Most of us would settle for having just one bad day at the office in the course of a year. For Scott Sinclair and his Celtic team-mates, however, it was one too many in the eyes of their perfectionist manager.
In the immediate aftermath of last Saturday’s treble-clinching Scottish Cup final victory over Aberdeen, Brendan Rodgers revealed he had cut short a training session two days earlier because of his unhappiness at the work of his squad.
All was forgiven as Rodgers savoured the achievement of completing a domestic season undefeated with 43 wins and four draws from their 47 matches in all competitions.
But for Sinclair the training ground sulk from Rodgers simply summed up the manager’s relentless desire for consistent high standards.
“Yeah, he sent us in to the changing rooms early,” recalled Sinclair. “He told us we’d had 208 training sessions during the season and had one bad one, which was two days before the cup final.
“I’m not too sure why it was a bad session, I can’t put my finger on it. It was just a little bit slack. It goes to show the high expectations of the manager. He doesn’t like anyone slacking. He always wants 100 per cent, he never lets anyone relax during a session. That’s why we keep winning. What would his reaction be if we lost a domestic match? I don’t want to know!
“A lot of the lads played a lot of games during the season, we’ve enjoyed winning, but maybe some of us do need a couple of weeks off now. We will hopefully come back and be refreshed.”
While Sinclair is currently enjoying a break in New York with his partner Helen Flanagan, he does not count himself among those who were in urgent need of a rest.
“Not at all, I feel as if I could keep going,” said the 28-year-old. “I’ve had a few years out when I wasn’t playing so much down in England, so I feel fresh. I haven’t really racked up many miles on the clock. I feel younger than I am.”
Despite an impressive season which saw him named Player of the Year by both the Scottish Football Writers’ Association and PFA Scotland, the winger was not included in the England squad for the World Cup qualifier at Hampden on 10 June.
“To be honest, I wasn’t too disappointed,” he said. “All I can do, all that is within my control, is to do as well as I can on the football pitch.
“I need to try and score goals and win trophies for Celtic. When I get that call from England, it will be great. If it doesn’t come, then I just go on holiday again.
“My whole psyche is to enjoy playing football for Celtic. If an international call comes, great. If not, no problem.
“To be fair, coming to Celtic I didn’t expect too much this season. I just wanted to be happy, to be playing every week which I have done. I wanted to be under a manager who gives me that belief, to get my career back on track. It has worked out better than I expected.
“It has been a joy. I’m so happy to be playing for Celtic and having a group of fans right behind me. I’m playing with a great team and just enjoying football again. This is what it’s all about, picking up trophies and celebrating with the rest of the lads.”
Sinclair admits there was a sense of relief along with the delight Celtic experienced last weekend after coming from behind to defeat Aberdeen 2-1.
“We didn’t want to get so far and then it didn’t happen on the last day in the Scottish Cup final,” he said.
“But it did happen and it just goes to show the winning mentality, character and mental strength of the squad. When we went a goal behind, we needed to pick ourselves up quickly and we did that with the equaliser. It’s great to be part of history now.
“We are all trying to take it in right now while everyone is still high on the emotions of it. Once everyone comes back for pre-season training, or maybe even six months from now, we can reflect properly on it.
“It might be a case of suddenly thinking ‘Wow, we went a full domestic season unbeaten in winning the treble’. It’s never been done before.
“How do we top that? You do it again next season. Not just that, we have to look at the Champions League as well. We want to get into the group stage again and then hopefully progress even further than we did this season.
“There were a few additions to the team at the start of the season. Everyone knows each other now and throughout the season we have got better and better. Now we can go on holiday and relax, although some of the lads will be on international duty, then come back stronger for next season.
“The treble has to be the target again next season, absolutely. We haven’t just won this treble by luck. It has come down to determination, hard work and it has paid off.”