Celtic’s suffering in top-drawer competition, as evidenced by their evisceration at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain this week, makes the club’s Jock Stein era seem a world apart. On the domestic scene, though, Brendan Rodgers’ men keep demanding parallels with the late 1960s golden period.
Following his unprecedented unbeaten treble in his first season that has given way to 64 domestic games without loss for the club, the Irishman will be bidding for his fourth straight domestic trophy when his side face up to Motherwell in the Betfred Cup final.
Stein was the last Celtic manager to preside over such a run after following up the treble in 1968-69 with a League Cup victory the following season.
Periods of Rangers dominance have tended to be better translated into trophy sequences with five successive wins by Walter Smith between 1992 and 1994 and four claimed by Alex McLeish between 2002 and 2003. Rodgers does not take lightly today’s opportunity to equal another Celtic best from almost five decades ago.
“It means everything,” he said. “My job at Celtic is to add to the legacy so when the time comes for me to pass the ball to someone else, we have really added to the cycle.
“What we have been working on is a real dominant cycle where we play football that brings joy to the supporters. When it gets passed on we hope this is looked back on as a really successful period.
“That’s my job. There is a wonderful history here at Celtic and my job is only to add to that legacy. In this first 17 months we have done that and the ambition is to maintain that and keep focused on winning.”
Rodgers has never come up against Stephen Robinson before but has been impressed by the Motherwell manager.
“When I analyse them and see the intensity at which they work and play with, they leave nothing in the changing room. They deserve to be in the final. They got the results to demonstrate that. I have been very impressed by how he has started at Motherwell.”