“I know the rules up here in Glasgow,” Rodgers added, “I never expected it to be the magic carpet ride”

Brendan Rodgers spoke to the media today at Lennoxtown ahead of tomorrows”s Scottish Premiership match against Hibs at Easter Road. The Celtic manager was on great form, talking about enjoying his life in Scotland and he believes that Neil Warnock will get his eyes opened up here in more ways than one. He’ll probably get a crash course tonight as he takes his new charges to Ibrox.

Here’s what was said at Brendan’s media conference…

Q: How is the squad looking?

Brendan Rodgers: “Okay. All good. We have had a good couple of days of training. Injury-wise nobody is back from injury but Daizen Maeda has returned fit and healthy which is great news.”

Q: When do you expect Greg Taylor back or is he still a bit away?

Brendan Rodgers: “Hopefully, we will see how he is for the weekend. He is out on the pitch and he is moving really well. It will just be getting the sign-off from the medical team and if it is not the weekend then he’ll be ready for the next game.”

Q: Given the impacts that Adam (Idah) and Nicolas (Kuhn) made at the weekend. How much do they come into your thinking for the Hibs game?

Brendan Rodgers: “Very much so. I think for the next period of games and I said it before both players can affect the short, medium and longer-term capacity of the team. I think we’ll see that. Adam, I am excited about having seen him play and seen him working with him and speaking with him. The ability that he has is incredible really. He has every tool that you want to play at the highest level and he has been doing that internationally. It has been a wee bit hit-and-miss for him at Norwich. How I assess him here in training when I see the finish, I see the speed and the touch, I am excited about what he can bring us in the remaining months.

“Nicolas is just settling in now and he has just netted his first goal, which is great. That will be good for his confidence levels and he will only get better.”

Q: When you look at how tight it is at the top. Do you feel this is different territory from where you have been before in your previous spell here?

Brendan Rodgers: “No. The territory is what it is. I never set out at the start of a league season and think I am going to win it by 10 or 20 points. You set out to be the very best you can be and beat the challenge that is in and around you. Clearly, the competition is there and it will be tight between now and the rest of the season.

“For us, it is all about focusing on our own game. Everything for us, is about making sure we can have that consistency. We have the capacity to play well and win these big games but I think it emphasises how young some of the team is as we have not been able to string it for longer periods.

“We have gone four, five, six games and then that killer instinct just goes a little bit. We have won six of our last seven and drawn one, I know the rules up here in Glasgow and I know how it works but the key is you just stay calm. I see the players every day and there are one or two coming back and we will continue to focus on that performance level.”

Q: There is always pressure at Celtic. Is it something you tell your players that they have got to embrace it?

Brendan Rodgers: “Yes, always. I think the expectation is one of the huge things here at Celtic. Whether you are a player or a manager. There are stronger leagues out there in Europe but when you play and manage Celtic it is a real test of your mental fortitude as a person.

“The expectation and dealing with pressure and dealing with everything that comes with it. There are not too many teams around Europe where you will have four points out of six and it’s crisis mode again. I always feel those moments are the catalyst where you can improve.

“I have been around long enough and I understand the nature of how it works here but my focus is really with the team and making sure we can continually improve. If we score a couple of goals like we should have done in the first half (against Aberdeen) then the game looks totally different.

“We have had that a number of times this season where we haven’t made the breakthrough after making good starts and pressure and then you bring a little anxiety into your game and not quite get the finish you want. It is learning from that and dealing with it which is all part of working here.”

Q: Are these the moments when you learn a lot about your players?

Brendan Rodgers: “I think you are always learning. In every game and every situation, you are learning about your players. Of course, under pressure, is where you will learn more. You look at the courage and the bravery to play, I don’t doubt that with this team. We have had players out and players missing but we have still got enough to win games that we have drawn.

“We go into it with a fresh approach tomorrow and we have analysed the last game and where we could be better. We look forward to that and do not dwell on the mistakes we have made. We look forward to the future and playing against a good team and hopefully, we can put in a good performance.”

Q: What is it about Easter Road that has proved to be a tougher venue than others around here?

Photo Paul Phelan PSI

Brendan Rodgers: “Hibs are one of the top teams. Maybe it’s just me! It’s been okay for other managers, I think. We’ve been in good positions but the last time we were there we started the game way too slow. The speed and tempo of the game was too slow. In the last 25 minutes, we came alive and the speed of the game was much better. We learned that and we took that into the last game we played at home. That’s key for us. We have to bring our game to the football match and if we can do that then hopefully, we will have a good evening.”

Q: It is a few days after a tough game at Pittodrie. Is it good for your players to go to another tough venue and show what they can do?

Brendan Rodgers: “Yes. We should have won the game at the weekend. I expected us to do that. You have to give credit to Aberdeen as they defended well at the right times and we couldn’t make the breakthrough. Now we have to recover from that and move on and we will be ready and firing for the game to get the three points.”

Neil Warnock

Q: Neil Warnock has been appointed as Aberdeen boss. Do you think he will be a good addition to Scottish football?

Brendan Rodgers: “He will be for you guys, yes. He is good value is Neil! I have come across him a few times and I have always been in contact with him. I won’t be going on at that age I tell you! He has wanted to be up here for a long time. Now he’s up, he will see what the pictures are like and see what the media and the refereeing are like. He’ll enjoy it and he will have a great time. I sent him a message and I wished him good luck. What he will have is good people around him up here and he will enjoy it. It’s real football.”

Q: When you first moved to Scotland were there things you noticed about the level?

Brendan Rodgers: “You notice a lot of things. It is a great place. They always say never go back but for me, this was a great move to come back in every way. The football, I never expected it to be the magic carpet ride I had the first time. That’s the great challenge and what makes you better.

“Of course, I love my life up here. I love the people. I love the city. I love going to Edinburgh. I love travelling around Scotland so he’ll love it. He’s at the stage of his career where he has had a brilliant career and managed so many games and so many teams and this was something that he hadn’t done. He’ll come up here and love everything about it. I’m sure he’ll enjoy it.”

Q: How do you see Adam Idah combining with Kyogo and can that help Kyogo as well and take the pressure off him up front with the two of them linking up?

Brendan Rodgers: “It gives us options. If we want to play one striker up there and leave one on the bench. If we want to play one and play one in behind or if we want to play the two of them up there in different structures. It gives us options which is what you want.”

Q: Is Daizen (Maeda) ready to start against Hibs, if selected?

Brendan Rodgers: “Yes. He is back in a better place than what he was when he left. He was still trying to get himself up to speed but he’s gone away and trained and played some games. I spoke to him when he came back and he feels ready to start if we need him.”

Q: You said earlier that is important for your players to stay calm. Your players have won titles and trophies so how big will that be in the business end of the season?

Brendan Rodgers: “There is still such a long way to go. The finish line is not even in sight. You have just got to go game-by-game and keep working well and keep your focus. The pressure really comes a lot later down the line. At this point, you focus on your performance. That is our only focus controlling what you can. We’ve dropped points this year and it is something we need to be better at in this next part. I don’t worry about where we finish now, it is about going into the next game.”

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds 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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