By Craig Turnbull
Tommy Johnson insists Celtic’s current woes paled in comparison to what he went through at the club when they suffered one of the worst results in their history.
The former Hoops striker watched on at Celtic Park as supporters vented their frustration after a drab 0-0 draw with Dundee to leave them only four points clear of Aberdeen at the top of the Scottish Premiership.
Johnson though has a night which is etched in the back of his head when the Hoops were humiliated by part-time First Division side Inverness CT in the Scottish Cup which cost manager John Barnes his job in February 2000.
The striker, blighted by injury problems, wasn’t involved in the game but remembers the fall-out after.
“I was sitting at home on the couch watching it. It was horrible,” he said. “The club aren’t going through at the minute what we went through.
“That was probably one of my lowest points at Celtic. You’re expected to win the game and you know you’re not.
“The headlines come out the next morning and the manager has left as well. It’s pretty low but you’ve just got to rise above it and get through it.
On Celtic’s current situation, he said: “They are still top of the league, four points ahead and still in the Scottish Cup so there’s still a lot to play for.
“Am I surprised at the criticism from supporters? They are very passionate fans.
“I know what it’s like I had four and a half years here good times and bad times but you’ve just got to get through it. You’ve got to be mentally strong and get through it – me probably more than most as well.”
Celtic bounced back the following season under Martin O’Neill to win a treble and are still the last Hoops team to do so.
Johnson scored the goal to win them the title against St Mirren before they went to secure the treble by winning the Scottish Cup.
The Hoops have been desperate to replicate that success with Rangers out of the picture but even despite their city rivals’ absence from the top flight, Johnson says he’s not surprised the current team haven’t been able to do so.
“Would I have expected Celtic to win a treble in Rangers absence? You would have thought so but as I said before it’s very difficult, it’s very hard to go and do.
“You’ve got to go out and win 80 or 95% of your games to get it.
“We were fortunate at the time as you’ve got budget constraints now.
“It’s difficult to attract the players because you’re not playing Rangers but you’ve still got to go out and beat whoever you play.
“We found that out in the year we were there when we did it. It was just grit, determination and togetherness in the dressing room which got us through and a great manager.”