“It’s probably the most challenging season I’ve had as a manager,” Brendan Rodgers

Well that was fun!  And after Celtic’s 2-1 victory over theRangers it leaves Brendan Rodgers six points clear of theRangers with two games to play, having won three and drawn one of the four Glasgow Derby matches in the Scottish Premiership this season.

It’s a result that leaves Philippe Clement still without a win against Celtic in three attempts. He’ll get another chance at Hampden but Celtic’s manager will be full of confidence and with good reason based on his own brilliant record in the Glasgow Derby.

Here’s how Brendan’s post-match media conference went and notably there is a dig at Chris Sutton for remarks he made about the Celtic boss in his Daily Record column the Saturday before last Christmas.

Q: How big a win does that feel?

Brendan Rodgers: “It’s significant, of course. That was the aim coming in. If we can win the game and then naturally the goal difference makes it a great day for us.”

Q: Did it feel that way given the points tally and the goal difference?

Brendan Rodgers: “It is significant. We are not over the finish line yet. We still have work to do. To be six points clear with two games to go and a plus six goal difference we are in a really good place. We just need to recover. It is a massive win and it is a great day for the supporters. We will get ready to hopefully finish the job on Wednesday.”

Q: What did you make of the performance?

Brendan Rodgers: “I was really pleased up until we missed the penalty. I thought the energy, tempo, speed in the game and the quality of our football was very good. We had a few chances to score before we did score. It was a fantastic goal when Matty put us in front.

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“At 2-0, we are in a great place in the game but we switch off. We lose concentration and that gives them something in the game. We started well in the second half and we missed the penalty. It is something that I have said to the players it is part of the progress of this team, for me, we have been 11 versus 10 a few times this season and I don’t like it. We weren’t good at it.

“There shouldn’t be that tension in the game at the end when you have so much control. That is about being clinical. That is about speed. I respect it is a hot day and the players gave absolutely everything into the game.

“At 2-1, anything can still happen whether it is against nine men or 10 men. All it takes is a ball into the box, long balls but they stood up to that magnificently. Come the end we got a great three points.”

Q: You must be chuffed at your personal record against Rangers. That’s 17 games and only a single defeat when the title was already won. In any game of significance, you are undefeated. How does that make you feel?

Brendan Rodgers: “You know as the Celtic manager, it is a big part of your life. You are judged on these games. I am just happy for the Celtic supporters. I have been there, stood in pubs all around the world and sat in living rooms as nervous as anything. These are the games where you know the joy and happiness you bring to the supporters worldwide on the basis of winning these games. That makes me proud. I don’t really look back as my job here is to develop the mentality and to keep pushing and striving and win many more games.”

Q: You said the last 10 minutes the nerves creeping in what is your message from the sidelines in those moments?

Brendan Rodgers: “Keep the ball. Just manage the ball. That’s why Reo  comes off. He’s a big talent but he gives it away too much for my liking. He’s a midfield player and you’ve got to control the game. It’s great when you are going forward but you’ve got to show a bit of love to the ball and take care of it. It was too sloppy. It was as simple as that. The game became more tense than it should have been plus you missed the penalty for 3-1 and that is a game that could have ended up 5 or 6-1 but it didn’t. That is the downside. When it is a Celtic v (the)Rangers game the upside is always greater. That was a brilliant performance in many ways and a good result for us.”

Referee, Willie Collum shows a yellow card to Callum McGregor during the Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and theRangers at Celtic Park on May 11, 2024. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Q: How would you assess your captain’s performance today?

Brendan Rodgers: “He was outstanding. It doesn’t surprise me. He turns up in the big games. Callum is always a big game player. At the end of the game as well he is coaching within the game shuffling the team about. He has managed himself so well to get back fit and this was the game we wanted him for. He was like his old self with his mentality and the work he had put in. I thought he was outstanding.”

Callum McGregor and Brendan Rodgers embrace following the team’s victory during the  Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and theRangers at Celtic Park on May 11, 2024. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Q: What about your wide players what did you make of them with Daizen winning the ball and James being a threat?

Brendan Rodgers: “It is important to how we play. Wingers need to be ready to run forward and ready to run back. The penetration was there and the energy inside the stadium was incredible. Those two guys did very well.”

