IT is nearly a quarter of century since Partick Thistle last beat Celtic, but Chic Charnley, who orchestrated the Firhill club’s famous 3-1 triumph at Hampden back in 1995, is holding out little hope of them ending their 32 game winless run this weekend.

“It is going to be hard,” he said at a Premier Sports media event yesterday ahead of the fourth round William Hill Scottish Cup matches this weekend. “They (Thistle) will need to try not to lose an early goal, but even then I can’t see it.”

Charnley doesn’t envisage his beloved Celtic losing their grip the Scottish title this season either. The defending champions have been written off by many after being beaten 2-1 by Rangers at Parkhead at the end of last month. Their city rivals are now just two points behind them with a home game in hand.

But the man who made just one appearance – in Mark Hughes’ testimonial match at Old Trafford in 1994 – for his boyhood heroes remains confident Neil Lennon’s side have the quality and wherewithal to win the Ladbrokes Premiership for a record-equalling ninth occasion come May.

“I still think Celtic will win the league – not because I’m a fan but because they have the better players,” he said. “Rangers have the bit between their teeth after the last two derbies, but Celtic have a stronger squad and they have more experience of getting over the line.

“Callum McGregor, for me, is the best player in Scotland. The way he opens his body, looks, is aware of everything. He could have gone to the Premier League, he could play anywhere that boy.”

Charnley met up with Harald Brattbakk, the former Norwegian striker whose goals against St Johnstone helped to secure Celtic’s first title in 10 years back in 1998, at Hampden yesterday.

He can still recall the intense pressure that supporters put the Parkhead players under at that time as Rangers bid to lift a tenth consecutive league trophy. He feels the demands of the fans will be a huge factor in the coming weeks.

“There was a real frenzy about that, as there is again now,” he said. “Even Steven Gerrard has been caught up in it. Everyone tries to play it down, but it’s massive. My 11-year-old son is going demented about Celtic making it nine and 10-in-a-row.

“If they do manage to make it nine then next season there will be even more pressure on both teams. It’s who can handle it best. It is just going to go nuts, more so if they get the nine.

“There is more pressure on Rangers to stop Celtic winning nine. When Celtic were trying to stop it I remember, as supporter myself, it was fever pitch. That is all their fans talk about.

“I remember when Tommy Burns – whom I knew well – was Celtic’s manager. I told him that he had to stop Rangers winning Nine-In-A-Row. He would’ve been getting that 20 times a day. As it happened, he was sacked when he failed to prevent that happening.

“Rangers had some team back then. But Lenny has money now. The two players (Patryk Klimala signed yesterday and Ismaila Soro looks set to join this week) will make a difference.”