NEW manager, new players, new season, same old Green Brigade.

The members of the Celtic ultras group are, like any supporter at any club, perfectly entitled to be unhappy with any appointment that is made or decision which is taken by their directors.

So if they want to highlight their disgust at Brendan Rodgers – who they branded “The Rat” when he departed for Leicester City before the end of the 2018-19 season with the Premiership and Scottish Cup still to be won – being brought back in then that is entirely their prerogative.

Even if they feel the need to stay away from Parkhead to do so.

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But was the James Forrest testimonial match against Athletic Bilbao on Tuesday night really the right time for them to indicate their displeasure at Rodgers returning?

The safe standing section at the Glasgow ground was virtually empty when the winger, one of their most decorated servants, emerged from the tunnel before kick-off. It was sad to see. Would a banner or a chant not have sufficed? Forrest deserved far better.

By all accounts, the Green Brigade have issues with testimonials. They didn’t trap when their legendary former captain Scott Brown was honoured with a meeting against the Republic of Ireland in 2018 either.

The Herald:

Rodgers’ first home game back in the dugout, however, would unquestionably have been an underlying factor in their no-show too.

The absence of the hardcore element of the Celtic support did nothing to mar proceedings. Those fans who had turned up to show their respects cheered their team to a timely and morale-boosting 3-2 win over the Spanish visitors. It proved to be a decent workout ahead of the new season.

Will, though, the disaffection that still exists in the East End of Glasgow about Rodgers taking over have a negative impact on the Scottish champions domestically and in Europe in the forthcoming campaign?

Time will tell if the players who Michael Beale has brought in to Ibrox during the summer – and no fewer than nine new recruits have rocked up in Govan in recent weeks – are good enough to lift major honours in this country.

Yet, Beale has spent nearly £15m bringing in players with Bundesliga, Championship, Eredivisie, MLS, Premier League and Serie A experience and the strong likelihood is that Rangers will be far more formidable opponents in the 2022-23 campaign.

The likes of Jack Butland, Jose Cifuentes, Danilo, Cyriel Dessers, Kieran Dowell, Sam Lammers and Dujon Sterling have replaced Filip Helander, Ryan Kent, Allan McGregor, Alfredo Morelos and Mateus Zukowski – individuals who either stayed too long or were just not good enough in the first place.

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Getting his close season acquisitions to gel into a cohesive unit quickly and deal with the unique physical and mental demands of the Scottish game will be a considerable challenge for their English manager.

However, he certainly had little difficult integrating Todd Cantwell and Nico Raskin into his starting line-up after the midfield duo arrived back in January.

Rodgers is a vastly experienced coach with a proven track record at the highest level who knows all about the demands and scrutiny at Celtic and has shown before he is more than capable of handling them.

Yes, he was sacked by Leicester as the struggling King Power Stadium club battled to avoid relegation last season. But there were extenuating circumstances. He has not become a bad manager overnight. 

The Herald:

That said, he will be doing well to replicate the unprecedented success which he enjoyed at his boyhood heroes this time around. During his first spell, Rangers had just returned to the top flight after four years in the lower leagues and were nowhere near the force they are now.

Having faced the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Spurs on a regular basis in the past few years, and savoured some noteworthy results against all of them, Rodgers will not fear the challenge which his side’s city rivals will present.

Nor will he be fazed if a section among the fanbase target him for abuse. The 50-year-old knew exactly what to expect when he agreed to come back to Celtic. If his charges perform well at home and abroad and maintain their dominance he will win round most, but not all, of his detractors.

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He can, though, ill afford there to be any unwelcome unrest in the stands. The title race this term promises to be a tight and he needs the treble winners’ supporters to get firmly behind both him and his team if they are to come out on top for the third year running.

Whatever your opinion of the Green Brigade, you cannot deny they bring colour, noise and atmosphere to Parkhead. When the side is struggling to perform they can lift their spirits. They create an intimidating environment for visiting sides.

If they fail to back their new manager fully it will play into the hands of their greatest adversaries after their summer spending spree and increase their chances of lifting silverware.