BRENDAN RODGERS has voiced reservations about Hampden ahead of this afternoon’s Betfred League Cup Final at the Glasgow ground.
The Celtic manager has already won both domestic cup finals, plus three semi-finals, at the National Stadium.
But the experiences have left him unconvinced over its suitability for major occasions..
“There are better stadiums,” he said. “If we’re talking stadia, then it’s not a great stadium.
“If you’re talking access, comfort, the view of the game, there are many things about Hampden that are not good.
“When I came in I said, well, this is where we have to play the games, so we’ve got to like it.
“And as long as the pitch is a good pitch and there’s posts either end then we’ve got to perform and we’ve got to find a way.
“It’ll be the same this weekend.
“It’s not ideal and I don’t know the real story behind the investment and how it was reformed.
“You think about the supporters and I hear enough people saying it’s not very good.
“I’m the lucky one that gets to stand at the side of the pitch. I always wonder about how much the people behind the goals really see. It’s one for the SFA to decide.”
Rodgers takes the same view of Hampden’s future as an international venue, with the governing body soon to decide whether or not to stay put when its 20-year lease expires in 2020.
“My experience of it has been great, of course,” he said.
“Sometimes the atmosphere is right up there at Hampden.
“After the Scotland v England game, I remember people saying the whole place shook. So it has the potential and possibility.
“But I’ve never been to the other stadium. I know Hearts were playing at Murrayfield which looks a proper, well thought-out stadium.
“The other side to Hampden is the tradition it has. It’s where all the stories are, down the years right back to the black and white pictures.
“Real Madrid and European Cup and Champions League Finals – there is a real historical element there.
“I know there is a real mind-set for a lot of negatives around Scotland, but I try to look for real positives and I have enjoyed going there.”
History, specifically the part his team can play in it, has been occupying the mind of the Hoops boss as he prepared for the first showpiece of the season.
Celtic haven’t won four straight domestic trophies since the Jock Stein era, with the League Cup more often than not the competition that trips them up.
“It means everything,” he said. “My job at Celtic is to add to the legacy so when the time comes for me to pass the ball to someone else, we have added to the cycle.
“What we have been working on is a real dominant cycle where we play football that brings joy to the supporters.
“When it gets passed on we hope this is looked back on as a successful period.
“There is a wonderful history here at Celtic and my job is to add to that legacy.
“You do your very best and prepare your team. You know that you will lose. I said it last year – it will happen at some point.
“When it does, we will take it with humility and honesty – and press the reset button and go again.”
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