Brendan Rodgers: Winning is what’s expected

Brendan Rodgers is relaxed about the expectations heaped upon Celtic going into the Old Firm game against Rangers today.

The Hoops are favourites to win the first league fixture between the two clubs at Celtic Park in four years.

Rodgers said: “When you are Celtic and you play every game, especially at home, [winning] is what is expected of you.

“We are not running away to say that we don’t want to be the favourites for the game.

“Whether we were playing Rangers, Aberdeen, St Johnstone, Hearts, whoever we play at home, the objective going into the game is to win. It’s a huge game, a big game, but one that we want to win, like every game at Celtic Park.

“More importantly, the way the team is playing, the energy and ambition of the team has given the supporters something to be proud of so far and, as I said, the atmosphere will be incredible.

“Every derby is different. Having experienced derbies before there is a uniqueness to each one and this is iconic throughout the world and one that I am really looking forward to.”

The former Swansea and Liverpool boss will come up against Rangers manager Mark Warburton for the first time. Rodgers and Warburton worked together at Watford but Rodgers insists that was too short for there to be any possible bluffing or double-bluffing when it comes to team selection and tactics.

Rodgers, who has overseen three wins out of three, said: “We didn’t work long enough together for that. I was only there a short period of time.

“When I was the manager of Watford, it was my first job. He was academy director and he did great work for the youths.

“There is a friendship there from our time at Watford and we spoke on a number of occasions when we left. But we weren’t best mates and speaking every week.

“Mark, firstly, has done a great job at Rangers. He is a good man and he deserves a huge amount of credit for the work that he has done.

“Now that he has got promoted he will probably feel more the expectation at Rangers to do well this season.

“But up until now I think he has done a very good job. When he took them on they were in a difficult moment.

“He got them playing a really good style of football and I think they responded very well to his methods.”

Meanwhile Kenny Miller insists he had unwavering confidence that Rangers would beat Celtic at Hampden last season - and he retains full belief in their potential ahead of the latest derby.

Much has changed since Rangers knocked Celtic out of the William Hill Scottish Cup. The Ibrox side have struggled to regain last season’s panache after making 11 signings while the champions have made fewer changes but achieved better advances.

Rangers have drawn two of their first four league games and won the others narrowly, but Miller’s belief in Warburton’s methods is unshakable.

The ex-Celtic and Scotland striker said: “We [Rangers] have got a confidence, we have a confidence in what the manager wants us to do. We have just not put it together as much this season as last season.

"Whether that’s the increased level of opposition, or whether that’s trying to bed new signings, we have turned over 20 players in the last two summers. That’s a lot of lads to come in and gel. It always takes time, this season has just taken a little bit longer.”


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