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MY DEBT TO PEP,’ HOOPS BOSS

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BRENDAN RODGERS has admitted he is looking forward to pitting his wits against Pep Guiardiola when Celtic face Manchester City in the Champions League.

The Irishman is a big fan of the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss’s approach to football.

Rodgers said: “Barcelona played a big part in my development – looking at their infrastructure, that joined-up thinking from the youths right through. Pep is ingrained in that.

“You go back to when Johan Cruyff first went over and imposed a style that lasts to this very day. Guardiola was obviously a disciple of his.

“I hugely admire his work there and his bravery as a coach.

“He’s definitive and clear about how he wants to work. It’s not the right way or the wrong way – it’s his way. He did that at a club he knew inside out, in Barcelona, to great success.

“He went to Bayern Munich and was able to impose a different idea of how to work on top-level players.

“Now he will look to do the same at Manchester City and we look forward to that game when it comes around.”

With two goals conceded in each of the three games before yesterday’s 4-1 win over Aberdeen, Rodgers is well aware there’s work to be done ahead of their Champions League opener in the Nou Camp on September 13.

And the risks of playing out from the back were underlined when new boy Dorus de Vries almost gifted the Dons a goal, Rodgers said: “In the main we have actually defended well, but we have given away poor goals.

“I can’t rectify everything in a short period of time, but, hopefully, in the longer term I can because our defensive organisation has been good.

“Actually, the other night we were in good positions, but if you make mistakes then it can cost you.

“We’ve been unlucky with a few penalties we’ve given away and then one or two lapses of concentration. But, apart from that, defensively we will improve.”

He added: “The expectancy around Celtic is huge domestically but there’s also realism around the likes of Manchester City and Barcelona.

“They’re superpowers in terms of the financial clout they have to attract players. Borussia Monchengladbach are a big club who fell away, but are coming back.

“People look at Celtic’s standing as a club, but they see these as huge games. As a coach, it’s brilliant because you have different challenges to navigate your way through.

“We’ll look to try to find a way to gain something from the games. You have to really go and enjoy them. That’s the message. There’s nothing to lose.

“You want to do your very best and have no fear. Take on the challenge and embrace it.”

 
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