Celtic captain Scott Brown accepts the Scottish champions need to regroup and rethink during their winter break training camp in Dubai after conceding the 2-1 defeat to Rangers was the product of the Ibrox side having the whip hand over them for the second time inside three weeks.
Brown acknowledged that, even though Celtic prevailed in the Betfred Cup final despite being under the kosh, the nature of their first home loss to their rivals in nine years exposed the ability of Steven Gerrard’s men to blunt their effectiveness.
“Rangers played quite well,” said Brown.
“They closed us down and we didn’t play as well as we could have. We need to learn now, because that’s two games in a row now where they’ve probably outplayed us.
“It’s all about how we come back now, because the last time this happened we were over in Dubai and we got a proper pre-season, and it’s going to be similar to that for us.
“The main thing was that we won the cup final, we’re still top of the league [by two points]. They’ve got a game in hand, but we’re certainly not in too bad a place. It’s the performances against Rangers that we need to make sure we improve on.
“For us, we know what we need to do and what we need to improve on. We’ll have a few days off before meeting up in Dubai and we’ll figure out how we’re going to play against Rangers the next time.
“We’ll bounce back. We’ve got a [Scottish Cup] game against Partick Thistle when we come back, and that’s going to be hard for us. It was the exact same last year, we have to make sure we come back with a great attitude and in a better place.”
Celtic strung together seven league wins on their return from last year’s winter break that found them reeling from a derby loss at Ibrox.
Manager Neil Lennon asserted his players must “get hungry” to recover from a setback he said ensured it was “game on” in the title race and Brown believes there should be no questions over their appetite to claim a record-equalling ninth straight championship, on the back of a first meaningful home league loss in four years - a result securing their first victory in Glasgow’s east end since October 2010.
“The lads want to win trophies, everyone wants to win trophies, and we’ve done it for the last 10 trophies on offer,” he said. “We need to play better and move the ball quicker, and today we didn’t create enough chances. We had a couple cleared of the line we were unlucky with, and we missed a penalty as well. These things happen and it’s now about how we bounce back.
“It’s always a challenge for us no matter who we play. Everyone wants to beat us. We have a great record at home and today was the day we lost it. We don’t like it, but we have to make sure we start 2020 with a bang.
“I think everyone will have this defeat in the back of their minds [during the winter break]. We were sitting in that dressing room and everyone was devastated, so you have to make sure you remember how you felt after those defeats.
“There hasn’t been that many of those defeats, but sometimes you need that little kick to spark you into life again. Everyone here has done that, everyone expects us to win no matter what, and that’s why I came here.
“You want to win trophies and dominate games, and when it doens.t happen you have to go back, reflect on it, see how we played and how they played. You have to take it on the chin sometimes, because you’re not always going to play unbelievably well, it’s about our reaction as a team.”