Wednesday, December 12, 2018
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The Scottish Premiership 2017/18 Review

Review SignCeltic win the league with plenty to spare.  Aberdeen secure the bridesmaid spot.  Silverware remains a stranger to Rangers.  The national side is going nowhere fast.  That was Scottish football 2017/18, and come to think about it, the half dozen or so seasons before it.

Well, to be fair it certainly has a familiar ring to it, but the campaign just ended had a bit more to it than that.  Here’s the edited highlights, 6 top talking points:

 

1. The Double Treble

Okay, so that sounds like a cocktail you would be best to avoid, but in fact it’s more interesting than that.  Two domestic sweeps in succession, two trebles, meaning six domestic major trophies in a row for Brendan Rodgers since he took the reins at Celtic.  It’s a quite astonishing achievement, which even the most ardent critic of Scottish football would surely applaud.

That the double treble has never been achieved before says it all really.  One treble is hard enough to accomplish, and is in itself a rarity, but back-to-back trebles is truly unique.

Celtic fans aren’t wasting too much time dwelling on this however.  They already have designs on a treble treble, which would be tough, but you wouldn’t bet against an eighth league title in a row next season, that’s for sure.

 

2. Rangers flop, then raise hopes

6 years may have come and gone since Rangers’ financial meltdown, but for all the shoots of recovery have sprung, they remain a shadow of their former selves, with the yawning chasm between them and Celtic firmly in place.

However, for all there has been another season of relative turmoil at Ibrox – a sacked manager, suspended players, and a record seven defeats at home in the league for a single season – the recent appointment of Steven Gerrard as manager appears to have convinced many blue noses that the good times are just around the corner.

That being said, only by peering through blue-tinted glasses can such an optimistic outlook be understood.  After all, Gerrard’s playing credentials are obviously beyond question, but any rational assessment of his appointment (to be fair, Old Firm fans tend to eschew rational assessment at the best of times!) must pose serious questions over whether he will be able to cut it in the dugout, and therefore it must be considered a risky move.

 

3. Lennon succeeds and rages at Hibernian

Given this season was Hibs’ first in the top flight for three years, you would have thought that manager Neil Lennon would have cut a happy figure over the piece, especially given a creditable fourth place finish which delivered European football for next season.

Well, no.  For most of the campaign, Lennon was agitated and fractious, berating officials and often calling the abilities of his own players into question, none more so than after a defeat to rivals Hearts when he threatened to quit. 

Lennon’s antics are often described by his apologists as the character trait of a winner, while those less inclined to warm to him – okay, those who hate his guts, a sizeable number – say he is a volatile and divisive character who is barely able to keep his emotions in check.

 

4. Sudden managerial impact – Steve Clark

Everyone talks about the record of Brendan Rodgers at Celtic, and rightly so.  But let’s not lose sight of the fact that when Rogers arrived in Glasgow Celtic were already a success story, head and shoulders above the rest without peer.  The same could not be said for Steve Clark, who arrived in Kilmarnock last October to join a club firmly rooted at the bottom of the league, being routinely smashed by opponents on a Saturday afternoon.

In no time, Clark transformed the same bunch of players into regular winners, and their ascent up the table was astonishing.  Kilmarnock rocketed into the top six, and were the league’s form team over the second half of the season, finishing fifth.  Even striker Kris Boyd, who looked seriously over-weight and struggling to hit a cow’s arse with a banjo before Clarke’s arrival, started to bang in the goals with a regularity he once did in his heyday.

Such was Clark’s impact, most fans wanted him installed as Scotland manager when Gordon Strachan left.

 

5. Save the Jags?  Not this time.

A few years ago, the ‘Save the Jags’ campaign helped the financially stricken Firhill club, but nothing could prevent their relegation from the top flight this time.

Don’t lose sight of the fact that if everyone in Glasgow who declared themselves a supporter of Thistle actually followed them, they would be challenging for honours.  Sadly for poor Thistle, most of those ‘fans’ use Thistle to disguise the fact their true loyalties rest with either Celtic or Rangers!

 

6. Scotland national side – what next?

Most football fans in Scotland were seriously under-whelmed by Alex McLeish’s appointment as manager, and expectations are very low as a consequence.  So low, in fact, that the defeat at home to Costa Rica in McLeish’s first game in charge was met with a disinterested collective shrug.  Whatever.

So there you have it.  What about predictions for next season?  Celtic to dominate, Aberdeen pushing in for the runners-up place, the Rangers soap opera continues apace, etc…

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