Brendan Rodgers facing 'biggest test' at Celtic after worst league start for 20 years
Stuart Findlay headed injury-time winner
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 23/09/18 9:17pm
Brendan Rodgers admits he is facing the biggest test of his Celtic tenure after a 2-1 defeat at Kilmarnock condemned the Hoops to their worst league start for 20 years.
Defender Stuart Findlay’s dramatic injury-time header from a Chris Burke corner gave Killie a stunning victory on Sunday, after Burke’s drive had cancelled out Leigh Griffiths’ first-half opener.
The Northern Irishman has enjoyed nothing but domestic success since arriving at the Parkhead club in 2016 and his side finished last season as unprecedented double treble-winners.
But after six games the champions have only 10 points and are six points behind leaders Hearts - their poorest start since the 1998/99 campaign under Jozef Venglos.
Asked if he faced the toughest challenge of his time as Celtic boss, Rodgers - who will have defender Filip Benkovic’s Achilles problem assessed after he pulled up in the warm-up - said: “It is. It’s a challenge.
“We have to accept that. There’s no doubt we need to be better. When you’re at the biggest clubs and you don’t win the heat comes on to you.
“That’s when you show you’re a Celtic player, manager, member of staff. You come together. When you lose games the spotlight will always be on you.
“You have to work hard, do the basics right. The basics cost us this time.
“It hasn’t been great, but we have to accept that. We’re the only ones who can make it better and get more consistent results.”
Celtic have lost to Hearts and Kilmarnock, as well as drawing with St Mirren in the league and Rodgers believes his side must find ways to break down opponents.
The former Liverpool and Swansea City boss said: “The teams are playing deep. At St Mirren we saw it, even when we had 10 men. You saw Rangers come and sit deep, Kilmarnock did that too.
“It’s up to us, we have to find the answers to that. That’s the job. We have to analyse the game and build the mentality again to win the next game.
“I’d have been disappointed to draw, but to lose is bitterly disappointing. It was a scrappy sort of game, but I still feel we had the better moments and more control.”
Kilmarnock have now gone four games without defeat to Celtic and manager Steve Clarke praised former Parkhead youth player Findlay for playing through the pain barrier.
He said: “I was pleased for Stuart Findlay. He didn’t train all week, but he put his body on the line. He was struggling at half-time but those are some of the rewards the footballing gods give you.
“Stuart had a bang on the knee and it was sore through the week. He got another bang in the first half but we’ve got good character in the squad."