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Rodgers tries to keep Old Firm clash in perspective

Glasgow (AFP) – Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has tried to maintain a sense of proportion ahead Saturday’s Old Firm match against arch Glasgow rivals Rangers, saying the Hoops are always under pressure to win no matter their opponents.

This weekend’s match will be the first league clash between the two clubs in four years following Rangers’ return to the top flight of Scottish football after working their way back up the divisions after financial problems saw them demoted to the bottom tier.

It will also be Rodgers’s first Glasgow derby since he joined the Hoops in pre-season and the Northern Irishman said Friday: “When you are Celtic and you play every game, especially at home, (winning) is what is expected of you.

“We are not running away to say that we don’t want to be the favourites for the game.

“Whether we were playing Rangers, Aberdeen, St Johnstone, Hearts, whoever we play at home, the objective going into the game is to win.”

The former Swansea and Liverpool manager added: “It’s a huge game, a big game, but one that we want to win, like every game at Celtic Park.

“More importantly, the way the team is playing, the energy and ambition of the team has given the supporters something to be proud of so far and, as I said, the atmosphere will be incredible.

“Every derby is different. Having experienced derbies before there is a uniqueness to each one and this is iconic throughout the world and one that I am really looking forward to.”

Saturday’s match will also be the first time Rodgers has come up against Rangers boss Mark Warburton, although the pair were briefly together at English Premier League club Watford.

“When I was the manager of Watford, it was my first job. He was academy director and he did great work for the youths,” said Rodgers.

“There is a friendship there from our time at Watford and we spoke on a number of occasions when we left. But we weren’t best mates and speaking every week.

“Mark, firstly, has done a great job at Rangers…Now that he has got promoted he will probably feel more the expectation at Rangers to do well this season.

“But up until now I think he has done a very good job. When he took them on they were in a difficult moment.”

Meanwhile Warburton was under no illusions about the reception awaiting his side at Celtic Park but backed his players to retain their composure all the same.

“It’s a feisty atmosphere. We are going into a local derby with 60,000 fans, 52,500 of which will be backing one side,” Warburton said.

“We recognise that. We’re pros. They (the players) are pros, same as you guys in the media. If there’s a major event, are you suddenly going to lose your professionalism and write or report in a different manner?

“It’s about being consistent in the quality of your work and it’s no different in this industry as well.”

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