BRENDAN RODGERS has bristled at comments from Chris Sutton he is merely “going through the motions” during his second stint as Celtic manager.
The former Hoops striker questioned the Irishman’s commitment after two consecutive league defeats against Kilmarnock and Hearts saw the champions carelessly discard six crucial Premiership points.
Rodgers, though, batted away the stinging criticism and insisted: “In my career, I wouldn’t be sat here if I went through the motions in anything.
“I had no big playing career, no big history in the game. I had to fight for everything I got in the game.
“That will always be the case. I’ve never been granted any privileges in my life as a young coach and as a manager. So, no, I’ve certainly not gone through the motions, that’s for sure.”
As he prepared for this afternoon’s match against Livingston at Parkhead, Rodgers continued: “I said that to the players earlier in the season, I’m here to win, not to draw and certainly not to lose games.
“And I know how to win. And that’s something that, over time, hopefully I can show here.
“I was here in my first time with a group of players who I was able to maximise the potential of virtually all of them. It will be the same here. With the right profile of players – and players we can elevate – they will do that. That’s what I’ve done all my career.
“It’s a different period of my managerial career, but I’m certainly NOT going through the motions.”
Rodgers, 50, won seven successive domestic trophies, including back-to-back trebles, first time around at his boyhood favourites and is now facing an entirely new challenge that was awaiting to confront him when he first took over from Ronny Deila in May 2016.
The Hoops gaffer, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “This is the time when you have to lead, it’s very easy when you’re going unbeaten for 69 games and winning trophies.
“I always thought it would be different this time, with the group and everything else. But this is where you have to stand up as a Celtic player and, particularly, as a Celtic manager.”
On the recent setbacks, Rodgers added: “I assess things logically. For whatever reason. Second-half against Kilmarnock, against Hearts – we weren’t good enough. There are lessons there for us as a team.
“In terms of criticism, listen, it happens when you’re not winning. It’s something that could affect you when you’re a very young manager, but it doesn’t me.
“I’m here with a mentality to make this right and, hopefully, we can deliver that.”
The champions can stretch their lead at the Premiership pinnacle to five points with a win over rock-bottom Livi while their nearest challengers face Motherwell at Fir Park in a noon kick-off tomorrow.
* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Celtic v Livingston this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.