Scott Brown has backed Celtic to build back stronger without him.
The Celtic skipper – who is heading to Aberdeen this summer – bowed out of the Old Firm arena after 14 years and 44 derby clashes on Sunday.
But his hopes for one last triumph over Rangers where blown apart at Ibrox as the curtain crashed down on top of him.
Steven Gerrard’s team ran up their biggest win over their bitter rivals since 2007 with a 4-1 drubbing.
It is the first time in 21 years that Celtic – who had Callum McGregor sent off in the first half – have not managed to rack up a single league win against their old foes while they were in the same division.
But while it was a painful way to depart the derby scene, Brown has no doubt the Parkhead men will return as a major force next season.
“It’s been a hard season but Celtic will be back next season,” insisted the 35-year-old. “We’re as disappointed as much as the fans are. We’re sorry for letting them down over the whole season.
“It’s not about me, it’s about the team ultimately. This is definitely a low blow for us.
“We’ve had some fantastic games here but today we didn’t deserve 4-1. The lads fought but it was always going to be a hard performance with 10 men for 65 minutes.
“It’s going to be a big change around over the summer. There’s going to be a new manager in place.
“For me it’s the right time for myself to go, it’s a new challenge for me but this club will be back, it’s a fantastic club. Over the years we’ve had one really bad season over the last 10. I have faith in the players.
“I’m sad to be going but it’s the right time for me. It’s a huge fixture, Rangers versus Celtic, and to be fair I’ve enjoyed them.
“I’ve had some great memories in them as well as some disappointing ones. I’ve got two games left at Celtic and I need to make the most of them.”
Celtic are preparing for a major transformation over the summer, with speculation continuing to suggest Eddie Howe will be the man tasked with picking up the pieces.
But Steven Gerrard has vowed Rangers will get stronger again before the new campaign.
“What happens across the road is not really my business,” he said. “But we’re certainly aware of what’s going on over there and what type of reaction that side will be looking for.
“We’ll always respect that and prepare for it.
“At Rangers, recruitment never stops. I’ve been around the game long enough, even though I’m an inexperienced manager, to know you can’t stand still.
“We have to still identify areas of our group where we can help them get stronger because we’re not the finished article.
“Just because we’ve been fantastic in one league campaign and again been impressive in Europe, there is still areas and consistency that we need to strive for.
“My job and Ross Wilson’s job with the scouting network is to identify players who can help this group because in year four, it’s key we have new faces who can energise not just us but the fans and everyone connected with the club.”
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