Strachan Exclusive – The Celtic players with responsibility falling on their shoulders

Former Celtic manager Gordon Strachan believes that Brendan Rodgers’ side is now under pressure after Philippe Clement’s theRangers side last night pulled the gap at the top of the Scottish Premiership back to two points, with a game in hand.

David Moyes and Gordon Strachan Photo: Ian Rutherford

While Celtic have lost two league games in a row for the first time since 2013, theRangers have been on a roll. In the SPFL, they have overcome St. Mirren, Hearts, Dundee, and St. Johnstone to reduce the title race to a two-point gap. They also have a game in hand over Celtic which will not be played until after the winter break.

So it is now imperative for Celtic to pick get back to winning ways starting with the match against Livingston at Celtic Park on Saturday afternoon, then against Dundee on Boxing Day at Dens Park before the Glasgow Derby at Celtic Park a week on Saturday. Brendan Rodgers really needs to win all three matches remaining in 2023 and also the first game of the new year away to St Mirren on 2nd January 2024, which is the final game before the winter break.

READ THIS…“The thing about Brendan is, he knew what was coming,” Gordon Strachan

Cameron Carter-Vickers of Celtic is seen at full time during the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Celtic FC and Heart of Midlothian at Celtic Park on December 16, 2023 (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Although Celtic are still in control of the race, Gordon Strachan understandably believes that one set of supporters are more worried than the other.

In an exclusive for The Celtic Star, Gordon Strachan, speaking to BoyleSports who offer the latest Glasgow Derby odds said: “I would say Celtic are the most worried supporters out of the two. It happens that way though, it’s like a baton in Scotland that is perennially swapped between the two sides, and it brings pressure with it when you carry that.

“The stress for the fans perpetuates itself through to the manager and the players.

“Celtic have had two defeats on the trot, the first time since 2013. theRangers fans will be buoyed with confidence at what has happened in this past month. Phillippe Clement has closed the gap on Celtic, that’s for sure and it is a test for the Celtic,” Gordon Strachan admitted.

READ THIS…“O’Riley without a doubt ready for Premier League,” Gordon Strachan

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers is seen at full time during the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Celtic FC and Hearts at Celtic Park on December 16, 2023. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The former Hoops boss who led Celtic to three titles in is four seasons in charge after replacing Martin O’Neill in the summer of 2005, believes that certain Celtic players will need to react to the pressure sooner rather than later and will need to do their best to raise the standard.

“The likes of O’Riley, McGregor, Carter-Vickers and Kyogo have been there and done it, but the responsibility falls on the shoulders of the people around them who have not experienced that yet and need to step out of the shadows.

“A lot depends on your squad players and what they can bring to the table, as opposed to the stalwarts of the team,” Gordon Strachan stated.

Brendan Rodgers knows the importance of the next four games and understands that the mood will change significantly if his side can secure the twelve points and in doing so re-establish a dominant position in the title race which has been washed away over the past few weeks with unacceptable levels of performances for the players. That is ultimately down to the manager and it’s very much on Brendan’s shoulders to sort.

Callum McGregor of Celtic arrives prior tod the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Celtic FC and Heart of Midlothian at Celtic Park Stadium on December 16, 2023. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Meanwhile at Ibrox last night St Johnstone had a player sent off after a VAR intervention early in the game then theRangers go their usual penalty while extending their long run of matches without conceding a penalty, and they remain the only club in a league with VAR in operation not to have conceded a single spot kick. Incredible really.

And in his wider interview used across the media yesterday, Gordon Strachan also stated that he’s quite happy to have no away supporters at Celtic Park for the Glasgow Derby on 30 December and points out that as a result we won’t have to listen to the sectarian songs that they sing.

“It is going to be noisy, aggressive and nasty. Anyone who hasn’t been already, you need to go and see it. It is exhilarating at times but sad at times when you listen to the songs. There are no away supporters this time, which some people think is a bad thing but I actually think it is a positive. We don’t need to give a platform sometimes for the people and we need that nonsense out of the game,” Strachan said.

Gordon Strachan’s first season as Celtic manager (2005-06) is examined by Matt Corr in his brilliant new book which is titled Majic, Stan and the King of Japan and is available from Celtic stores, Waterstones across Scotland and at Calton Books in Glasgow.

There’s also a Kindle version available and we have remaining copies available via Celtic Star Books, but pre-Christmas delivery is no longer possible. It’s a brilliant book, well worth gifting so for all those last minute shoppers…

Jessica Elliott

About Author

I'm a student journalist and Celtic supporter. I'm delighted to have been recently appointed women's football writer for The Celtic Star, where the coverage of the Celtic FC Women's team has been incredible and unrivalled over the past three seasons.

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