“There’s no excuse,” admits Rodgers after off the pace Celtic draw a blank

Brendan Rodgers spoke to BBC Sportsound after a frustrating goalless draw against Hibs at Easter Road this afternoon in a game that was marred by a crush involving the Celtic support outside the away section turnstiles and Police Scotland’s horseback units certainly did not help what looked like a dangerous situation.

Will they never learn?

On to the game. James Forrest rattled the bar late on and despite most of the ball and many attempts on goal Celtic never really looked like breaking down a Hibs side playing a cautious 4-5-1 looking to get something from the game without giving Joe Hart anything to do all afternoon.

Neither Iwata, who made an impact at Tynecastle last week or Yang were brought on, instead Brendan opted rather surprisingly for David Turnbull and Mikey Johnston. Both players showed plenty of commitment amid a strong Celtic finish (relatively speaking) after a first half played at walking pace.  Those trying to lay the blame on these two players are way off the mark.

“By the time I thought we started to play at the speed and tempo that we like, it was probably too late. Our idea is to always to make a quick start.

“Actually, we were good with the ball, but we gave it away needlessly a few times by playing longer passes when we didn’t have to. We didn’t play with enough speed in the game. In the last 20-25 minutes, we did that, and you can see the game looked different for us, but by that stage, we just couldn’t make the breakthrough,” the Celtic manager stated.

Asked about his players having a mental fatigue hangover from Wednesday night’s superb effort against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, Brendan accepted that this could have been a factor.

“They could be, there’s always that, but there’s no excuse. We’re at a club where we’re going to play lots of games and we’re going to have big games during the week and then you have another big game at the weekend.

“This was another big game for us. We’ve played 10 games now, so you can judge the sort of start we’ve had. Eight wins and two draws, and we’ve been to every ground in the country, which is really difficult, and did well in the main. Today, the speed wasn’t in our game, but the effort and commitment were there. We’ve got to recover and get ready for Wednesday,” Brendan said.

Asked about the performance of Mikey Johnston, remarkably making his first appearance for Celtic in 19 months and whether the Republic of Ireland winger can go onto make an impact for his team this season, Brendan Rodgers had this to say: “We shall see. I judge the players on what I see in training throughout the week, their application, commitment and attitude. If we see more, then I’ll always give a player an opportunity.”

St Mirren, who are next up for Celtic at Paradise on Wednesday night, had an impressive 4-0 win this afternoon, and Rodgers was asked about the threat that Stephen Robinson’s side will pose.

“Stephen has done great. In my time here when he was up at Motherwell he has done very well, and he’s doing the same with St Mirren.

“We just need to recover. I think for us, it’s just about focusing on ourselves. St Mirren are a good side and have done well, but we’re at home, so we want to impose our game in the next fixture, so we’ll prepare for that from now,” Rodgers replied.

And on any thoughts about freshening up the side in midweek Brendan said: “We’ll see. We’re just straight after the game, so we’ll see how the players are and how they recover and take it from there. At last there’s some good news on Alistair Johnston who had the ball smash off his face at close range and after trying to play on for a few minutes, had to go off clearly concussed.

“I just spoke to the medical team there,” Brendan said. “They said he was fine, it was just at that moment he felt a wee bit funny, but I think overall he’s fine.”

The draw today extended Celtic’s lead over theRangers to eight points, although they could cut that to five tomorrow at Ibrox against Hearts. Even if they do, the wider picture is that Celtic will have a five points lead having been to Ibrox, Pittodie, Tynecastle and Easter Road, taking 10 points from 12.

We’d have bitten their hands of to accept that at the start of the season.

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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

1 Comment

  1. Turnbull isn’t good enough to come on and change a game. Iwata would have been better option leaving McGregor to drive forward. Disappointing result