KENNY DALGLISH was pitched into the Celtic dug-out after John Barnes had paid the ultimate penalty for the inexplicable Scottish Cup loss to Inverness Caley Thistle on February 8 2000.

The former England and Liverpool star he was dismissed after only eight months into his first managerial job.

Celtic now had to pick up the pieces from the debris left in the fall-out of the most humiliating result in the club’s history.

In another CQN EXCLUSIVE series, we focus on how the Parkhead club attempted to recover from the reverberations of such a catastrophic defeat, a sensational nosedive that brought an urgent transformation that propelled Celtic into a new era.

Here is Part Eleven of edited extracts from Celtic author Alex Gordon’s tribute book, ‘The Winds of Change‘, which was published by CQN in 2015.

Please enjoy.

ALMOST unheralded in the wake of the Scottish Cup fall-out, Kenny Dalglish edged to within 90 minutes of leading Celtic to the League Cup Final.

John Barnes was in place for the opening 4-0 win over Ayr United at Somerset Park in October and he saw Morten Wieghorst claim the only goal of the game to defeat Dundee at the start of December, but was nowhere to be seen when Kilmarnock provided the opposition in the semi-final at Hampden.

A disappointing crowd of 22,926 bothered to attend. Both sets of players responded to the lack of atmosphere and the flatness of the occasion. Once again, snow embroidered the playing surface and offered no assistance to those attempting to raise the entertainment to a higher level.

Lubomir Moravcik got the only goal in the 66th minute with impeccable reactions after Jackie McNamara had flighted a ball into the box. From about 14 yards, the Slovak met the ball with his forehead and sent a soaring effort over the hands of Colin Meldrum into the net off the underside of the crossbar.

A few minutes later, Killie’s Christophe Cocard was red-carded after a squabble with Jackie McNamara who was booked for his part in the dust-up. Celtic were now set to play Aberdeen for the season’s first silverware at the national stadium on Sunday, March 19.

RISE AND SHINE…Lubomir Moravcik was Celtic’s matchwinner against Kilmarnock in the League Cup semi-final.

The Dons, who beat Rangers 1-0 in the quarter-final, booked their place with an identical win over Dundee United in their last-four confrontation.

Dick Advocaat’s Ibrox side were due to visit Parkhead for the second time of the season – the first had ended in a 1-1 draw on December 27 where Mark Viduka, who had earlier struck the post with a delightfully cheeky effort, opened the scoring in the 18th minute with a flashing low angled drive past Lionel Charbonnier.

A few minutes later, Lubomir Moravcik thumped the crossbar with a ferocious right-foot attempt. Billy Dodds equalised in a rare breakaway in the 26th minute, but there was more agony in the second-half when Moravcik struck the frame of the goal for a second time with an impudent header.

Celtic had two games to face before King Kenny squared up to the Little General on March 8.

On the first day of March, there was a special cheer for Tommy Burns who had agreed a short-term contract as Assistant Head Coach to help out Dalglish. Dundee provided the midweek opposition and Burns found himself in sole charge with Dalglish laid low with a stomach bug.

And what a return it was for the fans’ favourite, so brusquely dismissed by Fergus McCann in 1997. Celtic were 5-0 ahead at the interval and Rab Douglas must have wondered if it was worth his while coming out for the second period.

Tommy Johnson returned to the team after a lengthy spell with injury and netted twice while Viduka also claimed two, one a penalty-kick. Stiliyan Petrov got the other. Johnson completed his hat-trick in the second-half while goals from Hugh Robertson and James Grady made the scoreline a slightly more respectable 6-2.

Burns admitted: “It was strange to be back. It was an important game for us because the last time Celtic played on their own ground Inverness Caley Thistle won.

“Of course, that result hurt every Celtic supporter – me included – so we had to go out and entertain the fans, to give them something to enjoy.”

Disappointingly, Hibs brought the mini-revival to a halt with a 2-1 victory at Easter Road four days later. Dalglish was back in the dug-out and he saw Pat McGinlay and Kenny Miller score to put the Edinburgh outfit 2-0 ahead just after the hour mark.

Viduka pulled one back in the 73rd minute after Nick Colgan had mishandled a Mark Burchill shot. The Aussie then had an attempt cleared off the line by Tom Smith, Martin McIntosh sliced a clearance onto his own post, Alan Stubbs smashed a drive against the underside of the bar and Morten Wieghorst passed up a glorious opportunity right at the end.

Dalglish said: “The way we started the game was the biggest contribution to us getting nothing.”

OLD FIRM CONFRONTATION… Lubomir Moravcik prepares to take on Barry Ferguson.

When Rangers arrived at Parkhead on Wednesday March 8, Celtic had the opportunity to cut their lead at the top to six points. A goal four minutes from time by Rod Wallace left the home side 12 points adrift.

Kenny Dalglish became the most recent manager to see his team outplay the Ibrox outfit for lengthy periods and complete the 90 minutes with nothing to show for their efforts. There were far too many infuriating, irritating and frustrating Old Firm repeat performances to be good for the blood pressure levels of anyone with a Celtic connection.

The green-and-white bedecked fans in the 59,220 attendance must have realised they were about to witness another exasperating lopsided derby as early as the eighth minute when Mark Viduka was left with only Stefan Klos to beat from six yards after being brilliantly set up by Stephane Mahe.

It looked impossible to miss, but the Aussie managed the feat by striking the heel of the sprawling Rangers keeper and the ball rebounded to safety.

The virtual one-way procession continued throughout a rain-sodden confrontation and Viduka thought he had atoned for his earlier appalling attempt in the 64th minute when he outjumped Lorenzo Amoruso, raced onto his header and lashed an unstoppable 25-yard effort past the helpless Klos.

TAKE-OFF…Mark Viduka is sent flying against Rangers at Parkhead.

An eagle-eyed linesman waved frantically to signal Viduka had used an arm to bring the ball under control. Television pictures proved the decision to be correct although there could have been the usual ball-to-hand argument. Referee Jim McCluskey took the word of his assistant and the cheers were stilled in a matter of seconds.

Viduka had a couple of other opportunities, but was denied by the German keeper, by far the busiest individual on the field. With eight minutes to go, a tired-looking Johan Mjallby hauled back Neil McCann for an obvious penalty-kick for the visitors.

McCluskey might have thought about a red card for the Swede, but decide to merely administer a booking, instead. Jorg Albertz once again forsook precision for power and this time his thundering effort was too close to Jonathan Gould who dived to his left to save.

Dalglish took a gamble at this stage and removed Mjallby to throw on Mark Burchill. It was a brave move that, unfortunately, backfired. With Celtic forcing on play at the other end, Rangers broke, Giovanni von Bronckhorst sent Wallace clear, he sidestepped the exposed Gould and rolled the ball in at the post.

Once again, there was no reward for Celtic after just about dominating proceedings. Dalglish sighed: “We get a lot of credit, but no points and that’s what counts.

“It’s difficult for us to take, but I didn’t see a league championship being handed out there tonight. We put on a striker in Mark Burchill because we wanted to win the game. I could have brought on Rafael, but we decided to go for it.”

* TOMORROW: Don’t miss Result That Changed The Course Of Celtic History: Part Twelve.

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