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John Hartson on the ‘magnificent’ quality Brendan Rodgers had during precarious Celtic moments




Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers has had to fight fire at times this season to put his side in a position to become successful.

Showing refreshing honesty, the Irishman has admitted this campaign has been the ‘most challenging’ of his managerial career. This isn’t a surprise, given the external pressure on him to succeed from so many different quarters.

In truth, Rodgers had a hard act to follow after replacing Ange Postecoglou. The Aussie left a treble-winning side that wasn’t completely dismantled; however, key pieces such as Jota, Carl Starfelt and Aaron Mooy and Liel Abada have been removed from the jigsaw, with the latter departing in mid-season.

I’ll leave it to the dedicated fans of 67 Hail Hail to decide if they have been efficiently replaced; nevertheless, it hasn’t all been rosy in the garden for the 51-year-old, who has led an admirable resurgence of just one defeat in 22 matches heading into a potential season-defining match against Kilmarnock this evening.

Back-to-back league defeats against tonight’s opponent and Heart of Midlothian, coupled with a spate of unconvincing performances at the turn of the year, feel like a long time ago now, that is for sure.

From some precarious moments, Rodgers has fought to the brink of claiming the Scottish Premiership title, needing one point at Rugby Park to confirm the trophy will head back to Parkhead.

John Hartson lauds the ‘calmness’ Brendan Rodgers has shown

Cool heads are needed under pressure, and John Hartson has lauded Rodgers for the way he has kept in the zone despite even having personal doubts about Celtic’s ability to topple Rangers in the league during the campaign, but on the whole, he believes the former Liverpool boss has done a ‘fantastic’ job.

The former Celtic striker explained [Go Radio Football Show]: “I think he has (turned it around), I think this season, he mentioned it himself, he said the first six months was quite turbulent on and off the pitch, he might’ve made a better decision with his selection once or twice (earlier in the season).

“The one thing Brendan’s done, he’s used that word calmness because there was a bit of panic that sank in. There was an element of the supporters that were like, ‘Can we turn this around?’ Rangers were on such a good run at the time when Clement was getting all the praise and all the plaudits from everybody.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers arrives prior to the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Celtic FC and Heart of Midlothian at Celtic Park Stadi...
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

“I think there was one time on this show with about nine or ten Games to go, Rangers might’ve been five or six points clear, they’d been on a seven or eight-Game winning run. I think I actually said Rangers are favourites; I’m not frightened to say that; I’m not embarrassed to say that.”

“I actually said what I thought just because of where Celtic were. I think they dropped points at home to Kilmarnock where I had a go at Bernabei because he didn’t stand up at the back post, which as a Celtic player you’ve got to stand up there.”

He later finished by adding: “It’s actually finished magnificent now, to have done what they’ve done and coming from behind again and obviously achieving what they’ve achieved, it’s a fantastic job all round really.”

Brendan Rodgers has kept his head under immense pressure

Since coming back to Celtic, Rodgers has been under immense pressure to deliver and is now on the verge of providing concrete evidence that the club were right to seek out his services.

Regardless of external opinions, he has made it clear his only priority is bringing success to the reigning Scottish Premiership champions, knowing the ramifications that may have if he were to fall short.

Ultimately, the 51-year-old didn’t need to take on the challenge for a second time, but he did, and supporters are fully behind his vision as collective unification grows stronger at Parkhead.

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