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‘THAT’S WHY I NEED EAR PLUGS,’ JOKES RODGERS

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BRENDAN RODGERS has accepted there is no hiding place as he prepares Celtic for the run-in that could lead to the club’s historic fourth treble.
The Irishman would be following in the footsteps of the legendary Jock Stein, who achieved the feat twice, and Martin O’Neill if the Hoops complete the silverware clean sweep.
Only Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup Final on May 27 stand between Rodgers and his team from a well-deserved domestic hat-trick of trophies.
A lifelong Celtic supporter, Rodgers is attempting to blank out the hysteria in order to focus on the task in hand.
He said: “I am fully aware of it. In fact, I can’t get away from it. I’m just going to put ear plugs in for the next month!

“Listen, I just don’t tend to think too much about it. When you win games there is a consequence of that, so if we beat Aberdeen in the Final it’ll be: ‘Okay, it’s nice’.

“I’ve said before, it’s very dangerous to think otherwise. Never get too carried away in this game.
“I’ll repeat it, a slap on the back is only six inches from a slap on the backside.”
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Rodgers praised the Hampden surface at the weekend and admitted it suited the high-tempo type of play he insists upon.

He added: “When I came in here and everyone complained about the Hampden record.
“People said it wasn’t a good place for Celtic. But I have to give credit to the staff at the stadium and say congratulations to them because I thought the pitch on Sunday was brilliant.
“That was our downfall in the home game against Rangers (sic) last month when we drew 1-1. But the pitch was perfect on this occasion and you could see the speed in the ball and how quickly we can move it.
“With the speed of the team it’s a much better tempo for us.

“But you have to cope. When you go to Hampden and you want to win things you have to be able to play.

“You have to be able to perform and deal with pressure. As the season has gone on, we’ve got better and better and better at that.”
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The Hoops dismantled Aberdeen 3-0 in the League Cup Final in November to lift their first piece of silverware under their new manager.

However, Rodgers warned: “They will probably feel they have something to prove after that game.
“I think Derek McInnes has done an amazing job there. Since he’s come in, he’s done a fantastic job. He has got his team really organised and playing well. Of course, they will want to come and make a better showing.

“But my focus can only be on Celtic. That is three times we’ve played at Hampden now and we’ve played at a really, really good level.

“So, the players are happy and have good energy. Thankfully, they play the game like they know what they’re doing.”

“You all saw the semi-final last year and it was a tough one for Celtic to take. It was good for me to see the joy and happiness on the faces of the supporters on Sunday.

“The players are exciting them with the level of performances. The fans are educated now in terms of what we’re doing.

“e pass the ball back, go side to side, if they can’t go forward they come back out and they are not being defensive. That’s starting a new attack and the players are happy.

“The style hasn’t changed, but the system has and the players are now happy to flit in and out of these systems and play.

“Celtic is a very stable club, the club is happy, but we have to keep moving forward. I thought we looked a real powerful team in lots of elements in the game.”
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