“We want to do everything we can to give the supporters a performance and a result,” Brendan Rodgers…
Q: Where are Daizen Maeda and Cameron Carter-Vickers in terms of their fitness and involvement?
Brendan Rodgers: “They won’t be involved tomorrow but for the weekend they will hopefully be available. ”
Q: In terms of your general approach, how do you balance this game with important domestic matches?
Brendan Rodgers: “Our attitude to the game is exactly the same, it’s to go and win the game by playing our way. I think we showed at the weekend that once we change from that we don’t have the same qualities and it’s not playing to our strengths. We want to go and play the game we want to play, we know we are playing a good side but it’s our last game at home and we want to do everything we can to give the supporters a performance and result.”
Q: Does the co-efficient come into your thinking in a game like this?
Brendan Rodgers: “No. It’s based on how you are doing in the present. If we are successful at this level then that tags on but ultimately we are here to do the very best for Celtic and if we can gain points and wins then of course that will always improve the standing.”
Q: Does this give you an opportunity to test fringe players at this level?
Brendan Rodgers: “Because of the situation we have with injuries and with all the games we’ve had before and after this game, it gives opportunities for players to play and I think that’s… By the time we reach January a lot of players will have had the chance to play games, and games through all the levels and then be assessed from there. Whatever team we put out at Celtic it’s to win.
“There’s no gifts. No free games. You need to win and even though, disappointingly there’s nothing to play for in terms of Europe after Christmas we are still playing for pride here so we will have a team tomorrow looking to fight for the result.”
Q: What’s the response been like to the result against Killie?
Brendan Rodgers: “It’s mostly been recovery to be fair. We got back in and analysed the game. The beauty and great value of the game at the weekend is that we know where the issues were. A bit like the St Johnstone game, the intensity wasn’t right. We fixed that but sadly for us, we didn’t play with the poise we needed to play with in the second half in our league game. But at least we see that and we can take the learning into the game tomorrow.”
Q: Can what you do tomorrow give you belief for next season?
Brendan Rodgers: “It’s still such a long way to go. Come this time next year the squad might look a lot different again. You can only deal with the present and for us it’s about going and performing and playing to the level we know we can consistently. We’ve done that in spells in this competition where we have played some really high-level football but you have to do that consistently. If you can do it consistently with that quality it will always give you a chance of breaking through.”
Q: If you win, can it spur you on domestically?
Brendan Rodgers: “Every win always improves confidence, but either way, whatever the result we will go into the game against Hearts really focused on getting a result. We will make that breakthrough at some point in the near future. It would be a great place to start to do that tomorrow but whatever the result we will go into the weekend’s game really focused on getting back to speed in the league.”
Q: What do you expect from Feyenoord?
Brendan Rodgers: “Jiminez might play. He didn’t in the first game and he’s a very talented striker and has done really well for them. They are a strong side. We saw their quality and played really well in the first half. You can see the physicality in the team and they have a really high level of technique and a good understanding. Arnie Slot has done well there and is a really good coach so it’s a big challenge but we relish that. Any game in the Champions League is a big game and we relish that. It’s our last game in the competition and we want to give the fans something to go home happy about.”
Q: How is Reo Hatate getting on?
Brendan Rodgers: “We think at this moment in time his recovery will be into January but he’s doing very well. We assess that as each day goes by.”
Q: You look at top teams over the Champions League level, even in your first spell when you had Scott Brown as a physical presence in midfield who could do the dirty work and allow players to push on forward. Is that a player you would like to bring to the club in the January window or moving forward to the summer window?
Brendan Rodgers: “I think it’s always about balance in midfield. For me, the importance of winning the ball is a collective, it’s not just one player. Scott was outstanding in my time here. We played with a physical player at the weekend and lost, so it’s all about the balance in your team. I said when I first came in that hopefully the identity of this team will have power, strength, creativity and speed over the course of my time here. We’re working towards that. Technical ability is very important but being competitive is equally important in all aspects of the pitch.”
