CELTIC’S humbling 2-0 loss against Rangers at Parkhead should act as a wake-up call for the champions.
That’s the view of media pundit Michael Stewart who believes the Hoops have been underperforming, despite what Neil Lennon has been saying in public.
The Parkhead side crashed to their first league defeat of 2020 as they fumbled their way through a miserable 90 minutes that saw them fail to get a solitary effort on target.
At the other end, hesitant Greek keeper Vasilis Barkas didn’t impress as he allowed a cushioned header from Connor Goldson to elude him for the opening goal in the ninth minute and he was transfixed when the Ibrox defender claimed a second shortly after the turnaround.
The victory edged Steven Gerrard’s outfit four points ahead of their rivals although Lennon’s men have a game in hand.
Former Scotland international midfielder Stewart, speaking to BBC’s Sportscene, said: “This is a wake up call to Celtic because I don’t think they’ve been playing fluid, they’ve been struggling to get the dynamism into their side.
“On the opposite side of the city with Rangers, they’re playing with full confidence.
“Yes they’ve got a game in hand, but Rangers play in a couple of weeks against Kilmarnock when Celtic have the Scottish Cup. They’ve got an opportunity to go seven points clear, and Celtic aren’t going to get the opportunity to play those games in hand until later in the year.”
Stewart insisted Gerrard’s side have bossed the last three derbies, although Celtic won 1-0 in the Betfred League Cup Final on December 8 last year mainly due to a heroic performance from goalkeeper Fraser Forster which included a penalty save from Alfredo Morelos who has yet to score against the Hoops in 13 games after firing another blank yesterday.
A header from Nikola Katic gave the Gers a 2-1 win in the east end of Glasgow 11 days later – their first triumph at Parkhead in nine years.
Lennon has insisted his team are fine and has regularly claimed they are playing well, but Stewart countered: “You’ll hear a lot of people saying about Celtic not being up for it or wanting it enough. For me, a large part of it was they weren’t comfortable in what they were trying to do.
“Rangers made it uncomfortable for Celtic. That’s not just on this occasion, that’s the last few games it’s happened.
“There are the tell-tale signs that Celtic need to do something and, to me, and this is the third game in a row, they don’t have the answers about what to try and do against Rangers.
“You can talk about players coming back into the team, this isn’t an isolated game. Celtic have been under par.
“Neil Lennon has been trying to play the bluff game in public, saying things have been good.”
Celtic now face AC Milan in their Europa League Group encounter on Thursday in Glasgow before a perilous trip to Pittodrie to take on Aberdeen as they search for the points to get back on track.