Unity isn’t typically the product of a Glasgow derby. It was yesterday, though, because as well as agreeing Celtic should have awarded a penalty in added time, the two men involved in that incident – Leigh Griffiths and Clint Hill – also found themselves preaching togetherness post-match.
In the case of Celtic striker Griffiths that concerned his rapport with his manager Brendan Rodgers. This had appeared dangerously strained when the Irishman questioned the striker’s commitment to being a top-level performer, and linked this to the fact he has succumbed to a series of calf strains this season. A fit-again Griffiths, who has appeared from the bench in the club’s past two games, attempted to draw a line under the episode yesterday.
“There’s been a lot of talk about rifts between me and the gaffer. But I want to set the record straight – me and the gaffer have got a great relationship,” Griffiths said.
“It’s unfortunate for myself that I’ve been injured. It’s just been little, niggling injuries that have been costing me. But I’ve been working hard over the last few months in training to try and get free of them. Hopefully, I can kick-start my season now and be ready to go in pre-season again.”
The forward maintained he had full respect for Rodgers putting into the public domain that he required to be more disciplined to ensure he lived the life of the 24-hour athlete.
“Of course I did. Listen, I spoke to the gaffer behind closed doors and I knew what he wanted from me. It was the exact same when Ronny [Deila] was here and I got the boot up the arse I needed. The gaffer’s come in and I started the season well. Unfortunately, I got injured and thereafter I kept on getting injured. Now I’m fully fit and I can train as hard as I can. Hopefully I get that run in the team sooner rather than later.”
Griffiths offered up an “of course it does” when asked if Rodgers’ comments had made you even more determined to get back in the side. “Being at this club, playing in the team, means everything to me,” he said. “The fans have been brilliant, although there still have been a few who text me and state my attitude needs to improve.
“But I think if you asked the gaffer from now on my attitude’s been spot on. I’ve put my head down, worked as hard as I can and got back into the squads. You’ve seen me come on today, I had a part in the penalty that should’ve been given and done everything I can to help us in the game. I didn’t get too much of a chance, but I still should’ve got a penalty at the end. Hopefully, I’ll be able to contribute also at Dens next week.”
The next week is a big one for Rangers as they welcome new manager Pedro Caixinha. Ibrox defender Hill acknowledges that, but the man who netted his side’s late equaliser was keen to praise Graeme Murty, pictured, for the spirit he has fostered.
“Credit has got to go to Murts and his team,” the 38-year-old. “Maybe for two games out of the past five or six we have been poor but I think in general we have responded well to what he has wanted from us.
“He gave us a structure and a platform and put belief and confidence back in us. We are very proud of him as well. He has come in and done a great job for the club. He can hold his head up high.
“We have made a positive step by getting a decent result. It is not three points, but it is a positive point for us. We have got to go again now on Saturday. We have got a new manager coming in. We have got to raise our standards again if we want to close the gap in the years to come.
“I don’t know what the new manager would have made of it. Hopefully he will have taken a lot of positives from it. I’ve never spoken to him or seen him before, so I think we are all very anxious to meet him and get going straight away.
“Hopefully in the next 48 hours we’ll get to meet him as a team and will hit the ground running with what he wants from us. I think he’s got plenty to work with. We created some decent opportunities, but unfortunately couldn’t take them. We’ve managed to get a point at a very difficult place against a good team. So hopefully there are a lot of positives for him to take.”