Former Celtic shot-stopper Rab Douglas believes the Hoops have a key advantage over Rangers when it comes to strength in depth.
We’ve now gone 13 rounds in this season’s Premiership, yet still Rangers are managing to stay level with us. Both sides have only dropped five points all season, but Neil Lennon’s side did manage a morale-boosting 2-0 win at Ibrox in September.
Douglas, however, sees an area where Celtic have a clear advantage. Speaking in the Courier, he believes squad depth is where Lenny has one up on his rival.
“With Celtic already guaranteed to be playing European football in the new year and Rangers in a strong position to follow them, the Europa League is set to have an impact on the domestic title race.
“It is so close at the top and hardly any points are being dropped by either of them but the longer the season goes and they are fighting on two fronts, the more significant squad depth becomes.
“The two starting elevens are closely matched but when you dig deeper I think that is where Celtic have an edge. They have a huge squad and should be able to cope with Thursday, Sunday football after the turn of the year. There is a bigger question mark over whether Rangers can.”
Celtic’s depth is undoubtedly more quality-filled than Rangers’
Douglas is spot on to pick this out here. As the season goes on, and particularly through December, both sides are going to occasionally need to rely on what they have in reserve.
Celtic have the likes of Olivier Ntcham, Leigh Griffiths, Mikey Johnston, and Nir Bitton all looking for more regular game-time. That’s not even mentioning the likes of Marian Shved, Scott Sinclair, and Moritz Bauer respectively. We have plenty of back-up talent that you would fancy to come in and do a job.
Meanwhile, let’s have a look at Rangers’ bench from their Sunday win at Hamilton. Greg Stewart, Jon Flanagan, Nikola Katic, and Sheyi Ojo were all there. Sure, they’re all decent enough footballers, but are they good enough to come in and consistently do a job to help win you the title?
Celtic squad full of proven title-winners
The difference between the names listed above is that one club’s players are experienced in title-winning. We know what their qualities are and we know they can consistently perform when we need them to. As for the other side? It’s just not true to say the same – Rangers’ squad players still need to prove themselves.
Douglas is onto something here, and he’ll know the effect rotation can have given he was part of Celtic’s Seville team that lost the 2002-03 title on goal-difference. Gerrard’s side have rarely impressed when he’s tinkered too much with his starting XI. Their poorer performances have come when they don’t have their strongest team playing. That was evident in their recent 2-1 home win against Motherwell in particular.
Celtic, meanwhile, look like a runaway train. Whilst Rangers may be clinging onto us at the moment, don’t be surprised if the complexion has totally changed come the New Year.