Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas has claimed that Celtic have been “gifted titles” during the early years of our hopeful 10-in-a-row charge.
Rangers liquidated back in 2012 as Celtic went on to win as many as four further league titles in their absence to take us to five-in-a-row. Yet after Mark Warburton led a different Rangers side back to the Premiership, Celtic still went on to win three more titles and look good for nine-in-a-row.
When Rangers weren’t in the league, Aberdeen were our nearest challengers. It led to a narrative that Celtic were somehow just handed league titles as opposed to actually earning them. Plenty of Rangers figures have come out and tried to push that as much as they can (Daily Mail).
But disappointingly, Nicholas also seems keen to jump on that bandwagon. Speaking in his Daily Express column (18/02, page 51), the ex-Celtic forward also had some eyebrow-raising comments regarding Scott Brown.
“The Celtic fans might not want to admit this, but Brendan Rodgers gave them a momentum, a belief and a confidence.
“Celtic were gifted a lot of titles in the early years of this winning tun, but you can only beat what is in front of you. I’m not Scott Brown’s biggest fan in terms of talent, but the mental capacity he has is undeniable.
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“He gets the best out of people and his fellow players look up to him. In contrast, when you look at Rangers, they don’t really have somebody like that.”
Titles need to be earned
This is a tiring narrative that we as Celtic fans have come to expect from the other side. However, hearing the likes of Nicholas, who considers himself a Celtic man, is disappointing.
It doesn’t matter what league you’re in, titles need to be earned. Celtic accumulated points tallies of 79, 99, 92, and 86 respectively when Rangers weren’t in the league. Three of those titles saw us rack up more points than we did in the 2017-18 season, whilst two of those tallies also topple the 2018-19 campaign.
Celtic, regardless of who was in the league and who wasn’t, still performed to a high standard. You can’t just say because Rangers weren’t there that they were gift-wrapped to us. That’s a massive injustice to the players who stayed at Parkhead and won those league championships.
Nicholas also gives Brown some kind words here, but it’s also back-handed. He effectively says that he doesn’t think our captain has much in the way of technical ability.
Yet Brown’s footwork is something that consistently goes under the radar at times. You don’t achieve what Brown has just by being good at the mental side of the game. He’s performed at both European and international level, so he has plenty of technical ability to go with his mental strength.
Nicholas needs to stop with some of the putdowns. There’s no reason to have a go at any player at the club right now or give them back-handed praise. We’re looking good for nine-in-a-row, and nobody of a Celtic mind should be firing any sly digs these days.