Soccer

Callum McGregor lifted by Celtic reaction to ‘slap round the face’ derby defeat

Callum McGregor has noticed a strong reaction to defeat (PA)
Callum McGregor has noticed a strong reaction to defeat (PA)

Celtic captain Callum McGregor has been encouraged by the reaction of his team-mates to the pain of last weekend’s defeat by Rangers.

A 3-0 loss at Ibrox came after Celtic had already retained the cinch Premiership title and beaten their Glasgow rivals in both cup competitions.

Only Inverness can now stop Celtic winning the treble by clinching the Scottish Cup too, but the overall picture did not stop the derby defeat from hurting.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s visit of St Mirren, McGregor said: “Training has been good the last few days, there has been a bit of a reaction, and back in front of our home supporters, we want to go out and show them that reaction from last weekend and put in a good performance and get maximum points.

“In professional sport, if you don’t take defeats badly, or bad performances badly, then I don’t think you are in the right sport.

“It always has to hurt you, no matter how much success you have had, or how well you have been going.

“Once you get a slap round the face, you have to show a reaction, you have to show personal pride, you have to show pride in the club and the group.

“So that’s been positive. Of course that’s not always the case but I think with this group of players, you can see how much it means to them to represent this football club and we try and do it to the best standard we possibly can every week.

“I didn’t expect anything other than this reaction. It’s been really positive and the boys have been at it this week in training.”

Although the pain was keenly felt, McGregor is keen to regain a positive frame of mind in time for Saturday’s league clash.

“We have a process in place when we win games and we lose games,” the midfielder said. “We come back in and analyse the game in terms of what we can do better and we’re always trying to learn.

“We did that at the start of the week and then very quickly the players were back in a positive mindset looking forward to the game at the weekend.

“A lot of us have been in the game long enough now to know that when things are good and you’re achieving success that you don’t get too carried away with yourself. And, the opposite, when you have a defeat you don’t get too low either because if you start to let these things fester then you’re in a bit of trouble.

“At this point of the season it’s much more important for us to be looking at the positives. We have got two trophies in the bag and we are playing for a third one after next week so there’s only positives to speak about within this group of players just now.”

The game offers Celtic supporters the chance to acclaim their title heroes four weeks after their previous home match.

“It’s been a few weeks since we have been there and it’s great to go back as champions,” McGregor said.

“That was the mantra when we left the place after the Motherwell game; the next time we get back to the stadium can we be champions?

“The objective has been completed and it will be a great lift for the players to get back in front of the supporters.”

McGregor was speaking after agreeing to become an ambassador for the Celtic FC Foundation, the club’s charity arm, whose 2023 badge will pay tribute to the captain.

On his new role, the 29-year-old said: “It’s hugely important, it’s what the club was built on, and as many people that can get behind that cause and continue to push it and help as many vulnerable people as possible, then that is our role, that’s what we are at this club to do – help people on and off the pitch.

“I’m hugely proud to be part of it and try and push as much support in the way of the Foundation as we possibly can.