“We know the pressure and we stand up to it all the time,” Stephen Welsh

Stephen Welsh understands that every team wants to beat Celtic and as a Celtic player he is well aware of the pressure that comes with the job, needing to win every match and the consequences of failing to achieve that lofty target. “We know the pressure and we stand up to it all the time,” Welsh told the mainstream media at the post match media conference on Sunday after the 2-0 win away at St Mirren in the Scottish Cup which takes Celtic through to the quarter finals and a home tie against David Martindale’s Livingston.

David Martindale, Head Coach of Livingston, looks on prior to the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Celtic FC and Livingston FC at on December 21, 2022 (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Welsh was asked if there’s now a siege mentality within the squad as the title race hots up, after last weekend’s draw at Aberdeen, the bookies made theRangers favourites for the title for the first time this season and tomorrow night they could go top on goal difference for the first time since that wonderful night in early February 2022 when under the lights at Celtic Park the Hoops blew them away with a stunning first half showing leading to a 3-0 victory with two goals from Reo Hatate and another from Liel Abada.

The mainstream media hyped this up last Tuesday where it could have happened if theRangers had beaten Aberdeen by a few goals. Their 2-1 win wasn’t enough though so the narrative was that they had drawn level with Celtic.  Yet had the league finished there and then Celtic would have been champions.  So if theRangers get the goals they need tomorrow night to go top the narrative won’t be that they have once again ‘drawn level’ with Celtic on points but will have overtaken them and are now top. Suppose they just look at it the way it suits them and that indeed is why Celtic need a strong Celtic fan media.

And there should be a siege mentality on the Celtic dressing room and indeed within the Celtic support. Welsh answered this perfectly. “We are always strong together. We know that every team wants to beat Celtic and our job is to stop that. Our job is to win games, perform well and win trophies for the club.”

Here’s everything that Stephen Welsh was asked and his clever responses…

Q: Was that a hard-earned win?

Stephen Welsh: “We spoke about it before the game, it is a tough place to go. The last three venues we have been to have been tough but we had to dig in in the first and second half and came out deserved winners.”

Q: Was that as much defending as you have done in any game?

Stephen Welsh: “They are a physical team and they like to put balls in the box. It is very effective for them. We had to deal with and I thought we dealt with it well as a back four and Joe included.”

Q: What about people saying that there are cracks in the team?

Stephen Welsh: “There are no cracks. We are confident in what we do. The gaffer is confident in what we do and we stick together, not just the back four, the midfield three and front three and whoever comes on the pitch. We are together, we are really a united team so we will move forward.”

Q: Is there a sense that you are making up for lost time this season?

Stephen Welsh: “It was a frustrating first few months, I had a bad injury and I was out for four or five months so to get back into the swing of things, that is my first 90 in a while so delighted with a clean sheet as well. Joe had to make a couple of saves but that is what he is there for.”

Q: The manager spoke about a negative narrative around the club. How does that affect you and the younger players?

Stephen Welsh: “We are used to this. Every season the pressure for every Celtic player is huge. We deal with it really well. Especially the last couple of seasons, we have been very successful and it is about us maintaining the standards to be successful again and go and win the trophies that are available to us.”

Q: The boss seems to have some fire in his belly. Have you seen any evidence of that?

Stephen Welsh: “I think we always have a fire in the belly. Every team comes to beat us and our job is to stop them, play our own game and we have done that in the last couple of games. There is always a determination in this group. Not only the quality but the character that we have. We have a lot of experienced players who have won trophies. We won a treble last season so the experience we have in the team is excellent. We are always looking at the next game, we know that is the cliche but that’s what we do. We have a couple of home games to hopefully put in good performances.”

Q: Does it help you to cope with pressure when you have grown up at the club?

Stephen Welsh: “I have been under pressure for 15 years now. Every week you need to go and win. You enjoy it as well, you enjoy the pressure because you need to go and win. A draw or a defeat is a nightmare so yeah, we know the pressure and we stand up to it all the time.”

Q: Do you think teams sense that you are vulnerable?

Stephen Welsh: “I wouldn’t say vulnerable, no. We are so determined. It is like tunnel vision for us, we don’t focus on anything else, we focus on ourselves, how we will play, break teams down and defend. We take every game 100 per cent, and every training session leads up to the next game so for us, it is normal for us to be under that pressure and we always deal with it very well.”

Q: Is there a siege mentality at the club now?

Stephen Welsh: “We are always strong together. We know that every team wants to beat Celtic and our job is to stop that. Our job is to win games, perform well and win trophies for the club.”

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who 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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