BRENDAN RODGERS took on the challenge of proving the doubters wrong when he returned as Celtic manager in June last year.

The Irishman was forced to run the gauntlet of fans who hadn’t forgiven the boss for his rapid exit for Leicester City in February 2019.

Rodgers won seven successive domestic honours before quitting the post at a crucial stage of the campaign with ex-gaffer Neil Lennon answering the Hoops’ SOS.

Almost four and a half years after his unexpected departure, Rodgers made a surprise comeback to take over from Spurs-bound Ange Postecoglou.

CROWNING GLORY…Brendan Rodgers and two-goal Matt O’Riley celebrate Celtic’s third successive title after the midweek 5-0 win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

The Greek-Australian boss left after guiding the club to a historic eighth domestic treble and the incoming team chief was on the receiving end of criticism after only his third game in charge when they nosedived to a 1-0 League Cup loss to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

A week later, the champions were held to a scoreless stalemate by rock-bottom St Johnstone to provoke angry reactions from a section of the home support.

However, the followers were singing the manager’s name on Wednesday night in Ayrshire as the team routed Killie 5-0 to claim their third successive title.

Rodgers said: “I’m not made of wood. We all have feelings. We’re all built in different ways, I feel I can deal with pressure and those situations.

“But it still doesn’t make you immune to everything. What experience has given me is not to become too emotional with words.

“I can trace back to August, when the headlines were that I was under massive pressure. That was in August and it’s continued right the way through.

“I had to show mental strength like the team has had to do and, eventually, the work that we did came through in the end. It’s been a challenging season in ways that I didn’t think it was going to be.”

FLAG HAPPY…Brendan Rodgers applauds the fans after his third Premiership title as Celtic boss.

Referring to some of the criticism from the stands, Rodgers, speaking to Celtic TV, continued: “A little bit awkward and a little bit of feeling when I came back, which I totally get.

“However, I’m satisfied in the work we’ve been able to do. It’s surprising a little that so many people didn’t see what was happening around the team, knowing how my teams operate and how they play, how they attack.

“It’s not full-out attack.

“I tend to think of my teams like a top boxer. A top boxer isn’t throwing punches all the time, he needs to put his guard up now and again.

“My teams are reflective of that. They attack, they’re aggressive, they score goals, and they defend well. “

The Irishman added: “Clearly,  there was a reason and a purpose as to why it wasn’t functioning quite the same.

“It certainly wasn’t that I had lost the hunger, or that I was going through the motions, or lost the stomach for the fight.

“So, it’s been very satisfying.”

Rodgers hopes to bring the curtain down on another successful Premiership campaign when St Mirren provide the opposition on Flag Day at Parkhead in tomorrow’s 12.30pm kick-off.

Once business is concluded in Paradise, Rodgers will look to the Scottish Cup Final showpiece encounter against Philippe Clement’s Ibrox outfit the following weekend.

The Hoops gaffer has a 100 per cent record in Hampden Finals – three League Cups and two Scottish Cups.

He’ll be hoping to maintain that record – and send the Celtic fans home happy to reflect on a league and Cup double.

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