Brendan Rodgers feeling assured but not arrogant heading into Scottish Cup final

Celtic play Rangers at Hampden Park on Saturday.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers will be looking to continue his impressive record against Rangers
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers will be looking to continue his impressive record against Rangers (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has an assurance over how his players will deal with Saturday’s historic cup final but no arrogance over their recent record against Rangers.

The champions are looking to complete a double in the 150th anniversary Scottish Gas Scottish Cup final, when the game pits Celtic and Rangers against each other 22 years after the last Old Firm final.

Celtic took 10 points from Rangers in their latest title-winning campaign and have only suffered one defeat against their city rivals in the previous 11 derbies – an Ibrox league loss after last season’s title was already clinched.

Rodgers’ own record against Rangers over two spells in charge is equally dominant – he has tasted 13 wins and just one defeat in 17 encounters.

But he will not travel to Hampden on Saturday with the feeling that he will not lose.

Rodgers has enjoyed the Glasgow derby
Rodgers has enjoyed the Glasgow derby (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“You can never have that arrogance,” he said. “It’s not how we work. We have a humility in how we work. We respect every opponent that we play, whether it’s Rangers or Raith, or whoever. We have to prepare for the game.”

Rodgers, who has a full squad to choose from, added: “We come into the game in the ideal condition, I don’t think there is any doubting that, we have been on fire the last few months.

“There were lots of challenges in the beginning of the season, playing every three or four days when really important players are missing.

“But as the season has built up and into the pressure moments, the players have been absolutely superb in how they dealt with that. So we arrive having won the league in a really, really good way, playing well, so we come into it in real good condition.”

Adam Idah celebrates his goal at Rugby Park
Adam Idah celebrates his goal at Rugby Park (Jane Barlow/PA)

Rodgers spoke of his pride in how his players have dealt with pressure situations, such as their 5-0 win at Kilmarnock to clinch the title.

However, his players’ experience and impressive run of form does not mean he can relax going into Saturday’s game.

“I would say you still have to be super focused,” he added. “There’s no guarantee, but what you can understand as a manager, you know what you are going to get. That, in pressure situations, is invaluable.

“That’s why the likes of Callum (McGregor) is a top operator, why James (Forrest) has been over so many years as well. Their trophy haul is absolutely incredible.

“I have an assurance of what I will get from them and I can put my faith in them.”

Celtic fans at Hampden for last season’s Scottish Cup semi-final
Celtic fans at Hampden for last season’s Scottish Cup semi-final (Steve Welsh/PA)

The scarcity of this fixture in Scottish Cup finals in recent years will add further fuel to the build-up, and the occasion itself will pit both sets of supporters against each other for the first time in a stadium this season.

Each league game has been played in front of home fans only ahead of a new guideline which will see about five per cent of tickets reserved for away supporters.

Rodgers is relishing the charged atmosphere.

“I am really looking forward to that and to next season whenever we at least have a small percentage of supporters in the games, because it always adds,” he said.

“It’s what makes this game. Even though there have been incredible atmospheres in both stadiums without supporters, the better combination is when both are there.”