BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
MURDO MacLeod is convinced new manager Brendan Rodgers will up the ante at Celtic by demanding the standards he was used to at Liverpool.
And the former Hoops midfielder has accused Rodgers’ predecessor, Ronny Deila, of seriously underestimating the quality needed to succeed on the European stage.
Having previously operated at a lower level with Stromsgodset in Norway, MacLeod reckons Deila was content with the step-up in calibre he found within the squad on his arrival at Parkhead.
But the Norwegian struggled to make any inroads with Celtic in the Champions League, the stage that is critical to the club especially in the absence of the kind of sustained domestic challenge previously provided by rivals Rangers.
Having fallen at the Champions League play-off round in both his seasons at the helm, back-to-back Premiership titles proved insufficient for Deila to retain his job as the Celtic hierarchy and supporters craved continental progress as well as domestic success.
However, arriving with a background of having worked with and against some of the best players in the world at Liverpool, and to a lesser extent Swansea City, MacLeod believes Rodgers will bring with him higher expectations and he expects Celtic to reap the rewards.
“When Ronny arrived at Celtic, he had worked with a certain level of player in Norway and thought when he came to Celtic that the players he had here were great,” said MacLeod.
“Everyone was better than those he’d had in Norway, but they haven’t been good enough for European campaigns.
“Now, they’ve brought in a manager who has operated at the highest level in the English Premiership, so if Brendan is bringing in players at that level, that will make Celtic a better team.
“Whether he brings in three, four or five, he has to make sure he brings in players from the level he has been working at and not from the level they’ve got just now.”
Celtic will find out later this month who they will face in the Champions League qualifiers and MacLeod is hopeful Rodgers will be backed financially so he can make a fist of a challenge for the lucrative group stages of the competition.
“I think they have to do that,” added the former Celtic favourite when asked if the club’s board would have to revise their pay structure to support Rodgers in the transfer market. “You can talk about spending three, four, five million pounds on a player but Celtic don’t have the money to bring in three of four players of that ilk.
“So you have to look at loan players or those who are out of contract and pay them a lot of money.
“They’ve just got to bite the bullet and make sure they qualify. If he does that, it’s a success because they’ll not only get the Champions League money, but they’ll fill the stadium again.”