While Celtic were always likely to win the Scottish Premiership this season, few could have imagined the sheer size of their lead atop the table, even with the return of bitter rivals Rangers to the mix. In truth, you’d have to have been a brave man to merely consider betting against the Bhoys this term, though Brendan Rodgers has done a remarkable job nonetheless.
It’s amazing, really, to think anyone else was even linked with the post Ronny Deila vacated following the miserable Scottish Cup semi-final defeat to the Gers (then of the Championship) little over a year ago. The likes of David Moyes, Steve Evans and even a return for Neil Lennon were touted as potential options, until the former Liverpool coach arrived at his boyhood club.
Granted, Rodgers may not have been overly tested this season and those at Ibrox will no doubt be scheming away to try and muster more of a challenge next season, though the nature of the Hoops’ sheer dominance this term is not to be sniffed at. Sitting 24 points clear of second-placed Aberdeen, 30 clear of Rangers, the champions are yet to lose domestically and look on course to landing a wonderful treble under Rodgers’ watch.
Refreshingly, nothing about those in Paradise looks to be taking their foot off the gas. In fact, with only really the Scottish Cup still to play for, the green and white army have refused to let anything slip, only getting better with time. Refusing to let any momentum slip, that sort of determination to continually improve should stand them in good stead when next season rolls around.
As easy as it is to wax poetic about Rodgers and his backroom team’s ruthlessness in keeping up with their own searing pace, it does serve as something of a missed opportunity for the club. In all honesty, this sort of attitude should have been adopted at Parkhead back in 2012, when Rangers went into liquidation. Moving along at such pace would have entirely killed the threat those just across Glasgow could offer for the foreseeable future, with Celtic almost certainties to replace their Old Firm rivals as Scotland’s most successful club.
The final two years of Lennon’s reign in charge, coupled with Ronny Deila’s two-year stint, saw Celtic limp over the line when they should have been sprinting. They’ve picked up the pace this time around, though they really should be further into the distance than they already are. If not in the table then certainly in terms of development.
Now, that may well still happen, though even allowing the sheer notion of Rangers catching up to be a feasible one could come back to bite top brass at Celtic Park. Should the Gers appoint a big name boss to replace Mark Warburton, with ambitious options such as Frank De Boer touted in the media, and start closing the gap before Celtic hit 10 league titles in a row, 2012 will provide as much as a missed chance as it is a celebration amongst the club’s support.
That’s easier said than done, of course, though stranger things have happened.