Martin O'Neill gets it right; dismisses apparent gap between Celtic and rivals

By David Walton

March 25, 2021

Martin O’Neill has put everyone right on the apparent gap between Celtic and rivals Rangers.

There has been plenty of exaggeration over how far ahead of Celtic the Ibrox club are. In terms of points, it’s undebatable. Celtic sit 20 points behind Steven Gerrard’s side and have had a dismal season in their pursuit of 10-in-a-row.

With a new manager, chief executive, and possibly director of football coming in, the rebuild looks sizable from the outside. Odsonne Edouard, Kris Ajer, and Ryan Christie are also into the last 12 months of their contracts. That’s not to mention the fact that loan players such as Shane Duffy, Mohamed Elyounoussi, and Diego Laxalt are set to return to their parent clubs.

But despite the rebuild that’s needed, O’Neill has claimed the gap isn’t as big as some think as he played down the size of the job this summer.

Speaking on GoRadio, O’Neill said: “Rangers have won the league and looked particularly strong, they’ve been able to win matches that in previous seasons they would drop those points.

“Celtic have still got some exceptionally good football players who have been worthy of that position over the last number of years.

“If it’s a big concerted effort, I don’t think it might be the incredible job that one might be led to believe at this minute.”

Martin O’Neill gets it right; Celtic will still have a spine to build on and compete with rivals

O’Neill isn’t wrong here and, in fairness, we’ve all probably bigged up the rebuild to be something it’s not.

Celtic already have a successor for Peter Lawwell lined up in Dominic McKay. They’ll almost certainly have their new manager and Director of Football in not long after the season ends too. So those big positions will be filled comfortably.

Yes there are some tweaks to make to the first-team squad. With some of the big-hitters leaving, they’ll need replaced. But who’s to say any new centre-forward can’t replace Edouard’s 20 goals this season? Who’s to say that whoever comes in for Ajer won’t be less error-prone? If Celtic were to get those two signings right, that’s a massive step forward.

Kris Boyd and Martin O’Neill at Celtic Park / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Because we already have an extremely exciting spine already at the club. David Turnbull, Callum McGregor, Ismaila Soro etc are the kind of talents we can build something around. There’s work to be done, but there isn’t 20 points worth of work to be done. This season has been simply freakish.

Rangers won’t have the level of consistency next season that they’ve managed this year. Some of the luck that has aligned for them this season will be removed. And you can bank on there being a more positive feeling around the Celtic support come August.

It remains to be seen how any new managerial regime is backed of course. How much money they’ll be able to spend will be an intriguing talking point this summer. But is the gap between Rangers and Celtic what it’s made out to be? Most likely not.

In other news, new Scott Brown details have emerged as Celtic reportedly eye a late twist.