AMAZINGLY, Celtic had the opportunity to win silverware just 39 days after experiencing their must humiliating defeat in history.

John Barnes was sacked and Kenny Dalglish was in the dug-out in the aftermath of the team’s inexplicable Scottish Cup loss to Inverness Caley Thistle on February 8 2000.

The Celtic and Liverpool legend had hardly settled into the new role before he was leading the side out at Hampden for the League Cup Final.

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

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

Please enjoy.

KENNY DALGLISH, after only six games in charge, had the opportunity to achieve something Liam Brady couldn’t manage in two-and-a-half seasons and Jozef Venglos couldn’t match in a year.

It would also put Dalglish on a par with his good mate Tommy Burns who only had one trophy – the 1995 Scottish Cup – to show for three years of toil.

Dalglish warmed up for the March 19 League Cup Final against Aberdeen at Hampden with a 4-1 triumph over St Johnstone at Parkhead eight days earlier. The game was billed by some as a championship wake after the defeat from Rangers, but an astonishing 59,530 still turned out to cheer on Celtic.

There was a soporific nature to the lacklustre opening 45 minutes. It was all-square at half-time after Paddy Connolly had nullified Mark Burchill’s 17th-minute opener. Three goals in six minutes gave the supporters something to cheer with Viduka putting Celtic ahead in the 65th minute, adding a quickfire third before Burchill claimed his second of the afternoon.

There was an innocuous start for Rafael Scheidt, the outrageously-expensive Brazilian defender, but he didn’t reappear for the second-half after sustaining a thigh knock. Olivier Tebily took his place in the middle of the rearguard.

RED ALERT…Mark Vidukas races away from Aberdeen defender Russell Anderson.

Stephen Crainey made his first appearance for the club when he came on in the 77th minute for Stephane Mahe, who had been booked after a kerfuffle with Keith O’Halloran, who was also the recipient of a yellow card.

Dalglish reasoned: “It seems to be a like a pop-up toaster with the yellow card when Stephane goes near anyone. He can help himself in these situations, but we need to be vigilant, too, and try to protect him because he is an important player for us.”

Eyal Berkovic had played particularly well against the Perth Saints and had been involved in setting up three of the four goals. Dalglish now had a decision to make before the League Cup Final.

Mark Burchill had missed out on the previous season’s Scottish Cup Final after scoring two goals against Dundee United in the preceding game. Could it happen again?

There were also absurd stories going around that Henrik Larsson was about to make his comeback at Hampden, but the Swede, thankfully, put an end to the nonsensical speculation by admitting: “It would be dangerous for me to play just now.”

Celtic had at least 18 reasons for being confident as they prepared for the silverware showdown with Aberdeen at the national stadium on a bright and sunny March afternoon with 50,073 in attendance. In their three Premier League head-to-heads with the Pittodrie side they had won 5-0, 7-0 and 6-0 – 18 goals for and none conceded.

Dalglish went with this team: Jonathan Gould; Vidar Riseth, Johan Mjallby, Tommy Boyd, Stephane Mahe; Jackie McNamara, Stiliyan Petrov, Lubomir Moravcik, Morten Wieghorst; Mark Viduka and Tommy Johnson. Eyal Berkovic was on the bench, Mark Burchill was in the stand. Alan Stubbs was the other outfield player named as a substitute with Stewart Kerr as back-up goalkeeper.

It has to be admitted Hampden Park was not exactly a cauldron of suspense for this particular Cup Final. Celtic took the lead through an unusual source in the 15th minute and the sponsors – CIS Insurance, on this occasion – could already have tied the ribbons to the trophy.

Wieghorst, who played intelligently throughout, set up Riseth, who went through the entire league campaign without a goal to his name, and the Norwegian defender didn’t make a clean contact with his left foot, but it was enough to send the ball spinning away from Jim Leighton.

The second goal, in the 58th minute, was a lot crisper in its execution. Viduka struck a neat pass to Johnson who flashed a right-foot drive across the keeper and in at the far post.

HAMPDEN HAPPY DAZE…Jackie McNamara and Tommy Johnson celebrate the striker’s goal against the Dons.

It was all too much for Dons defender Thomas Solberg who headed for an early bath two minutes later after a foul on the goalscorer. He had already been booked for a similar obstruction on McNamara and referee Kenny Clark had no option. In the fading moments, Stubbs and Berkovic came on for Moravcik and Johnson respectively.

Tommy Boyd was still waiting to collect the trophy when Dalglish was asked the obvious question: “Who is going to be Celtic’s Head Coach next season?”

He was prepared for the grilling. “Any decision we make on the manager’s job, the supporters will play a part in it,” he said. “Whether it is my position or anyone’s position regarding football, they are very much in our mind and so they should be because they are an important part of the club.”

Switching his attention to the game, he added: “Some people have described this tournament as meaningless and I suppose it is if you’re not in it, but we were in it and the supporters showed how much it meant for them.

UP FOR THE CUP…Jackie McNamara balances the newly-won trophy on his head as he and his Celtic team-mates Eyal Berkovic, Stephane Mahe, Jonathan Gould, Tommy Boyd and Mark Viduka celebrate the 2-0 League Cup Final win over Aberdeen.

“Although the win doesn’t cure all the sores and pain they felt with some of the results this season, I’m sure it will soften the blow just a little bit and they got a little bit of pride back by winning the Cup.”

On selecting his line-up, Dalglish explained: “It’s difficult to pick any team for a Cup Final and it’s a great disappointment for players when they aren’t playing. Being a substitute is no compensation as they all want to play.

“If they are not disappointed in being left out then we would be disappointed in them. We took a chance with Tommy Johnson and someone had to be left out and, unfortunately, it was Mark Burchill.

“But he’s young enough and good enough to be back here a few more times in the future.

“I accept, though, it must have been a great disappointment for him.”

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

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