Q: You spoke about the teams’ mentality what does it say about you and these players when people were starting to doubt you a wee bit this season but when it really mattered you have come to the fore?

Brendan Rodgers: “It is part of the game. I mentioned in an interview beforehand that from a personal and professional perspective, there will be doubt. From a personal perspective, I was surprised in a way that somebody (Chris Sutton) said Brendan Rodgers was going through the motions earlier on in the season.

“Now I get to work between 7:30 and 8am every day of my life. I leave the training ground between 6:30 and 7pm. When I get home, I have my dinner and then I will flip open the computer and look at more football. If that’s going through the motions I want to know what every other manager is doing. What is every other manager doing if I’m going through the motions?

“From a personal level, I’ve been treated like a novice since I’ve come back here like it’s my first job. However, my principal objective is to make sure that Celtic win. Part of that is a part of the criticism and I understand that, but it’s the mentality of the team that’s most important to me.

“And you can see from where we were, with injuries, how we’ve progressed, how we stayed unified, how we stayed together, and how we then get to this point where we’re nearly crossing the finish line. We don’t just want to cross it, we want to sprint over it. We’ve got two games to go, plus a final, and that is our mentality.”

Q: Do you feel you have a psychological edge over (the)Rangers at this time?

Brendan Rodgers: “This was always going to be a challenging game. Celtic vs Rangers, Rangers vs Celtic, wherever it is, it’s always a tense game, it’s always a challenge. But we have a culture and an environment here at Celtic. It’s very humble, we work hard, and hopefully, they can get the results, and obviously the results are there for us.”

Q: It was your 150th victory as Celtic manager and you join an elite group who have achieved that milestone. How much are you enjoying your second spell at the club?

Brendan Rodgers: “I’m absolutely loving it. Not many people get the chance to come back, so I’m very privileged to get the chance to come back. What I did the first time, I want to build on, and I love the football club, I love the life, and there’s a lot more for us to achieve here. Hopefully, there can be another 150 wins. That’s the plan.”

Brendan Rodgers waves to fans as he steps off the coach prior to the  Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and theRangers at Celtic Park  on May 11, 2024. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Q: Are you using the external ‘narrative’ to push player performance?

Brendan Rodgers: “No.”

Q: Should I believe you?

Brendan Rodgers: “I go to confession.  Sorry, I shouldn’t say that!”

Q: It’s the oldest trick in the book saying everybody has written you off, isn’t it?

Brendan Rodgers: “No.”

Celtic captain Callum McGregor celebrates at full time during the Scottish Premiership match between Celtic  and theRangers at Celtic Park on May 11, 2024. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Q: Injuries and being through a bit and playing for each other. Have you had a buy-in from the get-go as that looked like a team playing for each other and their manager?

Brendan Rodgers: “I think it’s the unification that you always want here. Having had success here before, I know what the third season brings. We created history by winning a Double Treble. In that third season, the mentality is a real challenge. I was coming into that third season when the team had won five out of six. Some of those players didn’t know me, and I didn’t know them.

“And then we lost absolutely important players who make things shine here – the likes of Carl Starfelt, a brilliant defender. That, then adding to the injuries, of course it’s a real challenge for you from the manager’s perspective. Since I’ve been a young coach, I’ve never doubted the managing process, it was about chipping away. We knew the injured guys would come back, we had to keep believing and slowly we’d find our rhythm and now we sit here with eight wins of the last night – and one we didn’t win was a great performance at Ibrox. It’s probably the most challenging season I’ve had as a manager, but we need to finish it well now and that’s the plan.”

Q: Is this your sweetest victory?

Brendan Rodgers: “They’re always great. I know what it means to so many lives around the world. It was a little bit tense towards the end, but that’s a testament to the players. They do their job, we see it through, we get the job done and it puts us in an absolutely brilliant position and it puts us where we wanted to be by the end of the game. We can now get ready for Wednesday.”

Q: Is the recent record pleasing?

Brendan Rodgers: “It’s really pleasing. For me, it’s not just about having one striker that’s going to score 30, 35 goals, it never was. When I came in the first time, Griff had scored 40 goals, but he wasn’t a starter [for me]. For me, it’s more important that the goals are throughout the team. We need threats from midfield, from the sides, from your strikers and all areas. It’s amazing, and it starts off a great weekend for me and the support and that was the job today coming in.”

