Callum McGregor in Celtic back to basics confession

Callum McGregor reckons simplified Celtic are ready to recover from two massive kicks in the teeth.

The playmaker was frustrated to lose to AC Milan straight after a defeat to Rangers five days previously.

However, McGregor insists there were encouraging signs for the champions going forward.

Celtic were much better after the restart against the Italians as they tried to fight back from 2-0 down.

McGregor reckons the group may have hit on something in system with the likes of Ryan Christie, Albian Ajeti and Leigh Griffiths also all getting valuable minutes.

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He said: “Obviously it is disappointing to lose 3-1 at home. Performance wise I thought it was miles better. 

“There was a lot more intensity to our play, the boys pressed the game well, particularly in the second-half. 

“We were right on the front foot. With 15 minutes to go we looked like we were going to get the equaliser. Their third goal, the breakaway one, can happen when you are chasing the game. 

“We won’t think about that too much. We have to take the positives from it. The second-half was a lot, lot better.”

Reverting to back four instigated the revival and McGregor continued: “We probably looked a lot more comfortable. It was a simplified shape if you will. 

“Everybody understands their job, exactly when to press, when not to press. 

“Obviously you have an extra body middle to front so it gives you another line to pass when you are trying to build the game as well. 

“Everybody could see how many times we managed to get through their press in the second-half and into the final third after two or three passes which was excellent. 

“We need to have that flexibility, to change in game from a four to a three. 

“The situation is always changing and your personnel can change from week to week. It is important you have that flexibility with the shape.”

(Image: REUTERS/Russell Cheyne)

McGregor knows the spotlight is on Celtic after back-to-back losses.

Sunday’s trip to Aberdeen in the Premiership is a severe test, while there is a trip to France to face Lille looming four days after Pittodrie in the cut-throat Europa section.

McGregor said: “It seems to be that after every game people are saying Celtic were poor.

“We’ve still pretty much won every game. We had dropped points once and then lost last weekend which was a massive result. Quite rightly, everyone jumps on that.

“But I think we have probably played better than some people think we have.

“When you get big games and big fixtures, it’s maybe better to simplify the games. You go after teams and do the basics well.

“I don’t think we have played particularly bad. We’ve had two bad results in a row and, inevitably, we’ll get scrutiny and we have to deal with that.

“But now we have to kick on. We’ve had the two kicks in the teeth and now we have to really go and show everyone we are together and mean business again.

“You are entitled to be scrutinised when you lose games, especially at his club. 

“The fans are so used to winning. When you lose, everyone says what has happened and looks for things that aren’t there. You can lose games. It’s part of football.

“The flip side is the players have been so good for so long that people don’t expect it.

“We have to take the scrutiny, but we are big enough and bold enough to go and set the record straight. That’s what we are trying to do.

“I think we have lost too many goals. That’s collectively. Whether it be change of shape or boys not running hard enough, that’s what we need to get back to.

“We have to come fighting, come back even harder, running harder, pressing better for the team and, hopefully, go on a run of clean sheets.

“The league’s very tight. It was tight last year leading up to Christmas. 

“When the league is so tight, every dropped point is viewed as being up against it, but the games coming up we have to get maximum points whether it is Europa League or Premiership. We have to go on a run now.”

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