Celtic’s unbeaten domestic run has ended at 69 matches, and it ended with a thud.
Tynecastle Park was the scene for a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Hearts, a defeat started by a 16-year-old’s first Scottish Premiership goal.
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Harry Cochrane’s his name, and his 26th minute goal gave Hearts the lead, and it was 2-0 by halftime through Kyle Lafferty, the ex-Burnley and Norwich player.
David Milinkovic scored three minutes after halftime, as the wake-up call didn’t arrive at the break, and added a penalty kick late in the match.
Celtic has a two-point lead on second-place Aberdeen with a match-in-hand. Rangers sit five-points back.
Sixty-nine games! Remarkable in any league. Here’s what Rodgers had to say:
“But I also want to congratulate my players. To have gone through 69 games and this to be their first defeat; of course it’s a sore one when you are beaten like that but they can hold their heads up. They have been absolutely amazing over those 18 months.”
GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — Celtic defeated Motherwell 2-0 Sunday at Hampden Park to retain the Scottish League Cup.
The triumph saw Brendan Rodgers become the first Celtic manager since Jock Stein to win four domestic trophies in a row.
James Forrest gave Celtic the lead shortly after halftime and the game was effectively over when Motherwell defender Cedric Kipre gave away a penalty and was sent off just before the hour mark.
Moussa Dembele rolled in the spot kick to ensure Rodgers equaled the record of club legend Stein.
Say what you will about the nature of the Scottish Premiership, but there’s no denying Brendan Rodgers‘ Celtic has achieved quite the feat.
Celtic’s 3-0 win at St. Johnstone means the Bhoys have not lost in 63 matches, a new British record.
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According to the BBC’s math, Celtic has won 32 games by three or more goals during that stretch, and drawn just seven times.
The hiring of Rodgers was seen as a recipe of entertainment, good or bad, but few expected he’d be this dominant. And Rangers have proven the diagram for winning Scottish titles isn’t not simply about tossing money at big name players (though it certainly helps to be able to spend, as Celtic has).
“It’s everything. How and what it stood for before – 100 years – and Celtic holding that British record. It’s an incredible feat by the players and a wonderful example of professionalism.”
To be fair to Rodgers, his personality drove me nuts at Liverpool, but this has been quite a reclamation project (if he needed one). And Jurgen Klopp‘s record at Anfield has been on the same trajectory as Rodgers, so perhaps he needed that just as much.
The next step? Maintain its UEFA Champions League third place lead on Anderlecht and make a decent run in Europa League.
Congrats to Celtic, who’ve topped their own record set in 1917 when Willie Maley was manager.
It’s hard for many to understand the pressure a manager faces on a daily basis at a big Premier League club, but Brendan Rodgers came close to describing how that pressure, and then the lack of it, manifested itself in his mind.
In an interview with the BBC, the former Liverpool boss revealed he thought he was having a heart attack while on vacation in Dubai, shortly after being sacked as Liverpool manager in October 2015.
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“There was an incident when I left Liverpool and I went to Dubai a fortnight later,” Rodgers told the BBC. “I lay in fear one day thinking I was having a heart attack – maybe my mum’s condition affected me because she died of one. I was rushed to hospital and basically it was a reaction my body and chest was having in starting to condition itself in terms of not having that pressure.”
Since then, Rodgers has taken over at Celtic and guided the club to a treble, admitting that his experience with Liverpool has forced him to adjust how he deals with pressure.
“That made me sit up and ask myself how do you manage pressure, how to regulate it,” Rodgers said, adding that his mother died of a heart attack and his father died of cancer. “I needed to go and address it. I didn’t I think at the time (of managing Liverpool) there was any more or less pressure because you are so ingrained in it.”
“I felt during that seven-month period (break he took) I needed to reflect and then make sure in my next job that I could learn from the experience. You have got to have your health, happiness and energy back in order to succeed.”
It’s an important lesson for both fans of the game and managers that the pressures involved with playing and managing at the top level are very high, and some can’t deal with the weight of the importance.
36-year-old defender Kolo Toure announced his retirement on Friday, calling close to a 19-year career that featured stints at Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool, and most recently Celtic.
In the same release, the Ivory Coast international also announced he will join the Scottish club as a technical assistant, beginning his coaching career at the club he last played for.
“This is a new chapter in my career, a new beginning. The football is over now,” Toure said to the official Celtic website. “I can officially say I am retired from playing and now I am fully concentrating on coaching.”
Toure will be working under Brendan Rodgers at Celtic, the man who also brought him to Liverpool in 2013. “This is great news for Celtic that we are able to bring a man of Kolo’s experience into our coaching team,” Rodgers said in the same release. “In everything he does, he is quite simply a fantastic example to anyone.”
“I can learn so much from working with Brendan Rodgers, he is a top manager,” Toure said of his new boss. “I will be working with him and his staff very closely each day. He is one of the best young managers in the world right now. What he’s doing for Celtic is there for all to see, he’s doing amazingly right now.”
The release describes that Toure will be a member of the first-team coaching staff, “supporting on all first-team coaching matters, as well as using his knowledge, experience and expertise to assist across the club’s various youth levels.”