Brendan Rodgers has challenged his Celtic players to make quick inroads towards a second century of trophies for the club after their landmark Betfred Cup final victory over Aberdeen at Hampden.
The Scottish champions cruised to a 3-0 win with goals by Tom Rogic, James Forrest and Moussa Dembele, securing a first major honour as manager for Rodgers and the 100th in the club’s 129-year history.
Celtic remain unbeaten against domestic opposition since Rodgers took charge at the start of the season and he hopes yesterday was only the start of a successful era which will see further silverware consistently collected.
“It is a winning club,” said Rodgers. “That is what the history of this great club has been based upon. So it marks a milestone, that century of trophies over the course of the history. Now we have got to look to the next one, to start off the next century of trophies. That will be important for us and the club. But, for now, it is a great night for the Celtic supporters to celebrate. They must have enjoyed the performance. But we push for the next one.
“I’m overly pleased with that performance in a cup final. After all the games we’ve had, to play with that composure – tactically the team were excellent in the game.
“We really had to press the game aggressively and show our quality when we had the ball. Apart from a ten-minute spell at the start of the second half, which you expect, when Aberdeen had to throw everything at it, in the main we controlled everything very well.
“So I am delighted for the football club. It’s about six months and a week since I came in.
“We talked about what we wanted to achieve and how we wanted to do it. We are certainly well on our way to that.
“Everyone is talking about the great start we’ve made this season and the great football, but it’s something tangible to show for it. This was our first chance to win a trophy and I thought the players were magnificent.
“For the players, it is something to show for the great work they’ve been doing. On the first day we came in, we talked about the plan, how we wanted to go forward, what that vision was.
“We talked about how we needed to improve the team tactically on the field. But, of course, you have to then have something to show for it. The players on the podium today have something to show for it. It’s great for the confidence and sets us up really well going on into the season.”
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes was left deflated after a generally tame and off-the-pace display from his team but remains defiant they can regroup and pose a greater threat to Celtic in the Scottish Cup later this season.
“There is a lot of pain right now and we’re not feeling good about ourselves,” said McInnes. “We were beaten by a better team and I think the difference between us and Celtic, is that to take them on in a cup final, we can’t afford to have some below-par performances. We’ve got to match them and have eight, nine or ten playing extremely well. I don’t think we quite got to that today.
“It’s not been an experience we wanted. It is important we pick ourselves up. I believe we can get back to another final this year in the Scottish Cup and I think we can use today’s sobering experience to help us going into the next one. I believe my team will get to another final and hopefully the experience of today helps us win another cup.
“It is becoming more difficult [to beat Celtic] but I still expected to win today. Teams will beat them but Celtic will have to have a poor game for teams to beat them. Celtic are a team who have a lot of answers and firepower.
“Even without Scott Sinclair, who has been every bit as good as any of them this season, they have still managed to win the game. You only have to look at their bench to see how strong they are. I think they’ll get stronger again. I spoke to Brendan and he will want to get two or three in in January to improve it again. It becomes more and more difficult and I still think we can compete over 90
minutes and in a one-off game or cup final.
“If we were to play them again in the Scottish Cup final then I’d still believe we could win that one as well – as long as my team learn from this and we keep ourselves right.”