Martin O'Neill brilliantly dismisses the gap between Celtic and their rivals

By Euan Davidson

July 14, 2021

Former Celtic manager Martin O’Neill believes there’s no significant gap in quality between ourselves and Rangers.

Our rivals south of the Clyde romped to the Scottish Premiership last season, attaining a 25-point gap by season’s end. It was a dismal year for the Bhoys.

However, O’Neill is convinced that last season is in the past, and that Rangers really aren’t far ahead – if at all – of what Ange Postecoglou is building at Celtic Park.

O’Neill knows all about winning titles at Celtic, of course. In his first season, facing a similarly seismic “rebuild”, the former Leicester City and Ireland boss took the Hoops to a domestic clean sweep, winning a famous treble [FourFourTwo].

More success was to come; in total, O’Neill amassed three league titles, three Scottish cup wins, a UEFA Cup Final appearance, and a League cup with Celtic. And the competition from Ibrox was of a far higher quality than today, he argues.

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O’Neill said [Herald]:

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“I don’t think the gap is as massive as it was in my time.

“Only because I don’t believe that Rangers have the calibre of player [that they did]. It’s different generations that you are comparing but I don’t think that the Rangers team of today can compare with that Rangers side of the beginning the century.”

Martin O’Neill is right; Celtic can get back to the summit this season

There’s no point suggesting Rangers weren’t good last season. They went a league season without defeat. It’d be daft to suggest they weren’t far better than we were over the piece.

We have our excuses, the factors that affected us. Ultimately, though, the squad wasn’t coached to the standard it needed to be. What’s so intoxicating about the start of the Postecoglou era is that we can actually watch training videos with a degree of excitement. In a small sample of games, Celtic look far more organised.

Players are legitimately loving working for the new boss.

Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

So, with the right personnel in, and renewed confidence for a squad who were berated all season? There’s no reason not to believe Celtic can’t be at our imperious best again. While yes, Rangers will still represent stiff competition, it feels like dominance can return to our grasp.

For sure, Martin O’Neill is right. This Rangers side isn’t the one we faced in the early 00s, in terms of quality. Scotland had two legitimate European contenders at the time. Now, it’s hard to argue that’s the case.

These comments from Martin O’Neill are an utter gift. Let’s get the season started.

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