Top Line Summary

  • Enjoying current run in the team
  • Not focusing on anything bar themselves
  • The pressures of being a fan as well as a player
  • Addresses THAT tackle at Easter Road

Everything Celtic's Anthony Ralston said to the media, ahead of the game against Kilmarnock on Saturday...

Does this present you with an opportunity on a personal level given we don't know how long Alistair Johnston will be out of the side?

Yes, it's good to get a run of games. It's nice and why it's important to come in and do your work every day and that goes for everybody in the squad. As a squad, we do that. It's unfortunate for Ali (Johnston) and I wish him all the best. We have spoken about that between ourselves in private. I've always supported him whenever he is in the team and he does the same for me. It's a good bond we have got in that sense.

Do you almost have to be selfish and ruthless when that opportunity is presented to you? Do you have to go and grasp it?

These are just things in football it is not meant in any sort of malicious way. We have got a very good relationship I support him and he supports me. There is no sort of bad blood or anything like that. It is just what's best for the team and as long as the job is getting done for the team then that is the main thing.

How do you keep coming in and doing the work knowing that you are not playing all the time? Or is that when your professionalism kicks in and you have to keep drumming it into yourself?

Everybody in football is going to have hard times throughout their career. You are going to have moments. It is not always going to be plain sailing. It is important to be professional and come in and do your work. By coming in and doing your work every day then you know when the chance comes you can take it not only for yourself but most importantly the team. Thankfully, for the squad in general and myself, it is why we do it. That's why you can go in and do it and it is not such a big change. That's important.

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It wasn't that long ago that Celtic were seven points clear at the top of the table and they are now level with Rangers. Are the boys looking at the table and kicking themselves a little bit?

I wouldn't say so, no. It is not something that we speak about and it is not something we are overly thinking about. There are so many games and we have such a busy schedule and there is always something else to focus on. That is our main focus just concentrating on each game as it comes. It is a cliche but it is how it is. It is how we do our work best. We've got an important one tomorrow that we are looking forward to and we are prepared for that and ready to go.

The manager mentioned last weekend that there has been a negative narrative built up around the club externally. Is that something the players have noticed at all? Is it the type of thing that with the league table the way it is you put it to the side and don't focus on it?

We have got so much going on and so much to look forward to as a club. We focus on that daily. It is not something we pay any great attention to. We are focused on each game as it comes along and we are ready to tackle them head-on. Anything external is not for us. We have enough to deal with and we focus on that.

Is that the main thing that everyone inside the dressing room is fighting and working for each other and no matter what anybody else outside is saying it doesn't matter?

The dressing room is in a great place. All the boys are in a good place. We have got a great bond and even the new boys that have come in have hit the ground running. We are all laughing and it's important that it is there too on a daily basis. On the training pitch, we are putting the work in from the minute go until we stop training. We take that into games and we are all in a good place as a team and we are ready to press ahead.

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For the likes of yourself and others who have been here and won titles, do you put more onus on yourself to help the others who are new to this whole experience and environment of playing in Glasgow? Do you help them along?

Yes. It's part of being at this club. You need to deal with pressure at Celtic. You need to deal with the pressure that comes with it like being expected to win every game. There is no other alternative. Boys coming in and dealing with that can be a bit of a change for them when you consider where they have come from. They very quickly get to understand and they don't need me or anybody else to tell them that. It's what you aim to do. It is what is expected of you. That's what we aim to do every game. We've got great experience in the squad. Callum McGregor as captain does a very good job at that and other boys are there to support as well. We have a great changing room and we are just looking forward to going into games.

How much is the onus on the entire squad needing to be ready and not just the first ten to 15 players? There can be no passengers now and everyone has to step up and play their part between now and May, don't they?

For sure. That is why we have the squad and that is why boys are putting the work in every day and doing the extra in the gym or whatever. We have a great squad of players that want to work and they want to do the hard yards. They all understand their role within the team. We are lucky in that sense. We just need to keep showing it and I feel we have been doing that. We just need to keep showing that fight and hunger every game which is our aim to do so.

Is there an advantage to playing first when it comes to a certain matchday? Can that be an advantage?

It’s just similar to what I was saying before. External things in terms of things like that are not something that overly comes onto our radar. Wherever we play, we play and it’s about us and what we do in that day. It’s how we prepare, which we do very well and about how we implement our game on the day. That’s what we focus on and what we control what we’ve got. We take that very seriously, and that goes for tomorrow.

Is the demand to win every game something you’ve grown up with here? Does it get instilled in you from a young age?

Yeah, ‘it’s the expectation that you sign up for. It’s what you’re prepared for as a Celtic player, to win every trophy you’re involved in and to win every game you’re involved in. That’s what’s expected and it’s how you want to feel going into games, knowing that that’s the expectation. It then progresses you as a player and as a person to then strive for the best every day and do what you’re doing in your craft - because that pressure is there and because that expectation is there. It drives you on, so it’s just about embracing it and enjoying that side of it as well in dealing with it. I’ve touched on it earlier with boys coming in, they very quickly get to grips with it themselves, but they have a good support network with boys who have experienced that before. We’re in a good place and we just need to kick on. 

Is that different when you go into the first-team environment, or was it just the same but a step up from the youth team?

I was personally aware when I was younger. Being at Celtic, you’re just expected to win, and as a fan, that’s what I personally want as well! It works both ways for me, it’s a strange one. For the boys that maybe aren’t (supporters), they still feel that expectation, and that’s the reality of being at a club like Celtic, so we all understand and we are all aware of the situation, but it comes down to what we do.

Is that strange to you as a fan as well? You’ll have mates when you don’t get a result complaining to you, but you can understand where they’re coming from?

I say to them “You come and do it, then!” Being a fan of the club, I’m no different to the other fans, I’m just lucky enough to play for Celtic and have somewhat more control over it. You put that to the side and you’re professional. It’s different in that sense, but it’s special in a way as well. I’m lucky in this position, from a personal level to play for this club that you support, taking on responsibilities and showing that fight and hunger. I’m lucky enough to have a squad of boys that are doing that as well. It’s all good.

Do you ever try and talk your mates around, to explain to them why a result hasn’t gone your way or why you shouldn’t panic, or do you realise that’s a pointless exercise?

I don’t bother. It’s part and parcel, for the most part, the results are good, so it’s not something I need to deal with a lot. I’ve got a great support network, so regardless it’s fine.

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Do you ever just look at yourself in the mirror and give yourself a talking-to?

I just stand there and have a good look, and say “Come on now!” (!) But seriously, no.

Does it help to have that background? In the Hibs game, you won that tackle that led to the penalty. Does it help, with the drive you’ve got, to help the club because it’s your club?

It’s something you learn over time to separate completely, but naturally, there’s just that will to win. That circumstance that you’re speaking about, it was just a moment that happened instinctively. I desperately wanted to get to that ball and score, and so did all the boys. You saw that in the celebrations when Adam (Idah) scored the penalty. As a collective, we’ve got that hunger and desire. We are showing it and will continue to show it to the end.

Was that your best tackle ever? 

I was just sliding about. I seem to have a good knack for sliding about and getting mud all over me, so I was lucky enough to come away with the ball that time.