronted by Mark Warburton, who was not up to the confrontation. Then came the Banter Years.
Two lots of Graeme Murty and his flailing arms were sandwiched in between the 227 days of mirth and merriment for the Celtic fans that was Pedro Caixinha’s ill-conceived and totally underwhelming time in charge of Rangers. Steven Gerrard was a wet-behind-the-ears appointment who was taken to school by Rodgers who upped sticks for Leicester City and left Neil Lennon to complete the formality of winning the league title.
But now it looks different. Clement has the appearance of someone with a back story of managerial success in Belgium unable to be dismissed at first glance.
What Philippe now has to get his head around is our idiosyncratic wee world on Planet Glasgow. I have a mental image of someone telling Clement that he must protect the Fifty-Five and the manager asking himself “Fifty-Five what?”
Allow me, Philippe. The title must be won by Rangers this season to prevent Celtic from getting perilously close to equalling, or bettering, the 55 championships won by Rangers in their history.
There is a row over the length of their existence – but that will have to be for another day. Not only are you in charge of 2023. You also have the responsibility of looking after everything since 1873.
Your opposite number, at what you will come to know as the club across the road on the other side of the city, can give you a heads up on how it works in this rarified atmosphere. He won seven trophies out of seven for Celtic then changed jobs. When he came back to Planet Glasgow he was, for some of his own club’s fans, unloved and unwanted.
Luckily for Celtic, he was undeterred. But circumstances, and personnel, can undergo change. Life is now different from the way it was when Rodgers was advancing in an unobstructed fashion ahead of Beale toward another title.
A draw is back to being a disaster and a defeat is a catastrophe – because the air is never thin on Planet Glasgow, only thick with anxiety.