Former Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk believes that the new Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers will have to face “tremendous pressure” right from the start of his reign at Parkhead with Champions League group stage qualification key.
Van Dijk played under Ronny Deila during his first season at the club, and was part of the team that failed to qualify for the group stages of the Champions League after losing to Slovenian side Maribor in the qualifying rounds.
The Dutchman told the Scottish Sun that he believes Rodgers will need to meet the expectations of the supporters by qualifying for Europe’s premier tournament this season:
“Qualifying for Europe is just around the corner, and that will be the focus for the first five or six weeks. There is tremendous pressure and a huge level of expectation. It’s tough, but you must be able to cope.
“There is no hiding place for anyone. We were extremely disappointed at missing out in the past two seasons on the Champions League, and I hope the team don’t have that feeling again.”
Van Dijk was sold to Southampton back in August last year for a reported £13million and was a regular in the Premier League side’s first team as they finished 6th on 63 points.
He does believe, however, that the new Celtic manager is an “exciting appointment” and he is backing Rodgers to make it six league titles in a row.