Chris Sutton may be loathed as a spiky football pundit, but his recent interview for BT Sport with Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers was enlightening.
As far as youth football goes it gave a great insight into the determination that is now required for young talented players to make it to the top level.
After spending 15 years in youth development before becoming a manager, former Liverpool boss Rodgers is one of the most respected figures in the game and now in his fifth management job, he admitted: “I appreciate what I have now.”
And that is most definitely a two-way street after arriving on a 12-month rolling deal last May after being sacked by Liverpool in October 2015. It didn’t take Celtic long to realize they owed more to the 44-year-old Northern Irishman, who guided Celtic to the Scottish title in April this year with eight games to spare.
Just five days later the Hoops had handed Rodgers a four-year deal – a contract he hopes to fulfill – and ultimately see the club to a record “10 in a row” league titles. That’s Rodgers’ aim, along with coaching for “another 20 years”, but it is the principles he has put in place at Parkhead in his first 12 months that have been so momentous and which undoubtedly aided their unbeaten domestic treble in his first season.
Sutton asked the Northern Irishman about his philosophy at Celtic and Rodgers revealed one of the biggest changes he made from the Ronny Delia era was a change in lifestyle.
“The obligation for youth academies is two-fold: to get players into the first team; to make sure they are good enough,” Rodgers said.
“I never give a freebie. If I have a senior player who is working his socks off for me and he is not playing, I won’t throw his place out just to give a place to a young guy who has done ok in one game They have to earn it.
“The most important thing for me at Celtic is letting the talent believe they can be better. The talent is here but will they take responsibility and will they make the commitment to be a better player?
“Can they improve their life? Can they be inspired to see that they are more than a talent and that they need to work. They can go on and make more money here or go on but that is down to how you approach your life,” added Rodgers.
“Do you have a night out? Or do you forfeit that?
“One of the biggest changes I made here was about lifestyle. Really devote yourself. They can have fun, and I want them to enjoy themselves but it is about timing.
“The modern game demands that. You cannot get away with it now like you used to do years ago. Lifestyle is absolutely vital for players and each club will have their ethos but for me here to be a Champions League player consistently there is a demand and a price to pay for that.”