Celtic are looking to make history this season as they chase an unprecedented tenth league title in a row.
Even though some fans don’t want to acknowledge it, there’s no denying that the new club in Glasgow do represent a challenge, and it will be a test for the Hoops to win the league.
In fact, you only have to look at the latest football betting odds to see that the neutrals find it hard to split the two clubs, with Celtic slight 4/7 favourites to be crowned champions.
However, the one thing that should give every supporter confidence that we will win the race is the strength in depth at Parkhead.
This season in particular is going to throw up more challenges and unusual incidents than ever before, with Celtic already suffering on that front.
Yet, Lennon, backed well by the board, has built an undeniably strong and skilful squad.
— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) September 12, 2020
Defensively, and in spite of a rocky performance at the weekend, Shane Duffy has made a difference since sealing an emotional transfer to join the club, and there’s now no guarantee that a strong performer like Christopher Jullien will make the XI.
Out wide, James Forrest, a proven winner, will struggle to play due to Jeremie Frimpong’s emergence, even when he’s fully fit.
Frimpong is such a huge talent that fans were stunned at how ineffective he was at the weekend … he carries a lot of weight for a young footballer, but he has proved himself able to carry it. Forrest has the success behind him, and the experience, but Frimpong gets fans on their feet.
But, it’s in midfield and up top where the options are especially impressive.
A midfield trio of Scott Brown, Callum McGregor, and Ryan Christie is the best in the country and that leaves the likes of Olivier Ntcham, David Turnbull, and Tom Rogic on the bench.
All are game-changers.
Similarly, Odsonne Edouard is the best player in Scotland, but if he doesn’t fire there is a support cast of Albian Ajeti, Leigh Griffiths, Moi Elyounoussi, and Patryk Klimala.
Quite simply, you could make a strong case to say that a Celtic reserve side would finish second in Scotland if they were in the league.
Of course, performances need to improve dramatically … but the idea that this isn’t a fantastically talented squad is nonsense.
Our least talented first team player would get into any other squad in the country, quite comfortably.
Both Glasgow clubs will be playing in the Europa League and that means the big games will be coming thick and fast. Thursday, Sunday, Thursday, Sunday.
It’s mentally challenging and physically demanding, so Lennon’s ability to freshen things up will be huge.
Yes, the Ibrox club has made an interesting start … they’ve looked consistent, and they’ve looked good … but we’ve yet to see them tested by fatigue and by injuries and we know too that the global virus is capable of whirling through a club and wrecking even the best laid plans.
Competition for places is also a key factor in pushing those in the XI to their best.
Any individual knows that a failure to deliver means the boss can turn to a quality replacement and you may not be out on the pitch for another few weeks as a result.
High standards will have to be maintained.
— Record Celtic Podcast (@DR_Celtic) October 12, 2020
Some will argue that managing such a large squad can be difficult and keeping so many good players happy is impossible, potentially creating a divide in the dressing room … but Gerrard has bought so many players at Ibrox that he faces the same problem in several positions.
But Celtic’s squad is bigger and more talented, and that’s where the advantage still lies.
People continue to point out that we are not on form … but there’s no major gap here, nothing much really seperating us from the Ibrox club … the question is how long it will take us to start hitting our high gears. You have to think that at some point we pretty much have to … this lethargy will eventually be shaken off.
That’s because every Celtic player knows they are on the verge of carving their name into the history of the club forever and they will be more willing than ever to put the team above any individual aims. The fans and Lennon won’t allow anything else.
Even those who may see their ultimate futures elsewhere know that they can become immortals at Celtic before they do … as well as showcasing their talents to those clubs who might fancy taking them off our hands. You have to remember, too, that much of this squad has been over the course many times and they are proven winners … winners do not like to lose.
Therefore, at some point things will begin to click again, and with this talented squad all pulling in the same direction over a long, hard season, it’s difficult to see anything other than more Celtic success.
Tom Wilson is a regular contributor the site.