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RODGERS EQUALS VENGLOS’ GRIM RUN

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BRENDAN RODGERS has matched Jozef Venglos in presiding over the worst Celtic start in three away league games since 1998.

Twenty years ago, the Czech manager, who had just taken over from title-winning gaffer Wim Jansen who stopped 10-in-a-row for Rangers, failed to win his first trio of league matches on his travels in succession.

He was sacked at the end of a trophyless campaign to make way for the so-called dream team of Kenny Dalglish and John Barnes.

Rodgers has now seen his side lose 1-0 to Hearts at Tynecastle, draw 0-0 with St Mirren in Paisley and crash 2-1 in stoppage-time to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park this afternoon.

The champions, who are looking for an eighth successive crown, took a first-half lead through Leigh Griffiths, but allowed Chris Burke to level after the hour mark and ex-Hoops youngster Stuart Findlay headed the winner three minutes into added-on time.

After back-to-back domestic trebles, Rodgers’ side sit fifth in the table, five points behind Hearts, and the Irishman admitted his team “can be much better”.

S-T-R-E-T-C-H…Leigh Griffiths goes for a high ball with a helping hand from Stephen O’Donnell.

The Parkhead gaffer, who is now preparing his team for the midweek Betfred League Cup quarter-final against St Johnstone in Perth, said: “When you are a huge club, the demand is to win.

“In the last couple of years, we’ve done that really well and playing in a style that is synonymous with the club. It hasn’t been the same, but we have to work to make it better.

“It’s a poor result for us, but we have to go away now and take our medicine and get ready for Wednesday”

Rodgers accpeted his team “had fairly good control of the game”, but “didn’t do the basics well”.

He added: “From the first corner, we didn’t come out well enough and protect the space. Burke gets in on the right side.

“Then the second goal is just basic. It’s a corner. You can see Kilmarnock didn’t even want to take it. Burke puts it in and we don’t defend it strong enough.

“To lose the game is disappointing. We just have to continue to work. There are probably a number of reasons for it, but we have to stick together.
“You can only ever do your best; that’s what we always say to the players. But we can be much better.”

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Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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