There was many big moments throughout season 2021/22 that supporters held their breath or were anxious about but now that all is said and done, the Celtic captain has spoken to Sky Sports discussing the matches which he believes were pivotal.
“I think the first one against Hearts. Off the back of a difficult season, it was very easy for everyone to be negative again after game one. At that point we had to get the group together and understand we have to change this, we’re the only ones who can change it. It’s very easy to put your head down and say it’s going to be the same again, but the group of players in there were strong. I think when you look at the Aberdeen game, it was big in terms of coming off the back of sticky results and the pressure had probably started to build at that point.
“A difficult away game and to go up there to get a 2-1 win in the last minute. I think the most pleasing thing about that was we stuck to our principles, we stuck to the way we want to play and we managed to get the goal in the style we want. I think that just gave the players the belief that we can stick to our principles and still win games. You don’t need to come away from that and start kicking balls into the box and just play the long ball and hope something drops for you. I think at that point, the manager’s message was clear, this is the way to score goals. We stuck to that, we got the goal and the whole thing starts to breed from there,” said Callum McGregor speaking to Sky Sports.
There was still a great deal of uncertainty heading into that first game at Tynecastle with new signing Carl Starfelt being thrown in at the deep end to make his Celtic debut. It was a tough result to take with a sucker punch header at the end of the game resulting in the Hoops first opening-day defeat for 24 years.
Celtic got through that initial first testing spell as the club went on to qualify for the Europa League group stages after dispatching a well equipped AZ Alkmaar side. The result at Pittodrie was massive and was arguably the first ‘big’ win during the season as the team proved they could go until the very end to get the points. It was also hugely important to get a win on the road, something Celtic hadn’t done for nearly eight months up until that point.
There was late drama along the way for Celtic which once again re-emphasised the strength which the team had and gave supporters belief.
“Yeah huge, the Ross County one especially. Going down to 10 men and again we stuck to our principles and the way we want to play. We get the goal by moving the ball quickly, getting the ball down the side, overlap, cross, goal. Those moments in the season are so important. When you look back, they can go either way and it just really defines your season. It brings everyone together, it brings the supporters with you and gives everyone belief that you can go and achieve what you’ve set out to do.
“The Dundee United one at home, again a bit of frustration in front of goal, and you see the quality of Liel’s (Abada) finish. Tough moment in the game and just top quality. That’s what we’ve got, players with that individual quality that can win us matches.”
The match at Ross County must have given the players huge belief heading into the League Cup final that weekend which allowed the new arrivals to experience their first taste of silverware at Celtic. It was crucial that Celtic won the game against Dundee United as days later they completely blew our nearest challengers away in the 3-0 derby victory.