Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers defended his “exemplary” backroom staff after critical remarks from Motherwell boss Mark McGhee following a dramatic 4-3 win at Fir Park.
The Northern Irishman was unhappy that the Scotland assistant boss had tried to interfere with the visitors’ shooting practice before a pulsating Ladbrokes Premiership match which had the home side leading at the interval thanks to a Louis Moult double.
In a frenzied second half, substitute Callum McGregor reduced the deficit before winger Patrick Roberts levelled to spark a crazy couple of minutes in which Well substitute Lionel Ainsworth restored the hosts’ lead only for Stuart Armstrong to equalise again.
The final twist came in the 90th minute when Australia midfielder Tom Rogic drove in the winner to keep the leaders unbeaten domestically this term, and there was no love lost between McGhee and Celtic assistant manager Chris Davies at the final whistle.
The Well boss was first into the media room afterwards, saying: “Brendan was as good as gold, dignified in victory and dignified in defeat.
“There are no problems with Brendan. Some of the other staff are not really Celtic-quality in terms of their behaviour.
“I don’t know his name actually (Davies) – you have told me his name. He wasn’t shaking hands with me. He seemed for some reason to be angry that they won. Explain that to me?”
However, when Rodgers emerged to be told of McGhee’s “quality” remarks, he said: “I think that is very unfair, especially as he comes up into our warm-up before the game to ask our players to warm up in a different area. He shouldn’t be doing that.
“I don’t think that is very befitting of an assistant manager of a national team and manager of Motherwell.
“My staff are exemplary in their behaviour. We know what we are representing. We have integrity.
“I said congratulations to the groundsman here before the game because the pitch is very good. But why can’t we do our warm-up here at Motherwell? The one we have done in every stadium in the world we have been to so far this season?
“So I don’t know what the issue was there and maybe that’s where it sparked from.
“But that isn’t the story of the game. The story is that my team were brilliant in the second half.”
Indeed, Rodgers was more than delighted with the way his players responded to potentially their first league defeat of the season.
“It is arguably the most pleasing (win) after being in that adverse situation,” he said. “We hadn’t had that before so to see the joy in the supporters, they appreciate the fight and spirit in the team.
“I thought we were defensively very poor in the first half but I thought we were brilliant in the second half in terms of our composure, at 2-0 down.
“Huge credit to the players and the winning mentality and spirit within the team.
“I didn’t go berserk at half-time – there was none of that. The issues were simple. The back four were too deep and that didn’t allow us to press the game and there was too much space, but how could we find the solution?
“I am delighted for them.”
McGhee will return to the training ground on Monday to iron out his side’s defensive problems.
He said: “You want to compete and say you had a go and I think we did that. Our first-half performance was fantastic.
“One of the things Brendan would have been able to say to his players is that we are a team that concedes goals, and that is our problem at the moment.
“We have scored three and lost four. That’s where we will be doing the work next week, to keep a clean sheet when we are ahead.”