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celtic Celtic Chris Sutton - Rodgers produced a tactical masterclass

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fucked if I know
Oct 4, 2014
Celtic Chris Sutton - Rodgers produced a tactical masterclass
As near as Sutton will ever come to eating his words. Remember that on Thursday he was slagging Brendan for not starting Musonda.​
Brendan Rodgers was asked serious questions. Perhaps for the first time in his Celtic reign.​
His response was to produce a managerial masterclass.​
In recent weeks, it’s been hinted he has lost the Midas touch, that not everything he touches turns to gold.​
But Rodgers did not put a foot wrong against Zenit St Petersburg – before or during the game with the Russians.​
In this column a week ago I said it was a big night for the manager. There had to signs of progress.​
Celtic were at their very best against Zenit​
Brendan Rodgers celebrates the win (Image: PA)​
Qualifying for the Europa League was a step in the right direction but the night when it was clinched when Anderlecht won 1-0 in Glasgow left a feeling of emptiness.​
Rodgers’s team selection wasn’t right for the game. The players didn’t perform the way he wanted them to. There was the look of a team that maybe just wasn’t able or ready to really step up whenthe spotlight was on in Europe.​
All the questions – of the manager, the players, the approach, the tactics and the selections were booted into touch. It was a brilliant performance from Celtic and don’t give me this garbage about Zenit being rusty having just returned from their winter break.​
That’s just nonsense. They would have been ready. They were just outdone and it seems that whenever Celtic win a game at a decent level it’s put down to the opposition being useless or not turning up.​
To my eye Celtic made them look ordinary and it was magnificent management from​
start to finish through a process which had begun well over 24 hours before kick-off with his public declarations.​
Rodgers played it all down in the build-up. He told anyone who would listen that Celtic were underdogs – not just in the tie against Zenit but in the grand scheme of things on the Europa League front with the millions being spent.​
Celtic players celebrate McGregor's winner​
In some ways he took the pressure right off his players.​
Now, just like Martin O’Neill used to do with our group, he may have saying one thing in public and portraying a very different message within the confines of the dressing room.​
Chances are he was telling his team they could do it if they performed. But his words calmed the expectations in the stands.​
I barely met a fan before the game who fancied Celtic but the key is they kept faith.​
Almost 60,000 turned out. If that had been a Ronny Deila team in the Europa League the top tier would have been shut.​
At the same time that underdog feeling made them stick with the team as the game rumbled along at 0-0. No one grumbled when chances were missed or possession was retained by the ball going backwards.​
The fans were superb and stayed with their side and I’m sure that was down to being told how tough it was going to be.​
That job done it was on to the game. I’m not going to lie, I was surprised at the starting line-up.​
Having signed Charly Musonda for the big occasions and talked him up, it took me back a little bit that he wasn’t named.​
Musonda applauds the fans​
Scott Sinclair is another go-to man for Rodgers who was a shock omission. Maybe not on current form, but on past experiences of the manager backing him.​
Rodgers got it spot on. The midfield boys were sensational with Olivier Ntcham and Eboue Kouassi excelling alongside their captain. Scott Brown is a massive player in those type of situations and he delivered. But Eboue impressed in the way he did his jobs simply and enthusiasm.​
He pressed it, he won it and he passed it. Nothing flash or silly.​
Callum McGregor’s call-up at the expense of Musonda was another decision which proved spot on.​
The Scotland man was simply outstanding and capped his performance with a magical goal, which was brought about by the Belgian kid after a sublime substitution from a boss who was getting it right at every turn. It was still a finish full of composure and class and capped a show​
where he shone.​
Callum McGregor scores their first goal (Image: Action Images via Reuters)​
It must be said, none of the lads in the middle could have had the influence they did were it not​
for Moussa Dembele finding his old form.​
The French kid needed to hold it up and bring team-mates into play for the set-up to work and he did.​
I’m a huge Leigh Griffiths fan but he couldn’t have done that job as effectively. The ball would have kept coming back.​
With Dembele winning his duels he kept Celtic’s midfield men on the front foot Defensively, the questions were also answered.​
Moussa Dembele holds off Zenit's Miha Mevija (Image: SNS Group)​
Quite correctly the backline had been slated for past mistakes in Europe and also domestically.​
Rodgers asked them to concentrate and his message got across. They were quick, aggressive and saw danger.​
On the one occasion they were caught, Dorus de Vries proved himself by coming up with a save to justify himself, too. From start to finish Rodgers got it right.​
Now it’s not over. Going to St Petersburg is a tough assignment and it may well be that Celtic still go out of the competition on Thursday.​
But they now have a fighting chance and that’s down to the players and their manager.​
Even if they do get eliminated, the first leg has offered real hope going forward for the future.​
The big questions were asked of them on the big stage. Rodgers and his men were not found wanting. JS143689326.jpg