McGeady convinced Hoops can maintain upward curve

Hapoel win 'our best of season' declares midfielder, despite Europa League exit
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The Independent Football

Aiden McGeady believes the Europa League win over Hapoel Tel Aviv on Wednesday provided more evidence that Celtic's season is on an upward curve.

The Hoops gained their first Group C win of the campaign thanks to goals from Georgios Samaras and Barry Robson, although it was not enough to prevent them crashing out of the tournament with one game remaining.

After dropping out of the Champions League and the Co-operative Insurance Cup already, another early exit was not what the Celtic manager, Tony Mowbray, needed, but it was tempered by last weekend's return to the top of the Scottish Premier League with a convincing 3-1 home win over St Mirren.

McGeady, Celtic's star player once again, took more encouragement from the display against the Israeli side, who will go through to the knockout stages from the group with Hamburg.

"I don't want to speak too soon but we are starting to get the results and starting to play better as a team," the Republic of Ireland midfielder said. "It could be the platform for us to kick on and go on a good run.

"We probably played the best football of our season against Hapoel. The first half was similar to the way we played against Aberdeen in the first SPL game of the season. We really need to get back to that.

"For some reason or other, we have just been lacking quality, in the final ball, passing in midfield; our all-round game has been lacking in the last couple of months.

"Slowly but surely we can get back to that and the last couple of games have shown that. We haven't been winning many games of late, but that's two on the bounce and, hopefully, we can win on Saturday against Aberdeen as well."

McGeady played down his fine recent form, adding: "I think I have played better. I'm happy enough but I'm just happy that the team's winning. The last few games I have played OK and have set up a few goals, but it's not just me, I think the team as a whole have been playing well.

"You want to enjoy your football but the main thing is that we are playing a bit better than we were a few weeks ago and we are getting the results now," he said.

Robson drove in a powerful 25-yard free-kick to tie up the points after the break after McGeady had set up Samaras for the first-half opener. But Robson admits he may not have done enough to start against the Dons at Parkhead.

Asked whether he expected to keep his place, the former Dundee United player said: "Yes, I do, but it's different this season.

"You see the way the manager works here, he likes to change it a lot, to keep players fresh. He likes to play me in certain games, that's the way he does it.

"I think I have played the majority of games since coming back from injury. But you have to remember I was out the best part of a year and I'm back for about two months and have played about six or seven games.

"So I need to get back to my fittest and play my best football as well, and I am getting closer," Robson added.

At Rangers, Maurice Edu claims reports of dressing-room unrest have been "blown out of proportion". In the wake of the Ibrox club's Champions League exit and the loss to Celtic of their place at the top of the Premier League, two stories of trouble within the camp emerged.

The striker Kenny Miller and defender Madjid Bougherra reportedly had a training ground confrontation the day before last Saturday's SPL defeat at Aberdeen, after which it was reported that the captain Davie Weir and Kyle Lafferty had words in the dressing room at half-time, with the Northern Ireland international being replaced by Miller.

However, Edu, who is targeting the Old Firm game at Parkhead on 3 January for his first match of the season following his recovery from a knee injury, said: "It has been blown out of proportion. We know what's going on within our team, we know what our morale is like and we know what the team spirit is like, so it is not a concern. It is not anything we worry about.

"There is always going to be talk about things happening at any club. Little minor things happen, nothing major and nothing to be concerned about. You just get on with it."