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Former Celtic defender Alan Stubbs has warned that the club’s inaction in the January transfer window has come back “to bite them on the backside.”

Celtic are expected to announce record mid-term financial results any day now. They will confirm their business model is unsurpassed when it comes to keeping the club in the black but their hesitancy to invest in quality signings could cost them the £60m bounty that awaits for next season’s Champions League participants, according to Stubbs.

Having seen off Rangers in the penultimate fixture before the winter break, Celtic added only Adam Idah, on a loan move from Norwich, and Nicolas Kuhn a £3m signing on a five-year deal. It was, at best, underwhelming. It also seemed to fly in the face of Brendan Rodgers and Callum McGregor, both on whom spoke openly in December about the need for quality additions in the January window.

“You only have to look at Celtic’s bench from Saturday; Oh, Kuhn, Bernardo, Bernebei, Hyun…that is what I am talking about the strength in depth,” said Stubbs. I am not sure that they are going to take Celtic to the next level.

“I think this is the reason why this could bite Celtic on the backside in terms of their recruitment policy over the last 18 months, since Ange left, really. He had really good success with some but I think they have gone to the Asian market too much. You only have to look at three or four of them that have just now worked at all.”

The weekend draw to Kilmarnock had felt increasing inevitable the longer the game had gone on. Equally expected has been the shift that has taken place at the top of the table.  With only two points now separating the teams at the top, the momentum, belief and conviction is all with Rangers.

There is scant evidence in Celtic’s performances across this season that would point to an ability to go through the remaining 12 league games unblemished. They have already dropped points in seven games this season – which is one more across the entirety of the season in Ange Postecoglou’s last season. It would also have to be said that three of those came after the title had been wrapped up.

While Stubbs believes that Celtic now go to Ibrox as underdogs, he has backed Celtic to dig it out in terms of keeping their hands on the title.

“Philippe Clement has really turned this group of Rangers players around to a strong looking team. Technically I don’t they are good as the Celtic team but in terms of getting results and finding a way to win he has done that better [than Rodgers].

“I would still slightly put Celtic just as favourites only because they have a group of players who have been there and done it but in terms of momentum Rangers are on in the front foot. They look like a team who are driving forward and could potentially win the league.”

Stubbs has also questioned whether or not Celtic have the unity to recover from going behind in the title race.

“Mentally you have to be a very strong individual,” he said. “Over the last number of years Celtic have dominated domestically apert from Rangers stopping the ten. They have had it more or less their own way. This is where when you see whether someone can deal with the pressure of playing for a big club like Celtic or Rangers when you need to get results.

“Rangers right now are doing to teams what you would expect Celtic to do.

“Celtic have been grinding results out but haven’t been convincing. When we were trying to stop Rangers doing 10 it was nip and tuck all season. The biggest thing that got us through that season was our team spirit. We had good players, no doubt about that but our biggest strength was the unity we had and the camaraderie. I don’t think there the same big personalties in that team that we had in ours.

Stubbs also accepted that it can be a difficult environment to play in when there is anger around the stadium with fans frustrated with the players and the club.

“It is tough,” he said. “I can’t remember the last time I heard the boos ring round Celtic Park like that for a long time now and there is a large element of that directed towards the board. What the fans see is a lack of vision. January was an opportunity missed. The lack of marquee signings has become very evident. You look at Rangers’ overhaul last summer and there were over ten, plus players that have come in since then.

“That is not an easy thing to do but they look as if there is a togetherness among the Rangers team right now. The players that always step up to the plate and there are only three or four, you know what you are going to get.

“Callum McGregor, Matt O’Riley, Kyogo and, when he is on it, Daizen Madea. It seems to be a struggle for the other to reach that standard. The rest I don’t think are up to that level and are beneath them when it comes to that top end quality. That will be the reason why Celtic, if they do so, lose the league.”

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