Postponements don’t make prizes is the message Callum McGregor appears keen to send out to those sensing the first cracks in Celtic’s supremacy.
The Boli Bolingoli antics that put paid to the ten-in-a-row-chasing champions’ games against St Mirren and Aberdeen mean Rangers can be 11 points ahead of their Glasgow rivals by the time Neil Lennon’s men face Dundee United in Saturday’s teatime televised fixture.
In that event, the heat would come on Celtic as rarely has been the case in their run of nine consecutive titles. Moreover, the congested nature of the campaign means that should they win their delayed Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen in November, they would have a four-game backlog set against Rangers to be squeezed in beyond the turn of the year.
These circumstances have led predictions that the club’s domestic empire could be about to crumble – but McGregor is mindful that the same was said when Celtic exited in the Champions League qualifiers to AEK Athens, sold Moussa Dembele to Lyon, and saw Brendan Rodgers up sticks to join Leicester City.
“We are only really focused on ourselves. We have come through this week and now we have a positive game to look forward to on Tuesday,” said McGregor with the immediate concern for Celtic the Champions League qualifier with KR Reykjavik on Tuesday.
“The matches we missed will be played. It’s not a case of playing catch-up in terms of points. Once we get to the games, we will be focused on one at a time as we catch up on fixtures further down the line. I don’t think there’s any need to panic at all.
“Those instances [with Athens, Dembele, Rodgers] the boys dealt with brilliant as a group and it’s not different now. Internally the boys get together and we understand what is at stake and how we have to come forward in a positive light and show our togetherness again.
“When you are successful year on year the target gets bigger on your back every season. It is up to the players to defend the club and defend the supporters.
“The boys are well aware of their responsibility to the club and the fact they have to deliver going forward. So we are in a positive frame of mind, looking forward to the game on Tuesday and just wanting to get back out on the grass where we can play our football and show everyone we are together.”