Celtic may have found it difficult to digest the rich fare of their daunting Champions League challenge this week but Brendan Rodgers has no fears that their appetite for the bread and butter of domestic football will be in any way blunted.
The 5-0 defeat at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain was, in the Celtic manager’s own words, a “humbling experience” for a group of players accustomed to imposing similar levels of dominance on opponents in the Scottish Premiership.
But, like last season when they rebounded from any European setbacks to remain undefeated en route to a domestic treble, Rodgers is confident his squad will have no trouble bouncing back from what was a club record-equalling home loss.
“It won’t puncture the belief of the team,” he said. “Maybe there is some background noise around, it will try to affect it – but that’s my job, to shape that mentality and take the lead with the players. They were bright today in training and back on it.
“Games like that the other night are very humbling experiences against that level of team and that quality. But you strive, then, to be the best that you can and I think we’ve shown on a number of occasions that that’s the mentality we have. If it is to improve, we know we have to keep getting better.
“You can’t take away the human element of it. We have grown so much in a year and learned – but you have to respect that it’s a humbling experience to be up against guys who are worth £200 million and are in a team like PSG put together to win this competition.
“That can be difficult. I’m trying to build a mindset where success is not just qualification for the group stage. We wanted to qualify and fly the flag and that’s great. But we’re also in it to compete. But this will be like any defeat. The setback will provide the motivation going forward.
“The players will learn. They are very honest. When you have that honesty in defeat it helps you grow. It is a similar process [to when we lost 7-0 in Barcelona last season]. It is not just a click of the fingers.
“You have to have respect for what a footballer goes through and the whole expectation. It is a great tribute to our players that lots of people coming into the stadium the other night were thinking that we could maybe get something against that level of opponent. They showed what real top level football is.
“PSG would be better than most national teams. The array of talent there, the experience – that is world football at its very, very best. To have young guys from here playing against that is great and what we are trying to do is be competitive against them.
“Now we just want to get back into continuing with the good form we’ve been in. It’s been a really, really good start for us and we must never forget that. That’s the bigger picture. The team has made a brilliant start to the season. Of course there is a big emphasis on that game against PSG but the bigger picture is that we’ve made a good start in the league and we want to keep that going.”
Rodgers, who could have defender Dedryck Boyata and striker Moussa Dembele available again after injury for tomorrow’s Premiership fixture against Ross County at Celtic Park, welcomed the news that midfielder Callum McGregor has signed a new contract committing him to the club until 2021.
“Callum has been a brilliant young player for us and I’m really happy for him,” said Rodgers. “He loves being at Celtic and he’s made a real contribution in the last 12 months. He’s a player who can play in every position. You need that type of player to play in various positions and it keeps the squad small. You need one or two of those players in every team. He can play left, right or centre and is really multi-functional.
“He’s a seven or eight out of ten in any position. You need players with an understanding of the game and he has that. I’ve seen his confidence grow as the year went on with us and he has contributed in some big games. Wherever I ask him to play, he’s always there for us.”