BRENDAN Rodgers believes our referees have to be better but that doesn’t mean he’s bitter.

Conspiracy theories, innuendo and club statements are not for the Celtic manager. He simply isn’t interested in what he perceives as to be a waste of time.

Rodgers twice said yesterday that John Beaton’s performance at Ibrox was not why his team lost to Rangers for the first time since he strolled into town. Although that didn’t mean he allowed the referee’s performance to pass without criticism.

Alas, we live in a time when, and it was ever thus, a section of Celtic supporters see bias where in fact incompetence is to blame when it comes to officials during and after a match, especially when their team lose to Rangers.

Rodgers, thankfully, is level-headed and not interested in adding to the noise surrounding Beaton whose family has had to deal with death threats which, not matter how serious or otherwise, is shameful.

The defeat at Ibrox was far worse than any other result for Rodgers's Celtic, including any heavy Champions League defeat.

And almost three weeks on all he cares about is the fact his team didn't play well.

“I’ve got to be honest, I came out to Dubai the day after the Rangers game,” said Rodgers but then added: “I’m fully aware without reading anything or seeing anything of what happened. My only interest is on the field, really. That’s what I can affect.

“When you lose those types of games, and we haven’t had that feeling before, it is difficult. However, the difference for us on the day was our players of quality. The players we missed like Tom Rogic, Kieran Tierney and Odsonne Edouard starting; players of quality who can make the difference.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t quite have that on the day.

“So, yeah, I’ve seen pictures of stamps, all sorts of stuff. I’ll have a look when I go back but it wasn’t the reason we lost the game. We didn’t score. I tend to not get too carried with the emotional words around it all and focus on the field and ensuring the team stays focused on what we want to do.”

Beaton did annoy Rodgers, that has to be said.

“He (Beaton) wasn’t very good on the day, but that can happen to anyone,” said the Celtic manager. “There’s no doubt that John, for me, was affected by the game. But that’s not the reason we lost.

“I’ve said it before, the standard has to be better and that’s a constant, it’s not just on that game.

“We need to improve the standards in lots of areas and that is certainly one of them. Again, I haven’t seen or read so much about it, to be honest.

“It’s something I wouldn’t get side-tracked on. Refereeing is always an issue where you want to have the best officials and I think the referees do their very best in the games, but we always want to improve standards across the league.”

This was the first time Rodgers had spoken since December 29. He and his family left for Dubai the next day and so there was lot for him to talk about during this sit-down in his favourite hotel in the city.

Celtic are top of the Premiership, are still in Europe and have the League Cup tied up for the third season in a row.

But so much talk is about a title race, which involves more teams than Rangers, and Rodgers knows, and might even have suspected after the summer, that his Celtic are not going to get it all their own way.

Rodgers said: “I don’t really focus on that side of it. I look at us. I look at how we came out of the summer and if you’d said to me we’d be top of the league with a game in hand having won the cup and qualified for the last 32 of the Europa League with what we had available, I’d have taken that.

“Our home record has been brilliant in terms of matches played. Away from home, we’ve suffered a drip and that’s something I need to look at. It’s the reason we are doing what we are and why we are away; to find different solutions to one or two things away from home which haven’t happened to us in the past couple of years.

“But you have to concentrate on the positive side.

“The league is competitive. I’d like to think the standard we have set over the past couple of years has increased the standard of the other teams and qualities, which is absolutely brilliant for the league.

“It’s also a sign for us as a club that we need to keep improving and developing as a club as well.”

Rodgers made his third signing of the January transfer window with the arrival of Vakoun Issouf Bayo, who has joined Celtic on a four-year deal from Slovakian side, Dunajska Streda.

The 21-year-old Ivory Coast striker has scored 18 goals in 23 games so far this season and the Celtic manager was happy with this piece of business.

Rodgers said: "He’s a good signing and it’s another forward player for us, which increases our options on the front-line for the second part of the season.

“He’s a young player that has scored goals, he’s broken into the Ivory Coast national team, Kolo knows him well, and he’s a player we can develop. I’m looking forward to working with him.

“We’re a team that plays an aggressive and attacking game, and I felt that was an area that we were short in, in terms of our options. Bringing Oliver and Timothy (Weah) in will strengthen in central and wide areas, and bringing Vakoun in as well gives us a physicality, as well as a presence and speed.

"This allows us more options in terms of the systems that we play. The style will always be the same, but it increases the way in which we can play.”