Rodgers Radiates Calm And Confidence As Celtic’s Preparations Enter The Final Phase.

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As a fan looking forward to a big game, all you really want to know is that people at your club are focussed on the job at hand and working hard behind the scenes.

There is no question that this describes Celtic, right now, to a T.

Brendan Rodgers has sat in front of the club’s in-house media team, and they put up their work this morning. It is worth watching. I’m putting a link at the bottom. He exudes authority and calm. He looks unflustered, and about as relaxed as a man can be when he’s under the sort of scrutiny which Rodgers has trained on him right now.

Notice that I don’t say “pressure.” He doesn’t even look or sound like he’s under any, but scrutiny, oh yes there’s scrutiny and more than any manager here has faced in a long time. The media should be reserving that for the man across the city, because he’s the one most likely to generate a series of sensational news stories, as is his club … but nope, it’s all focussed on Rodgers, whose every word and utterance is being examined forensically … and twisted.

For example, today he has said that he is happier with the composition of the squad he has available to him than at any time since he’s been back here. He’s pointed out that in every major match we’ve played this season, we’ve had to deal with injury issues. Not so this time. “It’s as good a place as we’ve been all season,” he said. “When we will arrive into this weekend’s game, this will be the best version of the team since I’ve been here.”

And this, of course, has been sensationalised; “Rodgers warns (Ibrox) to expect ‘best version of Celtic’” screams the headline on the BBC, and they aren’t alone. But he didn’t “warn” anybody, he expressed a view that this is the strongest team in terms of fitness and form he’s had available to him since he returned. Nothing more than that. There was no message to the club across the city, he barely even acknowledged them during the sit-down.

Part of this is the narrow focus the media has when it comes to everything; it’s why they still use the ridiculous “Old Firm” tag. They refuse to view these as two clubs, entirely separate, who might have their own ideas about this stuff. Celtic isn’t even thinking about them, we’re too busy making sure that we’re prepared for the game ourselves. There will be a time this week for thinking about the opponent, but when it comes that’s how we’ll think of them.

I am always reminded when thinking about this of something I read once about a journalist who attended a US military training exercise and he commented on the designation given to the enemy; Team Red. “Does that denote the Russians?” he asked.

His guide, a high-level US naval officer, looked at him as though he was mad and said, “It’s the term we always use. There are no ‘Russians’ or ‘Chinese’ or ‘Koreans’, it’s always just The Adversary, and we always use the designation Team Red.”

Celtic views this exactly the same way.

Sure, there will be variations on the tactics and the approach depending on the opponent, but the opponent is always The Adversary, just another eleven guys chasing the same football, and we don’t prepare for one game any different than we do another. And if this lot are Team Blue then maybe that’s just the designation we give to everyone we play.

Rodgers obviously doesn’t intend to send them little messages.

I thought that he might throw one in there, just for fun, just to see if he could wind up Clement, but he didn’t, and in fact I’m pretty pleased with that.

It’s what we hoped for; all focus is where it belongs, and although the hacks are clearly dying to wring drama out of his comments, the assertion that this is the “best version” of his team certainly isn’t controversial in any way, and if the media somehow convinces the Ibrox boss that this was meant for him, as some kind of warning, and he responds to that, then he really is a moron on an epic scale, and wound way too tight for this gig.

Rodgers, on the other hand, is as calm as a cup of water. I am sure that he must feel the slight pull and push of pressure, who wouldn’t before a game like this? Because whilst he’s got the better players and we’ve got home advantage and he’s got the right record against this lot, he also knows that anything can go wrong in these matches, especially with VAR.

But his confidence bleeds into our confidence.

Confidence. Not over-confidence. Not arrogance.

But just the quiet, settled view that if we show up with the right approach and do our thing we’ll win, and that’s what he projects right now. Belief. It’s great to see it.

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  • Bigchunkylardass says:

    You really don’t think – the best version of Celtic – was, amongst other things, aimed at reminding their manager of what exactly he’s gonna be up against…
    Another beautifully places grenade was how ah heard it


    • Roonsa says:

      I think you’re reading too much into it mate. If the “fun” comment was a grenade then it did its job. He can’t afford to waste energy thinking up new ways to wind up Baldermort.

  • Bunter says:

    It’s good to see the calmness coming out of Celtic Park. Total contrast to the jangling nerves across the city. BTW – could some please tell Paul Lambert the news about the demise of the ‘old firm’ in 2012. He’s still rabbiting on about the ‘old firm’ game on Sky today. Wake up Paul, it’s embarrassing. The MSM are playing you mate.

    • Effarr says:

      And don’t forget to tell Martin O’Neil and Lennon as well as Lambert.

  • Gerry says:

    I think having watched our manager’s interview today, it is fair to say that he does exude a quiet confidence and belief, that has maybe, and at times predictably this season, not always been there.

    He has been caught in the crosshairs many times…predominantly by those in the media, that have willed him to fail, and by certain sections of our fanbase.

    He has deserved some criticism, but as we’ve discussed on here, there have been many, mitigating factors !

    He now deserves to give interviews that allow him to express a satisfaction, and probably, relief, that he now has the best ‘tools’ at his disposal, since he returned.

    This also allows him to prepare his team thoroughly, and in a way that eases pressure, to hopefully play at their very best.

    Our smsm are trying their damnedest, to ramp the pressure on our manager and players…but it’s times like this, we ask for a bit of balance in their reporting ( which we know will never happen,) and to take a sideways glance over Ibrokes way!
    Are they calm & prepared, or feeling the pressure ?

    Im sure our manager is fully aware, that the only thing that relieves pressure, is preparation!

    If you’re not prepared, then maybe it’s not pressure you feel, but pure, unadulterated fear !!!

    Hopefully come 2.30pm on Saturday, we shall discover that our manager’s preparation, is the key to our continued success!!!!

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    Is there no one at Celtic that can challenge the way The cancer that is The BBC (Scotland I presume) for twisting Brendan’s words…

    And I don’t use the word that I described them lightly as that took the lives good folks like ma late Daddy and ma late Auntie to name but two good folks…

    Is Lord Lucan-Nicholson not a bloody sports lawyer – That should bitch slap the Scummy Bastards in court for twisted lies and fabrications ?

    Or is he what I think he is – A brazen headed wage thief, that’s a yellow, yellow bar steward in a drab grey suit !

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