BRENDAN Rodgers has admitted he and Steven Gerrard can never be proper friends as long as they work on either side of the Glasgow divide.
The former manager and captain of Liverpool met in Dubai last week because they were staying in the same hotel and enjoyed several conversations.
The two are close but as Gordon Strachan and Alex McLeish found out, the Old Firm divide means the managers of Celtic and Rangers can be at best be respectful of one another.
Rodgers said: “I introduced the Liverpool boys to the hotel in Dubai, like I’ve done with the Celtic boys. They tend to like it. We [Gerrard and he] had a nice wee chat a few times.
“It’s different now. It’s hard to have the relationship we had before when we’re now direct rivals. That always makes it difficult and it will probably remain like that until one or both of us move on from these roles. It’s hard for it to be the same as it was at Liverpool. But the respect is always there, for any manager, because it’s a tough job.
“When you manage a big club, there’s always pressure. So I’ll always respect that and I respect his work at Rangers.
“We’re in such unique positions. If we were at different clubs there would probably be a lot more communication. But I have to respect the job he has there and the one I have here.
“Maybe at some point in the future, the dynamic will change again. In the meantime, you have to focus on your own club.”
Rodgers was full of praise for the job his former skipper has done and he is relishing the challenge over the second part of the season.
“He’s a former player who was great for me,” he said. “He’s done a very good job there and he’s brought in good players. They’re up there on merit and it’s up to us to continue with our good work.
“After the summer we had, if we could have had the position we’re in and Europa qualification – albeit with areas we need to improve on like away from home – I’d have taken that. It sets us up for a period of the season we know well.”