'˜I'm very honoured.' Brendan Rodgers' joy at landmark double

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers with his manager-of-the-year award.Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers with his manager-of-the-year award.
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers with his manager-of-the-year award.
Making history is becoming'¨almost second nature for Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers this season.

His team is on course to become the first since the 19th century to complete a league campaign without losing a game. And, with the Betfred League Cup already in the Parkhead boardroom and a Scottish Cup final against Aberdeen to come on 27 May, there is also the tantalising (and unprecedented) prospect of winning a treble without suffering a defeat.

There were few raised eyebrows when his name was announced as the Manager of the Year at the PFA Scotland awards on Sunday evening but even that was a landmark achievement.

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Rodgers picked up the League Managers’ Association prize in 2014 after coming within two points of winning the Premier League title with Liverpool and his success at the weekend means he is the first to have lifted the trophy north and south of the border.

“Of course, very honoured to have received both,” he said. “I did it a couple of years ago in the Premier League which is really competitive, so to gain the award there was very humbling and it feels exactly the same here.

“I have so much respect and adulation for Scottish coaching and for the managers that have been produced over many years. For a manager, this is the biggest accolade you can get, coming from your peers, and it means a lot. From a personal perspective, to have won both feels very nice.

“Someone mentioned that it was Gordon Strachan who was the last Celtic manager to receive the award, so it’s been a long time for a club like Celtic, particularly when you think of the run they have been on of late.

“It is a night filled with pride. The players, my own players, have been absolutely brilliant. I think you saw in the game [against St Johnstone] on Saturday that the standard isn’t dropping.

“There is a drive for us to be the very best that we can be and that is a continuation. There is no chance of it slipping up and there is a respect for the other players too.”

Rodgers recently signed a contract which should keep him in Glasgow until 2021. The Irishman is loath to look too far ahead or take anything for ranted but he admits he would like to remain in charge for longer.

“I don’t think of that,” he said. “I have confidence in what I do. I am realistic and the reality in this modern world is that quickly people can fall out of love with you.

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“One day you are the 
devil, the next you can walk on water. I never get too carried away and make rash statements that I will be here for ten years.

“It would be a huge pleasure if I was but the reality is that may not be the case. I signed for four years because that is what I want to be here for to help the club develop on and off the field; after that, you see where it takes us.”

New Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha was criticised by his club’s supporters for hugging Rodgers and having a friendly conversation with him in the wake of Celtic’s 2-0 victory in the Scottish Cup semi-final last month but the latter believes that toning down the antipathy associated with that fixture would be no bad thing.

“We all know what we are representing, both Pedro and myself,” he said. “We know the rivalry and the intensity of it but it shouldn’t, in any way, change your behaviour and your respect and that is what you are judged on.

“Ultimately, you can be a great coach and a great manager but it’s your behaviour that earns you the respect. That is what we all look for.

“There was a warm embrace between the two of us; I didn’t know him, nor he me, but we shook hands, he smiled and he is a good guy.

“He is a human being. He knows he has work to do there like I have work to do here but you don’t need to put on a face or a front that isn’t us.

“If you are humane, then you shake hands before and after the game and then you get on with your work and you look to develop. Him smiling and embracing me won’t change his passion for the job, the same as it won’t for any of the other managers that we embrace. More than anything, it is respect that you want. I hope in my time here that I will build relations with people, just as I did in the south for many years. I take great pride in seeing some of the young coaches coming through like Alan [Archibald] who was on the nominees list and Jack [Ross] at St Mirren and Allan Johnston at Dunfermline.”