The first real race for the title in 13 years

Brendan Rodgers recently said that Celtic come alive at this time of the season and now I am doing the same. While life events and personal issues have got in the way of writing, my hiatus from The Celtic Star is now over and I feel both refreshed and enthused for the run in.

Thinking about the excitement surrounding this genuine title race, I realised that 13 years have now elapsed since we last found ourselves in the midst of one. Indeed, it was back in 2011 when Celtic last went into the final stretch of games with a slender lead. We all know how that season ended and hope there isn’t a repeat this time around, but that once normal thrill of a title challenge is an interesting difference from recent experiences.

By the time 2012 rolled around, Rangers had entered administration and the league was a foregone conclusion by Valentine’s Day. The Ibrox club’s subsequent liquidation meant that Celtic won the league at a canter for the next few years and that trend continued when the new company entered the top flight and finished third behind Aberdeen and the Invincibles.

Four trebles followed, each league title being won with aplomb; then the shoe was on the other foot as theRangers won the league by more than 20 points. Again, not a title race. Ange Postecoglou arrived to rectify matters, but though the league was close going into February, the Hoops had one hand on the trophy going into the split. Last season was even easier and that brings us up to the present.

Celtic shouldn’t be in this position, having been several points ahead when Michael Beale left his post, but the past has gone and we are where we are. In recent weeks we’ve regained the initiative, but neither side seems to be consistently on form in Glasgow.

It’s back to 2003, 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2011 again… all close title battles in between Celtic blowing Rangers away. While I’d prefer we had pushed on and wrapped things up, the pressure of must win matches does make the run in more exciting this year.

Let’s ensure it’s another 2008!

About Author

Hailing from an Irish background, I grew up on the English south coast with the good fortune to begin watching Celtic during the Martin O'Neill era. I have written four Celtic books since the age of 19: Our Stories & Our Songs: The Celtic Support, Take Me To Your Paradise: A History Of Celtic-Related Incidents & Events, Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys: Celtic's Founding Fathers, First Season & Early Stars, and The Holy Grounds of Glasgow Celtic: A Guide To Celtic Landmarks & Sites Of Interest. These were previously sold in Waterstones and official Celtic FC stores, and are now available on Amazon.

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