Brendan Rodgers: I'll quit Celtic if I can't make progress
In a week when strains in his relationship with the Celtic board over their current transfer policy have emerged, Rodgers has again warned against complacency setting in at the Scottish champions.
While reaffirming his personal respect for major shareholder Dermot Desmond, chief executive Peter Lawwell and chairman Ian Bankier, the double-treble winning manager pointedly urged the need for Celtic to be “courageous as a club” in setting out their aims for the future.
Rodgers was left disappointed earlier this week when John McGinn, one of his long-standing summer transfer targets, signed for Aston Villa after Celtic failed to successfully conclude protracted negotiations with Hibs.
He has now repeated his belief that Celtic can only avoid stagnation on the pitch if they commit greater investment for higher quality additions to his squad. Rodgers makes no apologies for looking to set the bar high for Celtic and admitted he would not remain at the club if he stopped pushing for improvements.
“Yeah, my job is done then,” he said. “Terminado. Gone. That’s the challenge. You have to test yourself to the limit. You have to be courageous as a club.
“It’s a joy to work here. I love my life here and enjoy being the manager here. But it’s no good if I just sit back and get comfortable. Being comfortable is the enemy of progress.
“I never allow it in my own life or professional life. You see it in sports and in industry. The minute you think you’re doing okay it can quickly disappear, and that’s in the greatest institutions.
“You have to be mindful of that and keep getting stronger and stronger.
“Dermot, Peter and Ian all want what’s best for Celtic. Critically, they are major shareholders and run the club. I have to respect that, and I do.
“My ambition is for Celtic. Every manager is ambitious but for me it’s inherently about the club. We’ve done a double treble, been invincible in one of those seasons, set a British record for unbeaten games.
“We don’t want to stand still. How do we improve?
“We improve in Europe and in order to do that, it’s simple, it is getting in quality players.
“The minute I start thinking otherwise and get comfortable, then progress stops. In football you can’t afford to do that. It’s too late once the rot sets in. It’s too late. I’ve always tried to guard against it. Especially after our first season, we built on it last year. We want to keep building on it.
“I totally respect how difficult it can be, the financial side is tough at times. I have a huge respect for the board here. Absolutely. They have run the club strategically very, very well. Me coming into here and what I have seen in the last couple of years, I have real good relations with every one of them.
“There is not an issue there at all. My focus is on doing the best for Celtic. Deep down I am a supporter but I am also a professional manager. I also look for the help that is needed to take the team to the next level if that is what the demand is. I will always push for that.
“What we need in the squad in terms of real genuine quality positioning will obviously cost you money. It doesn’t guarantee anything. What you would hope is that it would give you a greater opportunity.”
Celtic are expected to conclude deals to sign teenage Australian winger Daniel Arzani on loan from Manchester City and the return of veteran left-back Emilio Izaguirre, as squad cover for Kieran Tierney, on a free transfer within the next 24 hours.
But frustration remains at the failure to sign Scotland midfielder McGinn, with Rodgers revealing he spoke to the player on Wednesday shortly before Aston Villa clinched his £2.75 million transfer.
“I spoke to John at length,” said Rodgers. “But he was already gone to Villa. It was just to wish him all the very best. It is a great move for him, disappointment for us of course. Especially when he is a lifelong Celtic supporter.
“But he is joining another illustrious club with a great history and wonderful training facilities and a good manager and an opportunity to go play in England.
“He has developed a lot these last couple of years. He is a good age, a prime age at 23. I was given an indication of where he was at so it was just a call out of courtesy really. He is a young man that I would like to see do well. He is very committed to his profession and a very good player.”