WITH the clock ticking down all too quickly against St Johnstone, did you notice the selfless lung-bursting 50-yard sprint from Callum McGregor to recover the ball and attempt to set another Celtic attack in motion?

In the fading moments, opposition keeper Dimitar Mitov rose to a right-wing corner-kick from Matt O’Riley to get both fists to the swirling ball to propel it to safety.

At that stage, McGregor was on the Saints’ 18-yard line. The clearance headed for the Perth club’s substitute Cameron MacPherson who had entered the action in the 84th minute.

COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF…Callum McGregor is striving to lead from the front yet again.

The opposition player had a solid six yards’ start on the Hoops skipper, but such is the never-say-die attitude of the team’s onfield leader that he caught up with his rival, six years his junior and the possessor of fresh legs, and won the ball back.

McGregor knocked a pass inside, took the return and laserbeamed straight towards enemy territory in a valiant, if ultimately vain, attempt to prevent the champions for allowing two points to escape in the third Premiership game of the season.

It was also coming on the back of a fairly dire offering from the holders as they stumbled out of the Viaplay League Cup at Kilmarnock the previous weekend.

No-one can deny Celtic have failed to inspire with their overall performances in this campaign. The skipper is among a posse of players who have yet to replicate the form of recent times. The burden of responsibility is undoubtedly weighing heavily on McGregor.

He will continue to stand up to be counted, but there is no getting away from the fact this is a shadow of a team who could often take your breath away with their motivational, creative and innovative play.

ROARING SUCCESS…Callum McGregor has won five out of six domestic honours since taking over as Celtic captain.

What has happened to the enterprising virtuosity of a collection of players that decimated opposition on their way to collecting five out of six domestic honours over the past two years?

Okay, we are missing the x-factor of Filipe Jota, utterly mesmerising when the mood struck him, and we have a new manager in Brendan Rodgers with a fresh system. We accept all that, but it doesn’t excuse players failing to pick out someone wearing the same strip with ill-judged passes from a range of 20 yards or so.

How can you legislate for the same player continually throwing the ball to Aberdeen opposition at a Celtic shy? That’s got nothing to do with missing team-mates, a returning gaffer or an alternative playing structure.

Simply put, it’s lazy, sloppy and not good enough for Celtic.

McGregor has toiled to cajole and encourage his team-mates to raise their game to the anticipated level.

HAPPY DAZE…Callum McGregor with the Scottish Cup as Celtic make world history with an eighth domestic treble.

He has struggled to exhibit consistently the enterprising skills that have been so evident and so rousing in six of the last seven years.

It is not through the lack of endeavour from a committed individual, that’s not in dispute.

I admit I feel for him sometimes. As McGregor covers the acres every match day, I get the impression he is a conductor in search of an orchestra.

He looks like a commander in desperate need of a response from his colleagues.

The jigsaw will click into place some day.

Tomorrow at Ibrox, in front of a tough audience, would be a good day for the band to turn up.

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