Celtic defender Liam Scales admits it hurt to hear manager Brendan Rodgers claim he was unsurprised by their poor performance in defeat by Hearts.
The Irishman believes he and his team-mates will be stung into action by Rodgers’ assessment when they host Livingston on Saturday.
It was a first domestic defeat at Celtic Park for almost three years but a second consecutive loss in the cinch Premiership – the first time the champions have lost back-to-back league games in more than a decade.
Celtic had already drawn at home to St Johnstone and Motherwell this season and Rodgers had revealed he was the angriest he had ever been as a manager when his side trailed in Perth weeks earlier.
Scales was among a small group of players Rodgers absolved of blame following Celtic’s 2-0 defeat by Hearts but he believes the assessment will spark them out of complacency.
Scales said: “I can see where he’s coming from. It’s not nice to hear but obviously performances haven’t been where they should probably be. He makes a good point.
“It does hurt as a player to hear that. We need to change that and not let that be the case again.
“We feel like sometimes we expect it to just happen. Just playing at home or against teams in the league, just expecting it to happen without going out and taking it by the horns and being aggressive and going and winning.
“We can’t just show up and that’s maybe where we need to brush up.”
Defeats by Kilmarnock and Hearts have seen Celtic’s lead at the top of the table cut to two points.
Rangers have a game in hand and are unbeaten in 15 matches under Philippe Clement with the Viaplay Cup also back at Ibrox for the first time in 13 seasons.
Celtic fans are concerned about their team’s form, especially with a game against Rangers to come on December 30 before Rodgers has the chance to strengthen his squad.
However, Scales is confident they will get back to their best quickly.
Thank you to everyone who helped make this year @FoundationCFC's most successful Christmas Appeal ever!
Raising and distributing an incredible £397,000 #LightUpSomeonesChristmas
— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) December 21, 2023
“It’s been a tough week getting to grips with it,” said the Republic of Ireland international as the club announced the Celtic FC Foundation’s Christmas Appeal had raised £397,000 for charities in Scotland and Ireland.
“We’re getting over it and we know we need to bounce back. We are working hard to do that. We’ve had a week to prepare which is unusual with the schedule we have. We’ve been using the week well to go over things and fine-tune things for the upcoming games.
“We know it’s not good enough for Celtic. The pressure is there and you know you need to win games and anything but a win isn’t good enough. Over the course of a season it’s not disastrous, if we bounce back and do well it should be fine. But it’s been a tough week and we just need to fix it now.
“It’s in our hands to turn it around. It’s a minor blip in the course of the season and we need to turn the corner and get over it. It’s not a complete disaster.”