BRENDAN RODGERS has revealed that he does not enter into any war of words with opposing players during a match from his position on the touchline and has cautioned opposing managers that they engage in these tactics with his players at their own risk.
Mikael Lustig was the focus of the Aberdeenitis – the inability to take getting beat gracefully – with their skipper and manager both accusing the Swedish defender of noising up their youngster Lewis Ferguson just before and at the final whistle.
“I was disappointed with that,” Brendan said at his press conference yesterday.
“I can understand the emotion when you lose a game of that magnitude, when you want it so much. I didn’t see Mikael Lustig goad the boy Ferguson at all.
“I watched the game back when I went home and I think right towards the end – when the ball’s in the corner and the referee blows the whistle – it looks like the end of the game. Mika celebrates, as you would having won a cup final and is walking forward.
“But then he realises and recognises that it’s not the end of the game. So, I don’t think there was any goading.
“I think if you look at us as a team, look at our record and all of that, then I think we’re a very sporting team considering every game we play is a huge pressure game. Every game for Celtic is a cup final, not just the actual cup finals.
“The players, their record of how they play, and from what they are in terms of the discipline perspective will be exemplary.
“So, I can’t agree with that. Some players will give it out on the field. You have to be ready to take it.
“And I also say that if you’re a manager on a side of the field – and I say this generically – who gets involved with players then if something comes back to you then you have to be ready to take it back as well.
“I don’t go down that route that we’d lack any of those qualities. It’s not something I’d agree with.
“If you are a manager on the side of the field and you get involved with players, and if something comes back to you, then you have to be ready to take that.
“I didn’t know what they were speaking about at the time, but I know now and, from my watching it on the replay, there’s no way Mika was doing that.
“If you look at us as a team and our record, we are a very sporting team considering every game we play has huge pressure.”
Both Shinnie and McInnes have had plenty to say about these incidents but much less to say about their failure to lay a punch on Boxer Bain in the Celtic goal. For a team playing in a Cup Final, with a traveling support of that size coming down from the North East, you would have expected more from them as the self titled second best side in the country.
Shinnie also has a rather unhealthy obsession with Celtic skipper Scott Brown and he seemed more interested in resuming their feud rather than trying to get back into the game. The Aberdeen captain talked about the pair hating each other.
“If he played with him and worked with him, then I’m sure Graeme would see Scott as one of the best professionals he has come across.
“In the game, Browny, like some players, they become a different character when they go on the field and there are a lot of players like that. There’s a lot of small talk that you never hear of. It is on the field it happens.
“Jonny Hayes, before he came here, would probably have had an opinion of Scott – and I guarantee you that, if you asked him now, it would be the total opposite.
“They have lost their third cup final to us. There is emotion there, especially after a game like that where you have prepared so much.
“Especially for Graeme, who is probably wanting to emulate some of the captains who have gone before at Aberdeen. When you lose, it’s tough to take,” Brendan noted.
Rodgers confirmed that if any of his players was ever unnecessarily disrespectful towards an opponent he would intervene and sort out his own player.
“It is one of the values that we set when I first arrived.”
Meanwhile we were perhaps a little too negative yesterday in predicting that Dedryck Boyata could be out for the rest of the month with his hamstring issue – although these do tend to run on longer than the early expectations given by the club, see Olivier Ntcham who picked up a similar injury at Murrayfield.
“Dedryck has a minor hamstring strain. Thankfully it’s not a real serious one and hopefully he’ll be back before the end of the month,” Brendan said.