BRENDAN RODGERS insists it is “unfair” to blame Celtic players for crowd disorder following the 1-0 win over Rangers at Parkhead in September.
The Hoops boss voiced his concerns after an internal police review of incidents stated there was a “clear link” between the Hoops stars applauding the support that sparked unruly scenes among the away followers.
Rodgers stressed it was “not so much a lap of honour” after the match, but players acknowledging their fans in the same way they do after every encounter.
The Irishman said: “When I first came into Celtic, I said to the players that what was going to be absolutely critical for us was that connection between them and the supporters; that synergy is vital if we are going to succeed.
“I made sure that after every game, whether we win, lose or draw, we always acknowledge the support, because they travel from up and down Scotland, across from Ireland and all over the world.
“It is something myself and the players have always done, whether it’s against Rangers or away at Inverness or Ross County, or Livingston or Hamilton.
“I also think it’s unfair to put the responsibility of away supporters on to Celtic players.
HOOPY DAYS…Kieran Tierney and Leigh Griffiths lead the Celtic celebrations after the 1-0 win over Rangers.
“We show our appreciation and respect for the incredible support we get. Our aim is never to antagonise or provoke any supporters, especially in a Celtic v Rangers game, because I – as much as anyone – understand the delicate nature of that.
“But we will always respect our own supporters and want to acknowledge the incredible support we get. Whether we win, lose or draw, that will always be the case.”
The confrontation against Steven Gerrard’s new-look Ibrox side was a crucial three points for the champions after they had lost their second league game of the campaign 1-0 against Hearts at Tynecastle.
Rodgers was looking for his TENTH success from 12 matches against Rangers and had enjoyed successes over three previous managers – Mark Warburton, Pedro Caixinha and Graeme Murty.
It was his first meeting with his former Liverpool skipper and the scene was set for a dramatic and intriguing head to head.
Celtic hit the woodwork FOUR times before Olivier Ntcham struck the winner in the 62nd minute.
The Frenchman had been one of four team-mates to knock on wood during a hectic 90 minutes with James Forrest and Mikael Lustig clattering the bar in the first-half and substitute Leigh Griffiths adding to the list late on.
Rangers host Celtic at Ibrox on Saturday, December 29 as the curtain comes down on the 2018 football action.