Dust settled thoughts on what Rodgers said to BBC on Saturday

After the dust has now settled on a frustrating and indeed worrying weekend for the Celtic support as our lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership was lost, a remarkable situation really when you consider how the table looked at the start of December, we thought we’d pick though what Brendan Rodgers was saying post match to BBC Scotland for their post-match interview on Sportsound.

Celtic v Kilmarnock Brendan Rodgers and Derek McInnes shake hands after the cinch Premiership match at Celtic park, on Saturday February 17, 2024. Photo Andrew Milligan

And with the dusted settled, we’ve added our own thoughts to what the Celtic manager said after each response from Brendan Rodgers to the BBC questions. Remember our comments have been added on Tuesday, while Brendan spoke to the BBC immediately after the game on Saturday…

Q: BBC Sportsound: You set high standards for this football club. How far did the team drop below that today?

Brendan Rodgers: “It was quite a way. The performance level was nowhere near what we would want. It looked like we were going to get away with it. It looked like we were going to see the game through and have a good result despite a poor performance but it ended up neither. It is very disappointing.”

The Celtic Star: There is of course an argument that even a 1-0 result, clearly far better than what actually happened, could hardly be described as a good result. Three points was the minimum target, a better performance that the last home game against Ross County, where we did hold on for a 1-0 win thanks to Joe Hart’s late heroics, was required and expected.  And we needed goals to maintain our place at the top of the table. 

Celtic Manager Brendan Rodgers, Hyunjun Yang and Paulo Bernardo at full-time. Final score Celtic 1 Kilmarnock 1. 17 February 2024. Photo Stuart Wallace/Shutterstock

Q: BBC Sportsound: How flat does the dressing room feel?

Brendan Rodgers: “You are always disappointed. I think it is the nature of how we conceded. It is not the first time that has happened. We have been in this situation a number of times now where we have been in front and not taken opportunities to extend the lead and we have given ourselves anxiety and then given the opposition something to hang onto. Naturally when you do that a number of times that will disappoint. I am disappointed for the supporters as it was a disappointing day for them and I take responsibility for that.”

The Celtic Star: Thanks for taking the responsibility Brendan but what exactly are you doing about it? It looks like you are now a one trick pony with a style of play that is so negative that it’s alien for a Celtic team, count how many times your wingers pass to our defenders, yet none are capable of creating an assist.  And your new signing Nicolas Kuhn, please play him if and when he’s ready, because at the moment he is nowhere near it. 

Q: BBC Sportsound: That’s four times it has happened at home this season – draws to St Johnstone, Motherwell, Kilmarnock and a loss to Hearts – does that concern you that it keeps happening and we are in February?

Brendan Rodgers: “Yes, absolutely. Like I said it is not a one-off. It has happened too many times. When you look at the metrics of how the team has been doing from an analysis perspective the defensive side has been the one area where there has been a drop, that’s for sure. We have been missing key players in those areas. That aside we have to be harder to beat at times and we have to be more aggressive. If you’ve got to see out a game you have got to do that. It has just happened too many times.”

Celtic captain Callum McGregor and his team mates look dejected at full-time. Final score Celtic 1 Kilmarnock 1. 17 February 2024. Photo Stuart Wallace/Shutterstock

The Celtic Star:  Dire in those games but you can add so many games at Celtic Park this season to the list. How many times have the 55,000 season ticket holders watched a good performance at Celtic Park? Far too few, Brendan.  The early warning back in August, failing to score against then bottom side St Johnstone should have set alarm bells ringing. I remember thinking that those two points could be costly come the end of the season, because the Celtic side that day never gave the impression that it was capable of running away with the league.

Q: BBC Sportsound: You have mentioned before that you want additional quality. Is that what you are alluding to in the fact that the players who came on couldn’t make the impact that you wanted? Is there a flatness there? I’m thinking of after half-time for example.

Brendan Rodgers: “No. The guys came in last week and did make an impact. I just feel they need aggression in their game whether that is with or without the ball. If you analyse the goal that we conceded late on we are in a really good position in the final third of the pitch and we didn’t make the right decisions and we give the ball away.

“How they progress through the pitch without pressure and aggression and then score at the back post is a really poor goal from our perspective. There needs to be a greater hunger to stop a goal going in otherwise you end up putting yourself in that position.

“It is likewise with the offensive side you have to have that aggression and that directness. We invited pressure, especially in the second half, by not progressing the game and moving the ball quick enough through the team. We ended up playing sideways and backwards instead of having the authority in the game to go forward.”

David Watson of Kilmarnock scores with a header to tie the score 1-1 during time added on after 90 minutes.  Celtic v Kilmarnock,  Scottish Premiership, Football, Celtic Park, – 17 Feb 2024. Photo Stuart Wallace/Shutterstock

The Celtic Star: That’s all very well Brendan, but we’ve been watching the exact same thing for most of the season. Team meetings and match reviews at Lennoxtown don’t seem to be changing anything.  When you leave Callum McGregor, completely rattled and thumping the ball up into the sky, then you really known that there’s a problem. Who else is going to fix this? 

