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Sport "It's not Celtic, not us" says Scott Brown of team's shortcomings this season

09:31  23 february  2021
09:31  23 february  2021 Source:   scotsman.com

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The real Celtic have failed to stand up this season is a brutal truth Scott Brown makes no attempt to sugar coat.

a group of football players on a field © Celtic captain Scott Brown troops off at full-time following the 1-0 loss to Ross County at Dingwall...

The club captain does not shy away from the inadequacies – laid bare again in the 1-0 defeat away to Ross County – that have made Neil Lennon’s men a pale imitation of last season’s side.

It boggles the mind that Celtic headed into this season with 20 wins, a draw and a only one loss from their final 22 league games in the Covid-19 curtailed campaign that brought them a ninth straight title. Brown could have pointed to the circumstances at Dingwall dunt, which put an end to a five-game league winning run, as suggesting his team were unfortunate to lose – glaring chances passed up and only one moment of defensive slackness. Yet the 35-year-old chose not to do so over a fourth Premiership defeat. A result that sets up the very real possibility of Rangers, now with a thumping 18-point lead, confirming their title success in the teams’ derby joust at Celtic Park on March 21. That was a scenario he did refuse to discuss.

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“[The Ross County defeat] It sums the season up,” Brown said. “It has pretty much been our season. You go two, three, four wins in a row then have a defeat. It’s been hard for us to take, to be perfectly honest. That’s not Celtic, that’s not us. We know we’ve not played as well as we possibly could have. Every team misses chances, but we need to create more. The chances we created were from their mistakes. We need to play better as a team. We just need to make sure the final ball is spot on. [The goal] was a slack decision from us. It’s small margins of error and we have to take responsibility for that.”

The fact is that Rangers’ rampant form in going 30 league games unbeaten, with only four draws, has blown Celtic away. It would have done so in many seasons across the past decade, in truth. Celtic’s best run of straight wins this term may seem paltry in numbering seven, as opposed to Steven Gerrard’s men stringing together 15 Premiership wins. However, in Brendan Rodgers’ second title winning campaign – following the unbeaten treble in which they racked up 22 successive league successes – incredibly their longest sequence of victories in the Premiership was a mere three games. Celtic sailed through then, though, because there was no genuine challenge.

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The Ibrox club have affected a sea change in the past seven months. As their ancient adversaries did when required in the nine-title run, they have been able to find ways to win. Celtic could not even fashion an equaliser with more than 20 minutes to do so at the Global Energy Stadium … which sums up the loss of their previous unyielding spirit. “You [would] go late, into the 91st, 92nd minute and we’d peppering the goal and we’d forcing mistakes and errors, and to be fair we still did that [at Dingwall],” Brown said. “[But] It just wasn’t clear cut chances that were falling for us, it was half chances and we maybe didn’t do enough in the final third for us to say that we deserved to win.”

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