Rodgers doubts Celtic record will be re­peated

New Straits Times - - Sport -

GLAS­GOW: Celtic man­ager Bren­dan Rodgers hailed his side’s “spe­cial” achieve­ment af­ter they be­came the first Scot­tish Premier­ship club to go un­beaten through a 38-game sea­son.

Celtic wrapped up their league cam­paign with a 2-0 vic­tory over Hearts as sec­ond-half goals by Leigh Grif­fiths and Stu­art Arm­strong en­sured Celtic ended up with a record of played 38, won 34 and drew four.

Celtic, who were pre­sented with the Premier­ship tro­phy for the sixth suc­ces­sive time af­ter the match, also set a new points record of 106 — 30 ahead of run­ners-up, Aberdeen.

It is an in­cred­i­ble achieve­ment in Rodgers’ first sea­son in charge of the Glas­gow gi­ants and the former Liver­pool boss doesn’t think he will live long enough to see it re­peated.

“Will it be done again? I’m not so sure in my life­time it will,” he said. “That’s only be­cause you only have to look when it was done be­fore.

“The last team to do it (Rangers in 1898-99) was in the 1890s and that was an 18 game sea­son. This is a 38 game sea­son. I think it tells you the dif­fi­culty of achiev­ing that.

“The group have worked so hard for all the records they have bro­ken. It’s been a great sea­son,” added the 44-year-old North­ern Ir­ish­man.

Rodgers, who steered Liver­pool ag­o­nis­ingly close to their first Premier League ti­tle in 2013/14, said the play­ers de­served to have their place in his­tory.

“It is a mon­u­men­tal achieve­ment by the play­ers,” said Rodgers. “I think that what gets lost in amongst all the records that have been set is that there is a real ded­i­ca­tion to ex­cel­lence since I came in.

“They will prob­a­bly tell you them­selves that they get pushed re­ally hard but hope­fully they see the ben­e­fits.

“They have in­scribed their names into the his­tory of this in­cred­i­ble club now.

“The level of foot­ball, the tac­ti­cal dis­play the play­ers have shown and the ex­cite­ment they have given the sup­port­ers has been in­cred­i­ble to watch.

“We had to work hard and to beat the goals record and the wins record means it’s a truly fan­tas­tic day.”

The Celtic man­ager said any crit­i­cism of his side’s achieve­ment be­cause of the stan­dard of the game in Scot­land was “very un­fair.”

“It’s all rel­a­tive. I was at Chelsea when they beat Wi­gan 8-0 on the last game of the sea­son to pick up the ti­tle,” Rodgers said.

“It’s a bril­liant league, but they won 8-0, so what does that make the Premier League?

“If you’re talk­ing about mas­sive clubs then this is one of the great clubs of the world.

“But what it’s not in is a league where you have the fi­nances to run with that.

“There’s not too many chal­lenges like this in Bri­tain where you have to win ev­ery week.

“I could go with Liver­pool to Manch­ester United and draw a game and it could be a good re­sult. You can’t do that here.

“Ev­ery sin­gle game there’s a pres­sure and an ex­pectancy. You go to Ibrox or Pit­to­drie or any of the oth­ers and you’re ex­pected to win.

“And not just win, but win in a clear de­fined, at­tack­ing way and that’s not easy.

“We’re on a great win­ning cy­cle, but to con­tinue with that and try and qual­ify for the Cham­pi­ons League is tough.”

Celtic, who also won the League Cup ear­lier this sea­son, take on Aberdeen in Satur­day’ Scot­tish Cup fi­nal at Ham­p­den and Rodgers said the play­ers can fi­nally start to dream of a first do­mes­tic tre­ble since 2001.

“What’s been key to our sea­son is that we’ve never got too car­ried away,” the Celtic man­ager said.

“We’ve never stum­bled be­cause we’re try­ing to fore­cast what game we would have in three or four games time.

AP PIC

Celtic’s Efe Am­brose per­forms an ac­ro­batic jump as they cel­e­brate win­ning the Scot­tish Premier­ship on Sun­day.

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