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‘BRENDAN GOT LUCKY,’ BERTIE

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BERTIE AULD reckons Brendan Rodgers got LUCKY with the timing of one of the most embarrassing results in Celtic’s history.

The Lisbon Lion insists the Hoops boss will learn quickly from the sensational defeat from Lincoln Red Imps in Gibraltar.

Auld said: “Brendan certainly wouldn’t have appreciated losing on his competitive debut for the club, that’s for sure.

“And they say you only get one chance to make a first impression.

“It’s a horrible result, but it’s not a scoreline that has put us out of the Champions League or anything that can’t be overturned.

“Celtic will win at Parkhead on Wednesday and go through, there can be little doubt about that, despite the performance in the first game.

“I don’t think the new Celtic manager will be pressing any panic buttons at the moment.

“I believe he is the sort of professional who will sit back and take stock of the situation.

“He could have sifted through DVDs and film of every Celtic game last season, but it’s not the same until you are there in the dug-out and watching the players live and in the flesh.

“That’s when you notice things about the men you have inherited.

“And I think it would be fair to say that Brendan Rodgers found out a thing or two about some of his squad in that game.

“Pre-season matches are okay for getting the rust out of the system, but it’s when the competitive stuff comes around that you get the true value of your players.

“He won’t be in any doubt about the qualities of some individuals and I’ve no doubt he will act accordingly.

“Brendan will want his own men in place and he has until the end of next month to strengthen the playing staff.

“I’m convinced he will put every minute of those weeks to a good use as he looks to put a squad together that will be good enough to compete in the Champions League group stages.”

Auld, now 78, made some interesting observations of how his former club performed against the semi-professionals of Red Imps.

He said: “The goalkeeper, Craig Gordon, did well in his shot-stopping, but I would ask him to vary his distribution.

“I can see that he likes to build from the back and he was rolling the ball out to Saidy Janko, on the right, and Kieran Tierney, on the opposite flank, when he had possession.

“However, there were times when he would have been better releasing a quick punt down the field while the opposition were in Celtic’s half.

“I’ve never been an advocate of the big boot from one end of the pitch to another, but sometimes it works and there’s nothing wrong in keeping your opponents guessing.

“It’s clear Celtic need strengthened in the middle of the defence. It’s unfortunate Brendan has injuries to Jozo Simunovic and Dedryck Boyata that are keeping them out of the team.

“Charlie Mulgrew is still to give an answer on the offer of his contract extension and that means Efe Ambrose partnered Erik Sviatchenko against the Gibraltarians.

“Ambrose should have done so much better at the goal and he’ll know that, too.

“I would think a new centre-half would be a priority for the Celtic manager.

“The midfield also needs to be sharper and more creative. There are too many players taking too many touches in there. They need to speed up.

“Scott Brown and Nir Bitton were hitting a lot of passes across the pitch and giving their opponents time to get into defence and regroup.

“They need to be a little more aware of what’s happening around about them. They need to bring people into play, spread the ball wide, create space and be prepared to go at players.

“I thought Stuart Armstrong did really well when he came on for Tom Rogic in the second-half. He was a breath of fresh air, in fact.

“He wanted to run with the ball, take on players and move passes around quickly. Brendan, I’m sure, would have taken that on board.

“And I’m not sure why Leigh Griffiths was playing wide on the right. He scored 40 goals last season while performing through the middle.

“I would get him back in the position where he’s obviously most comfortable and find a system that suited him and the new boy, Moussa Dembele.

“I realise the French lad was celebrating only his 20th birthday on Tuesday, but he’s going to have to toughen up a bit.

“Celtic need frontmen who can take care of themselves and let the opposing defenders know they are on the pitch.

“Dembele has the build and, of course, he will get better once he gets to know the style of the players around about him.”

Auld, who was the architect of so much of the champions’ success during the golden era under Jock Stein, added: “Brendan used 14 players the other night.

“He will have learned a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of those guys.

“Undoubtedly, things will get better and, at least, he has six weeks of the transfer market remaining to try to bring in his own players.

“We’ll have to put the Red Imps result down to a false start for the Irishman.”

 
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