Q: What are your thoughts on the Scottish Cup final? You will want to win the double now, won’t you?

Brendan Rodgers: “The Scottish Cup has an incredible history and it’s what this club is all about. We want to finish the league off now and keep this momentum going. And then we’ve got a really good build up into that week. That’s the last showpiece game and, of course, we’re very determined to win that.”

Match Highlights from Celtic’s 2-1 win over theRangers below…

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


  1. Would agree that Rodgers has had to deal with a very challenging season, yet I still feel he hasn’t totally helped himself either imo?
    Mission near enough achieved in securing the title, and would round the season off lovely, by making it a double winning season?
    Yet the transition of taking over from Ange, possibly hasn’t went as smoothly as Rodgers would have liked, including many within our support also imo?
    Still plenty of work required to get ourselves up to an overall level of team and squad that would be to potentially Rodgers liking?
    Always felt that Rodgers would introduce another dimension within our game, which is possibly still a requirement for ourselves to gain better European results at CL level?
    Still some way to go for that to be achieved, especially when there remains a lacking in control for seeing games out, which also calls upon a different mindset to that of the “we never stop” which Ange introduced into so many within our squad, yet still seem to be struggling with the different approach taken by Rodgers imo?
    Upon the bigger picture, I still believe Rodgers really wants to make ourselves a better team at CL level, which requires a different approach to what we encounter at SPFL level imo?
    We still need a number of players to deal with the adjustments that Rodgers is trying to introduce into our squad imo?
    Still think that the calibre of players that Rodgers would like are potentially not readily available within the price bracket the club are trying to operate within, these past few seasons?
    So development must still remain high on the agenda for Rodgers, yet the signs seen within this season, haven’t been to great either imo?
    Of course the focus has been placed more so upon the recruitment side of the club?
    Which is fair enough, but the struggles our more established winning players have shown for large chunks of this season, is one of bigger concerns imo?
    So the nagging question remains as to whether our coaching squad are really capable of producing the type of players Rodgers visions this Celtic team and squad wants to be like in the future?
    I actually have doubts myself that we can or will ever get that right within our backroom staff, especially when the type of players Rodgers would like certainly won’t be readily available within our transfer budget we currently operate within?
    This summer should be far easier to tell, as to what direction and real ambition as to where the club is heading with Rodgers as manager?
    Wouldn’t be overly confident of the vision of Rodgers being totally matched by those within our boardroom either imo?
    Think Rodgers is trying to change the structure within the club, which will take time to see the gains potentially for ourselves in the future?
    The quality of players Rodgers would like and want within our squad to match the way Rodgers foresees our club wanting to be in the bigger picture of the CL arena are someway off still between how we operate as a front foot and back foot team imo?
    Such players who play so well between the transitions that happen within matches won’t be easily sought in our current transfer budgets either imo?
    Yet I still haven’t got confidence within our coaching staff of being able to deliver the vision of Rodgers in how he wants this Celtic team set up either within its manner of playing?
    So as happy as I’m about in nearly confirming another SPFL title for ourselves, still believe we have some way to go under Rodgers as manager, before we can make the claim of saying that we are the type of team that matches the vision of Rodgers and what type of overall team that Rodgers wants ourselves to become in the future imo?

  2. B R record speaks for itself.
    One defeat in 16 encounters with the Peuple not to mention the trophy cabinet.
    Laughable how fans welcome back ex players who moved on to further their careers yet pillory him .
    Brendan was entitled like all of us who feel our employers are not giving the support required to move on to further his career.
    A difficult year but when the chips were down he triumphed when it mattered.
    Hope he wraps Jamie and the Japanese metronome in cotton wool between now and the Final.
    Hail Hail B R and the Hoops.

  3. Re Sutton comment
    .B R knows what a Senior Hurler is.
    He’s one In management.
    Sutton is a Hurler on the Ditch when it comes to management.
    Like most pundits he’s never tried it.
    Great player for Celtic in his day.
    Hail Hail.
    Great interview David for a non B R fan.lol.
    Adh mor.