Writing in the Sunday Life, former Rangers player Gareth McAuley has claimed that comments made by Neil Lennon about this title being his sweetest yet, were made purely to wind up Rangers fans and don’t reflect the Celtic manager’s actual feelings.
The Hoops were declared champions by the SPFL based on points per game last week after the Premiership season was brought to an early end amid the global health crisis.
Ladbrokes Premiership and SPFL Season 2019/20 curtailed as Premiership clubs reach unanimous agreement that top flight cannot be finished.
— SPFL (@spfl) May 18, 2020
It was a ninth successive league win for the Parkhead club, but many Rangers supporters have suggested that the run is tainted by the circumstances surrounding this latest title and by the Gers’ absence from the league for several seasons.
That’s a view shared by McAuley, the ex-Northern Ireland international who retired last summer after a one-year stint at Ibrox.
“I know Neil Lennon was on TV recently saying this title win was the greatest one under his management,” wrote McAuley in the Sunday Life. “But that was all for show and to wind up the Rangers fans watching at home.”
“Deep down it will rankle him that his team weren’t able to secure the title on the pitch. Of course, it wasn’t their fault, the Covid-19 pandemic sadly intervened and football was cancelled.
“But as a result, history will not look too kindly on this Celtic nine in a row team and that will hurt the current crop of players.”
McAuley has a point regarding Neil Lennon’s comments.
It’s highly unlikely that – even though this was the title that technically secured nine-in-a-row – the Celtic boss derived more satisfaction from being presented the league trophy at an empty training ground following a curtailed season than he did from the other titles he won conventionally either as a player or a manager.
Yet, it’s all part of the mind games that are a big part of the Old Firm rivalry. Both sides are entrenched in their views.
Rangers fans will forever contest that there is an asterisk beside this season, while Celtic supporters will say it’s as legitimate as any other league win.
The decision has been made now, though, and the priority for Steven Gerrard and the Gers must now be to win the 2020/21 title and in doing so, ensure that this time next year, there’s no debate about a 10-in-a-row run from Celtic.