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OZ BOSS PRAISES RODGERS OVER ROGIC

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BRENDAN RODGERS has been praised for the way he has taken care of Tom Rogic.
Australian coach Ange Postecoglou has been impressed by the way the Celtic manager has handled the midfielder’s return after almost four months out with an ankle injury.
And he also believes his nation will benefit from Rodgers’ skilful selection process.
Rogic has been named in the Socceroos’ 30-man squad for the crucial World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia next month, as well as the friendly against Brazil and subsequent Confederations Cup.
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Postecoglou said: “It’s good to have Tom playing again after he missed an extended period of time.
“And I think Celtic are using him pretty wisely – they haven’t just thrown him back in there.
“He’s playing bits and pieces of games and Thursday (against Partick Thistle) was probably his first 90 minutes.
“That’s great for us because I think Celtic have already programmed in that he’s got a big June ahead of him and are looking after him.”So, from that perspective, I guess the positive is that Tom won’t come in jaded after a long season.
“If anything, I think he’ll be looking forward to having some games.”
THE INVINCIBLES
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CELTIC pulled off a sensational achievement in beating Hearts 2-0 on the last day of the season to ensure they finish the campaign unbeaten. All they need to do now is see off Aberdeen in the cup final this weekend against the Dons and they will secure an unbeaten treble.

There have been some great Celtic sides over the years, and they all hold a place in the fans’ hearts.

We have seen some magnificent players grace Celtic Park in the modern era: Henrik Larsson, Chris Sutton, Alan Thompson, Alan Stubbs, Neil Lennon, Stiliyan Petrov, Paul Lambert, Lubomir Moravick, Virgil Van Dijk, Victor Wanyama and more. Go back a bit further and we have had Kenny Dalglish, Bobby Lennox, Paul McStay, Bertie Auld, Jimmy Johnstone, Bobby Murdoch, Danny McGrain and Tommy Gemmel. These great players have been part of formidable, trophy-winning teams.

But none of them were Invincibles.

Celtic’s 2016-17 crop can now join an elite group featuring the fabled Arsenal side of 2003-04 and Juventus in 2011-12, teams that went an entire league campaign without losing a game. Naysayers may claim the Scottish Premiership is not on a par with Serie A and the EPL, but you cannot dismiss Celtic’s magnificent achievement.

Only Steaua Bucharest in Romania and Sheriff in Moldova have also pulled it off. In leagues great and small across Europe, hardly anyone has ever finished a season unbeaten. They should comfortably win the treble: a YouWager review of the odds shows they are extreme favourites to beat Aberdeen in the cup final.

It begs the question: is this the best Celtic team of all time?

Stubbs reckons the Celtic team of 2000/01, treble winners but not Invincibles, could have taken the current crop.

It would be a good game, but right now Celtic have wonderful balance in the side. With Scotty Sinclair on fire and wreaking havoc from wide areas, Moussa Dembele deadly in front of goal, Scott Brown a rock in midfield, Kieran Tierney remarkably composed and Dedryck Boyata brilliant at the back, the Bhoys have been untouchable this season and could go toe to toe with the 2000/01 side.

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But the big challenge for them will be cutting it in Europe.

They acquitted themselves well in the Champions League, but did not get out of the group stage, and losing 7-0 to Barcelona was an embarrassing lowlight to an otherwise superb season.

They cannot realistically claim to be the best Celtic side ever, because the Lisbon Lions – featuring the likes of Gemmell, Auld and Lennox, won the European Cup. It was a different era, but you can only beat what is in front of you, and the 1967 team showed themselves to be the best team in Europe.

It is unimaginable to think of Celtic challenging the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich for the Champions League. To do that, they would need to play in a far more competitive league – essentially joining the EPL – and earn a great deal more revenue to invest in players, but getting out of the group stage next season would represent a major achievement.

If they can keep the current group of players together – and Sinclair and Tierney are among the players to recently commit their futures to the club – and add talent in the summer, they can dominate for years domestically and have a go in Europe, which looks to be the only place that can offer them a challenging game at present.

 

 

 
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