The relentless drive Brendan Rodgers has instilled in Celtic shone through as he dared set his sights on a treble-treble just moments after his side had clinched the Scottish Cup.
The win over Motherwell at Hampden made his team the country’s first to achieve successive domestic clean sweeps. The Parkhead manager is now aiming for a third.
“That is the idea,” he said. “I certainly need to push them even harder next season. They won’t get too many pats on the back. This is our job, we are here to win. I think we can be better. This year was always going to be difficult on the back of last [season] but to still churn that out and have that winning mentality and produce winning performances when you really need it is a real mark of the group.
“We need to get better again. We dropped too many points this year, especially at home. There is lots for us to push for next season, We enter every season to win and that will be the aim next season.
“When you come off the back of a really successful season like last year, it’s so easy to go soft and timid and not have quite the same aggression and that’s something I was really aware of from the beginning of the season. For teams like ourselves, it’s not so much the punches to the head and body that stop you, it’s the pats on the back, so we haven’t given out too many of them but we have to continue to work. The spirit of the team is strong, the mentality of the team to improve and get better. I don’t have players that don’t want to be better every day and that’s clearly important. We can never be satisfied. In the cycle or era that we’ll be here, for how ever long it is, we have to be hungry to succeed.”
In claiming all six honours across his first two seasons Rodgers has pulled off a feat that eluded the country’s storied post-war managerial figures Jock Stein, Alex Ferguson and Walter Smith. The 43-year-old was asked what he felt had allowed him to sit above these greats in this one respect.
“Well, it is because they have been all different eras in the great history of the game up here,” he said. “Certain teams have dominated, others haven’t and then its flipped, but in all that time it was never achieved. Scotland is a great footballing country with a whole raft of great players and managers down the years. For us to have done it, and become the first team to have done it, is a real privilege. It’s a special day.
“My satisfaction is for the club as a whole, the joy it will give people tonight and during the off season and then it will all quickly be forgotten about and we’ll go again next year.”
In his pre-match address Rodgers asked his players to ensure that they wrote their names large in the annals of the Scottish game.
“This is a day that will last forever,” the Celtic manager said. “I said before the game, there is not too many days you waken up in your life with a chance of creating history. It is not going to be easy, it is going to be tough for us but if we play how we can play then we can make a memory that is going to last with supporters for the rest of their lives. And they did that.”
None more so than Callum McGregor, whose exquisite opener after only 11 minutes provided the solid foundation for a 2-0 victory sealed with a 25th-minute strike from Olivier Ntcham.
“He has grown in confidence,” Rodgers said of McGregor. “He is tactically very good, he understands football. You only need to tell him anything once and he gets it. And he has an eye for a goal. He is a young player coming through but now he comes into the biggest games and he produces. His job is to score goals, produce goals and press the game when he hasn’t got the ball and he does all of those things to a really high level consistently. I am absolutely delighted for him. Wonderful strike off his right foot and that gave us a real good start.”