IF anyone knows about divisions in the Celtic support, given he created a rather large one himself, it is Brendan Rodgers. There are those within it who, he acknowledges, still won’t have forgiven him for the manner or the timing of his departure from the club first time around. And may never do so.

So, he has been well placed to counsel his winger Liel Abada over the last couple of fraught weeks, with the Israeli’s worries about what is going on in his homeland compounded somewhat by his concerns over his future relationship with his club’s famously pro-Palestine supporter base.

A dinner at Loch Lomond helped the Celtic manager to understand what his player was going through, and his own difficulties in overcoming strains in his relationship with a section of the Celtic support allowed him to offer advice drawn from his own experience.

“I gave my own example,” Rodgers said. “You sometimes have to override that.

“Obviously, a group of supporters did want me here, but that was never going to stop me coming back.

“My love of the club…I came back here for Celtic, and I wanted to do well for Celtic and create a legacy that is greater than what it was in my first time here. So sometimes you have to override that.

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“You never want any relationship to be toxic. It doesn’t work. You want to minimise the enemies you have in your life whether it is football or life, in general.

“But take the opportunity to build those relationships is how I would always do it, by trying to do the right things.

“So, for him, it’s just a case of it’s clearly not nice, it’s clearly not nice. But we’ll look after him and talk to him and support him from there.”

The attitude that Abada must adopt, says Rodgers, is similar to his own, in that he embraces the Celtic supporters no matter their opinions on him, and tries to unite them behind the common cause of the football team.

Whether Rodgers has won many - or any - of his previous critics over after a positive start to his second stint on charge is neither here nor there.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Don’t think so, but it doesn’t bother me really. I don’t lie awake at night worrying about it.

“I knew what I was coming to. Hopefully, as I said, I always think as a coach or a manager, you will always have your critics, no matter how well you have done.

“When I was here the first time, I’m pretty sure in the first year when we won the Invincible Treble, I would have had critics that year.

“It’s the beauty of experience. It doesn’t really matter. You focus on what does matter and that’s I know the vast majority of Celtic supporters, we can work together. The ones that we can’t, we’ll try and change their minds.”

It must have been something of a relief to Rodgers when the conversation turned back to football, and the challenge posed by both the venue and the opposition when he leads his team to Tynecastle to take on Hearts on Sunday.

He has been fulsome in his praise of the stadium despite the recent wrangles over away ticketing arrangements, though he couldn’t resist dredging up an old dig from the infamous ‘Grassgate’ dispute of the past, albeit with something of a twinkle in his eye.

“It wasn’t a great pitch one day I was there,” he said. “It was a bit long…

“But it’s one of the great stadiums up here. There’s notoriously a very good atmosphere and there’s a very good rivalry between Celtic and Hearts.

“Of course, their results have picked up recently. We know we are going to have to go there and work hard. I’ve won games there, I’ve lost there, but the focus is to go there and perform to our level and if we do that we’ve got a great chance of winning.”

The game in the capital is the first of seven in a 21-day stretch for Celtic, at the end of which, Rodgers is hoping that the course of their season on fronts domestic and continental will be set fair.

“After this international break you look at the fixtures and the close proximity of them all through to November and it’s quite tight,” he said. “But it’s exciting.

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“They are getting used to my way. In the last spell of games there the performances were getting better, and the Kilmarnock game was more like the intensity and the speed we would want.

“We are in a good place, but we can never be complacent. There’s still a lot of improvement we can make.

“There was a wee bit of drama earlier on [this season], I’m led to believe. But experience says you have to win games, and everything settles.

“Coming back into the players to work with them, it was always going to take a little bit of time in terms of how I want a few aspects of their game to improve, and we have players out that make the football look different.

“But they are starting to come back now, and players are starting to understand their roles. They are a lot clearer on what they are being asked to do, so the football looks clearer.”