Brendan Rodgers reveals his plan when Rangers game is on as buzzing Celtic boss wants 'a bit of fun' vs rivals

Brendan Rodgers -Credit:SNS Group
Brendan Rodgers -Credit:SNS Group

Pumped-up Brendan Rodgers insists he can’t wait to have “a bit of fun” against Rangers next weekend after watching his Celtic side hit top gear in the title race against Hearts.

The Hoops boss - who will prepare for a massive week by heading to the seaside - was beaming after a 3-0 win that moved the Hoops six points clear and said his big players showed they are ready to finish the job. Rodgers warned Rangers that Parkhead will be “on fire” next Saturday for a game which could see his side crowned champions with a win - should their rivals drop points against Kilmarnock today.

The Irishman won’t be turning on the telly for that one at lunchtime today, revealing he’d be enjoying a family trip to the coast instead. But he’ll be tuned right in when Philippe Clement’s side arrive in the east end on Saturday. And he reckons his players will be too, led by Callum McGregor who he claimed proved he’s ready for the challenge with one lung-busting run back to make a tackle in the second half against Hearts.

He said: “I thought it was fantastic in terms of performance, result and the game. Great feeling in the stadium. These are big games at this time of the season so you want big contributions from your best players and I thought our top players were great. We looked like a proper team today. Players back, competition, players working their way back. You see that one run from Calum, that was enough for me – I know he is ready.

“The quality of the goals, the composure, the penalty, we had other chances to score. It felt like a great Celtic day today. It is such an important point of the season, I have always said it, the team is an extension of the supporters and when that concentration is on the football and everyone is focused you see the power Celtic has.

“The energy rolled from the stands down onto the field and hopefully the fans were happy with that. Looking towards next week, we'll recover a little bit, analyse, have a really good week's training. And then it’s going to be absolutely on fire here next week.

“I will tell you we are champions if and when it happens. In the meantime, we won’t get too carried away. We will stay calm recover, get our team ready and then next week will be incredible. The atmosphere here, and a big chance to add more pressure. Eighty per cent of it now is mental. Physically they are in a really good place. This stage it’s all about mentality. You can see mentally we are in a really good place.

“Take nothing for granted, keep our composure, we have a lot of work to do in the week, get our plan ready and then next Saturday we can have a bit of fun!”

Asked if he would be tuning in to watch Rangers, Rodgers said: “No. I’m heading out with my family tomorrow. I’ll be going up to the seaside, a little bit north, and enjoying a bit of time up there. I’ll be resting and spending time with the family.”

Kyogo hit his first double of the season to ease the pressure against the Jambos take his Hoops tally to 18 for the season. Rodgers was full of praise for the striker, and reckons James Forrest showed why he is still the best winger at the club. He said: “Kyogo was much better today in his movement. Really bright for his first goal. I thought we were really good set piece wise today, Big credit to Gavin Strachan and Greg Wallace who look at that side of it closely. The first goal comes from the second phase but we sustained the pressure and he anticipates the ball in and scores a really good header.

Kyogo Furuhashi scores to make it 1-0 -Credit:SNS Group
Kyogo Furuhashi scores to make it 1-0 -Credit:SNS Group

“Then his second goal, what a finish. Sublime pass but what a finish, dropping out of the sky. It is a difficult one that so to control it the way he did was really good. But I can’t not mention James Forrest. I thought he was amazing.

“I’m so happy for him because he’s such a humble guy who just gets on with his work and probably throughout his career at Celtic has been written off a little bit. When I came in he hadn’t played so much the last couple of seasons so we bring other wingers in and they have to show. But I said it a few months back - and you probably thought I was mad - that he is my best winger but I needed to get him moving. You see at this point of the season he has come alive with his quality and he has got his winning head on.”

Rodgers reckons his players are in the best head space they’ve been all season after a turbulent opening to the season that greeted his return to the hotseat and a run of poor form around the turn of the year.

The timing couldn’t be better with a league and cup double on the line in the next three weeks.

He said: “It’s felt it’s getting back to what I want it to be. A bit of the norm. I said before the first six months were a challenge for everyone and everything. But now you start to see a bit more of what a Celtic team of mine should look like. You saw the players walking round at the end, nice and calm, taking the applause but also being respectful that we still have a job to do. A big job. But they did a big job today and we can now get ready. I’m so looking forward to it next week.”