He might have crushed all opposition in Scottish football, but Brendan Rodgers is equally adept at crushing opposition to it. The Celtic manager is no stranger to radio station Talksport, and appears regularly as a guest on Alan Brazil’s breakfast show. It is unlikely he would ever receive, never mind accept, a slot on Jason Cundy’s evening offering.
Rodgers yesterday effectively ridiculed Cundy for his “ignorance” after the former Chelsea player took his shock-jock blunderbuss to Celtic, and the game north of the border. Celtic’s twitter following being only half of Newcastle United’s one million meant they weren’t a big deal, Cundy declared, putting their large home gates down to there not being much else to do in Glasgow “except drink beer”.
Celtic were at Stoke City’s level, though would lose to them, said Cundy, with the 27-point lead Rodgers’ men hold in the Premiership a product of a standard that is “shocking”, “embarrassing” and in an “appalling” league.
Rodgers’ response was a quiet assassination of the one-time Tottenham Hotspur and Ipswich Town defender – offered with emollient dressing. “I know Jason, I worked with him at Chelsea so I know what he is like,” the Celtic manager said. “He obviously has to create a programme which stimulates conversation. It’s ignorance really. With all due respect, it’s a lack of knowledge of football. The footballing world is more than the Premier League. But if your eyes are only on one league then of course you tend to ignore what’s around that.
“We all love to see the Premier League and I was part of it but football is global and Celtic is one of the biggest clubs in the world. It [the Scottish Premiership] is not as prestigious as some of the other leagues and that’s purely on the basis of finance. Financially, Scottish football doesn’t have the same rewards or the same propaganda that surrounds some of the other leagues, but it’s still a very, very competitive league.
“He is a good boy Jason, I know him well but I probably understand what he is trying to do with his comments. He will always be welcome to Celtic Park and he would be surprised I am sure.”
Rodgers’ ultimate riposte to Cundy would be a nod to the famous Dolly Parton: it takes an awful lot of time and effort to make Scottish football look this cheap.
“The ambition has always been to be the best we can be,” he said, the 4-0 win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle his side’s 22nd straight league win. “That was the message when I came in. The players had won the league five times but how can we be the best?
“That is down to how we work every day. It might look easy and the points tally might make it feel as if it’s easy from the outside. But there is so much work going into it.
“Richie Foran said during the week that it looked like we didn’t get out of second gear. That was great for me because it shows the fluency, confidence, structure and balance of the team. We have a talented, tactical level of play as well as a solid mindset.”