THE league may not yet be over, and absolutely no one within the club will even be caught saying this, but it is now Celtic’s title to lose.

They are now such strong favourites to get nine-in-a-row, and the turnaround since the Old Firm defeat has been remarkable.

Rangers beat Celtic in the New Year fixture, but they’ve come back and repeated the same mistakes as last season, dropping points left, right and centre. Having done that last term, I’m not even sure Neil Lennon would have expected his rivals to do so again, but they have now shipped eight points from their seven league games since the winter break, putting Celtic in a hugely commanding position at the top of the table.

All the Celtic manager can do is concentrate on what his side are doing, and they have come back with a real bang. Celtic always seem to react positively to adversity, that’s been the case over the past three years or so. Whereas, Rangers have really struggled whenever they have got right on Celtic’s coattails.

I thought that Rangers were going to make a greater challenge this time around. It is never over until it’s over, but what an advantage Celtic now have.

The only consolation for Rangers is that they have that game in hand, and they still have to play Celtic twice. The pressure on them now not only to win all three of those matches, but also not to have any more slip-ups elsewhere is huge though, and I’m not sure they have the mentality to handle that.

It isn’t just the 10-point lead that will satisfy Lennon, but also the fact they have streaked ahead on goal difference as well. At one stage, Rangers were ahead in that regard, but Celtic have really started to bang the goals in from all over the park.

Much has been made of the re-emergence of Leigh Griffiths and his partnership with Odsonne Edouard, and rightly so, because they have been great to watch and are scoring lots of goals. But even when they don’t score, as was the case against Hearts, Celtic are still able to hit five from all around the park.

It has been interesting to hear Steven Gerrard referencing the mentality of his players. The players in the Celtic dressing room certainly can’t have that levelled at them, they have proven they can react to adversity, and the fact they have characters who have been over course and distance before is a huge factor in what we are seeing play out now.

On the pitch, Celtic’s squad isn’t just superior in terms of numbers, but the quality is better too. I’m convinced that is a telling factor, and it looks very much as if Celtic are heading for another title because of it.

Injuries are clearing up, and the depth is there for all to see. You had the likes of Tom Rogic and Ryan Christie coming on at Hamilton to make a difference, then Christie and Mohamed Elyounoussi coming on against Hearts during the week and making an impact too.

When you look at the Rangers squad, there just isn’t the quality when their key players aren’t available. Ok, Jermaine Defoe has scored goals when Alfredo Morelos has been out on occasion, but when James Tavernier and Ryan Jack were out, their team was hugely impacted for the worse.

It is the same if Ryan Kent isn’t providing that creative spark. Who can Steven Gerrard turn to when his big-money signing isn’t performing?

Celtic have no such problems. If anything, the competition now means that every single one of their players is performing at a high level week-in, week-out, because they know that if they don’t there is a quality replacement waiting in the wings.

Neil Lennon will continue to say all the right things, of course, and he is right to do so, because the last thing he would want is for complacency to creep in. Any slip could possibly offer Rangers some encouragement again, while at the moment, they must be feeling pretty low about their prospects when they look at the form being shown by Celtic.

Rangers will probably be looking at Celtic’s fixtures now for the potential pitfalls that may lie ahead, and pretty near the top of that list would be a trip to Pittodrie to face Aberdeen.

On paper, this is one of the toughest challenges that Celtic will face. Aberdeen are back in third spot after a morale-boosting win on Tuesday night against Hamilton, and they will be looking to consolidate that after what has been an up-and-down season for them really so far.

There should be a good atmosphere, and Aberdeen will be up for it, but Celtic have dealt with that challenge of going to Pittodrie well in recent times. They cruised the game up there earlier in the season, and while I wouldn’t be putting money on them winning quite so easily again, it would be hard to put any money on them slipping up either with the way they are playing at the moment.

Similarly, it would now be a brave man to bet against Celtic going on to lift a ninth consecutive title.


I’d like to wish Jackie McNamara all the very best for his recovery. He’s a real gentleman and he was a fantastic player for Celtic, but more importantly, he is a family man.

My thoughts are with them and him at this difficult time, and I just hope that he manages to pull through and gets back to full health as quickly as possible.