“As soon as that flag is up we are looking to win it again,” Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers was delighted with the second half performance by his second Celtic side that played Athletic Club last night but frustrated by the first half showing. Th Celtic manager though was overall thrilled at the manner in which the players rose to the challenge against top quality opposition to win the match for James Forrest, on his richly deserved testimonial match.

“It wasn’t a great start. We are obviously really happy for James [Forrest] and the overall performance of the team for him,” the Celtic manager said to Celtic TV.

“I thought in the first half we were not very good if I am honest. I don’t think we started well, we were very passive and gave the ball away. We had some guys playing their first minutes of pre-season so it was a little bit broken.

“I thought the second half was excellent as our positioning was really good and we kept the ball well. We showed good energy in the second half and I thought our attitude was really good. We scored two excellent goals in the second half and overall I am pleased.

“It was a really good game to finish with against a good side, and a lovely turnout for James in terms of the supporters. We will be better, and we can be better, but it was a good end to our pre-season,” Rodgers said.

On his new signings making their first appearance before the Celtic support at Paradise, Rodgers had mixed reports on how well they handled their Parkhead debuts.

“I think some coped better than others. That is the nature of it when you come to a huge club and we all know how heavy the jersey is and the demands of being a Celtic player. That is what you have to cope with.

“I thought Maik (Nawrocki), for the first time, was excellent. Odin (Thiago Holm) was very good in the second half, along with Matt O’Riley in midfield. Those two were very good. I thought Yang (Hyun-jun) was excellent on the outside.

“It was also great to see Anthony Ralston come back. He played really well after being out for a long time. I think the new guys settled in well. They get a sense of what it is like to play here and obviously, that expectation only grows,” the Celtic boss said.

Now the attention turns away from the pre-season and onto the season opener on Saturday lunchtime against Ross County at Celtic Park.

“There is a couple of days to go but we will be ready for Saturday when it matters,” Rodgers added. “The players have worked very hard and have lots of minutes in their legs. They are coming off the back of a game on Saturday as well. It all helps the preparation. I am really pleased.

“We will refine some tactical details over the next few days but overall, I am really happy and we will be ready for the weekend.

“I think Saturday brings to an end the celebration of winning the treble and of course winning the league, which is the bread and butter. As soon as that flag is up we are looking to not just defend it but also win it again. That all starts on Saturday.”

Bet you can’t wait!

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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