Thomas Rogne says Celtic can cope with big occasions

Rogne rebuffs claims Celtic fall apart when the going gets tough

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UPDATED:

23:20 GMT, 27 March 2012

Thomas Rogne has rubbished accusations that Celtic lack the bottle for the big occasions.

The Parkhead defender’s late header added a sheen of respectability to Sunday’s Old Firm defeat for the runaway league leaders.

The 3-2 loss at Ibrox came, however, a week after talk of a domestic treble was shattered by Kilmarnock in the Scottish Communities League Cup Final.

Buried: Thomas Rogne scored against Rangers

Buried: Thomas Rogne scored against Rangers

Allied to the failures of last season — when they won a Scottish Cup — the SPL leaders are now under pressure to secure a league and cup double without further mishap.

Dismissive of the creeping doubts surrounding the team’s mental strength, Rogne said: ‘I think that’s nonsense. We played a lot of big games and won them. We’ve lost two big games now — but that happens.

‘The game we played against Rangers on December 28 was probably an even bigger one than Sunday because we had the same amount of points. And we won that.

‘So we have played big games. We won the Scottish Cup Final last year, which was a big game.

‘Now we have lost two and people are talking about our mentality being bad, but I just think that’s nonsense.’

Reduced to nine men in controversial circumstances, Sunday’s defeat robbed fans of an anticipated Ibrox celebration.

Not today: Rangers refused to bow down to the league leaders

Not today: Rangers refused to bow down to the league leaders

Pointing to a run of 26 games undefeated, however, Rogne believes manager Neil Lennon has already eliminated the mental weakness evident under previous manager Tony Mowbray.

‘We have strong characters in the dressing room,’ said the Norwegian. ‘That’s one of the things the manager wanted to change when he came in. He saw a group which was a bit down and he changed their mentality and character. Now I think we have a very strong dressing room.

‘We were 15 points behind and somehow managed to get to 18 points in front. Something has happened there. You don’t have a weak mentality if you have managed to do that.

‘We want to win every game. We put pressure on ourselves because we think we are good enough to do it.

Pressure: Rogne thinks Celtic can cope with the pressure

Pressure: Rogne thinks Celtic can cope with the pressure

‘We know what our people say about us – and we don’t really care too much about what people on the outside say. The pressure we feel is the pressure we put on ourselves.’

Celtic can win the title this weekend if Rangers drop any points at Motherwell and Rogne believes the Ibrox defeat will soon be forgotten if green and white ribbons are tied around the SPL trophy for the first time in four years.

‘If we win the league, that’s all that matters. Sometimes you lose games in football.

‘We conceded a late goal in the cup final and that’s part of the game. Against Rangers, it was a bit of a strange game and that’s what happens really.

‘I hope we haven’t subconsciously switched off. I don’t think we have. We just want to get back to winning ways and look forward again.

‘There has been a lot of talk about the title and the Treble and winning at Ibrox and all this stuff. But what we want to do is win the next game – and what happens, happens.’