Q: The last win in a Champions League game was when you were here as manager. How great an achievement would it be for you again to guide Celtic to another Champions League win tomorrow night?
Brendan Rodgers: “It would be great, but more so for the supporters that have been waiting a long time. The Anderlecht game was a fantastic win for us and we played really well in the game. The team has gone close on occasions but it would be nice to make that result. It’s more for everyone than a personal achievement. This is a really challenging competition for a team like ourselves but we always dream and have the ambition to do well. Whilst we’re competing with the shit we’ll always fight for the result.”
Jessica Elliott – The Celtic Star: Are there any specific things from the rest of the group stage games that you’ll be looking to improve on for tomorrow night? Callum McGregor said that you need to be switched on for 90 minutes but is there anything else that you’ve worked on in training that will help you get a better result tomorrow?
Brendan Rodgers: “I think in terms of these games, I’ve always said they’re games about belief. Callum’s absolutely right from a mental perspective your concentration is so important. The technical level of players here means they can get through the pitch very quickly, and all of a sudden they’re in on your back-line. Lots of teams at this level have quality at the front end of the pitch so that concentration is important. When you have the ball, it’s all about having that belief and the poise to look after the ball and to attack with speed, but also to be able to play at tempo.
“That’s something we always aim to do here within the team. Most importantly, as soon as the whistle goes then you go and attack the game, and that is when we are at our best. We’ve shown that here on a number of games and when we do that, we look a really good side. You know within the game that you have to defend and you’re going to have to be strong, with a little bit of luck along the way. If you can do that, then hopefully you can have a great night.”
Jessica Elliott – The Celtic Star: The performances in the Champions League have been good, but you maybe don’t have the points to show for it. What are the positives that you can take from this campaign going into the next one?
Brendan Rodgers: “I look through each game and there have been spells where I’ve been really happy with things, like the start in Feyenoord right up to half-time when we lose a poor goal. The Lazio game here we should have taken something from that game and didn’t. That concentration lapse cost us. The Madrid game at home was a really good performance and a really exciting game against a really good side.
“We’ve shown that we can not just compete but our footballing ability too. It’s just about sustaining that, and you can’t drop off in your next games. Madrid away was a tough evening for us, and when you lose a player at that level the opposition can punish you, and they did. I’ve seen a lot in a lot of the games to know that if we keep improving our experience and look to improve the squad then we hopefully can make another step forward.”
Q: Just to touch on recruitment, in the summer window you signed nine new players and at the weekend only two of them started in Palma and Phillips whose loan deal finishes soon. In the previous fixture, only Palma started. Looking back, would you say you were satisfied with the summer activity, and are you confident going forward in January that you’ll be able to get the first team ready players that you mentioned in terms of experience and quality?
Brendan Rodgers: “I don’t need to look back. The players were signed and are in here. They are players that may not be for now but may be players that down the line become really good players for Celtic. when you’re coming into a club like Celtic, at 20 years of age it can be a real challenge. The adaption of coming to another country can be tough.
“Those guys have signed long contracts, and hopefully, in that time they can show that they can be Celtic players. Looking forward, we want to improve the squad, and I think we’ll do that one way with players coming back that can prove influential for us and hopefully, if there’s the right players available we can improve in key areas that we would like to.”
Q: In the European campaign, you have competed well in the majority of games. Do you have a message for Celtic fans that you feel that you can be the one to take the club forward and progress in terms of knockout football?
Brendan Rodgers: “I absolutely can because it’s the very reason I came back. I came back here to lead the club domestically to continued success and also into Europe where we all want to break this barrier and bridge this gap which is a really tough challenge but it’s what I’ve always done in my career. I picked the challenge to come here and hopefully take us forward.
“That’s going to be us all, the supporters, the board, the players and myself all being together. Getting the right players in that can improve and develop the squad. I have every confidence that I can do that over the coming seasons.”