Celtic’s summer transfer window activity may be causing ripples of concern among their support but Scott Brown insists the champions already have a squad capable of improving on the standards they set last season.
A net spend of around £1 million so far, with the record £9m capture of Odsonne Edouard offset by the sales of Stuart Armstrong and Erik Sviatchenko, has appeared to have become a growing source of frustration for manager Brendan Rodgers.
But captain Brown believes that even if no further additions are made over the next few weeks, Rodgers can be relied upon to ensure Celtic build successfully upon the double-treble winning achievements of his first two seasons in charge.
“We’ve got a great squad in that dressing room,” said Brown. “We all stick together on and off the park. We are a very tight-knit group and if the manager wants to bring someone in then we all have faith in him to bring someone in.
“But, if he doesn’t believe we need anyone, then I think we can do the business with the squad we have got.
“I put a lot of trust in the manager and he’s produced a lot to be fair. I trust him with my life. The way he’s doing things at Celtic he’s improving us in every single department. So, yes, I have a lot of trust in him.
“We have got Ryan Christie and Scott Allan back at the club too, and we have Mikey Johnston and Calvin Miller coming through. We have got two young ones coming through and two experienced ones who have played in the Premiership who have come back into the squad.
“Everyone else is going to be working to be the team to beat us over the coming months and show they are better than us. It’s about how we react this season.
“We start fresh and have to go into it with the same levels, to be even better than we were last year. We believe we have come back in better condition and we are looking sharp already. We’ve had some good results in pre-season and in the Champions League qualifiers already.”
Celtic travel to Trondheim today as they prepare to defend their 3-1 first-leg lead against Rosenborg in their second qualifying round tie of the Champions League. With a third- round assignment against AEK Athens as the prize, Brown has warned against any assumptions Celtic effectively got the job done with their impressive second-half display at Parkhead last week.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do,” he added. “We’ve got to go over there and play as well as we did in the second half last week.
“It was hard for us, but it was always going to be hard when you’ve not got an out-and-out striker who was fit, as both Moussa Dembele and Leigh Griffiths were out. We had James Forrest and Scott Sinclair up front at times, but we had to do what we had to do. We are looking forward to it and we are in good condition too and hope we can get a result there.
“We had a wee tweak of formation midway through the first leg which worked for us. James went out wide and as soon as we found room for him, he creates chances. He’s hit the ground running this season too. He was phenomenal last season and he’s looked even better than he did last year and I didn’t think that was possible. His fitness levels are incredible. He’s getting up the park and he’s also managed to defend when he needs to too. The manager is putting new things into his game and he keeps ticking boxes.
“We created chance after chance last week and we could have scored a few more too. But they will be thinking that too and they know they only need to score two goals and they have got that in them. We need to make sure we turn up with our ‘A’ game.”
Much onus will again be on French forward Edouard who scored twice last week and has made a hugely impressive start to the season. “He’s really hit the ground running,” said Brown. “Since he came back he’s looked in great nick and sharper than he did last year. He will be maturing as well.
“He will be learning under the gaffer about what formation to play. Last season he was more out left and I think he will be more in the middle this season. He’s been good so far and I am sure there is a lot more to come from him.
“The extra round of the Champions League is making it harder and harder for us. Last year we had Rosenborg in the round before the play-offs, so it’s earlier this time and shows you the level of opposition we face.
“It’s going to get harder. If we get through this round, it will be AEK Athens. I’m sure they will be even better than Rosenborg.”