Strachan slams Celtic defence

Gordon Strachan slammed his defence after Celtic again slipped up in their Scottish Premier League defence on Saturday.

updated: December 24, 2007 19:05 IST
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Gordon Strachan slammed his defence after Celtic again slipped up in their Scottish Premier League defence on Saturday.

A 1-1 draw at home to manager less Hibernian - after John Collins' resignation on Thursday - meant the Parkhead club have taken only six points from a possible 15.

This run of results has handed the advantage to Old Firm rivals Rangers in the SPL title race.

Although Celtic led the table by three points on Saturday evening, Rangers had three games in hand - ahead of their match away to Aberdeen on Sunday.

With an Old Firm derby on January 2, Celtic must quickly find a solution to their problems if they are to avoid gifting their greatest rivals any more of an advantage.

And Strachan believes it is his side's defensive displays, which are at the cause of their recent poor results.

The Celtic manager said: "At the end of Saturday's game I said to the players if they continued to make that amount of chances, and retain possession around their opponents' penalty area as well as they did, then I'd be delighted.

"But we couldn't finish off the moves and the root of our problem just now is letting in goals.

"If you want to be top of the league you have to be able to cope with the odd counter-attack and at the moment teams playing against us feel they have a chance of scoring.

"That puts a lot of pressure on our lads up front as we need to score two or three goals to win games."

Strachan added: "Too many players are coming in and saying sorry for that and, although I love their honesty, mistakes are happening too often and I'll need to sort that out.

"I'm concerned about letting in goals, that's my problem. The other side will look after itself because as long as we are making chances we have players who will score them."

While it is the defence that is giving Strachan most cause for concern he admitted his side were not at their best at the other end of the park on Saturday either.

After David Murphy put Hibs ahead it took until the 78th minute for Celtic to level the score through Czech Jiri Jarosik, who came off the substitute's bench to salvage a point.

Strachan said: "I'm more than happy with the number of chances being created but we need to be a little bit more focused and relaxed in the box.

"Jiri showed us how to do it by side-footing the ball home for the goal. Too often we are trying to smash the ball in.

"We need to relax more because we're doing a lot of good work to get into these positions."

Celtic have been linked with a loan move for Everton's Scottish international James McFadden but Strachan would not be drawn on any potential signing targets for next month's transfer window.

He said: "December is like poker when you try to psyche people out and January is when you put your cards on the table, so we'll see then."

In Saturday's game Hibs took the lead in the 20th minute.

Left-back Murphy drove forward from the halfway line, played a smart one-two with Moroccan Abdessalam Benjelloun, and then smashed a spectacular shot past goalkeeper Mark Brown.

But in the 78th minute Celtic finally made the breakthrough.

Scott Brown's corner was headed back across goal by Stephen McManus, Dutch striker Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink touched out to Jarosik - who replaced Massimo Donati in the 64th minute - and the Czech poked the ball low into the corner of the net from 10-yards.