McGregor with the most revealing words of the weekend – “Internally we have to sort a few things”

Callum McGregor alongside captain Scott Brown and young Hoops prospect Stephen Welsh are perhaps the only three Celtic players who can walk into Lennoxtown this morning with their heads unbowed after what was a shambolic, gutless and entirely unacceptable Celtic performance against a Rangers side.

I’ve been going to these games regularly since 1977 and have seen us thrashed 5-1, 4-0 and other horrible scorelines, several 3-0s too but no performance was as abject, so awful as that on Saturday. The Not the View fanzine used to run a feature called ‘They Embarrassed the Hoops” and that Celtic team certainly did just that on Saturday.

Defeat we can accept, the towel thrown in like that, the complete lack of both urgency or fight, that is totally unacceptable.

Look, we have won so many trophies consecutively and nine titles in a row, while the rest of Scottish football has had to stand aside and watch. That is going to come to an end sooner or later but when it happens we’d expect a Celtic side to go down fighting.

“When you lose a derby game there are questions asked and we have to face up to that,” Callum McGregor told the media after the shambles on Saturday, as reported by Glasgow Times. “We did it in December and kicked on from there. So, we have to take that experience and learn from this defeat and go on a run.

“We have to take confidence from what happened last time. After losing we went on a great run after the new year. But I’m standing here disappointed right now and there’s no getting away from that. It’s a game we’ve lost at home to our biggest rivals and we can’t hide away from that. We know how bad a result it is.

“We have to take heart from the fact that we were without key players and see how there are still two thirds of the season to go. We have plenty of time to claw it back.

“The fans will be frustrated and as players we’re hugely disappointed. They have every right to point fingers and we have to accept that because in these games the bigger picture is never seen. There will be a massive reaction and we have to deal with that.

“What I would say is that we have to stay calm and we have to stay together. The sooner we can get (the fans) back into the stadiums too, the better, as they are a massive help to us. We have to keep the faith, trust the team and trust the manager and what we’re doing.

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“We have been here a load of times before and have a load of experience. We are by no means out of it. We have guys in the changing room who have just lost their first derby and it’s a horrific experience. For the rest of us, it’s that same feeling.

“It’s up to the experienced boys, manager and backroom staff to get around them and stick together,” McGregor added. “We all have to accept the responsibility when we don’t play well.

“Internally we have to sort a few things and then we kick on. We really need to put our foot to the floor and the good thing is we have a massive game on Thursday to get up and running again. Then a big run of fixtures.

“These games are massive, but they probably don’t define the title for you. We just need to draw on our experience and hopefully by the end of the season we’re standing with another title.”

The empty stands at Celtic Park for a game against any Rangers club was totally unique and was always going wipe out the home advantage that exists in these games when the home support can play a huge role in unsettling the visitors.

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“It probably made them feel as little bit more comfortable than what it would have been,” McGregor admitted. “But that’s the situation we’re in and it’s no excuse. We can’t look at that as we have to perform better on the pitch.

“When you lose an early goal, it sets you back in a big game. We spoke about our game plan and in the first 15 minutes we wanted to turn them and play in their half. If you don’t start these games well it can really hurt you.

“With the experience we have, if we don’t start well and go behind, it can be really difficult to get going again. So, I’d say that had an impact.

“They set up their game-plan and they carried it out well to win the game. For us, we have to be more on the front foot when it comes to these games. We’re a little bit in-between at the minute, albeit we were missing a lot of key players.”

Those internal things that need sorting should be getting dealt with right now.  Ten-in-a-Row depends on it.

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email

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