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Every Question and Answer as Brendan Rodgers faces the broadcast media as Celtic manager

Brendan Rodgers delivered a polished performance as he met the broadcast media to mark his return as Celtic manager.

The entire event was broadcast live on You Tube with Sky Sports leading the questioning due to BBC Scotland being denied access which became as much of a talking point as anything that emerged from the media conference.

There was no great giveaways, the sensitive issues were dealt with thoughtfully with the right message being sent out directlyhhhh


How does it feel a second time to be unveiled as the Celtic manager again?

I am very privileged and honoured to be asked to come back. My plan was to have a year our and reset again but once I spoke to the guys at the club and looked a bit more deep into where the club was at, it was then pretty straightforward. The club is in a fantastic place and it made me really excited to come back. It wasn’t a nostalgic move but I had an amazing time here when I was here but I am here to win going forward. I am really looking forward to hopefully achieving that.”

When you left the club the first time you said you’d maybe taken the club as far as you could at that moment, what has changed?

First and foremost, your bread and butter is always Scotland. You have to ensure you have dominance but what I would like to think we can do something in Europe, and that means… it is well documented over many years when the club hasn’t qualified or got through a great record in terms of European football. So even though it is a challenge in terms of the resources other clubs will have in terms of European football, it is a great challenge for us.

We have Champions League football this season and we will look to have European football after Christmas, and as I say, that is a great challenge for us. When I look at within the club, having already spoken to Michael, when he came out to present the infrastructure of the club, there were a lot of things in place we had spoken about when I was here the first time. There is a brilliant recruitment team in place.

I look at Mark (Lawwell) and the work he has done since he has been here. It is set up perfectly for a club like Celtic to work in the markets they need to be working in. You can see through the players that have been brought in through his recruitment team and that for me is very important. I come to a club for one of the very few times in my career where it has an upward feel to it. A lot of the jobs I have gone into the club or the teams have maybe been suffering and I have come in to pick it up. I come in here to a great foundation on the back of the great work Ange has done here over the past couple of years and look to continue with that.”

Have you spoken to Ange at all about the group you are inheriting?

No. I have exchanged messages with him. I have spoken in-depth to John Kennedy who has obviously been a pivotal person at the club and will be my assistant whilst I am here. So I have spoken at length and I have obviously watched Celtic as well, and the football philosophy is not too different in terms of how we would work and how a Celtic manager is perceived to work with his team.

It’s an attacking club and we have to not just win, but win stylistically in a certain way and Ange has done that. Hopefully my period before we managed to do that so it’s a continuation of that and to continue to build on that.”

By and large the reaction to your return is positive and they seem keen to have you back, there was of course that anger amongst some when you parted, I wonder how difficult at the time that was, some of the things that were said and if it put you off at all on coming back?

I would understand how the supporters would feel and I also know when I was here the first time and doing really well I also had critics. It was an emotional time, the club was going for 10 in a row and there was a lot of emotion around. I never get too emotional with words and I’m hoping in my time here I can have the impact I had in my first time.

The expectations are greater and I think the pressure is greater because of what we did the first time and how I left but that’s what I wanted, it’s why I’m here. I want to take on that expectation and pressure because it’s a club that wants to be winning. For me hopefully the people I’ve had lots of support from when I left, I really thank them for that, and to the people who maybe don’t want me here hopefully I can shift their opinion and prove to them with the football we play and success we can have, hopefully I can shift their opinions.”

From 23 minutes on

Is that the hope for you now, that you can change the opinions of those last few that remain unconvinced and winning them back around, as previously you had a fabulous relationship with the fanbase?

I hope I can still have a fabulous relationship with the fanbase. It’s natural that when I left it was a sad moment. I certainly don’t regret it but what I do regret is the hurt it caused people and that’s the very reason I’m sat here today.

As a Celtic supporter I understood what it meant, probably even more so when I left. That was my regret – that I hurt people who were Celtic supporters and it was a big part of coming back.”

You spoke there of the emotions this club holds to you, but I wonder when you left at that time, what effect does that emotion still have

It was a sad time because of the relationships I built up here with the players and the supporters. With the board. So it wasn’t an easy decision of course but to go away and then come back again, I think despite what I read and what I here at times, life is about relationships.

I wouldn’t be sat here today if I didn’t have the relationship with the guys around the table and with the other members of the board, it just wouldn’t happen. I am clearly ambitious but I am ambitious for Celtic to be the best we can be. I think as I come back to the landscape, I understand it much better now in terms of how we function. But my ambition is for Celtic to be the best and when I left, no matter the criticism I had, the club was always close to me and it is a real privilege and honour to be invited back again.”

To those who have an apprehension, what would be your message to those individuals directly?

Hopefully in time I can give you the feeling that i gave you when I was here the first time. I don’t expect anything. If I get the support, which has been amazing for me since I came back, then that is great.

