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Brendan Rodgers takes his place among Celtic greats with treble

An unbeaten treble in his debut season means Brendan joins the exalted company of Stein and O'Neill at Celtic's top table

By Julian Taylor

The eagle-eyed in attendance at Saturday's rain-soaked Scottish Cup final would have noticed the rapid appearance of a lightning rod over Hampden at precisely the same moment Tom Rogic drove home Celtic's decisive goal.

The languid Australian's intervention was every bit as dramatic as the emblematic spike across the skyline in Glasgow's south side, for it confirmed a Treble for the Bhoys and the complete control Brendan Rodgers has over Scotland's landscape.

The Carnlough man has guided the Hoops to the Premiership, League Cup and Scottish Cup in his debut campaign, delivering most of what he set out to do when unveiled at Parkhead last May.

Rogic's late winner wore down outstanding Aberdeen, whose performance was compelling evidence on behalf of those who rail against suggestions that Celtic have not had to toil particularly hard for their clean sweep.

Rodgers now joins Martin O'Neill and Jock Stein (pictured) in that exclusive club of Celtic treble-winning managers.

"It's a huge honour to be mentioned in the same sentence as Martin O'Neill and Jock Stein", Rodgers notes. "Winning the treble is a very difficult thing to do but to have achieved it in the first season, alongside everything else that we've done, is very humbling."

The 44-year-old imbues his men with a clinical mindset, undoubtedly, but Celtic also work harder. It is simply impossible for any team to go through a domestic season unbeaten without committing itself to industrial-sized shifts.

That kind of diligence was on the wane before Rodgers' arrival. Players, who, while still winning the title, had forgotten the art of self-improvement. Rangers' absence from the top tier probably aided a sense of complacency under the previous incumbent, the low-profile Ronny Deila. Fitness levels at Celtic Park were static, a feature Rodgers addressed straightaway, although not in time to cope with the heat and shock of losing to Lincoln Red Imps in Gibraltar in a Champions League qualifier.

"Have I noticed a difference in the Celtic players' fitness? Absolutely, yes. We have seen it in front of our very eyes. Fitness allows you to do things like pressing and keeping the ball," said Gordon Strachan, the Scotland manager and former Celtic boss who compared Rodgers in this respect to Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool and Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham.

Aberdeen gave the Hoops their biggest test all season for 75 minutes. Then Celtic's sheer resolve; angry and banging the door, took over. Like Rodgers' own management, this is a team which tends not to panic when faced with dark situations drifting. Even on that surreal night in Gibraltar last July, the new Bhoy remained clear-sighted.

The ex-Liverpool boss is now poised for a short holiday before beginning another chapter, of the kind which goes beyond taking Rangers apart.

Expectations are centred on Europe and prospects of reaching the last-16 of the Champions League. Celtic are pretty affluent in a Scottish context, not so of course when it comes to competing against the Chelseas, Bayern Munichs and Real Madrids of this world.

The continental challenge is to somehow become far more than the sum of their financial parts. Neil Lennon managed it in 2012/13 and Strachan prised Celts from the group stages twice.

Inevitably, that 7-0 shocker at Barcelona in Rodgers' first elite Euro campaign with Celtic drew criticism; however away draws against Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach were markers of quick progress.

In terms of replenishments, money is available. Nevertheless, it's unlikely many changes will be made to a settled squad.

During Rodgers' time at Liverpool, he had what he termed a CORE mantra: Commitment, Organisation, Responsibility, Excellence.

Hampden was a reward for players who absorbed these cornerstones from the day their new boss walked into Parkhead. Yet even during the euphoria, Rodgers admitted that while history was made - this is only the Hoops' fourth treble - the likelihood of another 'invincible' season is remote.

A minor detail, ahead of another anticipated season of Celtic dominance.

These are justifiably happy times for Rodgers, who lost both parents at relatively young ages a few years ago.

The man from the Antrim Glens has an indefinite home in Glasgow.

"History will judge me because I've only just begun here," he explained.

"It's been truly enjoyable and it's a privilege to manage the club. It's a real special feeling."

Rodgers' renewed sense of place is superb news for Celtic.

ABERDEEN: Lewis, Logan, Shinnie, Considine, Taylor, Reynolds, McLean, McGinn (O'Connor, 75 mins), Hayes, Stockley (Rooney, 62 mins), Jack (Wright, 90 mins). Unused subs: Alexander, Pawlett, Ross, Storey.

CELTIC: Gordon, Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney (Rogic, 26 mins), Brown, McGregor, Armstrong, Roberts (Sviatchenko, 90 mins), Sinclair, Griffiths. Unused subs: de Vries, Bitton, Dembele, Gamboa, Forrest.

Referee: Bobby Madden

Man of the Match: Stuart Armstrong

Match rating: 7/10

Aberdeen 1

Celtic 2

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