CAPTAIN Marvel Callum McGregor cannot be expected to carry Celtic over the title finishing line without the support of more of his team-mates.

Former Hoops centre-back and skipper Alan Stubbs insists the influential onfield leader needs help to get the faltering champions back on track.

The ex-Hibs, Rotherham and St Mirren boss reckons his old side are STILL favourites to lift their twelfth crown in 13 years, despite dropping two points off pole position in a weekend of upheaval.

Stubbs has been through the rollercoaster of championship-chasing campaigns and was part of Wim Jansen’s side that halted Rangers’ bid for a world record 10-in-a-row in season 1997/98.

ONFIELD LEADER…Callum McGregor in control during the Scottish Cup win over St Mirren in Paisley.

The one-time classy centre-back acknowledged Brendan Rodgers’ side are missing the qualities of Cameron Carter-Vickers in the middle of the rearguard and playmaker Reo Hatate in midfield and admitted the current players will have to confront the challenge with 12 league games to go.

Stubbs said: “I could only name three or four of Saturday’s starting eleven where you know what you’ll get. The rest aren’t at the same level of O’Riley, Kyogo, McGregor and, maybe, Maeda.

“The rest are considerably beneath them. I look at this Celtic squad and it’s not reminiscent of squads I’ve seen in the past in terms of title-winning squads. Callum McGregor can’t carry a team. Same with Matt O’Riley and Kyogo.

“They can do it on the odd few occasions, but to do it week in, week out is a huge burden on them. Others need to step up to the plate.

“Callum McGregor, Matt O’Riley and Kyogo are your go-to guys. Daizen Maeda is a good player, but hasn’t been to his previous heights and it seems to be a struggle.

“Carter-Vickers is a huge loss and has been a major burden defensively and they have been found wanting in terms of strength and depth.

IT TAKES TWO…Matt O’Riley leads the way on this occasion for skipper Callum McGregor in the 1-1 draw with Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

“They have an eleven on the day who are as good, if not better than Rangers, but when you look into the reserves, that would be the reason – if they do – lose the league this season.”

Stubbs, speaking to PLZ Soccer, continued: “I only have to look back on what I think is their their inactivity in January in terms of really trying to strengthen this squad. We find ourselves in a position where a lot of fans and pundits are looking and saying: ‘We saw this coming’.

“Brendan Rodgers has the ability to turn it around. He’s still a very good manager and he’ll never come out and say it, but a lot of the players might not be there this summer because, if he’s still there and wants to build, then there will be a lot of discussions.

“But when you have players who are under contract it’s difficult to move on. It’s a testing time and his experience is needed so much right now with these players.

“If Celtic have their best eleven on the pitch then it’s a different story, but they have to go with what they’ve got. Just look at their bench from Saturday – Oh, Kuhn, Bernardo, Bernabei – and I’m not sure whether they are players who can take them to next level.

“I’ve been perplexed with some of the signings and this could be the bit that bites them on the backside in terms of their recruitment policy over the past 18 months since Ange has gone.

“Mentally, you have to be a very strong individual to play for Celtic because they have dominated domestically apart from the season where Rangers stopped 10-in-a-row.

TARGET MAN…Kyogo Furuhashi is one of Celtic’s “go-to guys”.

“They have had it more or less their own way, but this is when you see whether someone can deal with the pressure of playing for a big club like Celtic or Rangers – when you need to get results.

“Celtic are by far stronger than a lot of the teams, but Rangers are doing to teams what you would expect Celtic to do in terms of winning comfortably. Celtic have been grinding out results and haven’t been convincing.”

Stubbs, who cost a-then Hoops transfer record of £3.5million when he joined from Bolton in the summer of 1996, added: “Brendan is going to have to say that he believes in his squad – and they could still go on and win the league, no doubt about that.

“But Celtic will go into the Old Firm game as underdogs because Rangers have all the momentum right now.

“Do I think this Rangers team is much better than Celtic? I don’t, but what I do think is that this Rangers team has a different style to winning more games.

“Right now, I would still have to go with Celtic, but Rangers will run them really close and I wouldn’t be surprised if they did do it.

“But, because of their experience, I have to go with Celtic.”

Click Here for Comments >

About Author