Billy Dodds mystified by Celtic's winning mentality

By David Walton

March 2, 2020

Former Rangers striker Billy Dodds has admitted that he can’t get his head around how Celtic continue to grind out victory after victory.

The Hoops bounced back from defeat to Copenhagen by progressing to the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup against St Johnstone. However, it was the manner of the victory that was so impressive from Neil Lennon’s men.

After the morale-draining night we had on Thursday, Saints had us rocked for 15-minute spell in the second half. Fraser Forster had to be alert as did our entire back three as St Johnstone launched cross after cross into the box. However, despite all of that, Celtic still managed to grind out a win through Ryan Christie’s 81st-minute free-kick.

Celtic star Ryan Christie (Ewan Bootman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

It was yet another encounter domestically where the Hoops managed to battle through tough conditions to continue their 34-game domestic cup-winning run. And speaking to the BBC’s Scottish Football Podcast (01/03), Dodds couldn’t believe the strength of Celtic’s character.

“I thought they deserved a replay (St Johnstone) – I’ve got to say. Celtic had chances, but then St Johnstone rallied and they had chances. They got them to a stage with 10 minutes to go where you could feel the tension. This game had everything.

“There was that pressure, there was desperation thrown in there at times. But then Celtic do what they do – they find a way. Sometimes I don’t know how they do it, but they get there. They get the free-kick, and it needed that one moment of quality from Christie.

“The Champions just keep finding a way to somehow win a game. They won that cup final (vs Rangers) – don’t know how they did. Today probably St Johnstone deserved a replay – Celtic won it. They just know how to win games and that’s why they’re champions.”

Not the first time Celtic have shown their steel

You can understand why Dodds is baffled by this side’s current streak – no wonder. Celtic are absolutely flying in cup competitions, having scored 102 goals and conceding only 12 in the same run.

However, it’s the manner of some of these wins that have shown Celtic’s true grit. You only need to go back to the Betfred Cup final against Rangers when we were under the cosh yet still squeezed out a 1-0 win.

A year previous to that we had to battle to another 1-0 win against a stubborn Aberdeen side in the Betfred Cup final of 2018. A few rounds previously it took a last-minute Leigh Griffiths goal to win at McDiarmid Park in another victory against Saints. There’s also the Scottish Cup final vs Hearts last season when we came back from 1-0 down to win 2-1.

Neil Lennon in Copenhagen (Niels Christian Vilmann/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images)

In recent years, Celtic have been to McDiarmid, Easter Road, and Hampden on 14 different occasions. Every single match has been won. That’s absolutely incredible, and it is becoming almost legendary when you consider the consistency.

Celtic are managing to do something never done before in Scottish or indeed British football. When we scored at McDiarmid yesterday, it didn’t surprise you. You always just know it’s coming from this Celtic side.

When this run eventually ends, and it will one day, this group of players deserve massive applause. Here’s hoping that won’t be for a while yet though!

What do you make of this incredible character instilled into the club? Can you remember a more enjoyable period of success? Let us know in the discussion forum below.