Brendan Rodgers reveals health struggle as Celtic boss explains why he's happy to take a break

Celtic manager has been fighting ill-health as his players have hit a rich vein of form
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers at full time after the 3-0 win at St Mirren. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers at full time after the 3-0 win at St Mirren. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers at full time after the 3-0 win at St Mirren. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Celtic might have won their last four matches, including against Rangers, but Brendan Rodgers is happy they can now enjoy a break following this latest victory over ten-man St Mirren.

The manager watched his team wrap up a successful festive programme with a 3-0 win in Paisley. A goal inside the first minute from Daizen Maeda – the third time in a row the player has scored Celtic’s first goal in a new year – set the side on their way.

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Matt O’Riley added a second after just six minutes to all but kill the game. A red card to St Mirren striker Olutoysi Olusanya on the stroke of half time for a high challenge on Celtic ‘keeper Joe Hart certainly extinguished the home team’s chances. Greg Taylor added a third in the second half to keep the leaders eight points clear of Rangers at the top.

With players also returning, Celtic are motoring along quite nicely. They might have preferred to try to maintain this momentum rather than observe a near three-week winter break. Their next game is against Buckie Thistle in the Scottish Cup. The next league game is not until 27 January against Ross County.

However, Rodgers was clear when he was asked if he was frustrated by the hiatus. “Probably not!” he said. “I have had flu and a cold for about a month, it has just been so busy. I think it’s a nice small period now for the players to recover because physically the demands are so much, especially how we want them to play and how intense we want them to be. So that will be nice for them to recover and then we will get back and we have loads of time to do a lot of work and be ready for our first cup game.”

He praised his side’s quickfire start, especially after the draining assignment against Rangers on Saturday. Rodgers felt the players handled the particular challenge of facing ten men better than they had done in the 2-1 win over their rivals, which saw them hanging on at the end.

“The second half the only downside was we never took the chances we created but we were much better 11 v 10 than we were at the weekend,” he said. “We spoke about that after Rangers. You have to really dominate possession and counter press and we did that really well in the second half.”

Meanwhile, St Mirren manager Stephen Robinson said he was unsure what else Olusanya could have done when challenging for a ball any striker had to go for. But the striker's red card – it was upgraded from an original yellow following a VAR review – had no bearing on the result.

“I’m not sure where he’s meant to put his foot,” said Robinson. “We didn’t lose the game, by the way, because of the red card.

“We lost the game with our start and we were totally at fault for that. But I’m not sure where he’s meant to put his foot. Joe dives out and dives into that area. Joe gets straight up again as well. He knew there wasn’t any malice in it.

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“But everything’s studied and when you slow it down it will look a lot worse. I haven’t seen it yet. It may look a lot worse in slow motion. I’m not actually sure what you’re meant to do, are you not meant to challenge and try and score a goal?"



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