Soccer

Brendan Rodgers seeks positivity from stands ahead of Celtic’s clash with Dundee

Boos rang out from the away support at Motherwell on Sunday when Rodgers brought on Paulo Bernardo for Tomoki Iwata with the scores tied at 1-1.

Brendan Rodgers faced criticism for a substitution at Fir Park
Brendan Rodgers on the touchline Brendan Rodgers faced criticism for a substitution at Fir Park (Steve Welsh/PA)

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers stressed the advantages of positivity from the stands ahead of Wednesday’s visit of Dundee after finding dissent over a substitution “strange”.

Boos rang out from the away support at Motherwell on Sunday when Rodgers brought on Paulo Bernardo for Tomoki Iwata with the scores tied at 1-1 with 13 minutes left.

The criticism likely stemmed from supporters’ desire to see someone else coming off other than Iwata, who had not played since December 13 because of injury, but Rodgers felt it did not help the player coming on.

Celtic went on to win 3-1 with substitutes Adam Idah and Luis Palma getting all three goals between them and Rodgers brought up the jeers when asked about the importance of utilising his bench.

“It’s very important, especially when you get booed for taking off a defender and putting on an attacker,” he said. “That seemed strange.

“You are talking 95 to 100-minute games now, so your bench is very, very important. Having the depth to bring players on make an impact is very important.”

When asked how he felt about the criticism, Rodgers said: “It doesn’t really matter to me, it’s more for the player coming on and the team.

“It’s a negative reaction which I don’t quite understand. You are 1-1 in the game and take off a defensive midfield player and bring on an attacking player who has scored goals this season and you get booed. It just seemed a little strange.

“But thankfully the players’ mentality on the pitch was superb, they kept going, they kept fighting and all the great work they did – especially in the second half in terms of tiring the opponent out – led to a couple of goals at the end.”

Adam Idah celebrated his crucial second goal
Motherwell v Celtic Adam Idah celebrated his crucial second goal (Steve Welsh/PA)

When asked about the effect of criticism from the stands, Rodgers said: “It’s not only for Celtic, it’s in general in any club, if that feeling rolls down from the stands onto the pitch and it’s negative, then what do you expect?

“You will get players who will have a nervousness, so the game will look different.

“Whereas if they have that positive reaction and that support, it’s like life, if you get that support and that feeling that people are behind you, everyone, then you will have a greater chance to succeed.”

Sunday’s encounter continued a recent trend where Celtic put together two very different halves of football, as Motherwell deservedly led at half-time. On other occasions, they have struggled to build on a comfortable first half.

“To be fair, it’s been like that for bits of the season,” Rodgers said.

“I see people saying ‘they don’t know their best team, they don’t know the best structure’. We know clearly what the structure is. And it’s not about the best team, it’s the team that finishes the game.

“You play so many games, you are looking for an energy in the game that you can’t possibly keep for 90 minutes unless you make those changes.

“Each game tactically is different. It’s not about finding your best 11 because they won’t finish the game. You have to adapt within the game.

“But there’s no doubt you need to have that ruthless mentality and we would want that for longer periods, of course.

“And we will continue to analyse that to see where we can improve. But by the end of the game, if we have won the game, then that’s what is most important, as well as performing well.”