Rodgers hits back at Keane over ‘dou­ble stan­dards’

Celtic boss de­fends play­ers’ cel­e­bra­tions after qual­i­fy­ing for Cham­pi­ons League

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FOOTBALL - MATTHEW LIND­SAY

BREN­DAN RODGERS has re­sponded to Roy Keane’s crit­i­cism of Celtic play­ers for cel­e­brat­ing their Cham­pi­ons League qual­i­fi­ca­tion by ac­cus­ing the leg­endary Ir­ish­man of dou­ble stan­dards.

Keane, the for­mer Celtic mid­fielder, branded the Scot­tish cham­pi­ons’ re­ac­tion to book­ing a place in the group stages of Europe’s pre­mier club com­pe­ti­tion for the first time in three years as “over the top”.

How­ever, Rodgers, whose team was ham­mered 7-0 by Barcelona in the Camp Nou in their open­ing Group C match on Tues­day night, has aimed a sly dig back at the out­spo­ken Repub­lic of Ire­land as­sis­tant man­ager

“I re­spect his opin­ion,” he said. “He has been a man­ager and he is an as­sis­tant now so he has seen what it takes to achieve something.

“When they [the Repub­lic of Ire­land] qual­i­fied for the Eu­ros [in 2016] I think that was an achieve­ment. I don’t think there were too many of the staff who stood not smil­ing, or hug­ging or cud­dling or stuff.”

Rodgers added: “We went through six real tough qual­i­fi­ca­tion games. Un­til you ac­tu­ally come through it, un­til you ac­tu­ally ex­pe­ri­ence the emo­tion and see what it means to peo­ple, you don’t un­der­stand. We are talk­ing a coun­try here that has to fight for the right to be in qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

“The play­ers have to go through a whole sea­son and then go through six qual­i­fy­ing games. I think the play­ers have ev­ery right, out of re­lief, out of am­bi­tion as play­ers, to cel­e­brate. Some of these play­ers may never be at Roy’s level or the level of some other big play­ers, but, for them, they have achieved something.

“So I think they have ev­ery right to cel­e­brate suc­cess if suc­cess was to reach the Cham­pi­ons League. A lot of them have never been there be­fore. Why shouldn’t they cel­e­brate?”

Mark War­bur­ton, his Rangers coun­ter­part, was up­set by the “poi­sonous” and “mis­chievous” me­dia cov­er­age of his side’s 5-1 hum­bling to Celtic at Park­head last week­end, but Rodgers stressed he was un­per­turbed by the crit­i­cism of both him and his side since mov­ing to Glas­gow.

“You will see over time that this kind of thing doesn’t bother me,” he said. “Opin­ion now has never been greater in life and foot­ball in par­tic­u­lar. Some­times there are rea­sons be­hind it, some­times there are mes­sages be­hind the mes­sages.

“For me, I re­spect all opin­ions, every­one has one on the game and foot­ball, but un­less some­one shows me then I wouldn’t re­ally know what was be­ing said. My fo­cus is only on the best in­ter­ests of the club, the play­ers and try­ing make us bet­ter. So it doesn’t bother me.”

Mean­while, Rodgers has ad­mit­ted that dur­ing the Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow he will try to strengthen his squad with play­ers who have the “phys­i­cal at­tributes” to en­able Celtic to com­pete in the Cham­pi­ons League.

“The play­ers here will be bet­ter play­ers for these ex­pe­ri­ences, even the neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ence of the other night,” he said. “They will grow from that and be bet­ter go­ing for­ward.

“We need cer­tain pro­files of play­ers in or­der to help us as well. But there are cer­tain phys­i­cal at­tributes that you need, at that level in par­tic­u­lar, that can help you. You look at the dif­fer­ence in speed and power and strength.

“It is something we tried to do in the sum­mer, but we just didn’t have that avail­abil­ity of the player we would want. We came in with vir­tu­ally the same group of play­ers and brought in a few who could help us im­me­di­ately, but of course we can’t solve all the prob­lems in one hit.

“But cer­tainly in Jan­uary we will try to im­prove again. Jan­uary, from what I see in my ex­pe­ri­ence now, is such an im­por­tant win­dow for you in the Scot­tish game, rel­a­tive to the sum­mer win­dow.

“In Jan­uary we are re­ally try­ing to pre­pare for win­ning the league and the next go at the Cham­pi­ons League. It’s the re­verse, re­ally, in terms of what it would be down south.

“It can be a dif­fi­cult win­dow to get play­ers in. You only want to do busi­ness when there is qual­ity but it can be done. I brought Daniel Stur­ridge and [Philippe] Coutinho to Liver­pool in Jan­uary and they made a dif­fer­ence.

“It’s about re­cruit­ment and try­ing to get the play­ers in, and also to find out if they are avail­able and af­ford­able. That is key.”

Leigh Grif­fiths, the striker who was ruled out of the Ladbrokes Premier­ship match against Rangers last Satur­day and the Cham­pi­ons League game against Barcelona on Tues­day, will miss the league game against In­ver­ness Cale­do­nian This­tle to­mor­row.

But Rodgers is op­ti­mistic Celtic can ex­tend their run of wins recorded im­me­di­ately after Euro­pean ties to 20 in the High­lands. “Hope­fully it stays that way,” he added. “It’s a fair trip to In­ver­ness. Leigh is out on the field and is work­ing. It will prob­a­bly be at the mid­dle and end of next week when he won’t be too far away. But cer­tainly not at the week­end.”

ALL SMILES: Celtic man­ager Bren­dan Rodgers cel­e­brates his side’s 5-1 vic­tory over ri­vals Rangers.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.