CELTIC boss Brendan Rodgers today hit back at claims by Rangers owner Dave King that the Parkhead club have only won two Scottish titles in a row and should be even further ahead of their city rivals.

King grabbed the headlines last week when he suggested that Celtic had failed to take full advantage of the Ibrox club’s four year absence from the top flight of Scottish football.

The South Africa-based businessman also stated that Celtic, who lifted the Ladbrokes Premiership trophy for the sixth season running in May, had no chance of winning a record-breaking 10 consecutive titles.

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The major Rangers shareholder has since stressed that he wasn’t being disrespectful to Rodgers or Celtic when he made his remarks – but he reiterated that in his view they “have got two in a row at this moment in time”.

Rodgers, speaking from Celtic’s pre-season training base just outside Linz in Austria, responded by saying that “people who know football”, including the Rangers players and manager, would wonder what he is talking about.

The Northern Irishman pointed out that there were more than two clubs involved in the Premiership and that Aberdeen, Hearts, St. Johnstone and other clubs had all given his side difficult games during the past year.

The 44-year-old also stated that King shouldn’t get into the reasons for Rangers, who finished 39 adrift of their top flight rivals in the 2016/17 campaign, spending four years in the lower leagues “too deeply”.

Asked if the remarks would provide Celtic with added motivation to do well next season, Rodgers said: “Not for us, no. I don’t need Dave King to motivate me or the players. Our motivation is for Celtic. Like I say, I repeat, we set the standard, no-one else. You have to set your own standards.”

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Rodgers added: “I think that people who know football will probably wonder what he is talking about to be honest. I am sure that nobody more so than the players themselves and the manager. I think it is pretty clear that we tend to try and do our talking on the field. We try to show a respect to every team.

“I am sure that people within football, the Rangers directors, the players themselves, will know where they’re at. They will know that finishing 39 points behind, losing in five of the six games, the work they will have to do to get better. But my focus is on us and how we can get better.

“A lot of things were said. The only thing I would say is that it’s not a two horse race. Aberdeen is a huge club. They have been winning trophies over many years. You have got Hearts, you have got Hibs. Look at the job that Tommy Wright has done at St. Johnstone. It is not just Celtic and Rangers.

“That’s never been the measure. Aberdeen finished second last season. The measure for us is not about Rangers it is about Celtic. For us it is about preparing with respect for the team that we play. That is the balance of the club, the values of how we work and it is how we will always approach it.

“We have had to really work for it. When you have to play Aberdeen six times, Rangers six times, Hearts four times and the other teams as well you have to earn the title and cups.

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“Last year with the level of consistency and performance of the players, and every record possible that they tried to break, which we managed most of, I don’t think you can discredit that. I think football people don’t. I think football people look at it and go ‘okay, you’ve had a great season, let’s see if we can do better to challenge it’.

“I think what you have to offer is you’re starting point for me. I never like to throw any team or club or player to the garbage. You respect them and worry about yourself and worry about doing the best you can for your own club.”

Rodgers added: “You make your noise on the field. That is where you do it for me. You respect your opponent always, you respect the traditions of the club, but you look after your own club and you look after yourself.

“I say to the players if you want to be a champion you have to walk the walk. To be a champion and be in that gold box you have to walk the walk. That is what we had to do. But, listen, owners and chairpeople sometimes see the game differently.”

Asked about King’s suggestions that Celtic had only won two consecutive titles, Rodgers said: “I don’t think you would really want to go into the depths of that argument as to why, if that was his feeling, that it was only two. I don’t think it is something that he would really want to bring up.

“But it doesn’t matter. When you are in a league you want to win the league no matter who the teams are. I don’t think in any way you can forget the good work that the likes of Neil (Lennon) did when he was in or Ronny (Deila) in winning those titles.

“You are in the league to win it whether that Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen, Hibs, Hearts, St. Johnstone, Dundee whoever, every team is competitive and every team can trip you up. It’s not something I really want to make a lot of.”