GUTTED Charlie Mulgrew admitted that Dundee United simply couldn’t get close to Celtic during their 3-0 defeat to Ange Postecoglou’s men at Tannadice on Sunday.

Former Celtic defender Mulgrew was hugely impressed by his old team as they ran riot on Tayside, bagging those three goals and creating a host of other opportunities, and he was forced to concede that he and his teammates had been left chasing shadows.

The gameplan laid out by United manager Courts was to get in the faces of the Celtic players, as they did when they drew at Celtic Park in late September. But Mulgrew says that when this Celtic team are on the sort of scintillating form they showed on Sunday, that is easier said than done.

“Celtic played very well, but we’re still disappointed,” Mulgrew said. “We feel there’s a lot we could’ve done better.

“We came up against a class side but we’ve got to look at ourselves and it’s about what we do.

“We came into the game and didn’t expect it to be that one-sided. But that can happen against Celtic. They are a good team.

“We probably didn’t get close enough to them. But it’s hard. It’s easy to say we didn’t get close enough but there’s a lot of spaces and a lot of good movement. It’s not by accident that, so fair play to their manager and his team because they played some right good stuff.

“They took positions all the time. When they had the ball one pops out of position and another pops in. It’s not easy to deal with.

“Maybe if you get them on and off day then you can get close to them. But, we didn’t this time and we’re gutted about that. We have to move on quick.

“They started well from kick-off and got into good positions. There wasn’t a disappointment in their team but with us we can all be disappointed with certain things.

“To an extent you’re only as good as a team will let you be – and Celtic played well.

“You need to try and keep Celtic out as long as you can and then hopefully you can get a goal. Maybe get them on the break or keep it at 1-0 and get a goal. But we never did that.

“Through their great play, and our not so great play, it didn’t happen for us. Credit where it’s due to Celtic, they won the game. But we need to pick ourselves up.”

United have been looking to pick themselves up for quite a few weeks now, with the defeat to Celtic giving them a disappointing recent record of just one win in their last seven outings.

While Mulgrew isn’t putting too much stock in that particular statistic, he is stressing the importance of arresting that run of results as soon as possible, so that their impressive start to the campaign isn’t squandered.

“You can dress the stats up however you like,” he said. “You can take it to 12 games and it looks better for us or you can look at three games and it’s worse.

“You can look at stats however you like and we don’t look into them too much.

“We all know we need to do better, it’s as simple as that, start performing better and picking up wins.

“You can’t just accept things, there are things we need to work on. We know what the problems are and we need to do better with them.

“But at the same time, overall, we’ve done well. But we need to go again and pick up results, not just rest on our laurels.”