January – May. A five-month period that’s been extremely generous to Celtic over the last two years in our quest for domestic glory.
Back in 2018, Rangers had hauled themselves level at the top of the Scottish Premiership. A 1-0 win at Ibrox had them ending the year on a high, only for them to lose to Kilmarnock after the winter break and see their side spiral out of control. In the end, Celtic won the league by a nine-point margin.
Fast forward a year and the same thing happened again. Rangers won at Celtic Park to again tie things up at the summit of the table. What happened come March? The Hoops had built up a 13-point margin at the top of the Premiership. The title was ours again.
Yes, something seems to happen to both sides when they go away during the January break. A renewed energy seems to inject itself into Celtic, whilst Rangers’ belief in themselves just magically disappears.
It’s been fun to watch, and Celtic have reaped the rewards of two Premiership titles from it, but it’s time to stop pretending that it’s something to bank on this season.
For a start, there is no winter break this year. The games will continue to play as we trickle into January, meaning there will be no real opportunity for both sides to go away and change their form (for better or for good).
But even if there was a winter break, it would still be ludicrous to suggest that we can just rely on them dropping off. Whether we like it or not, they’re as strong as they’ve ever been since the days of Walter Smith at Ibrox. That’s not me patting them on the back, that’s just the truth. They’re operating at a level they haven’t done for a decade.
Celtic won’t get anything for free this year
To assume that the New Year will come around in less than two months and we’ll start gaining superpowers is hopeful at best. To assume that Rangers will have their quality just stripped away from them is even more ridiculous sounding.
That’s not to say they’re all-conquering. Far from it. That back-line still doesn’t convince me, and Aberdeen showed it up on a couple of occasions this afternoon. Teams are still creating against them, but they aren’t taking their chances. On certain days they will, and Rangers will drop points.
But let’s please drop this idea that they’re going to drop them left, right, and centre. It feels like it’s being used as some sort of excuse for our current form. We simply aren’t entitled to them caving in after January – it’s anything but a given.
Listen, it may very well happen. Maybe they’ll start to get nervier and nervier the closer they get to the finish line. But for now, it’s nothing more than optimistic at best.
The only way Rangers are going to cave is if we’re putting incessant pressure on them. We aren’t doing that, and so long as we aren’t, they’ll continue to ride off into the sunset with another three points.
Their form is frustrating us, that much is true. But we’re the champions. We’re supposed to be capable of matching their consistency at the very least and forcing them into slip-ups due to that pressure. That’s the only way we’ll get back to the summit of the Premiership in due course.
Let’s stop going on about the curse of the New Year and let’s try and find the magic spell that’ll reignite our own season. If we’re relying on the former, then we can just kiss 10-in-a-row away right now.