BRENDAN RODGERS and Dermot Desmond are singing from the same hymn sheet as they plot the way ahead for Celtic.
The manager didn’t hesitate to offer a reason for the team’s premature expulsion from European competition following the 2-0 loss to Lazio in the Eternal City on Tuesday night.
Rodgers stated it was “glaring” that the squad was lacking the required quality to cope with the challenges of Europe’s elite competition as the side toppled into oblivion with the final match against Feyenoord at Parkhead a week on Wednesday now meaningless in terms of qualification for either of the two main tournaments.
PARKHEAD POWERBROKERS…chairman Peter Lawwell and major shareholder Dermot Desmond.
Sitting in the stand to witness the team’s second consecutive failure to annex football at this level after Christmas was Desmond, the club’s majority shareholder. The Irish billionaire took in the action along with his son Ross, a director at the champions.
Asked if the most powerful presence at Parkhead was on board with his plans, Rodgers answered: “Yeah. The club are clear on that and where we want to get to in terms of our level. Dermot is keen for us to progress.
“Dermot was one of the big reasons I came back. My relationship with him is very strong from the first time I was here. He was the main influence in convincing me to come back.
“My communication with Dermot is very good, We speak on the phone, he was in Rome for the game and I saw him at the Blessing. I didn’t have too much interaction out there with him, but it was great for Dermot to be there, along with Ross.”
It is encouraging for the Celtic support to hear both the manager and the main man share the same vision on the projected trajectory of the club as the team boss prepares for next month’s transfer window.
ROME, SWEET ROME? Not on this occasion for Brendan Rodgers and his Celtic players after the loss to Lazio.
Rodgers is prioritising “established” players, as CQN reported yesterday, and it’s worth pointing out only one of the eight permanent signings in the summer was over the age of 23 – Japanese midfielder Tomoki Iwata, 26, who sealed his long-term deal after originally arriving in a loan switch in January.
The second time-around manager continued: “I felt when I came in here in the summer, with the squad that was already in place from last season, that we probably needed four players. By that I meant four quality players to add to the squad.
“There were players that were earmarked to come here prior to me coming here. That’s absolutely fine, we have got young talents here that will develop and grow and that’s the model of the club.
“But to continue to improve and grow you need to also have players who are established because they help bring those players up. And I am very, very confident that we can do that over the coming windows.
“It doesn’t necessarily all have to be in January because the right players might not be available. If in January we can do that then I’m pretty sure the club will give us every chance to improve the team.”
Rodgers, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “You cannot just have a team of really young players. You’re never going to extract that potential out them unless you have that experience beside them.
THAT’S MY BHOY…Brendan Rodgers congratulates ‘veteran’ Tomoki Iwata after his goal in the 4-1 win over Hearts at Tynecastle in October.
“Also for the level of games you play. If you solely rely on young players for game after game after game then they don’t have the games in their legs. You’ll find they will break down.
“It’s balance because I enjoy working with young players and seeing them grow and develop. But equally I love working with senior players who can help bring them through.
“Being here the first time, Scott Brown, at 32, was a massive influence on Callum McGregor. Kolo Toure was a great role model for Dedryck Boyata and the other central defenders in helping them get through games. You definitely need that experience in games.
“Listen, you can be 23 or 24 and be experienced. It doesn’t always have to be an older player. But certainly throughout the balance of our squad we can do that.”
The immediate hurdle will be in Perth at noon tomorrow when the Hoops attempt to achieve something they couldn’t in the previous encounter against St Johnstone – score a goal.
Rodgers’ side fired blanks in a dismal scoreless stalemate against a line-up that had arrived in the east end of Glasgow rock-bottom of the Premiership.
The pacesetters, currently eight points ahead of their nearest challengers, cannot afford a slip on this occasion after the frustrating 1-1 draw with Motherwell a week ago.