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Murty has brought a freshness to Rangers: Brendan Rodgers

 

By Ronnie Esplin

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers was glad to see the uncertainty around Graeme Murty's future at Rangers come to an end.

After Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes rejected advances from the Ibrox board earlier this month, the Gers under-20s coach, in his second spell as caretaker following the departure of Pedro Caixinha in October, was given the job until the end of the season.

Ahead of the final Old Firm match of the year at Celtic Park today, Rodgers acknowledged the Light Blues' change in style under the former Reading defender.

However, the Northern Ireland man was also pleased that Murty's future had been sorted.

Rodgers said: "They look a bit more direct. Not so much build-up from behind.

"When Mark Warburton was there and Pedro Caixinha, they tried to build their game from behind and work their way through the thirds. Now it goes forward that bit quicker and they look to play from there.

"Graeme has changed his shape a few times in terms of playing a diamond and playing 4-4-1-1. I don't think there will be too many surprises for us.

"I'm just glad for Graeme that he gets the job or at least until the end of the season.

"It is never easy and it is never easy for players.

"There is always that bit of, 'is he going to manage is he not, is it going to be someone else?'

"So at least there is clarity for him after a long period of time.

"Of course he has the opportunity to get the job in his own right and for that you need to win games and you need to win consistently."

Rodgers looked forward to the winter break which follows today's lunchtime encounter and pointed out Celtic's intense fixture list since the summer.

He said: "We actually play our 38th game which, up here and down south, is a season and we are doing it within half a season.

"This will be my 97th game as Celtic manager. I had 96 games as the manager of Swansea and I was there a couple of seasons.

"But it all points to having great success and that's what we want."

The Scottish Premiership leaders are 11 points clear of third-placed Rangers with their title under no serious threat from the Ibrox side.

However, keeper Craig Gordon insists the magnitude of the fixture has not diminished.

He said: "You can try and say it is like any other game, that it's three points but nobody is going to believe that. For the players it is not. I would be lying if I told you any different.

"It's a big game and we are right up for it."

Gordon also believes former Celtic team-mate Virgil van Dijk could become "one of the great centre-halves in world football".

The 26-year-old Holland international will join Liverpool from Southampton on January 1 for £75million, a world-record fee for a defender. Van Dijk joined Celtic from Dutch side Groningen in 2013 for around £2.5millon and left for St Mary's after two years in a £13million deal.

Gordon added: "When I played with him he was without a doubt the best centre-half that I have ever played with.

"I knew when he left here that Southampton wouldn't be his club for very long. He is a fantastic footballer and I'm sure he is going to do an excellent job for Liverpool."

Gordon is confident that Van Dijk will prove value for money in the years to come.

The Scotland goalkeeper said: "He is still young. He could have eight or nine years at Liverpool, maybe longer.

"It could well end up being value for money."

Celtic are set to receive a seven-figure sell-on fee from Van Dijk's transfer and Rodgers acknowledged that the Dutchman's progress personified the ethos of Celtic in terms of spotting and recruiting gems, developing and selling on.

He said: "Celtic bring in players and they will develop and improve here, then they will move on."

The former Liverpool boss insists Van Dijk should not concern himself with the price tag.

He said: "It is obviously great for Virgil firstly because he has gone to a brilliant club where every aspect of you as a player is tested, how you cope under pressure and the microscope goes on him every game he plays.

"But he looks a great talent and he will go on to a great club and hopefully prove that."

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