Brendan Rodgers left behind some incredible memories for Celtic supporters after his tenure as manager, but he also left behind more than a few memorable far-flung stories. From meetings with Rangers fans in the Clyde Tunnel to Charly Musonda’s Real Madrid squad, the Irishman had the gift of error to match his undoubted coaching quality.
Perhaps his strangest tale, though, involves Danny McGrain, and it may not be the one that immediately springs to mind.
Rodgers once famously told how Celtic legend McGrain asked him – referring to him as ‘The Boss’ – if he was still wanted at the club when he arrived as manager, to which Rodgers replied: “As far as while I’m here, you.” are you here’. McGrain himself, it should be noted, cannot recall the interaction.
For Anthony Ralston, though, the comparison Rodgers once made between the then right-back and club great McGrain really takes the cake, with the 23-year-old modest enough to admit that he has been doing so of late. he is unlikely to ever be able to tie McGrain’s boots.
However, there is one area where Ralston has now eclipsed McGrain, and that is in goal shares. Ralston scored five goals last season as he revived his career at Celtic, and now has 10 in his career, while for all McGrain’s brilliance he scored just nine goals in his 18 years of playing.
McGrain is still very much at the club despite Rodgers’ departure, and he will hear all about that statistic the next time Ralston bumps into him in the corridors at Lennoxtown.
There were some individual moments, but the most important thing is what we did as a team. There were big moments throughout the season and everyone to a man grew.
Celtic have strengthened that team bond and collective ethos at their pre-season training camp in Austria and the Czech Republic over the past fortnight, but they returned to training in Lennoxtown yesterday.
Ralston expects a good test in front of a sold-out Celtic Park crowd and he can’t help but think back to a year ago when West Ham were the opposition in the respective friendly last summer. The landscape around the club could hardly be more different than it is now, with new manager Ange Postecoglou scrambling to assemble a squad in time for the start of the season.
With the humbling 6-2 defeat proving the end for some players at the club but a new beginning for players like Ralston.
The determined nature of Celtic’s squad this summer has made that process even easier, with the vast majority of players now immersed in the culture of continuous improvement that Postecoglou has instilled at the club.