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Thursday 24 August 2017

Rodgers a Provan winner for Celts

Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers

Former Celtic star Davie Provan believes some Scottish teams are beaten before the game starts against the Hoops and puts it down to Brendan Rodgers.

Since taking over from Ronny Deila in the summer, the Parkhead boss has yet to lose a domestic game in 29, with their 19th consecutive Premiership victory on Sunday against St Johnstone taking them 27 point clear of second-placed Aberdeen at the top of the table.

Provan, who played for Celtic between 1978 and 1986, was speaking ahead of this weekend's Scottish Cup fifth round ties with Celtic hosting Inverness on Saturday.

Now a broadcaster and pundit, Provan insists that Rodgers has Celtic playing so well that defeat would "probably" match the Hoops' shock 3-1 Scottish Cup loss to Inverness in 2000, when the Highlanders were First Division part-timers, and explained why.

"The other thing Celtic have in their favour now is that some teams feel they are already beaten as they walk out the tunnel with this Celtic side," said the former Scotland winger.

"I think the psychology has changed. Some teams coming to Glasgow last season always felt they could beat Ronny Deila's side if they were off it at all.

"I am not sure that is the case now. Celtic are so far ahead that a lot of opponents now feel that they are almost wasting their time. The way Celtic are going at the moment, like a juggernaut, it is almost impossible to see past them.

Ounce

"Under Ronny Deila they would have off days where they weren't at it at all. Brendan Rodgers can't stand for an ounce of complacency. They are so up for it, so motivated, you can't see past them."

While Celtic are imperious on the field, the Parkhead club are also going from strength to strength off the field.

The Scottish champions revealed their interim report on Monday which showed income in the first half of the season almost doubled compared to the previous year.

Revenue for the second half of 2016 was £61.2m, an increase of 95% on the same period in 2015.

Celtic's qualification for the Champions League group stages helped them make a pre-tax profit of £18.6m over six months, a rise of almost £7m on the previous season, when the club competed in the Europa League.

Provan, who scored in Celtic's 2-1 Scottish Cup final win over Dundee United at Hampden Park in 1985, cannot see how the Hoops' traditional rivals Rangers can hope to catch up.

He said: "Unless some billionaire comes into Ibrox and pumps money into the club, it is very difficult to see how Rangers can narrow that gap.

"And again, the figures are terrific that Celtic have announced and it is all down to Brendan Rodgers, let's make that clear.

"It's down to bringing in a top manager, getting into the Champions League and getting the money that is there. He has proved so far he is top bracket. The worry is he is flagging himself up to clubs in England."

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