BRENDAN Rodgers is not fooled by big numbers but the Celtic manager does have one figure in mind which would represent the perfect payback for his team’s remarkable season. It’s 50.

That is the points margin which Rodgers would like to see Celtic hold when they finally lift the Ladbrokes Premiership trophy. With a 27-point lead over Aberdeen and Rangers accumulated after just 24 games, nothing is out reach for the

champions as they close in on a sixth successive title.

With 23 victories and one draw, Rodgers’ side return to league business on Saturday at home to Motherwell. Mark McGhee’s team pushed Celtic more than any other, leading twice before losing 4-3 after a 94th-minute winner by Tom Rogic at Fir Park in December.

Such dominance earns only scorn for Celtic in countries such as England, but that does not trouble Rodgers who sees an intrinsic sense of worth in Scottish football – and the clubs he competes against – compared to the wealth Rodgers says has “distorted” the English game.

Celtic’s motivation comes from within Rodgers’ side, as they proved last weekend at St Johnstone by turning a 2-1 deficit into a 5-2 victory on the same McDiarmid Park pitch where Ronny Deila’s side lost last May.

“What I have tried to do since I came in here is raise the standard on every level,” Rodgers said. “I am not saying there were never good standards. Ronny did a really good job, and you had good players here and Celtic over the last five seasons have won the league.

“We’ve tried to raise the bar. To win in the best possible way. So, you can save money and win by 10 points? Or can you spend money and win by 30? Well, I want to win by 50, if I can. I want to keep pushing the bar and keep it being the best we can be on and off the field.

“There are many things to achieve here. Lots. That’s the drive, not just to settle for something. No, it’s to be the best you can be. I said it on the first day to the players and I’ve spoken to them again. It’s about standards.

“Celtic are a winning club. But there are two ways to win. Either you just do enough and win or you do everything you can to win the very best way. My only way is to win in the best possible way. Entertain the supporters, make people enjoy it, make the players enjoy their work and win as often as you can.

“We’ve actually got really good competition in Scotland. There’s some very good coaches here in the leagues. We’ve been at a level which has been consistently really good.

“Clubs up here are not handed money. You have to earn every single penny, whether you are at Inverness, Partick or Celtic. Obviously down south, the television revenue for finishing bottom is about £100 million.

“It’s really refreshing up here. There is a real humility in the club. Everybody wants the club to succeed, so everyone is doing that extra bit, they do that little bit more.”

Rodgers has helped to create Celtic’s impressive new six-month figures posted last week – a £61.2m turnover and £19m profit – by reaching the Champions League group stage, and inspiring an upturn in season tickets. However, the Northern Irishman is wary of being seduced by numbers because that undoubtedly prompted Liverpool’s American owners to jettison him as manager in October, 2015.

Now, it turns out that Rodgers’ successor, Jurgen Klopp, has an identical record after 54 games as Anfield manager.

“When money comes into football it always distorts reality,” Rodgers said. “It’s a wonderful league, the EPL, but when you come away and look at it from afar and look at the development of young players, it’s tough. Over 70 per cent of EPL players are foreign and it’s also difficult for homegrown coaches.

“Homegrown managers will never get that sort of recognition. If we provide any sort of tactical innovation, we’ve stumbled on to it. They think you could not have studied the game or been an innovator. We are brought up in Britain to show humility, not to be brash – but then we don’t get called charismatic.”

Rodgers does not even think that someone like Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe replacing Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, would change attitudes.

“I don’t think so,” he replies. “I was ‘the one’ who went to Liverpool. It [change] is the narrative of football now. Look at Jurgen. You’re brilliant, then all of a sudden you lose and you’re not. Pep Guardiola spends his time doing well in Spain and Germany.

Then he comes here and supposedly doesn’t know what he’s doing. Sometimes there’s a blip and things don’t quite work out right. You can’t just still be good. It seems you’re now either very good or very bad.”

Another of Rodgers’ colleagues at Liverpool, chief executive Ian Ayre, is also leaving the club this week. How does Celtic’s chief executive, Peter Lawwell, compare with Ayre?

“My most successful periods as a manager, at Watford and Swansea, have been when I have had close rel-ations with chief executives, and not too many ‘inbetweeners’,” he said.

“At Liverpool, I had a great relationship with Ian, who’s very good at what he does, that was diluted because there were so many involved. That is sometimes an issue at a big club. I come here and it is simple. I do the football. Peter looks after the rest and is very good at it.”