Hamilton Accies boss Brian Rice has become the latest SPFL manager to defend the quality of Celtic.
The Hoops have come under plenty of criticism from fans, media figures, and even the Scottish Government this season. This has come from a variety of factors such as their dreadful on-field performances to the woeful Dubai debacle.
There has been so much heat on Celtic that any form of praise for them has been rarer than anything this season. Last week before Celtic travelled to Livingston, Lions boss David Martindale talked up how good the Hoops are [The Times].
And as Hamilton prepare to visit Celtic Park tonight, Rice has been the latest to discuss how talent-filled Neil Lennon’s squad is.
As quoted by BT Sport, Rice said: “I’ve just been looking at the Celtic stats. They’ve lost two games this season in the league, both to Rangers. We’re going to Parkhead and what makes people think this is any easier than it’s ever been? Celtic had 13 players out two weeks ago – now they’ve got 13 back in. If I took 13 players out my squad I wouldn’t have enough bodies to play the game.
“They are a completely different animal from us. Let’s be realistic here. How many times has Hamilton gone to big venues like Celtic Park and Ibrox over the years and got a result?
“We’re going to Parkhead to play the strongest Celtic team possible. We’re Hamilton Accies and nobody gives us a chance. If Celtic were top of the league, what would people be saying? Hamilton has absolutely no chance. Because Celtic aren’t top of the league, it’s a good time to face Celtic? Rubbish. Absolute rubbish.”
Brian Rice shows some class in being latest SPFL boss to praise Celtic; but it feels hollow
Fair play to Rice for coming out and doing his best to defend or big up Celtic. But the truth is it all feels rather hollow.
Even at the best of times, praise from the upcoming rival manager never feels like much. It’s almost common etiquette in football to praise your next opponents. Celtic, as a club, remains an easy one to talk up given its size, player quality, and fanbase.
The fact none of those taking their turn to hail Celtic can point to anything positive about this season tells its own story. It shows that there’s absolutely nothing to there to big up. Nothing to point out about the current campaign and be impressed by it.
Rice tries to do this by explaining that we’ve only lost twice. But he also forgets to mention that we’ve drawn a ridiculous nine games too. That’s a pathetic amount for a supposed 10-in-a-row chasing Celtic team.
The Accies boss is doing himself a favour here too in fairness. By talking up Celtic’s quality he’s setting himself up for a softer blow if things don’t go to plan for him tonight. And if they do? It makes his success seem all the more remarkable.
As for the game tonight, it has the emptiest feeling of any match this season. Hardly any Celtic supporter has been discussing it or even giving it a thought. But as always, come kickoff, we’ll be getting right behind the Bhoys.