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Brendan Rodgers has to be given a war chest, says Rogan

Euro woes: Brendan Rodgers
Euro woes: Brendan Rodgers

By Steven Beacom

Former Celtic great Anton Rogan believes the Hoops board must invest more in recruiting quality players to give manager Brendan Rodgers a chance of making a real impact in Europe.

Rodgers has dominated in Scotland since taking charge of the Bhoys in 2016, winning seven domestic trophies out of seven to date, but supporters have been left disappointed by performances in European competition.

The Europa League first leg tie on Thursday at Parkhead was a case in point with Valencia easing to a 2-0 victory in Glasgow, all but ending Celtic's hopes of progressing.

Carnlough native Rodgers created history in his first season as Celtic boss when his 'Invincibles' won the title without losing a league game and claimed the Scottish Cup and League Cup for good measure.

In Europe they reached the Champions League group stages but finished bottom of the table, despite drawing twice with Manchester City.

Another domestic treble followed in the 2017-2018 campaign, as did qualification for the Champions League group phase, beating Linfield along the way.

The Hoops ended up third and dropped to the Europa League, where they were knocked out in the last-32.

This term the League Cup has already been secured, and even with Steven Gerrard's revolution at Rangers the Hoops are six points clear in the Scottish Premiership, though they failed to go through Champions League qualifying and now their Europa League journey is set to end after losing to Valencia in the opening leg of the first knockout stage.

While Celtic fans are realistic enough to know they are not going to repeat Jock Stein's famous 1967 European Cup triumph or even make it to a final like Martin O'Neill's side did in the Uefa Cup in 2003, there is a burning desire to stay in continental competition longer than in recent times.

Ex-Northern Ireland defender Rogan, a key figure for the Bhoys when they won the double in their centenary season in 1988, says they could be waiting a while unless Rodgers is given serious money to invest in high quality players.

"Celtic have been struggling in Europe for a few years now, even before Brendan came along, and haven't progressed as far as people expected them to," said Rogan, who spent five years at the club.

"When you look at the players that Brendan has brought in there have been quite a few loan signings. They can be fine to an extent but if you sign players for three or four years I think there is more commitment there.

"Domestically, on paper Celtic are still ahead of Rangers, but in January when Steven Gerrard was bringing in big names like Steven Davis and Jermain Defoe I felt Celtic should have signed more quality players to make a massive statement. That would have helped Brendan in Europe too.

"That's the way football is now. I'm aware that Scottish football doesn't have the money that other leagues have but you need to spend to bring in quality to compete at the highest level. That's how Celtic will make a real impact under Brendan in Europe.

"Up front, to cause these teams problems, of course it would be brilliant for Brendan to have a Henrik Larsson at his disposal, or even a John Hartson or Chris Sutton who would make it tough.

"I also think they have missed Leigh Griffiths, who is taking a break at present and I hope he gets the helps he requires. Griffiths is a player who can deliver in big game situations.

"Brendan Rodgers has done a fantastic job at Celtic in Scotland and I'd love to see him given the resources to have a go in Europe, otherwise I feel that will continue to be a struggle."

Belfast Telegraph


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