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Rodgers chases the missing ingredient

Brendan Rodgers would love a repeat showing of Celtic’s last visit to Paisley when they return to face the Buddies in the Scottish Cup on Sunday.

Wearing their camouflage like third kit the hoops were in front through Daizen Maeda within a minute, two in front after five and up against 10 men before the interval.

That result was played in the afterglow of winning 2-1 in the Glasgow Derby with Greg Taylor adding a third after the break with the 3-0 scoreline barely reflecting Celtic’s dominance in the match.

Going into the winter break it was exactly the result and performance required as the first stage of the season was signed off on a high note with appearances from the recently injured Maeda, Reo Hatate and Liel Abada.

It is fair to say that the post break form hasn’t kicked on. After a stroll against Buckie Thistle Celtic have scored four goals in three SPFL matches, two deflections and two penalty kicks.

Taylor, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Hatate are all out injured with a nervousness among the fans over the way the team is playing and the downward trajectory since the start of November.

In theory the Scottish Cup offers a diversion away from the intensity of the SPFL dog fight but of anything the pressure is intensified with no way back if Rodgers’ side turns in another off day against a side that crushed Hibs 3-0 a week ago at Easter Road.

What’s the key for you from a coaching perspective to get that tempo right? Last time in Paisley it was there from the start, with the speed of the passing and movement as well. How do you make sure you get that each week when you go into games? Is it the momentum that helped previously? 

Momentum is something that you want to create, but it can go at the same time as well. I think it’s just about understanding and constantly understanding how we work and play and the demands are there to do that every single game. You can start off games well and play with that, but it’s important you maintain that. That’s the message, but it’s a part of our coaching and training and analysis. That will be continuing.

Momentum and confidence are two qualities that Rodgers and every manager is looking for, both are related but difficult to find.

Despite the comfortable nature of the January 2 visit memories are still fairly fresh of last season’s 2-0 defeat at St Mirren, the only blot on the first half of the season under Ange Postecoglou.

That win was the first time this season that Celtic had won four matches on the bounce, highlighting the inconsistencies that have dogged the club.

Every match is now virtually a cup tie, none more so than Sunday as Celtic bid to retain the trophy that they won at Hampden in June in what turned out to be the farewell appearances of Postecoglou and Jota.

CLICK HERE for Sutton’s praise for loan bhoy Idah

CLICK HERE for a St Mirren 0-3 Celtic SPFL text commentary.

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