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  • Callum McGregor is Celtic's man for all season

    Callum McGregor is Celtic's man for all season

    By: Tony Connelly on 29 Mar, 2020 11:01

  • CALLUM McGregor has been a model of consistency for Celtic this season, continuing to show why he’s a top-class midfielder. He’s hit 13 goals in the campaign in 50 games for the Hoops, surpassing his previous best, and he’s also now assumed the role of vice-captain, taking the armband and the responsibilities that come with it in Scott Brown’s absence.

    The 26-year-old has been pleased with his own contribution to the campaign, but even more pleased with the way the team responded to the December derby disappointment.

    Since returning to domestic action in 2020, Neil Lennon’s side have been well nigh unstoppable, winning nine of their 10 Premiership matches and drawing the other one to establish a dominant 13-point lead at the top of the table.

    And three consecutive Scottish Cup wins saw them book a place in the semi-final of the competition they’ve won for the past three seasons.

    Speaking exclusively to the Celtic View, Callum McGregor said: “Since we came back in January we’ve been absolutely excellent. In terms of performances and results we put in some good displays and racked up some good scorelines as well.

    “When we went to Dubai it was the same set-up and idea as we’ve had in previous years so everyone knew exactly what we were doing. We all knew we were going to work really hard in the sessions.

    “Everyone went out knowing that we were going to focus on the tactical idea of what we were wanting to do, refocus on how we were playing the game and improve the fitness levels. The hard work was done in the morning and afternoon sessions, and then we had the evenings together to really integrate the squad.

    “That’s worked really well for us in the last three or four years and this year has been exactly the same.

    “Everyone arrived back fresh and hungry. We took off at a relentless pace, and momentum is a massive thing in football and we had that in abundance. We went into every game confident, hungry and knowing how we wanted to play.

    “We probably didn’t imagine we’d be this far in front but we had to set the pace and beat who was in front of us. The mindset was a case of anyone who comes up against us, we’re going to play our football and if people couldn’t keep up with that we were going to be relentless.”

    Neil Lennon’s side have continued to keep making strides forward, even from the high of winning the Treble Treble last season.

    This year, they’re 10 points better off at this stage of the campaign compared to last, while across all competitions they’ve scored an incredible 141 goals, an increase of 37 on the same time last year.

    And among many contributors to that tally of 141, McGregor has fired in 13 goals, including one or two candidates for Goal of the Season, not least his stunning volley in the 4-0 win over Motherwell at Fir Park back in February.

    “For myself, in terms of goals, I was really enjoying that spell after Christmas where we’d changed the system,” the Scotland internationalist admitted. “That allowed me, Ryan, Ollie or Tom to go forward a little bit more.

    “I was getting into goalscoring positions and hit a nice wee purple patch in terms of getting goals. I was feeling good, feeling fit and influencing games, which is what I want to do.

    “The volume of goals we were scoring was a combination of the form we were on, the fitness of the players and the system. The change in system allowed us a bit more freedom in terms of going forward because we had the three in front and one behind to try and secure it. That gave us more numbers going forward.

    “The gaffer felt like we had become a bit pedestrian going forward in terms of scraping 1-0s and things like that. He wanted more of a focus on the counter-attack so that when we won the ball and it was in transition, boys would take off straight away and we’d get runners going beyond. He refocused us in that regard to be a bit more ruthless.

    “The goals have been a combination of more bodies and a hunger and willingness to get forward quickly. That’s why you seen the numbers go up around November, December time and then into January and beyond.

    “The boys have been excellent since the turn of the year and that’s why we put ourselves in such a good position.”

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