BRENDAN RODGERS has admitted he didn’t know what to do with Ryan Christie when he first came to the club.
The Celtic manager put him on as a substitute up-front against Motherwell early on and he believed Ryan had the talent but not the physical stature needed to be a success.
Ryan had just come in from Inverness and the Celtic boss knows how much of a step up that can be. Putting the player out on-loan where there’s high pressure and a lot of game time was vital for his development.
However, Rodgers has revealed Celtic put the semi-final hero on weight gain program to build up muscle and ultimately bulk up so he would be able to handle the physical nature of being a footballer at Celtic.
His transformation from when he went out on-loan to now is quite something. It shows a dedication to the club to make a lifestyle and diet change to make sure he had the best chance to make any sort of breakthrough.
Speaking about his Aberdeen loan move, Brendan Rodgers was very positive about it.
‘Ryan went away and had 18 months playing. He played well and still had to develop and grow, but at least he was feeling pressure.
‘Within that period, with the programme we had given him, he went from 64 kilos to 74. That was ten kilos of muscle there, but he can carry that.
‘That helps you with your physicality in the game, it helps him to press the game, it increases his running strength and his power as well as his football ability.
‘But what he probably needed was a big moment in an important game.
‘He’s had those at Aberdeen as well in big games – but Sunday can be a real spark for his confidence.
‘Now you see a boy at 23 who I feel is ready now to really participate. Now it’s about him and what he does on the pitch’
It feels like Christie’s Celtic career properly started at the weekend.
The attacker is nearly coming into the last six months of his Celtic deal and the manager is keen to pin him down on a new contract.
Both parties have been in talks since before the semi-final.