Brendan Rodgers will be making firm judgments on his Celtic players at Ibrox today, feeling that this is the kind of game where he can really learn about his squad.
It’s well established that it hasn’t been the best couple of weeks for the Bhoys. Injuries have mounted up, they were knocked out of the Scottish League Cup and all three points should have been picked up against St Johnstone.
None of that matters today, however. It’s all about showing up against our arch-rivals and coming away from Govan with a positive result. Rodgers couldn’t be clearer about what he expects from his team today.
He said [Daily Record]: “Listen, we’ve obviously got some players out that are missing. However, from the players that are there and playing, I will learn a lot for sure.
“This is where you get judged as a Celtic player – in games like this. So you must have this courage to go and play with no fear, play the level of football that we want to. To take the ball, to take responsibility. Especially when you have no supporters there. Impose your way on the game, play with a speed and intensity and organisation that is consistent from the first whistle to the last.
“I think if you can perform in these types of games then it’s a real marker for where you can go, always a good sign of your qualities going forward. Because I always think the biggest players perform in the biggest games and make the biggest contributions. That’s the nature of the big games.”
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Rodgers knows what he wants to see and it sounds a lot like what supporters want to see, too. It’s positive talk, but we need to see it play out on the pitch.
That was the beauty of his first spell at the club and also of Ange Postecoglou’s reign – we could see the messaging hit hard with the players between the white lines, during a 90 minutes.
So far, there’s been a disconnect between what Rodgers says about this group and the performances we’ve witnessed. If that changes today it’ll go a long way towards turning around a difficult few weeks.