Rodgers wants more records from Celtic

New Straits Times - - Sport -

BREN­DAN Rodgers hailed his ex­cep­tional Celtic side as they edged closer to com­plet­ing a record-break­ing cam­paign.

The Hoops smashed through the 100-goal bar­rier in the league with a 5-0 thrash­ing of Partick This­tle at Firhill on Thurs­day.

A Leigh Grif­fiths penalty opened the scoring be­fore Aus­tralian in­ter­na­tional Tom Rogic slid in a sec­ond and Roberts’ stun­ning strike made it 3-0 be­fore half-time.

Cal­lum McGre­gor and Roberts then added to the score-line in the last 10 min­utes to help Celtic move on to 104 goals — just one short of the record 105 they amassed in sea­son 2003-04.

The cham­pi­ons, who are one game away from end­ing the sea­son un­de­feated, also equalled their record points haul of 103 set in 2001-02, and a win against Hearts in to­mor­row’s sea­son fi­nale would see them set a new club record for num­ber of league wins in a cam­paign.

“If you go through 38 games of a sea­son un­beaten — with the level of games we’ve had — and per­form like we’ve done then it’s a truly re­mark­able achieve­ment rel­a­tive to the time that we’re play­ing in,” Rodgers, whose side are 30 points clear of Aberdeen at the top of the ta­ble, said.

“I think if you look at the num­bers of tonight we matched 33 wins, which is the most wins in a league cam­paign by Celtic.

“We go one be­hind in the record for goals, so we have got ev­ery­thing to play for.

“We go in with a big con­cen­tra­tion for the game on Sun­day. We will look to per­form with the same fo­cus, per­form as well as we have done tonight and if we can do that then it puts in with a great chance of win­ning.”

With one eye on next week’s Scot­tish Cup fi­nal — which would give Rodgers the chance to lead Celtic to a his­toric tre­ble — the man­ager utilised his squad play­ers for the match against This­tle.

“They will al­ways get op­por­tu­ni­ties be­cause, for me, the col­lec­tive is what this squad is all about,” he said.

“We are play­ing our 57th com­pet­i­tive game tonight so I need a squad of play­ers. But I need a squad of play­ers who are very fo­cused, that are self­less and are ready when they are called upon.

“They know they have my trust and if they work hard and work well on a daily ba­sis then I have no drama in putting them in.

“And they showed their qual­i­ties and pro­fes­sion­al­ism tonight.”

Goal-scorer Grif­fiths ap­peared to vent his frus­tra­tion at Rodgers when the Celtic striker was sub­sti­tuted in the sec­ond-half, but the man­ager played down the in­ci­dent.

“For a minute, he for­got and thought about him­self in­stead of the team,” Rodgers said.

“He’s a bril­liant boy and all strik­ers will al­ways be the same. He just needed a wee re­minder that is not about him or any in­di­vid­ual

“He was out­stand­ing tonight and he un­der­stood I also needed to pro­tect him as the only fit striker.

“It’s gone and it’s fine. I don’t leave any­thing out. I’m al­ways open with my com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the play­ers.

“I don’t tell them some­thing in six months I can tell them now, but it’s al­ways to help them. So there is no drama.” AFP

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