Celtic: Brendan Rodgers says side must find a "different way" to build their team

Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers says Celtic must find a "different way" to build a team for Europe

Brendan Rodgers says he has already begun preparing Celtic for next season's European campaign.

The Celtic manager describes bridging the competitive gap created by the financial strength of Europe's elite teams as a "huge ask".

Rodgers believes that Celtic can thrive by finding a "different way" to build their team.

"There are areas of the team [that need strengthened] and you have to continually evolve," Rodgers said.

Ideally, the Celtic boss would like to sign a handful of new players in the January transfer window, to allow them time to adapt ahead of Champions League qualifiers next summer, should the club retain its Premiership title.

Celtic celebrate Patrick Roberts' goal
Celtic drew 1-1 with Manchester City in their final Champions League group match

"We're constantly looking at how we can be better on and off the field, and that's important because in the modern game you can never stand still," Rodgers added. "You keep developing but we also have to be realistic as well.

"It's always going to be a real challenge for us because we don't have the resources of all the other teams.

"So we have to find a way to be different and for us that's our game model, our systematic approach in terms of young players coming through and getting in the right, quality players when they become available, and looking to develop and grow the club and the team.

"We're always having to plan forward and that's something that the board, Peter [Lawwell, chief executive], my staff are very conscious of. You have always have to keep an eye on what we're doing today and what we're doing tomorrow."

Solving the puzzle

Rodgers has focused on the progress he has seen in Celtic's performances since losing their opening Champions League qualifier against Lincoln Red Imps to closing their campaign with a 1-1 draw at Manchester City.

He acknowledges the "astronomical" budgets that City, Barcelona and Borussia Moenchengladbach can deploy in comparison to Celtic's level of expenditure, but not in a defeatist way. The challenge for Rodgers is to solve the puzzle, not merely illustrate it.

He will look to add two or three players of a similar ability and status as winger Scott Sinclair, and likely in each area of the team. The centre of defence lacks strength in depth, while central midfield needs another leading figure to raise the team's level of performance.

Scott Sinclair
Scott Sinclair has thrived since joining Celtic this summer, scoring 10 goals

"There's a lot more to come [from this squad] but they need help as well," Rodgers says. "They need a few players in who can help them, but I look at a lot of the players and it's credit to them, because you have to want to improve, you have to want to learn, you have to want to commit to leading your life right every single day.

"You've got to be fit to play to that intensity, and that means you have to train, you have to be looking after your diet, every aspect of your life. More time will allow us to improve, and adding quality to the squad."

The champions route will remain open next season, although it is a measure of the nature of the competition Celtic would face that this season's opponents, Astana and Hapoel Be'er Sheva both made it to the Europa League group stages.

The Champions League remains dominated by the elite, but some of the fourth seeds this season have exceeded expectations. Monaco will finish top of Group E, while Besiktas, Ludogrets Razgrad and Rostov have all qualified for the Europa League knockout stages.

Celtic celebrate
Celtic scraped past Hapoel Be'er Sheva 5-4 on aggregate to reach the Champions League group stages

Legia Warsaw could still do the same, depending on Wednesday's results, while FC Copenhagen can still qualify for the Champions League knockout stages. Only Celtic and Dinamo Zagreb have dropped out of Europe altogether.

"If you're working in any of the European leagues you will have few opportunities to play Champions League football," Rodgers said. "But there are different things that make up a player coming to Celtic.

"If it's purely about finance then they may not come. But if it's about the experience of a huge club, the development of the player and getting the opportunity to play in front of 60-odd thousand every other week then I'm sure that's something they would consider.

"But you have to get there. It's been a great campaign for us but now we have to focus on winning the league. If we get in there next season, we'll be better for it."

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