What Celtic Fans Need To Remember Is This: Winning Ugly Is Still Winning.

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Ask any Celtic supporter about their memories of the title run in of season 07/08 and most will reminisce with a smile on their face.

A year in which despite being 8pts behind having played a game more, Gordon Strachan’s team rose like a phoenix from the ashes, won all their remaining fixtures, two of which came against a Rangers side chasing a Quadruple, culminating in an emotional night at Tannadice when Jan Venegoor of Hesselink rose above everyone else in the box to head home a Paul Hartley corner and clinch our 3rd successive League Championship. It was the first time a Celtic side had achieved such a feat since the days of Jock Stein.

For many it is one of the most dramatic title triumphs in our long, illustrious history, right up there with stopping the 10 or the miracle at Love St. in 86. It was, quite simply, “Tommy’s Title”

And yet, despite the happy memories, what many will opt to exclude from their minds is how such odds seemed so insurmountable in the first place. And that was because for most of that campaign, the only thing worse than many of the results were the performances.

From our opening day stalemate at home to Kilmarnock right up until that nervy 1-0 win on the final night, our play was slow, pedestrian, predictable and left us with a seemingly impossible task with just 7 games left. Even that much lauded 7 game winning streak was nerve wracking with all but 2 of the fixtures being settled by a single goal.

But when the final whistle blew on that Thursday night in Dundee all that mattered in the end was that Celtic had achieved the seemingly impossible. We had won the League.

But we had won in a way that is not usually associated with Celtic triumphs. We had won it ugly.

This was not a year in which teams were blown away with ease or supporters arrived at the ground knowing a win was guaranteed and the only question was how many it would be that day.

Every win was a battle, and because of the circumstances, the famous “Celtic Way” had to be temporarily shelved for the greater good. I see a lot of similarities between that campaign and the current one unfolding in front of our eyes.

Aside from the 2 dropped points at Aberdeen last weekend, Celtic have won 5 games out of the last 6 however nobody would argue that aside from Bernardo and Kyogo’s stunning strikes against Rangers that there was much to remember about any of them.

Our latest outing at Easter Rd was not any better. And yet despite that we came away with the required victory. And I reckon that whether we like it or not, that there will be more performances like Wednesdays to come before the season ends.

This is going to be a season where a committed challenge like Anthony Ralston’s in the 90th minute will mean more than what a jinking Jota run did last year. This is not going to be pretty; this is going to be the ugliest of dog fights against our rivals who, despite not being great themselves, are also more than capable of putting a run of results together due to the dire quality of the other teams both sides are currently facing.

Everyone accepts we are in a tough spot right now, much of it our own doing due to poor summer recruitment and the fact that Brendan has not been able to secure the type of players he wants to play his preferred way. Add in an unprecedented injury crisis and its little wonder it has not been plain sailing this year. Take the most dominant centre half or creative midfielder or hardest working winger out of any top side and you will see a marked difference.

And yet, despite all that we are still the league leaders. We are still on top. And when our Captain lifts that Championship trophy aloft in the May sunshine, an indifferent period in the Winter will fade into obscurity. Because winning ugly is still winning.

Anthony is a regular contributor on the Endless Celts podcast. Listen live via YouTube 8.30pm Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays. Available to listen back on all the major outlets.

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  • Sid says:

    I get the parallels the writer is suggesting, however having known a Celtic player in that Strachan side their is however differences where I wouldn’t be holding my breath for a repeat. That Strachan side was used to playing a more dogged style of Football. We regularly punched above our weight against top European sides in CL. It wasn’t pretty but they had players who could dig and compete. Now we have more a football approach, less physical and when we can’t dominate and hurt teams because we’re not scoring enough goals then teams are waiting for their chance in the game and striking. Happened at Aberdeen l, Hibs and very nearly Ross County.
    I do believe we have to grind out results until, Taylor, CCV, Johnston, Hatate are back, but I severely doubt this squad has the tools to get through unscathed.

  • Michael McCartney says:

    That’s a great example of looking on the brighter side of life James, but I’m afraid the malaise around this team at the moment gives me little confidence. The display on Wednesday is one of the worst performances since the early 1990’s.
    As Celtic supporters we’ve always got “Hope in our Hearts” but we need our players to turn up in the next few games and restore a semblance of skill and confidence.
    The complacency and self importance plus lack of respect shown to the fans by those at the top at Celtic is breathtaking.We know they think of us as just customers and that is why the relationship between the board and fans is breaking down.

  • Gordon Raeburn says:

    Anyone seen Reporting Scotland tonight. Still giving Clement another chance to moan about the non penalty in December. Why even show it when it was proven to be offside. The good old Hun Broadcasting Corporation at it’s best. I hate them.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    Winning (honestly) is all that counts for me – It’s The be all and end all in my humble opinion…

    I once had a debate with a Celtic supporter about this –

    He said that he’d rather lose in ‘The Celtic Way’ playin brilliant football in the way The late Great Tommy Burns did but we won virtually zilch unfortunately…

    For me winning all the way – Ideally with style of course – but if not then ugly but honestly ugly !

  • Jim Duffy says:

    The problem is we’re quite happy to win a piss poor league,who are we ever going to do something in Europe , which is a mark on how teams are progressing,we are shite in Europe have been for the last 15 years , fortress parkhead don’t make me laugh,and it’s not all just about vast financial differences,there are teams in Europe with a tenth of our resources put us to shame.really anyone outside of Scotland doesn’t give a shit about us or sevco because we’re both shite although sevco have proved to be a bit better Iin Europe,but in general the standard of football in the SPFL is shocking,no team in the SPFL would succeed even in the championship but a lot of that is down to our board,if they had spent some money year on year we might have had a good team but alas it’s big liewell and his biscuit tin.

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