Football: Scottish round-up - Mood of unrest escalates at Celtic

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THE CELTIC supporters are beginning to feel short-changed. Many of the 50,000 season-ticket holders believe they should have been given a better return on their money than just one new player for this season and, as the Scottish champions struggle to find their rhythm of last season, empty spaces are beginning to appear at Celtic Park up to 15 minutes before the end of some games.

The main reason for supporters leaving early is the poor quality of football on show from their team. There appears to be little tactical discipline about the side, the very quality that helped them claim the title last season after nine years of Rangers domination.

Dr Jozef Venglos, the coach, appears unable to make his ideas clear to the players - on Wednesday they resorted to a series of high balls in a desperate attempt to break down a resolute St Johnstone defence. It was to no avail as the Perth side recorded their first Premier victory at Celtic Park.

The atmosphere is clearly strained at a club riven by internal problems, where the players recently made a stand in a bonus dispute against the club's owners. Certainly any feel-good factor from winning the League has long since evaporated, and the supporters too are becoming increasingly unhappy on the evidence of the impatient jeers whenever an error was made in midweek.

Nor is the quality of football the same as last season but, while he searches for answers, Dr Venglos admits he is feeling under increasing pressure. He introduced Vidar Riseth to the side for Saturday's game with Hearts and, although there was an improvement from midweek, Celtic were still less than convincing as a 1-1 draw took their record to just two wins in the last 10 games.

That is a worrying statistic, with a Uefa Cup tie looming tomorrow against Portugal's Vitoria Guimaraes although Celtic lead 2-1 from the first leg.

While Celtic look for inspiration, there are clear signs that Dick Advocaat's passing game is coming good for Rangers.

The midfielfder Barry Ferguson, who is expected to be named in the Scotland squad for the forthcoming internationals with Estonia and the Faroe Isles, scored the second goal in a 2-0 victory over Dunfermline, putting the finishing touch to a fine move.