Sunday’s League Cup final comes just one day shy of a year since Celtic last won a trophy, the Scottish Cup, season 2019-20. That day we celebrated the Quadruple Treble, in the knowledge that the run would end there, as we were eliminated from a domestic cup competition for the first time since 2016 earlier that month.
We celebrated that penalty kick decider against Hearts at home, with the Hampden stands empty. It is two years and two weeks since you and I have seen Celtic win a trophy in the flesh: that memorable League Cup win over Newco in season 2019-20. Celtic were poor that day but we had the fortitude to go the extra distance and get the job done.
Celtic eliminated our main rivals in recent seasons, St Johnstone, in the semi-final. This leaves the field open for Hibernian to become the third most successful Scottish club over the last decade, behind Celtic and St Johnstone – if they win on Sunday. We should not take that motivation lightly.
Hibs sacked manager Jack Ross after the club dropped into the bottom half of the table. A home win last time out over Dundee sees them remain in 7th spot, a point behind Aberdeen and 2 off both Motherwell and Dundee United. The latter sit fourth, in a European spot, giving Ross scope to believe he was hard done by.
Celtic pummelled Hibs 1-3 at Easter Road in October but that was the last time the Edinburgh side have lost more than one goal –they have played 8 games since. They are nothing if not strong at the back. During that run the humbled Newco in their semi-final at Hampden and only lost to the same team due to a late penalty. Most concerning of all, this is the biggest test since Referee Head Crawford Allan’s post-re-refereeing Celtic games regime started. It demeans our game that we have to hope referee Don Robertson is not influenced by his boss.
There is a truism: if you are good enough to get to a cup final, you are good enough to win it. Despite all the positivity around Celtic right now, we face a team who have genuine credentials to win the cup. But with Tom Rogic on the field, what chance do they really have?