THE chorus of criticism of John Collins for “disrespectful” comments about Celtic’s domestic opponents grew louder yesterday as a pair of ex-Parkhead stars condemned the Parkhead assistant manager.
In the run-up to tonight’s Dundee derby Jackie McNamara and Paul Hartley joined Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes in dismissing Collins’ contentious opinions.
United manager McNamara highlighted the fact Celtic have recently purchased three of the Tannadice side’s star men as he sought to ridicule Collins’ suggestion that opposition players in Scotland cannot punish the Parkhead side.
Collins was referring to Celtic’s endeavours in Europe against sides better equipped to prey on their openness, something he said doesn’t happen enough in Scotland.
McNamara, who played for the Parkhead club for ten years, admitted he was taken aback by the comments, which came as Collins contemplated Celtic’s Champions League Play-Off clash with Swedish champions Malmö.
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes rubbished the claims following Aberdeen’s 2-0 victory over Kilmarnock on Sunday, noting that Collins “has a lot to say for an assistant manager”.
McNamara added: “I saw Derek’s comments. I haven’t actually heard him [Collins] say it so I am not sure if he has been misquoted. But three of his attackers last week in their most important game were three of our players from last year.
“So make of that what you will… sometimes these things can be forgotten.”
McNamara was referring to Gary Mackay-Steven, Stuart Armstrong and Nadir Ciftci, all three of whom he said have “walked” into the Celtic team since being lured away from Tannadice in protracted signing sagas. The trio started for Celtic in last week’s aggregate victory over Qarabag in the third round of Champions League qualifying.
Dundee manager Hartley, another former Celtic favourite, also took issue with Collins’ comments. “It’s unfair on the rest of the clubs in Scotland,” he said. “It’s being disrespectful. We try our best. We haven’t got the budget of every other club and Celtic are way ahead of us but I think, on our day, we have shown we can give them a game.
“They have already taken three players from the Scottish Premiership. It can’t be that bad.
“They’ll probably look at more players,” he added. “Aberdeen ran Celtic close last year and just fell short. Aberdeen are strong, Hearts are strong. On our day, we have shown we can match them.”