CELTIC captain Callum McGregor didn’t mince his words after the champion’s heaviest derby defeat in two years.
McGregor called her performance “unacceptable” and “poor”.
And he made it clear to his team-mates that their reaction is all that matters now, with three league games left and a chance of clinching the treble in the Scottish Cup final on 3 June.
It was Celtic’s first loss to Rangers since Scottish Cup semi-final defeat in April 2022 — and the abrupt end to their six-game unbeaten streak against their bitter rivals hurt badly.
Regardless of how many derbies saw it as meaningless, McGregor insisted ALL counted.
The midfielder, who received a second-half yellow card, was blunt: “We were MILES away from our usual level.
“And that’s what happens, you lose that kind of game because you’re not quite there in the races.
“You give yourself a lot to do. I think they scored at good times in the game, which kind of took the game away from us.
“But we have to take our medicine and accept that we were poor and didn’t deserve anything from the game.
“So we have to accept that.
“We just didn’t perform.
“We weren’t quite at the level we normally are and when you play like that and give performances like that, you don’t expect anything from the game.”
“I think home field advantage always plays a role in this game. They score early, it gives them a boost, it gives the audience a boost.
“You’re making it difficult for yourself.
“Sometimes we were able to catch up. But today we just weren’t up to par.
“I don’t think there’s much more to say other than that we had a bad day.
“We haven’t reached the level that we normally reach and this is the consequence of that.”
Celtic won back-to-back games in Tynecastle last week – but Ibrox’s 50,000 home crowd proved too many as they stunted in the sunshine.
There were no excuses from a brutally honest McGregor for the opening two challenging games after the split.
He said: “This is football. The fittings are what they are.
“When they are distributed, you have to deal with them.
“We had a tough game last week and managed to get it across the finish line.
“So that’s a good character.
“It doesn’t suddenly make you a bad team. But we had problems in the game.
“We have to realize that we are champions. We’ve been good enough over the course of the season to say we’re champions.
“We had a bad day today and we need to understand what that means for us as a group and for the fans.
“That is not acceptable – and we have to accept that.
“We dust ourselves off and leave. We still have three league games ahead of us and a big cup final.
“And when that’s done, next season we’ll start all over again.
“It’s just a timely reminder of what this game always means, never mind.”
Asked if it was a warning from Rangers that they would come back stronger next season, McGregor said: “That’s what’s expected of them.”
“That’s what the league is, it’s competitive.
“We’re always pushing to get better, they’re always pushing to get better.
“Every team will improve in the summer and we are not immune to that.
“Today you see that you are wrong. If you are not on the same level, this can happen. It’s a timely reminder.
“I think the game was difficult for us. I don’t think we can shy away from it.
“We weren’t on the same level in the game.
“We have to take our medicine. We can’t dress it up or make excuses. We weren’t right today and we have to look at that.
“At every football game, be it positive or negative, you always look at the reaction.
“It’s about the reaction until the end of the season.”
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