DURING Stiliyan Petrov’s fledgling appearances for Celtic, few would have predicted the impact he would go on to make at the club, far less that he would leave as a legend.

That is why the Bulgarian understands the predicament facing the host of new faces that have arrived at Celtic over the summer, and sympathises with those who are still taking a little time to find their feet.

One of the major culture shocks for Petrov when arriving at the club was how difficult it could be when playing away from their own patch. When players sign for Celtic, they often talk about how eager they are to strut their stuff in front of 60,000 adoring fans at Celtic Park. They are rarely quoted as being attracted here by the thought of scrapping it out on a plastic pitch at the Tony Macaroni Arena.

But being able to win whatever the circumstances is what is required of Celtic are to be successful this season, and Petrov thinks that the penny will now be slowly dropping with those who are new to Scottish football that just because they play for one of the biggest clubs in the country, nobody will be rolling out the welcome mat for them.

“I got a shock when I came here, just how tough it could be away from home,” Petrov said. “When teams play against Celtic and Rangers, their performances go up 100 percent.

“They raise their game and fight for every single second on the pitch. That is their time to show what they can do.

“I found it really difficult at first. It wasn’t just me either. We have seen lots of players coming from England or abroad and finding it difficult to adapt. Scottish football is a completely different competition.

“When I came here I wasn’t fit enough and that’s why I found it hard. We were up against teams who had players who would run and run.

“It took time for me to adapt and it will be the same for these new players.”

It isn’t only a lack of exposure to Scottish football that is currently hampering Celtic on their travels according to Petrov, but the relative inexperience of the group as a whole.

He contrasts the current dressing room at the club with the one he walked into, which contained the likes of Henrik Larsson, Paul Lambert, Tom Boyd, Johann Mjallby and Lubomir Moravcik to name but a few.

“Don’t forget, when I first came in I played with very experienced team,” he said. “I was surrounded by characters, international players who’d played at high levels.

“This is a brand new team with a lot of young players. You look at (Liel) Abada, (Joao) Jota, Kyogo (Furuhashi), they are good players but they haven’t played a lot on the big stage. When I played I had people around me telling me what to do and pushing me on.

“This is a young, inexperienced team that will take time to gel. They have played well at times but they are inconsistent. I think we have to expect it.

“There was a lot happening last season with Neil (Lennon) leaving and everyone knew the club would have to go through a transition.

“I think they missed the time when they had to do that and they’ve then had to do it very quickly with the manager and the new players.

“It’s going to take time for them to be more consistent.”

For all his understanding of the situation though, Petrov also concedes that Ange Postecoglou must find a way to turn Celtic’s away form around soon before it becomes an even bigger monkey on the backs of his players.

From what he has seen of the Australian coach so far though, he is in no doubt that he can do just that.

“It’s a concern because psychologically players will be going in to away games under pressure now,” he said.

“But this is a transition period for Celtic with the new manager and so many new players, they are just trying to find their feet.

“They are playing a lot of games domestically and in Europe and maybe some inconsistency is expected.

“The manager is also dealing with so many injuries to key players, and it makes it difficult to win games.

“Postecoglou has a lot to contend with, but what I like about him is he’s quite calm and he takes things as it comes.

“He knows his challenges but when he gets his important players coming back I think you’ll see a different Celtic.”

*Stiliyan Petrov was speaking at The John Hartson Foundation Golf Day at Turnberry. The Hartson Foundation supports various cancer charities around the UK.