Q: BBC Sportsound: You are still top of the league by a point and again there was a negative reaction from the crowd at the end. What do you say to the fans? Is it a case of being patient? Are you confident you can turn it around and defend your title?

Brendan Rodgers: “Yes. One there is still a long way to go. I am sure it will be to-and-fro between now and the last game. I said before it was never going to be a procession. Every title is there to fight for. We are still there to do that. I totally get the reaction of the supporters. Even winning 1-0 today they would not have been happy with that performance. For us to draw the game, I totally get it. What I can say is that we will be doing everything we possibly can to get the team in a better place after a disappointing result to go again next week. They have just got to stay with the team and give us that great support that they always will do.”

The Celtic Star: There’s real momentum across the city, and it’s momentum we’ve given to them on a plate. What exactly is going to be different at Motherwell on Sunday?  Will we be relying on VAR for a penalty or two (as per Easter Road), or Tony Ralston for an assist (as per Saturday) because no-one believes that any of your wingers are going to do anything, at all. Why not do what you did against Motherwell in December 2016 when they went two nil up and you changed to a diamond before going onto win 4-3? What happened to that version of Brendan Rodgers?

Q: BBC Sportsound: You are a man who loves a challenge. Is this going to extend you as a coach the chance to stop a repetitive cycle as you said it is not the first time this has happened. That is quite a challenge. isn’t it?

Brendan Rodgers: “I like the challenge of that there is no doubt. I have had to fight all my career and this is another great challenge that we have. It is going to be tight. We will get over the disappointment and have a positive week next week and we will analyse the game and see where we can be better.”

The Celtic Star: There’s no mention of what you’re going to change, Brendan.  So we are going to get the same system but players playing better, as the best we can hope for. The writing is on the wall as far as this time is concerned. You’re 2-0 down just like at Motherwell in that game that saved our chances of being Invincible.  It worked because you acted when the writing was on the wall in that match. Well it’s well and truly on the wall for this season. You told the support you’d be back outside the front door at Celtic Park in May celebrating a title win. You were confident then but if you are going to deliver you need to take some drastic action starting on Sunday. 

Help raise funds for Celtic Youth Academy by playing the Celtic Pools Weekly Lottery and you could win up to £25,000. The lottery is £1 per week.

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

4 Comments

  1. What Rodgers forgot to say to the BBC scoop was : ‘ is that your horse tied up over the back there ? …woah boy !

  2. I have written this same thing , time and again , since Brendan Rodger’s return to Celtic Park . Celtic fans are seriously ” Off the mark “, when they start to criticise the Board . The Board’s job is to fiscally manage the club and ensure that it runs on a secure Financial footing . The Board have done that—We are possibly one of the best run clubs in World football and the fans should realise that fact . Celtic fans , in the past , even criticised Fergus McCann because he did not spend money on players in the midst of rebuilding Celtic Park .
    Many of your readers are too young to have experienced Celtic Park pre:- Fergus McCann ——Standing in the “Jungle” , knee -deep in urine and wearing Builder’s helmets to fend-off injury from flying bottles . So do not criticise the present Board .
    To discover the problem with team performance at the moment , look not to the Celtic Boardroom but to Lennoxtown . We have a manager who plays the same formation :- 4-3-3 no matter who we play . Even , “Shameful hammerings” in Europe ,, have not convinced him to amend this system . We play ( Right-footed) wingers on the left wing and (left-footed) wingers on the right and the crowd moan when they pass the ball back .We play cross-field passes and allow the opposition to get back into defence . We do not run off the ball enough to confuse and exhaust opponents . We can’t shoot , can’t cross the ball . We never score from corners or free-kicks just outside of the penalty box . Add to this , that on occasions , when we do actually get a penalty from Scottish Referees ; we almost s**t ourselves in case it is missed .
    Having dealt with the manager we must also ask , ” What the Hell is going on at Lennoxtown ” ? The afore mentioned deficiencies happen week after week . We have probably one of the best training facilities in Europe—Who else has the privilege of gazing on to the Campsie Hills in the process of their daily work ? Yet our team is not fit . Loosing goals late in games and running -out of steam against a 10 man Rangers is testimony to that . We have a Backroom staff who even despite their laptops , look on in bewilderment as their team is being :- out-thought .out-fought and bullied in almost every game . They then throw-on subs in a panic to resurrect a lost cause , not realising , that games are won in the first ten minutes and not the last . If the backroom Staff cannot see that a player is being marked -out of the game , off-form or carrying an injury , then God help us all . Also , has nobody noticed , that the decline in team performance has coincided not only with the departure of ANGE but also with the departure of Harry Kewell .
    I am a “lifelong” Celtic supporter and hate to criticise my own team but we watch the same under par performances on a weekly basis . After 10 minutes of play we can almost predict the final result . Our best player of last season Kyogo , because of the team formation , would be as well sitting in the Stand . Our Team Captain needs help in mid-field or a rest from football for a few weeks . O’ Riley hasn’t kicked a ball , since the turn of the year , I could go on and on . Let’s hope I am totally wrong and the main reason for our team’s decline is the absence of “Key players” and a vast improvement happens when they return to full fitness .
    Let’s hope I am totally wrong or the season is gone !!!!!