When Brendan Rodgers took over as Celtic manager, I think it’s safe to assume that you would be sent to get your head checked if you were to say that he’d take the team on a 63 game unbeaten domestic run.
The run itself is difficult to comprehend at times but even more so when you look at the congested fixture lists that we have faced during the run.
In August last season, we played three games in the space of one week and also four games in 10 days. While three of those matches were Champions League qualifiers, the players are traveling and playing a lot of games.
This continuted throughout the season, I won’t highlight how many times it did happen but when you look at our upcoming fixture list, you’ll see that we’re facing something similar again where we have thee games in eight days.
We travel up to Dingwall for an early Saturday kick off then we’re over in Paris on Wednesday night for a Champions league game. We follow that up with a cup final on Sunday against Motherwell.
With all of the above in mind, it shows how amazing this unbeaten run is. It’s not like an international team going on a long run where they have a lot more recovery time and don’t play anywhere near as often.
Since Rodgers came in, he’s been absolutely relentless. It’s been a joy to watch. I was one of the fans who grew up watching Celtic during the nineties so seeing where we are now is great for me.
Wim Jansen was the first success that I ever saw from the stands as a Celtic fan. I was in the stand at Ibrox when we beat Dundee Utd 3-0 in the Coca Cola cup in 1997 and when we stopped 10 in a row in the same season. After that, it was a bit patchy until Martin O’Neill arrived.
Some have said that they didn’t particularly enjoy the style of football that O’Neills Celtic played. I loved it because it was successful and there were a good number of high scoring wins for us. Of course, he took us to Seville so will always hold a place as some of my favourite times as a Celtic fan.
I’ve wondered how the current team compare to the Seville team, I know a lot of things are very different, formations, tactics etc are all different so I don’t want to try and compare the two managers or the teams too much but I do wonder how far the current team can go?
Over the next few years, could we end in the latter stages of the Europa league or even another final? It’s silly to make claims or big predictions as it would put pressure on the players but to think where they could end up is a nice thought. I say it would put pressure on the players, I’m not sure they’ll be likely to read my blogs. . . . .
This year, of course, we’re in a good position to drop into the Europa League along with various other Champions League teams so without knowing who were likely to face, we can never guess how well we will do.
Another one of the great things about this current team is the fact that they are so exciting to watch. I mentioned the Seville team and how much I enjoyed watching them. When we move through a few other managers, I wasn’t a huge fan of the style of football of Gordon Strachan.
Some might think that is crazy when we remember that he took us to the last 16 of the Champions League. I’ve also said that some of my best European nights at Celtic Park were when Strachan was boss. The late win v Milan and Nakamura’s free kick v Man Utd are two of the best Celtic games I have ever been to in terms of how we celebrated the wins.
My problem with his team was that I felt it was pretty boring to watch in terms of domestic football. We quite often went a goal down before we started playing.
At the time, we used to leave the games a bit fed up and deflated but also saying that we should stop grumbling about it as we we’re still winning. The same applied with Ronnie Deila. I missed most of his first year as I was away but in his second year, the style of football wasn’t particularly enjoyable to watch.
Now, we’re successful and playing some fantastic football. Some of the individual play as well team play have been amazing. The goal v St Johnstone with, I think, 20 odd passes was spectacular. Also the pass that Eboue Kouassi played for Griffiths goal against Kilmarnock was amazing. For me, that was one of those passes that we would be seeing for years if it was from an EPL or La Liga game.
I don’t want to turn into a prophet of doom but of course the domestic run will end at some point. When it does, I’d like to think that we’re able to appreciate the run and thank the players and management for it. Some fans have been a bit jitterly with any games that we have drawn in so I think they might need to spend a few days in a decompression chamber when we do lose.
Until such times that it does happen, I am going to keep enjoying what is one of the most amazing periods of time in our clubs history. To say, years down the line, that we remember when a 100 year old record was broken isn’t something that many will be able to do.
Some people will try and belittle what we have done, there’s various reasons for that. Either they could be people who don’t like our team or perhaps they’re perhaps ex players who are no longer relevant and want to get a wee bit of publicity again for themselves.