Standard of U17 final was ‘awful’ says Celtic boss

Brendan Rodgers wasn't impressed by what he saw. Picture: Getty
Brendan Rodgers wasn't impressed by what he saw. Picture: Getty
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Brendan Rodgers demonstrated that not all Celtic cup wins over Rangers are equal yesterday when he slated his club’s under-17 side despite their triumph in the Glasgow Cup final.

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The under-17s won the trophy with a 2-1 victory at Firhill last week but Rodgers said it was a “poor” game in which the standard was “awful”.

On Thursday Celtic’s under-20s defeated Rangers 3-0 in the final of the Scottish Youth Cup at Hampden. While Rodgers enthused about the performances of a number of his club’s youths at the National Stadium, declaring 6ft 7in keeper Conor Hazard to have a “big future”, comparing full-back Anthony Ralston to Danny McGrain and stating forward Mikey Johnston was a “real big talent at 17”, he was damning about what he had witnessed the previous week.

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“The under-17s final was a poor game. In terms of Scottish football the standard was awful.

“There were some good players in both teams and the kids won, which was great, and there was two or three moments of quality. But the overall level of quality wasn’t good. I have seen some good kids up here and it’s a good level. But they would have to play better football than that.

“The under-20s the other night was a good game. They showed good tactical awareness and played at a good level, in terms of speed, organisation with their pressing, they got the ball back quickly and were fast getting forward.

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“It was good. The progress will come with the 17s but we need to influence it even further down to eventually produce it at the top level. There’s a big difference if you want to produce players for Scotland that allows the national team to do well.

“I’m new here but it’s my job to help. We have brilliant coaches here at youth level with Chris [McCart] overseeing it, Tam McIntyre and Michael [O’Halloran] with the 17s, their assistants, they have great enthusiasm and energy. But we’re trying to take a different path.”

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