BRENDAN: NO REPEAT OF SEVILLE HEROICS
Rodgers insists Europa League run is out of reach in current climate
BRENDAN Rodgers has conceded that Celtic doing another Seville is unlikely to happen again – either in this season or any other.
It is 15 years since Martin O’Neill led the Parkhead side to the 2003 UEFA Cup final against Porto in Seville, an achievement that Rodgers cannot see the club emulating in the current climate.
The Parkhead side begin their Europa League campaign this evening as they host Zenit St Petersburg, with Rodgers pointing out the significant changes across football as whole since Celtic were last in a major European final.
“There are two factors,” explained the Celtic manager. “The game has changed and Celtic have changed. Look back at the players Celtic had then.
“Celtic were taking some of the best players from the Premier League. They were bringing Chris Sutton up here, John Hartson up here, Neil Lennon up here.
“They were bringing Paul Lambert back
from Dortmund. These are top, top players.
“So the financial climate is totally different now to what it was back then for Celtic.
“There will be always be expectation here. We always want to fight and, like our predecessors, try to do the very best that we can. But when you compare it to that, football and Celtic have changed a lot.”
At one point Celtic’s wage bill was in the top five across British football, a standing that has long since been surpassed by even Championship clubs.
“It would have to have been,” said Rodgers. “You’re taking John Harton, Chris Sutton and these boys. Sutton came from Chelsea.”
Celtic’s financial figures last week revealed a club that have made a considerable profit in recent months, with £30m banked from the sale of players as well as their involvement in the UEFA Champions League group stage.
The publishing of the figures led to an immediate response in some quarters questioning why the club have not invested more heavily into the playing side.
But Rodgers has maintained that he has no quibble with the resources he has – and has also revealed the changing of the Scottish landscape has made it harder than ever to bring players north of the border.
“The point is that the club is run very, very well,” he said.
“You can spend t he money but it’s the player coming to Scotland which is the big factor. It’s wages, it’s astroturf pitches and all this.
“There are multiple reasons why a player would or wouldn’t come.
“What the balance sheet shows is that the club, the institution, is being run very, very well.
“They spend money but they have to run it sensibly. I don’t think it will ever go back to what it was 15 years ago.”
Celtic had Chris Sutton up front back in 2003