Line drawn under half-time anger in Perth as Hoops prepare for Hibs

Rodgers said he was as angry as he's ever been in his career after a lacklustre first 45 minutes against St Johnstone.

Brendan Rodgers has drawn a line under his half-time anger in Perth at the weekend as Celtic turn their attention to Hibs.

The league leaders were behind 1-0 against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park on Sunday before a better second half showing with goals from Callum McGregor, Matt O’Riley and James Forrest sealing a 3-1 victory.

After the game the Hoops boss said he was as angry as he has ever been in his management career after a lacklustre 45 minutes.

But he was happy with the reaction of the players after the break and is confident they will be ready to host Nick Montgomery’s side in Glasgow on Wednesday.

He said: “The problem is when you speak to them at half-time and don’t get the reaction, but these guys have been brilliant.

“Every now and then you just need a reminder that Celtic’s a club where you don’t go through the motions, either as a staff member or player and we went through the motions in the first-half.

“In the second half we were much more intense, much more aggressive in our game, with the ball and without the ball, and you seen that through the quality of our goals and quality of our play.

“So that’s it and we move on to the next game.

“For me, it’s very, very straightforward. What you gain through experience, and when you take away the technical jargon, the difference in the game is about working hard.

“And when you are a top team, it’s about working very hard. We failed to do that in the first half and if you don’t do that, you can get punished, with any team.

“So you always have to guard against that. No matter how good a team you are, the start point for any team is your work. And once you put your work in and play to the intensity and speed of which you are asked to play, you see the difference it makes.

“There was nothing tactical about Sunday, it was about mentality and physicality and once you bring that to the game you get your rewards.”

It’s Hibs up next as they make a trip along the M8 for the game at Celtic Park on Wednesday night on the back of three straight victories.

They also earned a point when they held the champions to a draw at Easter Road in the last league meeting between the pair and Rodgers is expecting another competitive game.

He said: “It was a good game last time we played, and after that game I was complimentary about what Nick was trying to do, so we will expect a good football game.

“But for us the onus is on ourselves, we are at home and we don’t want to waste any time within the game like we did yesterday.

“We expect to be intense right from kick-off.”

With Rangers also winning on Sunday the gap at the top of the Premiership remains at eight points with the Ibrox side having played one less game.

Rodgers has spoken of the need to strengthen his squad in recent weeks despite admitting he has too many players.

Such comments might not give much encouragement to those who are unable to break into his team, including summer signings Maik Nawrocki and Gustaf Lagerbielke, who are being kept out of central defence by Cameron Carter-Vickers and Liam Scales. But Rodgers has told his squad players to keep believing.

“I am out there every day watching training,” he said. “And when I see players training and working with that personality then they will always edge their way closer to my thinking.

“I have said before it is clear our squad is quite big. Unfortunately for the likes of Maik and Gustaf, Scalesy came into the team and really took his opportunity. Nat Phillips has been brilliant since he has been here, he has been a real positive influence, and it’s the one area of the team you don’t want to change too much when both players are fit.

“So for any player it’s all about what they do in training and that is all they can do. You can’t get too disappointed. If you are working hard, then hopefully those opportunities come for you.

“All the guys who came into the game (on Sunday) affected it. The modern game is not now just about the 11 players who start. Guys like Mikey (Johnston) coming into the game was outstanding, very direct, fast and was creative, and worked hard. Jamesy (Forrest) gets his goal, Tommo (Tomoki Iwata) comes in and creates the third goal.

“That’s testament to how they train, the intensity of our training every day allows them to be at a good level so when they come into the game they make an impact.”

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