Brendan Rodgers: ‘Happy at Celtic and it’s only the start’

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers celebrates at full time after his side beat Hearts 5-0 to clinch the Premiership title. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers celebrates at full time after his side beat Hearts 5-0 to clinch the Premiership title. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS

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Brendan Rodgers saw Celtic clinch a sixth successive Scottish title with a 5-0 win over Hearts before giving the clearest indication to date he sees his future at Parkhead.

The former Liverpool manager has been linked with a return to the English Premier League and speculation will no doubt continue in the months ahead. But the 44-year-old yesterday stressed he is as happy as he has ever been in both his professional and personal life in Scotland.

Celtic comprehensively dealt with Hearts to secure the first league title of Rodgers’ managerial career. A hat-trick from Scott Sinclair and goals from Stuart Armstrong and Patrick Roberts handed Hearts their worst home league defeat since 1973.

Rodgers led a relatively restrained victory party afterwards and insisted there was still work to do. Already in his fifth managerial post, Rodgers pointed out sometimes you need to know when to stay put.

“I am very content,” he said. “I’ve only started in management, really. I’ve had five jobs, so I’m thinking at some point I need to just stay calm.

“I’ve already worked in the [English] Premier League and I cannot think of a better place for me to be at this stage of my life than Glasgow Celtic.

“I’m very comfortable here and sometimes you have to be careful. You have to really
appreciate what you have and I am a bit older and more mature. In the management game, I feel very, very happy here. There is not a place I could be in this world right now where I’d be happier in my football life and personal life.

“When my time is up, hopefully I will have left a legacy here that they can smile about and have enjoyed and then it’ll be over to the next one. Until that moment comes, which hopefully won’t be for a while, I’m very content.”

Having missed out so narrowly on winning the Premier League title with Liverpool in 2014, Rodgers said he “couldn’t think of a better club” with which to win his first title.

No club has ever won the Scottish title with as many as eight games still to play. As well as clinching the treble for just the third time in the club’s history, Celtic will aim to go the entire domestic season unbeaten. But the league title was Rodgers’ priority.

“This is a huge privilege for me,” said Rodgers. “I went very close a couple of years ago with my Liverpool team. There was disappointment when it didn’t happen, but I couldn’t think of a better football club to win my first league title with than the club I’ve supported all of my life and [where I] dreamed to do it for the people that are close to me and all of the supporters.

“We know what else we want to achieve before the end of the season and we are going to fight like hell to do it.”

Despite being on the wrong end of such a drubbing, Hearts head coach Ian Cathro claimed he’d seen enough from his side to offer encouragement before Wednesday’s vital clash with 
St Johnstone in the race for fourth spot. Hearts remain two points adrift of the Perth side.

“We spoke before the game about how this was the first of a three-game week that is very important to us,” said Cathro. “What’s important for me to put across just now is that, after this game, I feel even better and stronger and more confident going into Wednesday’s game than the reverse.”

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