After dominating proceedings at the domestic level for eight years in a row, a change of pattern was witnessed in the way Celtic won their ninth Scottish Premiership title this year.
Owing to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, action couldn’t be resumed in Scotland, with the Scottish Football Association deciding to hand the Bhoys the title on a point-per-game basis.
However, the hunger for success at Celtic Park is unquenchable and, therefore, the Bhoys are certain to return next season with a hunger for more and looking to make it ten-in-a-row.
Celtic Player of the Year, Odsonne Edouard said in a recent interview:
“Winning 10 in a row is very important for the club, the players and the fans. No-one knows what will happen in the future but I want to be a part of it.”
The feat will allow Neil Lennon’s side to etch their names in history, and given the team’s recent domestic dominance, there is no reason to doubt Celtic’s ability to turn their dream of winning 10 successive league titles into a reality.
A few factors will have to be taken into account though, as the Hoops will look to go about their business in a majestic manner next season.
Getting into the groove
A premature end to the campaign means the Scottish teams will have more time in hand to prepare for next season.
While the Celtic players have returned to limited training at Lennoxtown, they are yet to know for certain when action will resume – both domestically a well as in the Champions League qualifiers.
While the players have spoken about their readiness to return to action whenever they are asked to, the uncertainty is certainly going to affect them psychologically, and the transition from pre-season to competitive football won’t be as smooth as they would have otherwise expected.
The usual Celtic Park vibe might also be unavailable, given the current uncertainties, as not even the authorities can predict when it would safe to allow the fans to return to the stands.
The electric atmosphere inside Paradise has been pivotal to boosting the morale of the players, and their absence is certainly going to be felt.
The additional pressure of delivering in the Champions League
Celtic’s recent record in the premier European competition hasn’t been satisfactory at all.
They were knocked out of the third qualifying round during both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons.
Their last involvement in the tournament proper was back in 2018 when they were knocked out of the group stages.
Even their involvement in the Europa League has failed to bear any fruit as they were knocked out of the Round of 32 by FC Copenhagen.
What added to the fans’ frustration was the fact that Celtic’s bitter rivals, Rangers are still alive in the competition.
Heading to the new season, the Celtic faithful will expect more from their team in the Champions League, and that can obviously have an impact in the way the Bhoys operate at the domestic level.
Steven Gerrard’s coming-of-age as Rangers manager
Steven Gerrard took charge of Rangers back in 2018 but is yet to guide the Gers to any silverware.
As a result, frustrations have been growing and eventually, the Liverpool legend might lose his job at Ibrox.
Given that it is the 40-year-old’s first full-time job as a manager, Gerrard will do everything in his power to stop getting the sack.
The process has already started with the Gers making an early move in the summer transfer market to snap up Leicester City defender Calvin Bassey.
All the probabilities suggest that Rangers are going to give their bitter rivals a run for their money next season.
They came close this season, cutting the gap down to just two points with a game in hand back in December, as they beat Celtic 2-1 away from home, only to lose their way after returning from the winter break late in January.
However, Gerrard’s coming-of-age as a manager might well prove to be crucial in Rangers’ desperate attempt to stop Celtic’s ten-in-a-row from happening.
The Celtic-Rangers rivalry is one of the oldest and bitterest in the world, and seeing the Hoops win ten successive domestic titles, in spite of their presence, will give the Gers fans the agony of a lifetime.
And so, every possible thing is expected to be done by Rangers in order to stop that from happening.
Now it will be up Celtic to plan and move forward with their course of action. But one thing is for sure, the job is going to be as complicated as it can be.
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