Everything Callum McGregor had to say ahead of Celtic's first competitive game of the season against Ross County...

How is the squad feeling ahead of the first game?

We can't wait to get going and can't wait for the first whistle as you do all this work in pre-season and just want that first game to come along. You get into your rhythm and that is where you are comfortable as a football player. It is the same as every season, there is always anticipation and you are desperate to get going. I am sure Saturday will be exactly the same. 

How confident are you that you can reach the same levels as last season?

We have to. The answer is simple. We had a tremendous season last year, but we have to park that. It is a new manager, new players and a fresh test of mentality, quality and finding a way to win. So we have to try and settle into that mode as quickly as we can. Of course, we want a positive start and to get results and positive performances to build on. As always in football, momentum is absolutely key.

Do you like the challenge?

Yeah, I think in elite sports, you have to enjoy that pressure. There is always a challenge, challenges for us in the building, new players coming in trying to push the players that are starting and you get a real competitive edge from that. When you come together as a squad, you have 11 other teams who are looking to beat you. That is the pressure you want as a football player. You want to be at the front. You under how difficult that challenge is, but it is something you relish.

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How much determination is there to retain the league?

Of course, that is the exact same. I have been lucky enough to experience that feeling numerous times throughout my career. However, at the start of the season, it does not count for anything. Everyone is now looking to see if you can win it again and it is up to us to find the answers. At a top club like this, you have to take that challenge on. You embrace it, embrace the challenge with your team-mates, the manager and the supporters. What is better than that challenge to continue to try and improve every year?

How can you improve?

I think there is always a natural progression each year. We obviously had a really successful style last year, picked up the three trophies and showcased an unbelievable level of performance throughout the season. There will be different challenges this year and we have to try and overcome them. We will settle into a slightly different way of playing. There might be bumps along the road and ultimately, we have to be ready for that. Ultimately, across the 38 games, you have to show you are good enough and able to perform well in the games to win the league. The challenge is trying to get better than the performance levels last year. We might not, but that is the challenge we have to set as a group. All we can do is give our absolute maximum and push each other to achieve that level.

Do you see any players who have been here for a couple of years that the manager could improve?

Yeah, of course. He is a top manager. His ideas get under your skin and he really understands what pushes you and what motivates you. His level of detail and understanding of the game will benefit everyone. Not just the young players or the new players but even the guys who have been here for a period of time as well. For him to come back in and have that level of detail within the organisation will hopefully improve everyone.

You now play in a slightly different position from the one you did in the manager's first spell. Does working under him again allow you to continue to develop your game?

I hope so. Hopefully, we can work closely on the training pitch and within the structure of the team. He will always have little details to try and improve everyone and I am certainly no different. I am always keen to learn and looking to do things better. That is the same for everyone and we are looking to improve. We are a group that is always willing to learn and will be looking to absorb all the information he has to offer.

What sort of conversations have you had with the manager?

Just really positive ones. We had a great relationship the last time. We spoke a lot in training, as well as off the pitch. Obviously, now there is more responsibility on me in terms of carrying his message onto the players and trying to coach the team within game situations. We have close chats in terms of what he wants me to do to help the team and the structure. We have always had a good relationship and I am sure that will continue.

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How desperate is the manager to bring success back to the club?

You only need to have one conversation with him. You can see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice. As football people, you always want to bring success. If you are that way inclined it does not matter what you have achieved, when you push that start button, the drive just kicks in. I have always said that the more characters like that you have in the building the more chance you have of success.