CELTIC boss Brendan Rodgers has revealed he gave his players a vote of thanks in the Ibrox dressing room – BEFORE they went out and beat Rangers.
The Hoops gaffer told them he was delighted with their performances as the champions marched into the new year without a domestic defeat in his six months in charge.
After the 2-1 comeback victory, Rodgers gave an insight into his psychology by admitting he had taken all the pressure off them before a ball was even kicked.
He said: “I thanked them before the game on behalf of myself as manager and on behalf of the supporters for playing how they have been and how they have got themselves on a real exciting path going forward.
“They have shown the incredible resilience that we have tried to foster.
“So, they are never beaten, they go right to the end. It’s been a huge achievement for them – especially this month’s nine games which everyone talks about.
“They have won eight and drawn at Manchester City – everyone would commend them for a great effort.”
Reflecting on the third triumph of the season against Mark Warburton’s side, Rodgers said: “We didn’t start so well, but were always a threat on the counter attack.
“We just needed to adjust one or two things at half-time and, in the second half, I thought we were brilliant.
“We looked a real threat and I felt we could score every time we went forward.
“We created opportunities and I’m disappointed with only two goals.
“But probably the most pleasing thing of all was something we talked about before the game – and that was how we’d react if we went behind.
“We spoke about dealing with pressure. We even did an exercise about it the other day.
“In these games, you need to stay calm. We’d had a few bookings and the last thing you need in a derby is to go down to 10 men.
“But we stayed very calm and once we got our first goal we played our way back into the game.
“You have to play with responsibility but Scott Brown was again outstanding out there. So, it was a really good result.”
The Irishman also praised matchwinner Scott Sinclair, who cost the Hoops £4.5million when he joined from Aston Villa in the summer.
He added: “Scott was incredible. Watching a player play to that level in such a high-profile game was great. He’s 27, happy in his football and playing very well.
“It’s been a great chance for him to play at the highest level.
“We get calls from agents wanting to send their players here. Scottish football is a wonderful place to play.
“Everybody sees the finances in the Premier League, but if you need rejuvenated or are a young player looking for experience, there’s some amazing experiences here in Scotland.
“You are playing at Celtic Park every other week and going to great stadiums like Ibrox, Pittodrie and Tynecastle.”