KENNY DALGLISH hardly had time to celebrate Celtic’s League Cup victory over Aberdeen when the harsh realities of grim season resumed during the disastrous 1999/2000 campaign.

John Barnes had been sacked in the aftermath of the team’s inexplicable Scottish Cup loss to Inverness Caley Thistle on February 8 2000.

Celtic and Liverpool legend Dalglish was pitched into the dug-out in the midst of a season that was limping to a sorry conclusion.

In another CQN EXCLUSIVE series, we focus on how the Parkhead club recovered from the catastrophic loss to the Highlanders to rise from the debris as they were propelled into a new era.

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

Please enjoy.

A WEEK after picking up the League Cup, Kenny Dalglish set out his team to face Rangers in the fourth and final league meeting of a traumatic campaign.

It was another ludicrously one-sided game, but Celtic had no complaints on this occasion. Rangers were a goal up in three minutes courtesy of some incredibly sloppy defending and, just before the end, Jonathan Gould picked the ball from the back of his net for the fourth time.

It was an embarrassing 4-0 defeat, but, truth be told, it would have been more distressing if it hadn’t been for at least three last-ditch saves from the overworked Celtic custodian. Dalglish, standing at the dug-out with arms folded across his chest, visibly winced when Dick Advocaat bounced onto the touchline beside him to salute his side’s opening goal.

CONCERNED… Kenny Dalglish watches as Celtic unravel at Ibrox in a one-sided encounter in March 2000.

Stephane Mahe was forced to give away a corner-kick on the Celtic left as Andrei Kanchelskis, the unpredictable Russian winger, decided to have his best game of the season with some direct raiding on the wings and through the middle.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst swung the corner to the far post where an unchallenged Kanchelskis met the ball to head it back into the mix. With Gould out of position, the keeper might have hoped for some assistance from his fellow-defenders. He got none.

Jorg Albertz actually had to get in front of team-mate Billy Dodds to nod the ball into the empty net from just about underneath the crossbar. Four minutes from the interval, Kanchelskis, played onside by a dozy Johan Mjallby, skipped onto a Van Bronckhorst through ball and, with only the Govan breeze between him and Gould, thumped in the second with obvious glee.

Six minutes from the end, Neil McCann was left unguarded on the left, he sidestepped Gould and flicked the ball across to Albertz and he stuck the third into the vacant net. In the fading moments, with Celtic’s defence well and truly in tatters, Van Bronckhorst curled a 20-yarder beyond the stretching Gould.

AIR WE GO…Jonathan Gould manages to prevent Rangers from adding to the scoreline with an unorthodox save.

Celtic had rather lamely surrendered 11 points to their deadliest foes after a solitary draw and three defeats. The final Premier League table for a miserable 1999/2000 season made for grim reading.

Celtic managed to win only 21 of their 36 games, while losing nine and drawing six. They finished with 69 points. Rangers, who made certain of the trophy with five games still to play, took pole position with 90 points.

It had been a wretched campaign, despite Celtic picking up only their fourth trophy during the reigns of Liam Brady, Lou Macari, Tommy Burns, Wim Jansen, Jozef Venglos, John Barnes and Kenny Dalglish.

One of Dalglish’s last acts as interim manager was to tell Henrik Larsson to get ready to go on as a substitute in the final game of the season against Dundee United at Parkhead.

SWEDE DREAMS…Kenny Dalglish wishes Henrik Larsson all the best as he makes his Celtic return in the final game of the season against Dundee United.

There were 25 minutes left to play and Celtic were already leading 2-0 with goals from youngsters Simon Lynch and Mark Burchill. The 47,586 fans rose as one as the Swede replaced Lubomir Moravcik.

Larsson didn’t extend himself, but, even in that brief period, he showed his touch and graceful style had not deserted him through his months out of action.

He said: “I have to admit it was very emotional running back onto the pitch. I was pleased to get as many minutes as I did. It’s rewarding to come back in the same season as breaking my leg. I felt strong although it was for only 25 minutes.

“I felt good when I had the ball. Now I can look ahead.”

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

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