For Celtic fans, memories of the 16-17 ‘Invincibles’ are still fresh.
Especially given everything that’s happening at the club currently, and Brendan Rodgers’ ongoing success at Leicester City. It’s hard not to look back and wonder what happened.
It’s probably made more current by the club’s alleged pursuit of young star Sinclair Armstrong. If his name alone isn’t enough of a tribute to that famous Celtic team, then what is? If he does sign for the Bhoys, then nominative determinism is certifiably “a thing”
What’s causing the biggest headache for the Hoops supporters though? Comparisons between this season’s Rangers and the Celtic side that laid waste to all before them.
And those comparisons are constant.
Neil McCann was at it in December, and now former Rangers captain Barry Ferguson has joined the chorus.
In his Daily Record column, Ferguson said:
“The truth is Rangers have been exceptional all season and they haven’t been given enough credit for the standards they have set.
“This Rangers team would have gone toe-to-toe with the Brendan Rodgers Invincibles never mind the current Celtic side which is a pale shadow of what it was back then.”
Hmm. They haven’t been given enough credit. That’s a new one.
The Celtic Invincibles still haunt the memory
Let’s be clear here: I’m not suggesting that this Rangers side aren’t good. We’ve learned that the hard way this season. As unpopular as it’ll be to suggest this, I’m going to posit that Gerrard has built a really good squad south of the Clyde.
In most positions, there are at least 2 decent players. Some inspired signings like Glen Kamara and Kemar Roofe have represented real value for money, and it’s churlish not to applaud their recruitment to some degree.
They also play slick, passing football which – yes – is somewhat reminiscent of Rodgers’ Celtic. That’s unsurprising, given the Gerrard-Rodgers link that made those early clashes between the two so tantalising.
But the Invincibles were a high-quality outfit. Celtic held their own against Manchester City, for example. Ignoring the absolute horsing at the hands of Barçelona, it’s surprising that Rodgers’ side couldn’t do better in the Champions League, but at least they were there.
In league action, Rodgers’ side were truly irresistible. Free-flowing, with multiple attacking threats, the Celtic Invincibles played some unforgettable football. As a lesson of art in sport, the Bhoys toyed with domestic competition, pressing relentlessly and taking opportunities with unerring zeal.
More pertinently, Celtic destroyed everything in the cup competitions that season. Rangers, meanwhile, got knocked out of the Betfred Cup by St. Mirren. I’m not saying that to make a childish dig, because God knows Celtic have been abysmal this season.
But it’s a fact.
Once Rangers win a domestic treble and go unbeaten? We can talk comparisons then. For now, though, credit where it’s due to Steven Gerrard, but they’re not Invincibles quite yet.