For those who doubt, I have had it all my career so I will continue to work hard and hopefully produces a team that plays and plays with a commitment they can enjoy and it is something that is going to take time, I am sure.”

How do you assess the squad you are inheriting and what are your plans in terms of strengthening this summer?

I think it is a good time to strengthen. Whenever you have done ever so well, a team off the back of a Treble, I have been in that position before. We were able to do another Treble so I understand the feeling now over the course of a summer what it is you need at this period. That will be about strengthening but I am also excited to work with the players here as it is a young squad and there is still a lot of growth within that.

But I am looking forward to seeing them over the course of pre-season, there are only a few players who are here from when I was here so it is an exciting squad and we can add to that. It’s a really good time to do that when you are winning.”

You have already mentioned Europe, what does success look like for you, what do you envisage it looking like for you and Celtic on a European stage?

We all know the challenges of the Champions League and if you can get through into the knockout stages, then of course that is a big step for a Scottish team. But you arrive into Europe, there are competitions now with a little bit of luck and the quality you can have, it can allow you to go a long way.

So for us it is getting through the qualification phase which is really important and you see where that can take you. But Europe is something that is such a challenge but for us it is a great challenge and it is something we will look to embrace.

How much have you changed or evolved as a manager since you were last here and can we expect a slightly different Celtic team to what we saw four years ago?

I think in terms of how we play, my teams always play with attacking philosophy. It is aggressive and it is always a team set out to win with a tactical discipline. So that has never changed, when my teams are at their best, that is what they do.

So for me, I am a better manager than when I first sat here seven years ago and certainly from when I left four years ago, the experiences good and bad, always help you and that was the beauty of coming back to here. It is an a amazing club and I can come back with my experience and hopefully help the club moving forward.”

Do you plan lots of recruitment or is it just one or two to enhance the squad?

I think it is just about getting quality and my conversations with Mark and the recruitment team, they have a great handle on where it’s at. Speaking to Michael, everything is under control contractually but a good time to improve is when you are doing well.

This is a nice possibility for us to improve the squad but it’s not lots of numbers. Ange when he came in had a massive rebuilding job and did a brilliant job at that, and over the last couple of years he and the club have built a really good squad so it is a case of continuingly developing that squad and adding quality where we can.

How much are you looking forward to the bread and butter of Scottish football and battling for the title?

Yep, yep, and battling with the media is always good fun! But I have to say, Scotland brought me a lot of happiness on and off the pitch when I was here. Obviously the joy of working at Celtic was amazing and how successful we were, and off the pitch I had a lot of respect for the city and the country as a whole.

Hence why whenever we were thinking about coming back, it wasn’t just about the football side, and even though the last moments we were was tough and difficult off the field, it didn’t change for us the good feeling we had when we were here at Celtic. I am delighted to be here in a professional perspective, taking on the other teams and from a family perspective, they will fin a great happiness here.”

Do you see yourself being here for the long haul?

I’ve signed for three years and I guarantee I’ll be here for three years unless I get emptied before that, as they say up here! That would be the plan and then we can look at it from there.”

There’s always a focus on the Celtic and Rangers rivalry, you have worked with Michael (Beale) in the past, what kind of challenge are you expecting from Rangers going forward and do you think they will be stronger than they were in your first spell?

I think all you can do when you are a manager is beat the opposition in front of you. When I arrived seven years ago, Rangers were just getting promoted and just beat Celtic and there was a big feeling they could go on and win the league. Obviously over the next number of years we were able to focus on ourselves and play the football we wanted to play and that allowed us to win trophies and have success.

It will be exactly the same here. Michael is a coach I knew from back in the Chelsea days and then came to Liverpool when I was manager there. I have known him over a period of time and he’s an excellent coach but my focus will purely be on Celtic and improving us as a team. That will be my thought process every minute of the day.”

There’s been a lot of talk over your assistant John Kennedy, a wanted man it seems, how crucial was it you keep him by your side?

It was very important. I spoke to Michael on that when we met. Over the course of my career I have come into some clubs on my own, some with staff, but I have always felt that coming back to here that it was going to be really important for John to be here. He knows how I work and the rhythm of my days and he is steeped in Celtic. He is an incredible worker and a great football man. He has the respect of the players and staff, so for me to have him here was important.

So I spoke to John and looked to convince him to stay and I was really pleased that he wanted to. He is a great guy and a great football man. We worked really well the last time we were here and hopefully it can be the same this time.

Brendan, your message to the Celtic fans when you were appointed was let’s get to work, do you have one now you are sitting here in the stadium?

It’s just a thank you for the support that I have had. This is a club that allows you to dream. It is an amazing football club with a history so rich and I am hoping us together we can add to that. It has to be unified, it has to be together, like we were the first time. Let’s see if we can create those memories again and they were special memories and from this day forward, we stay together.”

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