Paul Lambert is no stranger to a strong opinion, especially about Celtic.
The former Scotland international, a Champions League winner with Borussia Dortmund, was a big part of stopping our rivals’ 10IAR. Joining the club in November 1997, Lambert’s midfield heroics were pivotal in turning the tide in Celtic’s favour.
So, he knows all about stopping a ten. But in terms of winning a ten, Lambert reckons the Celtic squad expected such a landmark achievement to be easy. Having gone without a proper, lasting title race for so long, the Bhoys started sluggish and only sporadically picked up form over 20-21.
Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of the Glasgow Derby, Lambert said:
“They’re lucky there’s no fans there. If this was 50,000 Rangers fans going to Ibrox, they’d be coming in party mode. [Celtic] are probably thankful there’s no support there.
“A win [makes] no difference, all it’s going to be is we’ve beaten Rangers in a season. That’s all it’s going to be. It’s not going to rectify the league, but it might give the Celtic fans something back.
“I think [Celtic] have missed the support. Players have took their foot off the gas, taken their eye off the ball, thinking “well we’re just going to get 10IAR, it’s going to be easy”. Rangers have stepped up to the plate. Celtic haven’t performed in the games they should’ve done.
“I certainly think the Celtic support’s been a big loss to them.”
Celtic supporters have more power than we think, hints Paul Lambert
Obviously, it would’ve been different if Covid-19 hadn’t impacted our lives in such an awful way. The atmosphere at Celtic is something that big-game players thrive on. While Odsonne Edouard still had a 20-goal season, for example, you can tell he’s struggled without supporters in attendance.
There was a measure of complacency going into this landmark season. We kept our most important players, barring Fraser Forster, and added to the squad with what looked like quality signings. Little did we know that the wheels were going to come off quickly, and never really find themselves reattached.
Whether arrogance is part of why Celtic struggled this season is your own call to make. I’d argue the opposite, that many of the squad were overwhelmed by the scale of the achievement. Or, they simply didn’t know the importance of 10IAR, and found the pressure limiting.
We’ll never know for sure, and what we will garner will be based on opinion. Either way, it’s been a huge disappointment. As Lambert says, though, a win on Sunday would give something back to the fans; some confidence and hope to bring into the summer.
It’s something that, suddenly, we really need.