Celtic assistant manager John Kennedy believes last weekend’s tough experience at Ibrox can ultimately be of benefit to some of the younger players in the team.
The likes of Yuki Kobayashi, Alexandro Bernabei and Oh Hyeon-gyu were handed derby starts but were on the wrong end of a 3-0 defeat.
Celtic had already wrapped up the cinch Premiership title and beaten Rangers in both cup competitions but the first derby defeat of the season still stung Ange Postecoglou’s side and supporters.
However, Kennedy believes there was plenty to take from the game which can help treble-chasing Celtic continue to move forward.
“There is learning in every game for us, individually and collectively,” he said.
“If we go out and win 5-0 we will always pick the holes in it and the positives and feed that back to the players as a group and individually.
“It’s the same process when we suffer a defeat or a poor performance. The players are very comfortable with that, they know that.
“But sometimes in terms of going through that tough experience, you do get a lot of learning from that.
“When you are winning every week you get in a mindset and that becomes the norm, and sometimes it just shakes you up a little bit and gives you a reminder that if part of your game is not quite on it or if you don’t attack the game in the right intent, it gives us a reminder.
“Even the way we started the game wasn’t to our normal standards. Rangers came on to us, we lost a lot of duels, missed a lot of passes. And straight away that put us under pressure.
“It’s important for us to always remember that we play a style that we look to impose on the opposition.
“When the game is more challenging, there is certainly more things to look at.
“In hindsight, a lot of the boys will look back at that and learn a lot from that, especially the younger lads, who hopefully will be able to go into the next games and correct some of the errors that happened.”
Celtic had two-thirds of the ball at Ibrox but only one shot on target compared to Rangers’ eight.
Kennedy said: “I think that was Rangers’ strategy, they had two quick players at the top end, they gave up possession at times, but we were probably as wasteful with it as we have been in most of our games.
“In terms of decision-making, execution and the technical side of the game, we missed too many passes and made too many bad decisions.
“And that led to a lot of turnovers and gave Rangers the opportunity to hit us on counter-attacks and catch us when we weren’t quite organised.
“There was certainly a lot to look into on the game. As much as it was a bad result and poor performance, it’s a good reminder for us as a group that we have constantly got to be on it. You can’t drop 10 per cent because we know how much that affects our game.”
Celtic bid to bounce back at home to St Mirren on Saturday and Kennedy is sure there will be an edge to his team’s game, especially with the Scottish Cup final against Inverness to come on June 3.
The former Scotland international said: “There’s always that drive. Players are stimulated by playing for the club and you want to perform in every game. They are competitors and there is always that motivation.
“The fact we have the cup final to go, it gives us that stimulant right through to the end of the season.
“We are not just playing games out, we want to finish as strong as we can and it’s important we get the right form and conditioning going into the cup final because on the day you have to put in a performance that merits the win.”
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