Michael Weir: Celtic matches won't define us - but there are definitely areas we need to strengthen

A holding midflelder is needed to balance out our forwards

Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 11:59 am
Updated Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 12:01 pm
The Hibs squad needs some strengthening in January. Pic: SNS

As much as we have improved since Jack Ross took over, Sunday’s match showed that at the moment we are worlds apart from Celtic.

The goal for us – and every other team in the Premiership – is to try to get ourselves closer to Celtic and Rangers who, it seems, are threatening to take a stranglehold on the game and make the title a two-horse race in the coming seasons.

I said last week that I thought Celtic had looked a bit tired in the Betfred Cup final and that with a trip to Romania for their final Europa League group match against Cluj before facing us could be to our benefit.

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But the strength of squad Neil Lennon enjoys was plain to see, he was able to field a shadow team midweek for a game which was a dead rubber given Celtic had already won the group and then bring back the likes of Scott Brown, Callum McGregor, James Forrest and Odsonne Edouard to face us.

The fact Rangers had leapfrogged them a couple of hours earlier by winning at Fir Park was always going to ensure Celtic would come out all guns blazing. As always at grounds such as Celtic Park, you have to try to stay in the game, get over than first 15 or 20 minutes and try to get a foothold in the match.

We did that but, as always, we were punished for two mistakes, Ryan Porteous having his pocket picked by Edouard for the first one and then a misunderstanding between Scott Allan and Christian Doidge – the striker looking to go long as the midfielder expected him to come short – gifted Celtic possession for the second.

To be fair, they did pass up a few decent chances to make the scoreline worse from our perspective but it’s always galling when you know it’s your own slips which have cost you. But top level teams will do that, they have the patience to wait and then pounce.

As far as we are concerned, it’s a case of taking hurdles one at a time. Our priority has to be taking care of the teams round about us in the league, it’s getting the points from those games which are going to keep us in the top half of the table and, hopefully, push us towards a European place.

I’m sure that over not only the January transfer window but again in the summer Jack Ross will be hoping to reshape the squad more to his liking.

There is that imbalance, we have too many attack-minded players. Being forced to pull Martin Boyle into a more defensive role to cope with the threat of Jeremie Frimpong – and what an exceptional talent he looks – meant we didn’t have his pace in the final third.

Having five or six forward going players is exciting when things are going well, but I think it is evident we need someone who can anchor the middle of the park at times.