"Unbelievable achievement"; Gary Caldwell gets the narrative right on Celtic and Neil Lennon
Former Celtic centre-back Gary Caldwell has launched a defence of the Hoops and praised their ability to bounce back from recent criticism.
Making no mistake, there was plenty of harsh stick being thrown Celtic’s way both from the media and the supporters in recent weeks. Some of it quite rightly being launched too after some dreadful performances during the early stages of the season.
However, Celtic slowly appear to be finding their mojo once again. They’ve scored seven goals in their last three games and looked defensively solid against Aberdeen in yesterday’s Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden. There’s an air of confidence returning to the club ahead of a tough run of winter fixtures.
And Caldwell has set the right narrative straight on the club and Lennon as he hailed their strength of character after they moved one step closer to a quadruple treble. As he revisited an old Gordon Strachan observation, Caldwell told Sky Sports:
“Having played there myself, the pressure that you’re under to win every single game – these players have dealt with that tremendously well in recent years and to win that many cup ties and to be going for a quadruple treble is an unbelievable achievement.
“They’ve done what Celtic do – they’ve answered big questions. When I was there, Gordon Strachan used to say ‘you’re only one game away from a crisis’, and that is what happened. They ultimately lost against their biggest rivals and to a European giant in AC Milan, and the pressure got ranked up to boiling point.
“Neil Lennon dealt with it very well and the team dealt with it very well. They’ve come through that and now they’re looking forward to the next run of games and trying to kick on from that.”
Doesn’t quite feel like we’re out of the woods just yet
There’s undoubtedly been a marked improvement going forward in each of Celtic’s last three games against Aberdeen (x2) and Lille respectively. However, only in the last two matches have the results picked up to a more acceptable standard.
But even though there is a clear wave of confidence returning to the club, it doesn’t quite feel as though we’re out of the woods yet. Celtic have still only won one of their last five matches, and that’s a stat that needs to improve before the criticism really dies down.
Granted, let’s not avoid the elephant in the room. Rangers winning every week doesn’t exactly help us either or indeed the mood around the place. But we discussed last week why Celtic shouldn’t have their confidence drained by what is now a deceiving Premiership table. That still rings true.
We have to look at the positives in our own game. As for the league, we have to acknowledge that we’re still only three points behind our nearest rivals and not look at it as a nine-point deficit.
It’s been difficult to keep spirits high considering we’ve been competing in other competitions in the last two games whilst Rangers have been allowed to build a lead. But even so, all we can do is focus on our own momentum and remember that we’ll have our chance to narrow that gap.
The win yesterday against Aberdeen was a big plus, but it’s nowhere near enough to totally convince people that we’ve turned things around. Three points against Sparta Prague to kickstart our Europa League group, however, would be another positive step towards that.