Brendan Rodgers admitted he regrets the “hurt” he caused Celtic supporters when he walked out for Leicester as he “guaranteed” he will see out the duration of his three-year contract this time round – unless he is sacked first.
The Northern Irishman returned to take charge of the Parkhead club on Monday, almost four and a half years after leaving for the Foxes in a move that sparked a backlash from a significant number of Hoops fans who felt betrayed that he left midway through a season when the team were chasing a treble-treble.
While many supporters have accepted Rodgers’ return to the club, the manager is hopeful he can win over those who still hold lingering resentment.
“Listen, I understand how supporters would feel,” he said as he faced the media at Parkhead on Friday for the first time since his appointment.
“It was an emotional time, the club was going for 10 in a row and there was a lot of emotion around.
“For the people I’ve had lots of support from since I left and now that I’ve come back, I really thank them for that. And for the people that maybe don’t want me here, hopefully I can shift their opinion with the football we play and the success we can have.”
Rodgers insists he has no regrets about taking the Leicester job but he is pleased to have an opportunity to try to make amends with the Hoops fans.
“I hope I can still have (a good relationship with the supporters),” he said. “It’s natural that when I left, it was a sad moment.
“I certainly don’t regret it but what I do regret is the hurt it caused people. And that’s the very reason I’m sat here today.
“As a Celtic supporter, I understood what it meant, and probably even more so when I left. That was my regret, that I hurt people who were Celtic supporters, and that was a big part of coming back.”
Rodgers’ previous Celtic reign lasted just over two and a half years. Asked if he envisages himself remaining for the long haul on this occasion, he said: “Well, hopefully. I signed for three years and I guarantee I will be here for three years unless I get emptied before that, as they say up here!
“That will be the plan. Then we can look at it from there.”