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Rodgers has put Scotland in a good light, not just Celt

By Steven Beacom

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers has been a 'breath of fresh air' for Scottish football, according to ex-Northern Ireland defender Stephen Craigan. In the Carnlough native's first season in charge of the Hoops, they are unbeaten domestically, have already won the Scottish League Cup, are well on their way to Scottish Premiership success and also made it into the group stages of the Champions League.

Rodgers has made a massive impact at Parkhead. Motherwell Under-20s coach and BT Sport pundit Craigan has certainly been impressed by the way the former Liverpool manager has done business on and off the pitch in Scotland.

"Brendan has come in and been a breath of fresh air," said Craigan. "The way he conducts himself, the way his team play, the respect he has shown to people has been terrific.

"Celtic have grown as a club and the rest of Scottish football has enjoyed Brendan being part of the game and all the publicity he brings. I think he has put the Scottish game in a good light.

"And he has moved Celtic forward by getting them into the Champions League group stages. Now they are aiming for the domestic treble. Celtic are a mile in front of the rest."

Celtic moved 19 points clear at the top of the table by claiming an important 2-1 victory at Ibrox, the home of nearest challengers Rangers, on New Year's Eve.

Gers supporters would love to see their side much closer to their big Glasgow rivals, but Craigan says it will take time for the Ibrox men to build a title challenge.

"It's good that Rangers are back in the top flight. It'll take time for them to build a squad that can really challenge Celtic for the title but there is greater interest with them returning to the Scottish Premiership which is good for the game," said Craigan, who believes the football authorities should consider increasing the top league in the country from 12 teams to 14.

"I think they should look at the potential for league expansion. With Celtic going so well, Rangers being back, Hearts and Aberdeen up at the top end of the table and Hibs, under Neil Lennon, possibly coming up next season, it will mean more money being generated in the future meaning clubs will be even more desperate to stay in the Premiership.

"That brings pressure and sometimes pressure leads to nervousness and negative football, so looking at having more teams in the top flight is something that should be considered."

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