Houghton: Rodgers can make Celtic competitive in Europe

Ex-Liverpool midfielder and Republic of Ireland international Ray Houghton has backed new Celtic manager and ex Reds boss Brendan Rodgers to make the Scottish club more competitive in the Champions League.

Under previous manager Ronny Deila, the Bhoys failed to reach the group stages of the competition after losing out to Slovenian side Maribor and Swedish champions Malmo in the past two years, but Houghton told the Daily Record that Rodgers could have an important impact:

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“The real challenge for him will be in Europe. That is where Celtic want to be and it’s where they have failed in recent seasons.

“It’s so difficult for Scottish clubs to make an impact at that level. Look at the money going around the big sides in England and on the Continent, it’s an uphill task.

“But Brendan will fancy it. He believes in himself and will believe he can get Celtic to the Champions League and to get them competitive at that level.”

Rodgers had two seasons in Europe with Liverpool, reaching the last 32 of the Europa League in his first campaign at the club, and reaching the same stage in his third season after dropping out of the Champions League at the group stages.

Like all Celtic managers, he will face a baptism of fire with the club having to play their first competitive matches under him in the Champions League qualifying rounds in mid-July, which could prove to be the most important of the campaign.