CAMERON Carter-Vickers has confessed Celtic’s players are acutely aware of their fans’ fury at their sudden slump in form in the cinch Premiership and stressed they are determined to produce the performances and results which get their irate followers firmly back onside in the coming weeks

Supporters of the Parkhead club were incensed on Saturday as the Scottish champions – who were lambasted after being beaten 2-1 by Kilmarnock at Rugby Park six days earlier – crashed to a costly 2-0 defeat to Hearts in the East End of Glasgow.

It was the first time they had lost back-to-back league games since way back in 2013 and the disappointing reverse handed their city rivals Rangers, who are five points behind with two games in hand, the opportunity to move ahead of them at the top of the table.

Season ticket holders in the main stand let Celtic directors know in no uncertain terms what they thought of what they were witnessing on the park towards the end of the encounter with the Tynecastle club.

Chants of “Sack the Board” and “Lawwell, Lawwell, Get to F***” – which were directed at former chief executive and current chairman Peter – then rang out around the half-empty ground.

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There were also ugly scenes near the directors’ box when it became clear there would be no late fightback – stewards moved in to offer protection to the under-fire hierarchy and also ejected two fans who had squared up to each other during angry exchanges. 

Centre half Carter-Vickers, who had been helpless to prevent Lawrence Shankland and Stephen Kingsley from scoring during the first-half, acknowledged the bitterness and ill-feeling had filtered out onto the pitch.

The Herald: However, the United States internationalist stated that he and his team mates had been just as upset as their supporters at how they played both in defence and attack and vowed there would be no repeat of the dire display when they return to action against Livingston at home this weekend. 

Asked if the Celtic players had been conscious of the unrest in the stands, he said: “You can always sense that and it’s understandable from the fans.

“We know as players that we have to be better, and if we’re feeling that, the fans are going to be feeling that as well. We need to focus on our performance levels, and when they get better, the results will start coming.

“We weren’t good enough. We conceded two sloppy goals, which is something we need to look at in training and try to improve on. We probably should have created more and also finished the chances we did have to try to get ourselves back in the game. Ultimately, it wasn’t good enough.

“I didn’t think it was a free-kick [which Kingsley scored from]. I planted my foot on the floor and he [Nathan Atkinson] was already slipping. He kind of skipped into my leg which was planted and the referee gave a free-kick. But over the 90 minutes, we probably didn’t do enough to deserve to win the game. We’ve got to look at it and try to improve.”

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Carter-Vickers revealed he was uncertain of the exact reasons why Celtic had lost two successive Premiership outings – but he emphasised the players would remain calm under mounting pressure and endeavour to figure out how to fix things dispassionately during the days ahead in training at Lennoxtown. 

“I’m not sure what has happened,” he said. “It’s tough to say right now. Emotions are obviously high when you lose a game. But as a group, we’ve got to get our heads down now, work hard on the training pitch and try to start turning out better performances. With better performances come wins.

The Herald: Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers“For large parts of the second half, we did have them in their half around their box. But again there were sloppy moments throughout the half which killed our momentum.

“When we did get in and around the box, we weren’t good enough in the final third to create clear openings to score goals. Again, that’s something we need to look at and try to improve on.”

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Carter Vickers continued: “But you’ve got to try to take the emotion out of it as much as you can. Look at the football, analyse the game and try to improve, that’s all you can really do.

“The emotion is understandable. When you lose a game that’s how we feel as players and that’s how the fans feel as well, but there is no point looking at a game in an emotional state. You’ve got to look at it clear-headed, stay as calm as you can and try to improve.

“We have to analyse what went wrong, see where we can improve as a team and as individuals. If we do that, performances will get better.”

Rodgers is hopeful of strengthening his squad with new signings during the January transfer window and has emphasised that, with Kyogo Furuhashi, Daizen Maeda and Oh Hyeon-gyu all set to feature in the Asian Cup next month, bringing in forward players is his top priority.

Carter-Vickers will welcome any reinforcements who arrive – but he is still firmly of the opinion that Celtic have the strength and depth and quality which they need to retain the Scottish title at the moment.   

“That’s down to the manager, really,” he said. “Whatever he decides is what we go with, and we go from there. But I think we have a good squad.

“Right now we’re going through a bit of bad form, a bad patch of results, but we know and believe in ourselves that if we work hard and improve, we’ve got enough. The real work comes in analysing and seeing where we can improve.”

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The 25-year-old realised the implications of the Hearts defeat for Rangers when referee Kevin Clancy blew his whistle for the end of the game on Saturday evening – but he insisted Celtic treat every game they play the same regardless of what position they are in.

“Of course I’m aware of it,” he said. “We had a lead that obviously now is disappearing, but at the end of the day it’s still December, there are plenty of games to be played.

“You’ve got to take it on a game-by-game basis. If we were 10 points clear or 10 points behind at this stage, it would still be a case of keeping improving and winning as many games as possible.”

The Herald: