Scott Brown has rubbished claims of a dressing-room split at Celtic and predicts the Scottish champions will “fly out of the blocks” as they step up the defence of their Premiership title after the international break.
The Celtic captain claims his club is as unified as it has ever been on and off the pitch despite the difficulties encountered in the opening three months of this season.
Several pundits, most notably the forthright Kilmarnock striker Kris Boyd, have asserted there is a significant divide within the Celtic first-team squad following the acrimonious deadline day sale of striker Moussa Dembele to Lyon and the alleged refusal of defender Dedryck Boyata to play in some European qualifiers when he was not allowed to leave the club.
But Brown insists those making claims of disharmony at Celtic are speaking through ignorance.
“There are a load of pundits who just want to say something but that’s just people keeping themselves in a job,” said Brown.
“We stick together here and we have a great bunch of lads. We do our talking on the field.
“I don’t read the stuff so it doesn’t bother me. But I was told about it. People can have their own opinion and can say what they want but they don’t know what happens daily in our dressing room.
“My role as captain has never changed and there’s no need for me to bring everyone together because there’s no big issue there.
“We’ve all been fine. People come and go, that’s part and parcel of football. Moussa left but he had been great for us over the past two seasons. The way he plays meant it was sad to see him leave. Dedryck stayed and he has shown what a quality player he can be. That’s why he did so well for Belgium at the World Cup.
“We’ve all been fine. Myself and the manager spoke when there was talk of Dedryck trying to get out and it was all fine.
“It got patched up and we got on with our daily jobs. People want to make a big issue of it and it happened when perhaps we didn’t get the right results. We obviously wanted to qualify for the Champions League and when we didn’t, people came at us.
“But we’re in the Europa League now, we’ve picked up in the league and we will kick on.”
Brown expects to be fit for a return to action against Hibs at Celtic Park on 20 October, having missed the last two games against Salzburg and St Johnstone because of a hamstring injury. The 33-year-old midfielder believes the display in winning 6-0 at Perth last Sunday was a clear indication that Celtic are returning to their optimum form.
“That performance was outstanding,” he added. “I went to the game and enjoyed it and I liked the way we moved the ball. What we have been working on is coming together slowly with everyone working together. It was exceptional.
“It can definitely be a turning point in our season. There have been a lot of people trying to put us down but we have a great dressing room and we have a great manager and board and we’re all together, no matter what happens.
“The results aren’t always going to go your way. We’ve had two great seasons and sometimes you will have ups and downs. We’ll be flying out the blocks again after the break and I think the last performance shows how committed we all are.
“We play with a smile on our faces, as we have always done under this manager, and we’ll continue to do it.”
Brown is not surprised that Brendan Rodgers has been so strongly linked with the Aston Villa vacancy over the past few days but is hopeful the manager’s affection for Celtic will see him remain committed to the club.
“For me he is a top class manager and no matter what happens there is always going to be someone who wants him,” said Brown.
“He has shown his love for the club over the last two-and-a-half years. Football is funny and you never know what is going to happen but he is here just now and we have to respect that. What he has done for Scottish football has been exceptional. It has been good for us to work with a top quality manager and long may it continue.
“He loves the club as much as anyone. He will always do what is best for himself and for the club.”