Celtic and Brendan Rodgers picked a strategically-inspired moment to reveal that the manager had signed a four-year contract extension. With the team only two games short of a clean sweep of the Scottish honours and with Rodgers’s name already being connected with potential appointments in England, the announcement was timely, to say the least.
Having secured the Scottish title with a resounding win over Hearts last Sunday, Celtic could finish the season unbeaten in domestic competitions and also with a record points total and, despite the frequently-cited caveat that no effective force exists to challenge the Parkhead side in Scotland, the remorseless and usually-stylish fashion in which these aims have been achieved makes for a heady cocktail of feats.
Even before Christmas, when Rodgers had been in charge for only six months, Hoops fans were voicing anxiety that he might be lured elsewhere before long.
Rodgers has responded with regular declarations of bred-to-the-bone loyalty and a commitment to the work in progress in the east end of Glasgow, utterances which contrasted with his employment on the one-year rolling contract favoured by Celtic in recent years. The Northern Irishman knows his own worth and the Parkhead board likewise understand how to mine the value of a prize asset.
Thus it was that the significance of a deal extended to 2021 was grasped immediately by Hoops fans – and, of course, by their Rangers counterparts. If Rodgers supervises title triumphs in each of the next four years, Celtic will accomplish the fabled 10-in-a-row, surpassing Rangers’ nine successive championships, under Graeme Souness and Walter Smith, and the same sequence supervised by Jock Stein, although not the legendary Parkhead manager’s distinction of having seen the feat through from start to finish.
Rodgers, as is his wont, acknowledged the potential of a unique place in the chronicles, while characteristically playing it down – note the use of the qualifying word in his response to the obvious question. “The length of contract wasn't necessarily built around that (10 in a row). It was more of a commitment looking forward in terms of improvement, seeing some of our young players through from the academy,” he said.
“We have been talking for a little while and it felt the right thing to do. I couldn't be happier. I came in here on a rolling one-year contract but, of course, it’s not just a decision of mine. I'm very grateful for the commitment of the board.
“Professionally and personally I'm in a great place. People in football understand that the Scottish League, like a lot of European leagues, is not as competitive as the Premier League in England.
“I am not really bothered. For me Celtic is the greatest club in the world. I have the privilege to manage it and while I manage it I want to make it the best I possibly can.
“A few years ago, I might have been in a rush but you learn through experience that you have to cherish what you have. It's the beginning of the journey.
“We have only been here a short time but there's a lot more to achieve and it was going to be very hard for me to sit with Craig Gordon, Kieran Tierney, Tom Rogic and James Forrest and all these boys and ask them to commit their futures to Celtic and me on a one-year rolling contract.
“Players will always look at the manager and see how long he is connected to the club. If I am committed to the club fully, that makes it a little bit easier for them to make that decision. That is important."
Qualification for the group stage of the Champions League was Rodgers’s first accomplishment at Parkhead but Celtic’s impressive accumulation of domestic victories – 28 from 31 in the Scottish Premiership plus seven in the cup competitions – was bound to attract attention from England and beyond.
And if Celtic and Rodgers receive an offer they can’t refuse? Victory after victory got them this far, so it is entirely apt that the new arrangement means that, whatever happens next, it is win-win for both.