THE last few weeks have been torture for Celtic fans with the team being on such a bad run and the hopes of securing 10 titles in a row diminishing rapidly.

But while it certainly looks like this now, you can’t take anything for granted in football. We have seen things turn around in championship races before.

We only need to look back to last season when Rangers played so well in their two matches with Celtic in December that it seemed they really were candidates to finally wrestle the title away from their arch rivals.

However, after the winter break in January, everything changed and Celtic coasted to the title, even although they were ultimately awarded it after the lockdown came into force.

Going into this season, Celtic were obvious favourites. Their squad were regarded as the strongest and it was quite clear from what we had witnessed after the 2020 winter break, they had a real winning mentality that came from years of continuous success.

This season has however, been a weird one because it wasn’t apparent in the early months that it was going to emerge anything like it has.

After things initially rolling along as expected, there is no doubt the win for Rangers at Celtic Park on October 17 was a major turning point in the season. It would seem the criticism the Rangers players got for their poor mentality after the winter break could now be attached to the Celtic squad.

Up until that game in October, Celtic had played 13 games with 11 wins and one defeat, to Ferencvaros in the Champions League, but they also recorded three victories in their other European matches, so their poor European form also started after the Rangers defeat.

Rangers had played 14 games with 11 wins and one defeat, to Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa league. So, at this point, the form of both clubs could really be deemed to be similar.

Astonishingly, since and including that 2-0 defeat, Celtic have played 13 games and won three. They have had six defeats, which is more than they had in the whole of last season.

Rangers, on the other hand, have played 13 and won 11, with no defeats. This is a major turnaround and you wonder if the Celtic players lost a great degree of confidence that day in October, triggering this decline and extraordinary loss of momentum.

The next Old Firm game on January 2 could prove to be a major defining point if the  form of both teams continues in the same way. December is a very busy month for both clubs with Rangers having nine matches and Celtic, eight.

Celtic will obviously want to improve on their league form but have other things to think about. They could potentially get a confidence boost if they win the Scottish Cup and enjoy celebrating another Treble. This could be a big factor and could surely lessen the rage being displayed by certain groups of Celtic fans.

Rangers will need to preserve their winning form but they are playing with such strength at the moment that they will be full of confidence that this can be maintained. Manager Steven Gerrard has improved the squad so competition for places is now a crucial factor in getting the best out of his players.

If they keep getting results through a busy December then the match on January 2
will play a major factor in deciding if they are going to be champions.

If the form of both clubs continues then the title could already be determined before even going into this match.

I don’t think it will, but Celtic have to turn things around quickly in order to stop this being a memorable season for all the wrong reasons.


THERE was a great deal of positivity this week after the World Cup draw was made. It appears we have been very fortunate in being in a group with Denmark and Austria who were seeds one and two.

I hope this positivity is justified but I have concerns about how comfortable this campaign will prove to be.

People need to be aware that only 13 teams qualify from Europe for the finals in Qatar in 2022. This means the 10 group winners go through and the 10 runners-up go into play- offs with the top-two Nations League teams to fight for the remaining three places.

Since we qualified for the 1998 finals, we have never been in the first two places in any qualifying group. We don’t have any of the major countries in our group this time but we can’t underestimate the quality of Denmark and Austria who are high-ranking FIFA countries.

Let’s hope the Euro Finals in 2021 give us the belief that, after 24 years, we can finally go beyond the World Cup group stage.