“Celtic’s never good for the blood pressure,” Brendan Rodgers

Here’s what Brendan Rodgers had to say at his post-match media conference at Fir Park this afternoon after Celtic came from a goal down at the interval to secure a vital 3-1 victory over Motherwell to reduce theRangers lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership table to just two points.

Q: You got there in the end, didn’t you?

Brendan Rodgers: “We weren’t so good in the first half, the passes were too long and not enough connection in our game. And to concede a goal from a throw-in was disappointing. But I’m very, very proud of the team.

“We reiterated at half-time just to play our game. I could sense a wee bit of anxiety in our passing and not quite clean enough with it. Obviously, when you are giving the ball away, it can make you feel like that. But it was just a case of some positional shifts and just reinforcing the mentality, and then obviously we get an early goal in the second half and then the football flows. I thought we were outstanding in the second half.”

Q: Was it a big thing to shake off the anxiety?

Brendan Rodgers: “You can’t deny it when we conceded late last week. We’ve had a really good week’s training but then, it’s a poor goal we gave away. But we responded magnificently well. Before performance, you always have a belief and that’s what I always feel Celtic have and we know that we’ll always keep going right to the end. We saw that belief in the second half.”

Q: Does this have the feeling of a big three points, the way you got them?

Brendan Rodgers: “Listen, if we drew the game, four points is nothing, it really isn’t. With 11 games to go, it’s not an insurmountable lead. But obviously to get the win is important for mentality and convincing of how we play. We play with those connections, play with that aggression and that mentality, we’ll win more games than we draw or lose. The second half was absolutely brilliant and it always seems to be late goals here at Motherwell over the two spells. I’m really pleased for everyone.”

Q: Adam Idah made a great impact when he came on was his substitution tactical or was Kyogo injured?

Brendan Rodgers: “Tactical. Kyogo had a little knock on his shoulder but we weren’t getting anything. That’s the reality. Kyogo’s strengths are running in behind and running into space, but this is a game when we need that, and Adam can do that, we also need a reference in the team. And as soon as the big guy comes into the game, he sets it up so well for us. He scores two brilliant goals. His first one is an amazing header – it’s a great cross by Greg but his header is absolutely brilliant. And then obviously he makes his first-post run and gets the second one.

“I think the guys coming into the game made a really good impact. Yang was good, he gave us the width and attacked on the outside and created space for the passes inside. Palma comes in and scores a goal as well, and gets into the second post for the cross. I thought for the mentality of the team, the quality they showed – and the pitch was a wee bit bobbly – I thought the second half they were brilliant.”

Q: What does it do for the blood pressure?

Brendan Rodgers: “Celtic’s never good for the blood pressure, that’s for sure! It never is. It shows the belief, and that has to be at the forefront of everything because that comes before performance. Before you go out onto the pitch, you need to believe, and that’s what we work on with the players.

“It hasn’t been the most fluent this season for so many reasons, but now I think we are getting some key players back and it is starting to really stiffen it up for us. It allows us to have that base to attack the games, and they have that belief to keep going. It is what this club is known for, and every group has to have it. If you play for Celtic, you need to keep going until the very end.”

Q: Is having Cameron Carter-Vickers back a boost?

Brendan Rodgers: “Yeah, it’s massive for us. You see when he comes into the game, there’s no trouble. The big guy up front gave us a problem in the first half with his strength and his size, and Cam comes in and just controls that side of it and allows us to play and get forward quicker because he’s controlling that along with Scalesy. So, him coming back is huge for us.”

Q: The optics would look so different and the narrative would have been written if you had gone four points behind in the title race, wouldn’t it?

Brendan Rodgers: “Absolutely. And I think the story is already written for us this season, and that is the one thing that I reinforce with the players. All the noise, everything that has been around this team for virtually the whole season. We get the chance to write our story, no one else. And that is what we will do.

“Today was very, very important for that, for the belief, so now we go into our next game and the optics of it are that it’s two points and very, very close. I think that is how it is going to be through to the end, but it’s about playing with that mentality in the second half. When we do that, we look like a really good team.”

Q: Did you have to reiterate the gravity of the moment at half-time?

Brendan Rodgers: “No, it was just about staying calm in that moment. It was more the football and the performance, we were arriving into areas too early which gave players fewer options on the ball, which meant the passes were longer and they were looking into depth too much. Sometimes that happens in the game, so at half time it was just about staying calm, reinforcing the good bits of the game, but actually where we needed to adapt in order to connect the game.

“That is what this team is about. It’s about running and connecting the game fast, lots of passes, getting it out to the sides, making runs in behind, getting crosses into the box from half-space wide areas. Technically, we needed to make some adjustments, but all at the same time, stay calm. Stay calm, because it’s one goal in it and I know this team and I know this club.

“Once you get into a roll and get your flow and your rhythm, you can really be aggressive and go on and score more goals. The players were magnificent second half, I’ve got to say, under the pressure of being behind. They dealt with it really well.”

Q: Do you need 90-minute performances instead of 45 minutes here and there?

Brendan Rodgers: ‘That’s the plan, it always is. But if you can’t, then it’s important that you react. We had that last week against Kilmarnock. We ourselves brought the anxiety in that game, it was nothing really that Kilmarnock did, with the greatest of respect.

“We brought the anxiety ourselves, and we brought it on a little bit today in the first half because of our decision-making on the ball and our passing being a little bit loose and not quick enough. Once we then organised that the team were very, very good.”

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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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