Chris McLaughlin's words of the weekend: Jon Daly slams Brendan Rodgers

By Chris McLaughlinBBC Scotland's senior football reporter
Daly & Rodgers at odds over comments

BBC Scotland's senior football reporter, Chris McLaughlin, analyses a talking point from the weekend's action, asking what's behind the words.

Hearts head coach Jon Daly, talking to BBC Scotland
"He's obviously come up to Scotland and thinks he's the biggest fish in the biggest pond, with the best squad, with the best budget and he thinks he can comment on other teams, other people's structures or clubs and it's unacceptable."

As soon as Jon Daly started talking to me after his side's defeat to Celtic, I knew he was angry. This was a different kind of anger, though.

Usually, a manager's fury is directed at the referee or his assistant for a decision deemed dodgy. This was something else. The interim Hearts boss' rage was simmering away as he gave his assessment of the match - then he let rip.

He, and others within the Hearts hierarchy, had taken exception to Brendan Rodgers' comments about their signing policy. The Celtic manager basically said the players recruited didn't fit Ian Cathro's playing style. The point was made as he gave his support to the man who had been shown the door at Tynecastle just days before.

Little riles a football club more than a counterpart looking over the fence and pointing out what is going wrong - especially when it comes to off-field matters.

There has always been an unwritten rule that it simply doesn't happen. The perception of this rule being broken is what prompted the former striker to hit out at a man who has enjoyed nothing but universal praise since his arrival in Glasgow.

Rodgers questions Hearts recruitment

Daly and Hearts believe Rodgers overstepped the mark and decided, very publicly, to let him and the rest of Scottish football know. Some believe Craig Levein should have stepped in, given the apparent criticism appeared to be levelled at him in particular.

There was never a chance of that happening. Hearts' director of football is keen to work away in the background and enjoys being away from questions and microphones.

The outburst in general has been welcomed by some who see the situation akin to an under-resourced David firing one into the eye of the over-resourced and arrogant Goliath, but like most things in football, the truth and the tale rarely collide.

In true tactical style, when Rodgers came to the microphone, his response to Daly's outburst was a combination of defence and attack. As ever, he chose his words wisely and attempted to defuse the situation but was barbed when asked about the possibility of breaking managerial omerta.

Hearts director of football Craig Levein
Craig Levein is content to steer clear of media duties in his role as Hearts' director of football

"Well, he's not a manager yet," Rodgers retorted - a brief, yet clear glimpse of a side to the Celtic manager rarely seen. Always statesmanlike in his approach to interviews and media conferences, there are some members of the media who have found themselves on the wrong end of some sharp words.

The steel is never far from the smile, but underpinning it all is a pure fixation with football.

The former Liverpool boss is a man whose eyes light up when talking about the game. Yes, he's polite and articulate when being asked the obvious, but when talking tactics and discussing footballing methodology, he comes alive.

Ask anyone who spends time in his company and they will tell you he lives for football. Could it be, then, that in offering his support to a fellow manager, his desire to talk about the intricacies of the game became his trap door into what was perceived to be arrogance?

What we can probably say with some degree of certainty is that openness and passion were the winners of the opening day ding-dong.

As journalists, we crave a look behind the curtain of cliches. Rodgers says he'll continue to provide honest answers to questions asked and, like Jon Daly's passionate defence of his club, that is just fine with me.

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