Brendan Rodgers insists a potential challenge to Celtic’s dominance of Scottish football from Rangers under Steven Gerrard next season is not worthy of discussion.
After becoming the first manager ever to win back-to-back domestic trebles with Saturday’s 2-0 win over Motherwell in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden, Rodgers admitted his sights are already set on making it a ‘treble treble’ for the Scottish champions in 2018-19.
He was also quick to dismiss the significance of Rangers’ appointment of his former Liverpool captain Gerrard as manager in terms of the renewed challenge Celtic will face in the new campaign.
“It’s not a conversation,” said Rodgers, who believes it is more relevant to consider the threat posed by Derek McInnes’ Aberdeen side who finished nine points behind Celtic in the Premiership table this year.
“Talk about Aberdeen,” added Rodgers. “Aberdeen were second. Derek has done a brilliant job. Talk about them.”
Before Rodgers and Celtic have to begin the defence of their domestic trophies, their focus now switches to their attempt to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League for a third consecutive season.
For the first time, they will face four qualifying rounds, one more than in previous years. The draw for their opening assignment takes place on 19 June, with the first leg of their first qualifying round tie scheduled for
10 or 11 July.
Rodgers retains a sober approach to any expectations of Celtic making a significantly greater impact in Europe than they have in his first two seasons in charge – they finished bottom of their Champions League group in 2016-17, then third in their group this season before
losing to Zenit St Petersburg in the last 32 of the Europa League.
“Without being defeatist, it’s always going to be very, very difficult for us,” he said.
“The first challenge is to qualify and we have extra games this time. It depends what success is in Europe. What is success in Europe for a Scottish club?
“We have to invest and improve. But the reality is that we can’t spend fortunes because there’s not masses of money there to do that.
“Listen, I don’t want to talk about that, that’s not for
now. You’ve got enough headlines already, but we can’t go and spend £110 million or £120m.
“Absolutely, we need to freshen the squad up.
“I need to push even harder now next year in relation to developing the players here first and foremost and then bringing in players who
can make a difference.
It’s a constant need to improve.
“We have a really young group that are improving and developing, but to make a
difference at that European level needs greater quality.”
Rodgers met with the agents of French striker Odsonne Edouard yesterday and is hopeful of securing a permanent
deal for the 20-year-old
who spent this season on loan from Paris Saint-Germain.