John Hartson’s verdict on the balance of power in Glasgow won’t surprise many.
The former Hoops striker has goaded rivals Rangers about their trophyless era. After a shock 2-0 defeat at Ibrox for Celtic, Hartson spoke in the Evening Times about how the defeat must act as a warning shot for the Parkhead board.
It was the second time this season that Celtic have lost to Rangers at Ibrox. Both Brendan Rodgers and Neil Lennon’s sides have failed to score a goal there this season either, with two incredibly lackluster performances.
But heading into the summer, Celtic legend Hartson isn’t for getting carried away with the defeat. Speaking in the Evening Times, the Welshman believes it’s just a minor set-back.
“These players have done remarkably well over the last three seasons, but whoever the manager is next season, there has to be fresh investment.
“The defeat doesn’t signal a shift in the power base in Scotland though. Celtic have won eight titles on the spin, Rangers haven’t won a trophy in god knows how many years, so with a bit of investment and a little bit of common sense, I think that Celtic will be in a really good place.
“We are still very much in command, even while recognising there will be a challenge now from Rangers. We should welcome that challenge and raise our own game accordingly.”
A challenge to now start taking seriously
This doesn’t matter about whether you have any sort of respect for Rangers or not. It doesn’t matter about personal feelings for our rivals either.
But what does matter is that they not have a decent football team. A football team who, whether we want to admit it or not, have played us off the park on TWO occasions this season. That’s unacceptable given the position of strength we’ve been in over the last couple of seasons.
There are ways to lose games, especially in this rivalry. And the way we’ve performed at Ibrox this season is a massive concern. Yes, we have better players and have won the Premiership fairly comfortably in the end. But Rangers are now a challenge that we must take seriously. It’s dangerous to put your fingers in your ears and nod at the league table.
With 10-in-a-row so close, it’s not worth trying to pretend they’re no threat. What’s the point? Why sacrifice 10-in-a-row through arrogance? No chance, Celtic have to start wisening up to the challenge we could face next season, and a strong summer would signify that.
Hartson’s right that there is no balance of power. How can there be when Celtic are going for nine consecutive domestic trophies? But we’re not as strong as we were when we won numbers one, two, and three.
Many Celtic fans would surely much rather we took them seriously, strengthened big in the summer, and put them in their place next season. Just like big John says, it’s a challenge we need to embrace, and hopefully it’s a challenge that spurs us on to be better next term.