Callum McGregor makes unflinching Celtic transfer demand for quality signings as skipper seeks ‘next Jota’

The Celtic skipper came off the pitch with a heavy heart as his side lost to Hearts.


Hurting Callum McGregor poured over the wreckage of Celtic’s 2-0 home defeat to Hearts and dubbed it one of the hardest days of his Celtic career.
Now the Hoops skipper has pleaded with the Parkhead board – who came under attack from brassed-off punters – to help Brendan Rodgers bring in the quality required in January to rescue their faltering title defence.
Back-to-back defeats for the first time since March 2013 mean Rangers could now overtake the champions with a victory at Parkhead when the two collide on Old Firm derby day in a fortnight.
That prospect is barely worth thinking about for McGregor or any of his team mates just a few weeks after cruising eight points clear at the top.
Rodgers hasn’t hidden his desire to bring in more quality – with only one of nine summer signings deemed good enough to start yesterday’s defeat to the excellent Jambos.
And crestfallen McGregor accused some of his team mates of “disrespecting” the hard parts of the game as they followed up last week’s defeat at Killie with another Premiership horror show.
He said: “It’s now time to show why you are a Celtic player and who is capable of being a Celtic player.
We speak about this all the time, it’s never plain sailing.
We start the season well and we probably go seven, eight points clear. Everyone thinks the league’s wrapped up – but look where we’re sitting now.
So, it tells you that it’s difficult and it’s not easy.
And there’s bits in a season where you have to deal with disappointment and you have to deal with it quickly before it starts to fester.
So I sit here in what’s probably one of the hardest days of my career as a Celtic player to come off and get beat here.
That always hurts. It’s not happened to me too many times here. So, we will fix it.
“Now we have to show why we’re Celtic players and why we have the privilege and responsibility to play for this club. The last three weeks have not been good enough.
We’re fortunate that it’s December, there’s still a lot of football to be played.
We’ve got a transfer window that can help the group and I’m almost certain that needs to be a big window to help us. We need players to help the squad.
I’m not talking specifics, I’m talking quality coming through the door.
That can be in any position, it’s the manager and those guys job to do that.
But like I said, I think we need bodies and we need quality to come in and help us. Every season when we look at it, we want to be better.
We come back in off wining a treble, how do we get better? You have to freshen up the place.
You lose five or six big players from last season, so you then have to go and replace that if you want to keep on being successful.
“You have to find a way to rejuvenate the team and find the next Jota, find the next crop of players that are going to go and make you successful.
So, that’s a target for the club all the time and they are always looking.
“Like I said, we’re missing the quality from last season and so we need to add to that. I think that’s obvious.”
Hoops fans launched a blistering attack on the board and chairman Peter Lawwell midway through the second half as they sensed the title pendulum swinging towards Ibrox..
And McGregor said: “Listen, football’s anxious and especially when you have such a big rivalry.
They are desperate to win, both clubs are desperate to win.
So, naturally, when one side’s doing well and on the up then of course the other set of supporters are going to get anxious.
“I said that in the changing room at half time – of course they’re going to be anxious, they want to win.
So, we have to deal with that – it’s our job, it’s our responsibility to deal with that pressure. It’s why you play at Celtic.
“So, now you have to stand up and realise there’s a challenge. But who wants it to be easy? You want it to be a challenge.
Anything you earn in football you have to really earn it. Now we have to show why we have the responsibility to play for Celtic.”
Asked why the levels have dropped so badly recently McGregor continued: “We don’t start the game properly and its probably been a recurring theme for a while.
It’s mentality and we disrespect parts of the game that other teams live on when they play against us.
We’re giving ourselves a mountain to climb at the minute.
We did it two weeks ago at St Johnstone, we managed to salvage the situation that day.
But you can’t keep putting yourselves in that position.
That’s the reality if you want to go and win this league.
“So we need to address that and we need to address it quickly
We have to get back to basics and doing everything in the game, not just the parts we enjoy because the parts we enjoy only come if we;’re doing the hard bits and the gritty bits of the game.
“It’s a lesson again. And we can’t keep sitting here saying we need to learn lessons – we can go and beat Feyenoord during the week, yet here we don’t start the game properly.
“That’s the disappointing thing and it’s something we have to fix. We’re in a position where fortunately we can fix it.”

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