Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has maintained his players will only have themselves to blame if they do not halt a losing run at the national stadium in the Betfred League Cup semi-final this afternoon.
His club have lost in their past three visits to the arena, and talk of a Hampden hex is given credence because since 2010 they have lost eight times at the ground – six times in last-four cup ties, with Ross County twice getting the better of them, and defeats to Hearts, St Mirren, Inverness and, most recently, Rangers in such encounters.
Supporters have been left to curse their team’s temperament, officialdom and the ambience but Rodgers believes there is nothing about the Hampden set-up that should in any way disadvantage them.
“For us there are no excuses,” he said. “It is a good pitch, a good size, big which suits our game. The two sets of supporters will be passionate.
“You can make an excuse if you want. It’s not for me. It’s a game that both teams are neutral at a neutral ground with a pitch that suits the way we play and suits the speed and pace in our team.”
Rodgers admits that the chance to bank a first trophy for his new team “collective” by November is a real “incentive” to all at the club.
For Scott Brown, who believes there will be no issue for Celtic picking themselves up following the sobering midweek Champions League loss at home to Borussia Monchengladbach, the new truncated format can help today’s spectacle.
“It’s probably better to play these games now and it’s better for the pitch, definitely,” he said. “If the game is on telly at the national stadium, you want the surface to be perfect.
“October and November are better times when the pitch hasn’t been battered and bruised all winter. It will help with viewers. You don’t want to play it on a mudbath. You want a good park.
“It’s probably better for everyone that the competition has changed. We will see a full Hampden and it will be miles better in presentation. Hopefully it’s a good match too.”