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Rodgers wants pitch fit for champions at Celtic

Glasgow (AFP) – Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers watched his side beat Motherwell to claim their 20th league victory in a row before slamming the state of the pitch at his club’s Parkhead ground.

A first-half penalty from in-form French forward Moussa Dembele and a James Forrest goal helped Celtic to a 2-0 win that extends their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership to 27 points over Aberdeen, who visit Kilmarnock on Sunday.

The champions have won all 16 domestic matches they have played at home this season, but after comfortably seeing off Mark McGhee’s side Rodgers raised concerns about the pitch and how it affects their playing style.

And the former Liverpool boss revealed he would be asking the Celtic board for a new playing surface in the summer.

“I thought the players did remarkably well, considering the level of the pitch was poor,” Rodgers, whose side are unbeaten in 31 domestic fixtures, said.

“Motherwell came and I thought they did very well. On the back of losing seven goals (against Aberdeen in midweek) you are always going to come here against a team that can attack and score goals and sit deep and block out the spaces.

“Whenever you do that then you rely on the speed of the game — the combinations, the quick play.

“But our players are having to deal with a real difficult pitch and technically they are having to make sure of their touch before they get it under control. They can’t play it first time as it’s very difficult.

“So I think how they deal with the game on a difficult pitch and how creative they are is huge testament to them. Some of our football was very good in what is — although it might not look it — a very difficult surface.

“I think it is an old pitch here, so we need to modernise the field.

“It is a concern for me when you are trying to entertain supporters and play a level of game, the pitch is vital.

“You are looking for fast football and speed in your game. I think we showed in pre-season through to the early months of this season the level of the game that we are looking to play.

“We actually go away to some grounds and play better because the pitch is better and obviously this here slows us down. We will get it sorted I’m sure, but it’s not something that will be done in the short-term.”

The Celtic manager even blamed the only booking of the game — a nasty challenge by Motherwell’s Ryan Bowman who caught Kieran Tierney’s leg with his studs — was down to the bobbly surface of the Parkhead pitch.

“Again, I think it was a result of the pitch,” Rodgers said.

“The ball pops up for Kieran, and the player is coming in and he makes the challenge on the back of that.

“If the ball rolls down nicely to him then he’s getting tackled on his foot.

“It didn’t look very good but I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to the player that he didn’t mean it.”

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