‘They’ve embraced everything the club stands for,” John Kennedy

John Kennedy yesterday explained that it was business as usual at Lennoxtown this week with the team receiving feedback on the previous game from the coaching staff before putting it to bed and the focus turning to this afternoon’s match at Celtic Park against St Mirren.

And the Celtic Assistant Manager was keen to state that the coaches were not overly critical towards the players despite a disappointing performance in the Dead Rubber Bragging Rights Showdown in Govan.

“No, I think we weren’t overly critical. I think we just analysed the game as we normally would.

“It was obviously a disappointing performance from us. Firstly, the result wasn’t what we wanted, but more importantly the performance.

“We never quite reached the levels we expected, and we know that we can reach. That was probably the most disappointing thing.

“Over the course of the season, we can’t criticise the group or the squad as they have done terrific things and have been very consistent and put themselves in a great position now where we already have two trophies already and are in the cup final, John Kennedy noted.

“They’ve been a great group; they’ve worked really hard this year and they deserve all the praise they’ve received. Again, we have set very high standards at this club. The manager sets them every week and there were certainly some things to look at come Monday morning.”

Asked if the fact that Celtic have got the Scottish Cup final coming up makes it easier to reset and refocus, Kennedy could accept there’s a little bit in that.

“Yeah, there’s always that drive. Players are always stimulated by playing for the club and every game you go out, you want to perform.

“At the end of the day, they are competitors when the competition is there. There is always that motivation.

“So the fact we have the final still to go, it gives us that stimulus right through to the end of the season.

“We’re not just playing games and looking to finish. We want to finish as strong as we can and it’s important to get the right form and the right condition and put ourselves in the right place going into a cup final because, again, on the day you have to put in a performance that merits the win. So, we’ll be fully prepared for that, I’m sure.

Asked if it is difficult to stop the players from adopting the kind of going-through-the-motions mentality until you get to the cup final, the Celtic Assistant Manager dismissed that notion entirely.

“No, that comes from us as well. We go out and drive the standards. We set the training up. We’re the ones who prepare the players for all the games and we get them in the right condition and get them to a kind of peak performance to go out there and perform on a weekend or whatever it might be.

“We wouldn’t allow that and the manager’s got very high standards in that respect. He savours every game we have, every moment we have as a football player, or a part of a coaching team and we’ve got to maximise every opportunity we get.

“We were obviously disappointed last week but we’ve got to look forward to the weekend again and the fact there’s a cup final. There’s always places to play for. Nobody’s guaranteed a spot on the team.

“If somebody is in the team for the next two or three league games and they’re not performing, then someone will be right behind them waiting to take their spot for the cup final.

“Firstly comes the weekend. We have got to put things right and get the performance levels back to what we expect and what we know we can get to. Obviously, next week we’ll work through that and then when the cup final comes along, as I said, we’ll be ready to go again.

On comparisons between this Celtic side and previous sides that John Kennedy has been involved with since Kenny Dalglish gave him his Celtic debut just over 23 years ago, Kennedy gave an interesting answer.

“I think every team’s different in terms of the make up of it and the dynamic of the group and the type of players and personalities they have.

“This is a group of young players and a lot of them have come in from different places. They have maybe not won so much, but they’ve fit right into what the club is about. They’ve embraced everything the club is about, they’ve taken on the challenges and there’s still work to do.

“We can’t sit here and be thinking the treble is around the corner because we’ll still got football to play and we would never get into that kind of mindset.

“We know we have still got to work hard. This week the training has been very intense and the training in the last two days has been of a very high standard and that’s what carries us there and ultimately the hunger of the group and the way they want to work brings consistency and the consistency then brings success over the course of the season.

“That’s what all groups have had a real hunger and desire to win and do well and have high standards and continually churn out results because it’s not easy in terms of going and winning trophies year after year or winning multiple trophies in a season.

“It takes a lot of work from everyone, all the players, the manager who meticulously put this team together and put the squad together and brought them all together for the one cause.

“He’s very good in that respect in terms of giving them a common purpose and goal. He just relentlessly drives it into them every week in terms of what they need to do to achieve big things. They’ve done very well. We are in a good position, and we are in a good place, but we certainly won’t take it for granted, we just need to make sure we go and finish things off.”

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 editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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