CELTIC manager, Brendan Rodgers, is on the verge of being only the third manager in the history of the club to have won the treble and the only one to do so in an ‘invincible’ season; however, the one team that can stop both is Aberdeen.
The 6-in-a-row champions visit Pittodrie on Friday night. With the league placings sorted, Celtic Champions and Aberdeen worthy Runners-Up, this should be a sparring match ahead of the Scottish Cup Final. But Celtic’s invincible form makes it anything but.
Aberdeen want to be the team that beats Celtic and end the record, this would give them a massive boast ahead of Hampden.
Celtic are in touching distance of achieving something quiet remarkable, unique in a very special football club’s history.
So for an end of season match the stakes are very high indeed.
Speaking yesterday the Celtic manager was unusually looking beyond the next ninety minutes as he talked of his hopes and aspirations for his time at the club he supports.
“For me, I’m living the dream,” he said. “I’m a Celtic supporter and I don’t want it to end. It will one day but while there is work to do and there is progress and whilst there is development I hope to be here to see that through.
“It won’t always be like this. There will be some bumps along the way. But, at the moment it is a young squad that has energy and happiness. They want to learn, are coachable and want to become better and better.
“I have confidence in what I do. I am realistic and the reality in this modern world is that quickly people can fall out of love with you. One day you are the devil, the next you can walk on water. I never get too carried away and make rash statements that I will be here for ten years.
“It would be a huge pleasure if I was but the reality is that may not be the case. I signed for four years because that is what I want to be here for to help the club develop on and off the field. And then after that you see where it takes us,” stated the Irishman.
“I have always been like that,” he said of his drive and determination and drive.
“I had no big reputation as a player. Everything was forged for me as a coach and manager. I walk in and normally stand beside someone on the touchline who has been a former player or big international.
“But, it has never stopped my drive or ambition to be the best I can be. I can then put that into the players. That drive has never left me from when I couldn’t become a player. That just intensifies each year.
“It is the way I’m built and I enjoy the pressure of succeeding.”
Rodgers was at Reading before a knee injury ended his career at the age of just 20. Instead of moving away from the game, he started gaining his coaching badges and learning the game – travelling to clubs around the world to witness different coaching methods.
The Irishman inherited an low in confidence Celtic squad that repeatedly under-performed and were rather uninspiring under Ronny Deila. The team had failed to qualify for the Champions League twice before Deila decided to call it quits at Celtic Park. Remarkably, a large majority of Deila’s team remain under Rodgers and have flourished – with notable mentions to Stuart Armstrong and Callum McGregor.
“They needed excitement,” was Rodgers’ response when asked what the Ronny Deila’s team required when he arrived.
One player that has added a great deal of excitement for the supporters and the team is summer signing Scott Sinclair, who worked with Rodgers at Chelsea and then Swansea has seen his career rejuvenated this season in Paradise.
“The club has always had someone who produces magic on the field and Scott gives that. I felt given his career path it was what he needed.
“I watched his career drift and I knew he was a better player than that.
When I was at Liverpool and he was at Villa I knew he was a better player than he was showing. When I signed here he was the first player I thought of. I thought he would be great in my team like he was at Swansea.
“I tried to convince him this would be an amazing move for him. Playing at Celtic you can become a legend for life. I think for him it was about playing with confidence again and I think the supporters have seen that this season.”
Sinclair has repaid Rodgers’ faith in him by scoring 25 goals and taking home the PFA Scotland Player of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year and Player of the Year at Celtic Park. The left winger has also this week pledged his future to Celtic by stating his intent to get better and challenge in Europe.
Sinclair’s form has also inspired the Celtic support to pen just about the best football song in recent years in his honour. And incidentally what a special season the Celtic song writers have had themselves! There should be an award for that too!
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