Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football Scottish Celtic

New Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers at home in his new Paradise

By Ronnie Esplin

Brendan Rodgers insists he has not taken a step down in his career by becoming the new Celtic boss.

The 43-year-old former Liverpool and Swansea manager met the media at Parkhead following confirmation of his appointment on a 12-month rolling contract.

The County Antrim native made it clear early in his packed press conference of how he viewed his new post.

He said: "People would maybe talk about the level but Celtic is one of the biggest clubs in the world.

"And for me to come out of the Premier League and come here is certainly not a step down.

"This is one of the great clubs of the world, an institution, so for me to come here is a huge honour and a privilege."

He added of his objectives: "For me the objective is pretty clear, to continue with the domination of Scottish football and also to make an impact in European football."

Rodgers continued: "The traditions of Celtic being the first team to win the European Cup is very important, there have been many great European nights here.

"First of all we have to look to be competing in the Champions League and you have to qualify and then the objective then is can you get out of the group stages and beyond.

"Of course it is difficult with the money that is around, but you look at Porto, Benfica, those sorts of teams that are dominant in their own league and qualify for the Champions League and can make a good first of it.

"I am fortunate that I am at a club where I have felt the support from the first conversation that I had with Peter (Lawwell, chief executive) so I know that they will do everything that they possibly can. Dermot (Desmond, major shareholder) also, they will give me support and I felt a real togetherness with them."

Rodgers, who will complete his background team "over the next couple of weeks", acknowledged the financial differences between the Premier League and the Ladbrokes Premiership.

Lawwell reiterated the need for Celtic "to live within our means and create value" and the new manager insists he is ready to meet that challenge.

"I was comfortable with everything," he said. "I have come from a market and I am now in a different market.

"It is pretty clear the Premier League is the most competitive in the world but this is Celtic, it is a different market, but I was convinced to come here to be given every possible chance to create the objectives.

"They want to invest in the club, they want to keep the club moving forward but it is also about the players that are here.

"Sometimes people look and want you to go and buy a £10m player or a £5m player but the first look has to be within your own youth department.

"You might have a £5m or £10m player in your own academy. You always look from within your club, it gives you great joy, we had it at Liverpool.

"Raheem Sterling was 17 years of age when he broke into the team and left as a £49m player.

"When Luis Suarez came to Liverpool, there weren't many people who had heard of Luis and he left and went away as a world-class player.

"That always brings you joy as a coach and a manager - to get that type of player, develop him and improve him.

"So my first look will always be to look there. I think we have a good squad here and of course we want to improve on that."

Rodgers revealed he will look to work with a "tight squad to give young players an opportunity" which means a fair bit of pruning to the unwieldy squad that predecessor Ronny Deila had assembled will be needed.

However, the former Watford and Reading boss will first assess what he has at his disposal.

"I will assess them and learn as much as I can," he said. "I am aware of the numbers of the players and I know the numbers I want in the squad.

"We will assess all of that quickly as we have (Champions League) qualification games.

"I'm really looking forward to meeting the captain. Scott Brown is someone who I've admired for a number of years. His drive, determination and quality is going to be important."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph