Celtic V Kilmarnock at Celtic Park : Match Preview

07 April 2017

Rodgers hoping players follow suit after committing to 'greatest club in world'

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers signed a new four-year deal with the "greatest club in the world" and hopes his star players stay for the ride.

The Northern Irishman arrived on a one-year rolling contract last summer but has committed himself to the Parkhead club until 2021.

Celtic clinched their sixth successive Ladbrokes Premiership title last week with victory over Hearts at Tynecastle, keeping them on course for the treble in the process.

The Hoops remain unbeaten domestically this season and will be hoping to keep that run going when they host Kilmarnock on Saturday.

Rodgers played down the fact his new deal gives him the chance to lead Celtic to a record-breaking 10 titles in a row, but "would hope" signing talks with star players becomes easier.

He said: "We want to win the league and as long as I am here that will always be the aim.

"The length of contract wasn't necessarily built around that (winning 10 successive titles).

"It was more of a commitment looking forward in terms of improvement, seeing some of our young players through from the academy.

"I also had to think about the players I sat talking about contracts for and with.

"And it was going to be very hard for me to sit with Craig Gordon, Kieran Tierney, Tom Rogic and James Forrest and all these boys and ask them to commit their futures to Celtic, and me on a one-year rolling contract.

"It is a young squad, we have got some real good experience in there as well and over the course of four years that allows that group to develop and improve and I want to be a part of it.

"Players will always look at the manager and see how long he is connected to the club.

"If I am committed to the club fully, hopefully that makes it a little bit easier for them to make that decision. That is important."

The former Swansea and Liverpool boss insists the decision to sign his new deal was "very easy."

"It felt right," he said. "We have been talking for a little while and it felt the right thing to do. I couldn't be happier.

"I came in here on a rolling one-year contract but we were all happy with that, happy to be here.

"But of course not just a decision of mine. I'm very grateful for the commitment of the board.

"Professionally and personally I'm in a great place.

"A few years ago I might have been in a rush. But you learn through experience that you have to cherish what you have.

"It's the beginning of the journey, we have only been here a short time.

"But there's a lot more to achieve, development of the club and that is exciting."

Asked if he had been questioned by friends in the game about working in Scotland while Celtic dominated the football landscape, Rodgers said: "People in football respect and understand that of course the Scottish League, like a lot of European leagues, is not as competitive as the Premier League in England.

"But that's because it is the richest league in the world.

"What the perception is around, I am not really bothered.

"For me Celtic is the greatest club in the world.

"I have the privilege to manage it and while I manage it I want to make it the best I possibly can.

"I just love being here, love helping the players develop and making the team better."

Rodgers rested the likes of Scott Brown, Tierney and Forrest in Wednesday's draw against Partick Thistle but Kilmarnock interim manager Lee McCulloch feels his opposite number's team selection will not make their task any less difficult.

"I don't think it really matters, the squad is that good," he said. "No matter who plays it's going to be a really difficult game, it's going to be a great test for our young team.

"We have got a lot of so-called inexperienced players playing so I think it's the time to let them go and get that experience and find out if they are good enough. But I am pretty confident that they are."