Brendan Rodgers spoke to the media on Thursday, and some of what he said needs to be examined and special attention paid to it by everyone in our dressing room.
He was speaking specifically about Mikey Johnston, but his comments were intended for a much wider audience. Rodgers may have a reputation for making players better, but he underscored the fact that the hard work has to be done by them, and not him.
The question he was asked was about whether he sees it as his role to get Mikey Johnston to the place where he’s in the first team regularly; Rodgers was quite right to point out that the ultimate responsibility for that does not lie with him.
Every player thinks he is entitled to play every week; if any of them don’t they are at the wrong club. Rodgers job is to decide which of them really are on any given match day and to deliver the bad news to the rest of them. But it will come down to the players themselves to prove the issue and to give him reasons why they should be selected over everyone else.
No-one in this squad gets in this team by right, and there will be zero sentimentality when it comes to handing out the starting jerseys. The players already know this, and the fans would have; apparently some of our hacks were the last to get it.
This manager doesn’t play favourites and he demands only the highest standards.
Johnson would have had to prove himself, and every other player in this squad will have to do the same, and it is important that Rodgers has spelled out in public what I’m sure he’s already said in private.
Standards are different at Celtic now; that’s not to say that they are in any way better than they were when Ange Postecoglou was boss. The ideas are new, but the expectations are no less high.
As is often the case, the most insightful things from a manager’s press conference are often to be found in the little moments, and in answers to the most banal questions. Rodgers could have chosen to answer that question in a more artful, perhaps even an evasive way … but he wanted to make the public statement about what he expects from everyone.
Anyone who gets the idea that we’re going to be softer, or easier to play against, in the coming campaign had better think again. This guy is not playing.