Gordon Strachan says it is down to him to turn around Celtic's inconsistent form this year, after he watched his side crash out of the Scottish Cup in a shock 1-0 quarter-final defeat by St. Mirren. Just a week earlier the Hoops had put seven past the Buddies in league play and followed that up with a midweek win over Kilmarnock that sent them back to the top of the table.
But Celtic's fragile form in 2009, which has seen them win just three league games since the turn of the year, returned on 7 March as the Buddies ruined their dreams of a domestic treble at New St. Mirren Park. Earlier in the season the current champions put together a run of 12 straight wins in the league. And Hoops manager Strachan says he must find a way of getting his side back to winning ways with an Old Firm League Cup final looming on the horizon on 15 March.
"We have had three good performances on the trot and that wasn't a good one. That's the kind of inconsistency we've been showing this year," Strachan said. "I would love to get a consistency where we pick the same team every week. But we don't have a consistent 11 or 12 that stay in the team all the time.
"Being the manager, I start thinking the minute we get back on the bus to go home about the game next week," Strachan said. "It's my job to get them back on a winning run. There's not a secret to it. If you went along to a coaching course they don't say 'Listen if you want to go back on a long winning run this is what you do' - you don't get that on a coaching course. You're out there on a limb as a manager and I have to find ways of getting that consistency back."
A second-half Billy Mehmet penalty was enough to seal the shock win, their first over Celtic in nearly 20 years. The win sends St. Mirren into the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup for the first time since 1987, the year they last won the competition, and keeps their unbeaten record at the New St. Mirren Park intact. It means Old Firm rivals Rangers, who take on Hamilton at Ibrox today, are the only team who can now complete a clean sweep of domestic trophies.
Scott McDonald thought he had given Celtic the lead in the 14th minute when he glanced home a header from Shunsuke Nakamura's cross from the right, but the Australian's effort was ruled offside. But it was St. Mirren who took the lead in the 55th minute through a Mehmet penalty.
Craig Dargo's mazy run took him past Stephen McManus, but the Celtic captain then hauled the forward down in the box, which earned him a booking. Mehmet took the resulting penalty and he calmly sent Boruc the wrong way to make it 1-0. Despite pressure from Celtic, the Buddies held on to record a famous victory over the Glasgow giants.