Why an undefeated Celtic means nothing... without Rangers

Celtic V Rangers Reserves

Neil Lennon says he wants Celtic to finish the SPL season undefeated.

But would that be such an illustrious achievement when their biggest opposition are currently playing two divisions below them?

You may only be able to beat those in front of you in football - but the feeling that accompanies winning must be a hollow one for Celtic these days.

That sentiment only increases when you consider how easily they fell out of their Champions League group earlier this term, as well as their shock defeats in the Scottish cups.

After 24 league games, meanwhile, the Bhoys have built up a 21-point lead over second-placed Aberdeen, drawing just three times all season and amassing a goal difference of 45. They have won their last 10 league games in a row, while striker Kris Commons is also the division's top scorer.

"The incentive now is to go unbeaten for the rest of the season," Lennon told reporters on Thursday. "I don't know if that's been done here before at the highest level.

"We've had Champions League football, the players have entertained all season and broken records so we want to finish with a bit of style."

It hasn't been done, no. But then the division has never been so easy without Rangers.

They, too, are well clear at the top of their league (the Scottish League One) and have a 23-point lead over their nearest rivals. Enough, surely, is enough.

As former Scotland midfielder Craig Burley argued some time ago, it's time to bring Rangers back to the top table of Scottish football.

"While Celtic win this league in reverse there’s a real dog fight for the best of the rest – and good luck to those involved," he wrote.

"But it’s just not the same without a proper title scrap and that won’t come until Gers are back.

"I understand the argument that Rangers want to return to top-flight football the natural way. Their fans are also keen to do that but that’s not the issue here – it’s about the bigger picture."

Of course, the Gers are likely to be playing SPL football within a couple of seasons at their current rate of success, anyway - but that might be a season too long for fans of the Scottish game.

While the likes of Aberdeen, Motherwell and Inverness try and extract the best out of severely limited budgets, Celtic will always rule the roost in the SPL with considerable ease. Until Rangers return, that is.

image: © Tom Brogan

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