CALLUM McGREGOR accepted Celtic were “poor” in the 1-1 deadlock with Kilmarnock, but insisted no-one at the champions will be pressing any panic buttons.
The Hoops got caught up in a whirlwind of errors to shed two points, but the Scotland international midfielder was quick to acknowledge it was only the second Premiership outing of the season.
Killie, as expected, made it extremely difficult for the visitors to beathe on their narrow plastic pitch and Neil Lennon’s men just could not find a way through a packed defence to score from open play.
It took a magnificent long-range free-kick from Ryan Christie to prise open the stubborn backline in the 11th minute.
Unfortunately, a dreadful judgement call from Christopher Jullien against the rampaging Nicke Kabamba delivered a penalty-kick to KIllie in the 24th minute and Chris Burke left new Bhoy Vasilis Barkas totally helpless with an inch-perfect delivery low into the Greek’s keeper’s left-hand corner.
As the home boss Alex Dyer said afterwards in his interview with Sky Sports News, his team “saw out” the remainder of the contest – all SIXTY-SIX minutes of it!
Jullien’s rush of blood allowed the opponents to retreat back into their shell and revert to Plan A which was to slow down play, waste as many minutes at free-kicks, throw-ins, goal-kicks, substitutions and suchlike to run down as many minutes while contributing zilch to the entertainment value of the so-called spectacle.
McGregor, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “There’s a lot of football to be played. That doesn’t detract from us being poor. We understand that and we take responsibility for that as a group. We apologise to the fans for dropping the points, but the message is to stay calm.
“On another day, you nick it and everything is rosy in the garden, but it was one of those days and you have to take the criticism and move on.
“If you get too excited one way or the other then it can always change quickly.”
Asked if it was important not to overthink things in the wake of the stalemate, McGregpr answered: “I think so. You can easily get bogged down and start picking too many holes.
“We know where we went wrong, the final pass and the wee bit of quality was missing and we never defended properly, but we need to stay positive.
“There’s a lot of football to be played. It was frustrating, of course. It’s the second game in and we’ve dropped points and given ourselves some work to do.
“Performance-wise, it wasn’t good enough from us, but we get a point, we need to take it and move on.
“We certainly have to learn from it. There were probably spells in the game where we were dominant in terms of possession and pinning them in, but probably just that final bit of quality was missing.
“We just never managed to get the goal.
“It’s something we’ll look at as a group and go again. It’s disappointing but we’ve got to pick ourselves up.
“You get days like that where it doesn’t quite go in for you. You’ve then got to keep the back door shut and that gives you half a chance.
“We’re disappointed just now and we know we’ve let ourselves down, but we’ll look at it and go again for Wednesday.”
McGregor commented: “It’s a team game, everybody takes responsibility for the performances and results. And when they don’t go the way we want them, then we look at both ends of the pitch and see where we can do better.
“We’ll sit down and speak about it as a group.”
McGregor and Co now take on St Mirren in Paisley in midweek with a 6pm kick-off and the anchorman welcomes the opportunity to get straight back into action.
He added: “We’ll try to get maximum points and that’s something that’s good about football. You always get the chance to rectify it pretty quickly.
“We take stock and look where we can be better and we have to show a reaction.
“There’s obviously been a big break. You can look at pre-season and the fitness work has been excellent, but you don’t quite get that match sharpness until you go into the games and find that extra wee bit.
“It’s early, but we always put ourselves under pressure to perform well and win every game, so when it doesn’t happen we look at it and try to rectify it for the next game.
“We pick ourselves up and we go again.”