SCOTT BROWN has admitted he is willing to take the blame for Celtic’s feeble performance in the 1-0 loss to Rangers at Ibrox just before the turn of the year.
Brendan Rodgers went into the encounter with an unbeaten record showing 10 wins and two draws against their Glasgow rivals.
The Irishman had seen off three Gers managers in the shape of Mark Warburton, Pedro Caixinha and caretaker Graeme Murty before his second dug-out clash with his former Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard.
The Hoops had won 1-0 in the opening Old Firm confrontation at Parkhead in September with a goal from Olivier Ntcham, but the scoreline disguised the fact the champions had rolled all over the Govan outfit that afternoon.
James Forrest, Mikael Lustig, Leigh Griffiths and Ntcham all struck the woodwork during a one-sided affair.
However, it was an entirely different tale in the second confrontation as Gerrard’s side completely reversed the roles and took the points with a shot from Ryan Jack that took a nick off the inside of Brown’s boot before wrong-footing Craig Gordon and finding the bottom corner.
HOOP HOOP HOORAY…Scott Brown celebrates Celtic’s Scottish Cup semi-final triumph over Rangers last season. Kieran Tierney and Callum McGregor join in.
The Hoops keeper put in a Man of the Match performance with a handful of defiant saves as the players in front of him – with the exception of Callum McGregor – didn’t turn up.
By his standards, the Celtic skipper had a disappointing outing, but he had plenty of company when it came to critics pointing their fingers.
However, Brown, 33, said: “I’m happy to take the blame for the last Rangers game.
“If they want to hit me with that I’m big enough and ugly enough to deal with it.
“If people want to put the blame on me, they can put the blame on me if it eases the pressure for the other lads.
“We’ve won a lot of games and set so many records over the past few years.
“Obviously, you are eventually going to get beaten in a game. For us, it wasn’t the best performance, but we’ll come back stronger from it.
“Since then we’ve gone on a winning run which has been good for us.”
The champions are six points ahead at the top of the Premiership as they prepare for the visit of Hibs tonight while Rangers travel to Pittodrie to face Aberdeen.
HIGH HOPES…Scott Brown and Kristoffer Ajer after the recent 4-0 win over St Mirren. Pics: Geo.
There has been extra pressure on the Hoops this time around following their romps to the championship in Rodgers’ first two campaigns.
Brown, who agreed a two-year extension at the club last week, added: “I’m enjoying it. It’s been good, to be fair for us. It shows we need to win games to stay on top. It shows that when the pressure is on the players can deal with it.
“For everyone, if you want to be a winner, you want to maintain that standard you set season after season.
“You’ve got to have that wee edge that when someone is coming up and think they can take that title away from you, you just push away again.
“We’ve done it over the years and we need to make sure we do it again this season.
“There’s always a challenge no matter who you play against. There are always young ones coming through who will have a point to prove. They want to be the next best player coming through their club and show they can play against Celtic, Rangers, Hibs, Hearts and others.
“We’ve got 11 great players in that dressing room and on that pitch week in, week out. No matter who are we playing and what team plays we believe we can win every game.”