John McGlynn has been given a very warm welcome by Celtic’s Champion League rivals Alashkert. The Celtic scout travelled to Armenia to prepare a detailed report on the side Celtic will face on 10 July as the Armenian Champions get three warm up friendlies in ahead of Celtic arriving.
Brendan Rodgers revealed some amusing insight into how the Celtic spy has got on and how accommodating the hosts have been towards McGlynn.
“John McGlynn is over on his travels and has done so well. He actually got a lift to the Alashkert game on their team bus.
“They took him there on the bus and dropped him back! He obviously spoke very well and mannerly to them!
“Everybody talks of the heat in Armenia. It’s going to be later in the evening but it will still be hot.
“We just have to get through these games. Find no excuses and just get the job done.”
The Celtic manager reckons it is rather unfair that the Scottish Champions and other prominent league winning sides across Europe outside of the big leagues, have to go through 8 qualifying matches to reach the so Champions League, but he appreciates that there is little point worrying about that at this stage.
“Is it unfair? Absolutely, but what can you do? There is clearly a hierarchy. I suppose it will be frustrating for countries not seen within that.
“Having to go through eight games — you certainly know after you get in that you have earned it. It’s way above all of our heads so we just have to deal with it and try to get there.
“I try not to overthink it. My only feeling is to get the players prepared as best I can, take care of the details and let’s get on with it.”
Rodgers, as always, will take nothing for granted in any of the games, and will always give an opponent the respect that they deserve.
“There is a great sense of humility in the group. We are never over-confident.
“But we have qualified twice now. There are always challenges in it but the team and squad are at a good stage to deal with it.
“The games are always fraught and there is always something in there that makes it difficult.
“But the players have gained a lot of confidence in the last couple of years. We will try to use that.
“We had a 20-minute spell against Astana last season that was hard but apart from that we were superb in the qualifiers.”
Rodgers has succeeded where Ronny Deila failed in guiding Celtic to the Group stages in both his seasons in charge and he hopes to make it three in a row over the next month or so.
“Firstly, the aim is to get in there. That’s the first hurdle.
“Then when they do, it will always then be the challenge of trying to get out of the group.
“The couple of seasons I’ve been involved we have been in with at least two teams who are quarter-finalists.
“But we have to take on that challenge. It’s a major test and we can’t cry about it.
“It’s the elite competition in club football so we all learn from it. But year on year it gets more difficult with the financial gap.”