BRENDAN RODGERS insists he is at his best when he has a point to prove.
The second time-around Celtic manager admits he responds on the occasions he has been “belittled and disrespected” during his managerial career.
Rodgers, of course, won seven successive domestic trophies – including back-to-back trebles – in his first stint at Parkhead when he replaced Ronny Deila in May 2016.
He took Liverpool to the brink of their first title victory in season 2013/14. The Irishman revived sleepy Swansea and won an FA Cup at Leicester City.
Now he is back home and he is determined to once again prove his critics wrong.
He took time off preparing his squad for the Premiership opener against Ross County on Flag Day in the east end of Glasgow tomorrow to say: “My journey in my football life, as I sit here today, I’ve probably been belittled a lot and disrespected a lot in my career because I didn’t have any big playing background.
“That’s when I’m at my best. So, there are always questions around. It doesn’t worry me, though.
“Don’t get me wrong. I just think in general when anyone has to prove a point, then that’s when you’re at your best, really. It’s that challenge.
“The number one thing that breeds success is to have that challenge. The challenge to come back here, especially on the back end of how I left. It wasn’t ideal for many.
“So, I wanted to come back and show we can have some great moments again. Everything is possible. Each season brings a new challenge.
“When I think back to when I came in here the last time in 2016, at the end of it, everyone was saying it was all smooth and it was great and we were invincible, but it certainly wasn’t that when we came in.
“When we came in, people were talking about we’re finished. Rangers were coming back into the league having beaten Celtic well, even though it was on penalties, in the Scottish Cup. So there was a lot of work to do back then.
“Obviously, when you have success, people don’t see that and just think it’s all fluent.
“I’ve said before, that’s in concrete. It certainly wasn’t the reason I came back. I came back because I do feel as if I have unfinished business here. I wanted to come in and push on again with a new group of players.
“There is a clean slate because many I’ve not worked with before. I wanted to see if we could do that again with another generation of player.”
The returning boss is well aware of the expectation levels at the club and, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “That’s it. It’s the history of the club. It’s the difference in the biggest clubs. The highs are high and the lows are low.
“But you have to try and manage that and have success. The difference with Celtic is that you have to do it in a certain way. You have to win in a certain style.
“For me, that’s a great challenge with a mostly new group of players who I feel can improve a lot.”
Rodgers, who was due to take a year-long sabbatical from football with his family after leaving Leicester City in April, didn’t hesitate to answer the call.
He added: “This was a no-brainer. From a professional aspect, I love the challenge here and my time here and from a life perspective, it was great.
“I know that I am better when I have family and close friends around. The life here gives you that.
“Of course, you are very focused on the football and it is long days and long nights. But, in between times, I think it is important for me to have them there. That was one of the things I had to consider. We have had the pre-season and I am so looking forward to it.
“I feel really excited to be back.”