Celtic have been completely dominant in Scottish football on many occasions but only once did this result in a domestic treble (the treble was won another two occasions when Celtic were only marginally ahead of the competition but were ruthlessly focussed).
At all other times we have had a morning like this, tossed out of one of the cup competitions by a vastly over-performing team. Little more than a handful of games against weaker opponents stood between us and a treble in each of the last two years, but as we have noted for many years now, Celtic are not consistent enough to win the treble. The evidence is substantial.
There are parallel ways we should react to this. In the middle of a Champions League campaign we should be focused on little else, players should be rested for the challenge ahead, even if there are resultant risks, but there will be disappointment that we didn’t see a recognisable performance from those drafted into the team. It wasn’t until Matthews, Commons and Stokes arrived last night that we looked anything like the Celtic we know. On no occasions should we lose at home to a Championship team looking for their first away win since April.
That domestic treble from a dominant position was achieved by Martin O’Neill in season 2000-01, a time when Martin scarcely made a substitution before 85 minutes, never mind rested players. This drew criticism, of course, as his ‘feeder’ players were denied opportunities to grow. Despite last night’s reversal I would still rather use these games to develop the wider squad.
I also don’t subscribe to the belief that ‘every game is a cup final’. Motivational strategies lose effectiveness if you roll them out too often.
Credit to Allan Moore and his “boys with desire and work-rate”.
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