“The Ten-in-a-Row factor weighed too heavily on Celtic and took its toll,” Gary Gillespie

Nothing that happens in football is particularly surprising, reckons the former Liverpool and Celtic defender Gary Gillespie as he tries to get to the reasons why not of his old clubs went from clear and comfortable title winners to also rans in the Covid close-down season where the campaign has been played out without the backing of supporters.

When you’ve been in the game a while, nothing should really surprise,” Gillespie told Sunday Post. “But I think it’s a bit of a shock to see the points differences. The standards both clubs set were so high.

“Celtic winning a Quadruple Treble is a fantastic achievement. To keep that going is pretty near impossible.

“When Liverpool were so dominant and beating everyone quite comfortably last year, comparisons were made with great teams of the past. I certainly believed them capable of, if not dominating the Premier League, at least challenging for years. I thought they were that good, with the ideal character and mentality about them to do it.

“But I actually see both clubs bouncing back. Neither needs a major rebuild. A tweak here or there can get them winning leagues and cups.”

Gillespie was a big money signing for Liam Brady’s Celtic in 19991. The £900k was money Celtic couldn’t really afford as the old board tried desperately to keep up with the big spenders of other people’s money across the city. But despite Neil Lennon losing his job, Peter Lawwell announcing that he’s retiring on 30 June and Scott Brown deciding that after 14 hugely successful years at Celtic, he’s leaving to join Aberdeen as a player/coach, Gillespie does not see all this adding up to the return of the barren years of the early 1990s for the Hoops.

LIVERPOOL TEAM CELEBRATE WINNING THE LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP WITH THE TROPHY, 01/05/1990.Liverpool v Derby County Back Row : L to R. Peter Beardsley,Ronnie Rosenthal,Gary Gillespie,Jan Molby,Ronnie Whelan,Ian Rush,Gary Ablett,Peter Barnes,Bruce Grobbelaar. Front : Brian Burrows,Barry Venison,Glenn Hysen,Alan Hansen,Steve Nicol,Ray Houghton,Steve Staunton.

“In my time, it felt like we were a million miles behind Rangers,” Gillespie admitted. “As a Celtic fan, we shouldn’t think that way now. Listen, I understand it in Glasgow. I’ve been there finishing behind Rangers, so I know what it’s like. But it’s maybe too early, jumping on theRangers bandwagon.

“I think the Ten-in-a-Row factor weighed too heavily on Celtic and took its toll. Add to the equation the truly exceptional season (the)Rangers are having and I’m not sure Celtic would’ve got close anyway.

“Celtic have only lost four games – two to Rangers. I thought Celtic were the better team at New Year and should have got a result. They kind of dominated last Sunday in the first half and should have scored more. In the head-to-head, there’s not a great deal in it. But the overall consistency of (the)Rangers determined it,” Gillespie assessed.

Photo by Stuart Wallace/BPI/Shutterstock

“Scott Brown indicated that, through the season, Celtic just haven’t been at it enough in certain matches. I thought Shane Duffy would’ve been a good signing. His Premier League performances were solid.

(the)Rangers’ defensive record is unreal and that’s where Celtic have been a bit weak. But I think Kris Ajer is still a prospect and Christopher Jullien has been unlucky with injuries.

“The squad itself is good enough to compete. Callum McGregor appears highly thought of there so he could be captain, he’s matured into an all-round midfielder.”

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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