Friday 19 January 2018

Rodgers aims to bring back stability

Celtic's coach Brendan Rodgers attends a press conference at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona. Photo: AP
Celtic's coach Brendan Rodgers attends a press conference at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona. Photo: AP

Roddy Forsyth

After a switchback few days that saw his players euphoric after their 5-1 thrashing of Rangers and brought crashing back to Earth when drubbed 7-0 by Barcelona, Brendan Rodgers said that his priority had been to "stabilise emotion" within the Celtic squad.

The Hoops suffered their worst ever European defeat as they attempted to open their Champions League account in Group C - which also includes Manchester City and Borussia Mönchengladbach - but Rodgers declared himself comfortable with the players' state of mind as they prepared for tomorrow's visit to Inverness.

"We came off the back of Saturday which was a big game, a big performance and a great result, then within the space of four days you are playing against the world's best team," he said. "It doesn't matter the level of opponent you are playing - if you lose 7-0 you can use 100 words to describe it but it's not nice.

"The players had Wednesday off, but what's important from a manager's perspective is you then intervene. On Thursday you try and stabilise the emotion because it's been up here then down here. So you get a balance, reflect on it, learn from the experience of both games and then move forward."

Aside from the torrent of goals which emphasised Barça's superiority on Tuesday night, one statistic - that Celtic committed only three fouls in the game - demonstrated perversely that the Scottish champions simply could not keep pace with Barca.

"Our game is physical," said Rodgers. "We're very aggressive in our running and our pressing, getting up to people and touching people when you press but there are only three players that have ever experienced Champions League football.

"The rest hadn't and a number of them are young players. So you roll them into that environment and no matter what your game-plan is, they're on the back foot. That stat isn't the norm. There's something there which is more psychological."

He added: "I always think that in victory you show humility and in defeat you be honest. I am balanced enough about having been around long enough to let them understand that you just have to make the next step." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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