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Sir Kenny Dalglish: Celtic will not have lost the title because they went to Dubai. It goes a whole lot deeper

© SNS GroupCeltic's depleted squad dropped more points against Hibs, 24 hours after Steven Gerrard had guided Rangers to another three points at Pittodrie
Celtic's depleted squad dropped more points against Hibs, 24 hours after Steven Gerrard had guided Rangers to another three points at Pittodrie

I don’t think too many people would disagree with anyone who said that Rangers are going to win the SPFL Premiership title this season.

But events at Celtic Park over the past week have clouded that stark fact.

There has been the reaction to the winter training camp in Dubai happening in the first place.

Then defender Christopher Jullien tested positive for Covid-19.

As a result, Neil Lennon and 13 players had to self-isolate, and missed the game against Hibs last Monday evening that ended with another disappointing result for the Hoops.

And then there was the Peter Lawwell interview on Celtic TV.

It’s all put the fact that there is next to no chance that Celtic will win 10-in-a-row to one side.

So, rather than revisiting what happened during and after the winter training camp in the United Arab Emirates, I believe there should be more focus on what happens next at Parkhead.

Celtic didn’t lose the Premiership title because they went to Dubai earlier this month.

The two defeats to Rangers, and some of their signings in the past few months not working out as planned, are a few of the main reasons.

To move forward and try to win the title back from Rangers next season, things need to be addressed inside Celtic Park, and big decisions made.

I’m sure there will be meetings with key personnel to try to get to the bottom of what has gone wrong in the past few months.

Things have to be identified, so that the same mistakes are not repeated.

Celtic fans are angry and frustrated just now, and that is understandable.

They had their hearts set on winning “The Ten” this season, and that is now all but gone.

However, people inside the club will also be hurting – the manager, the chairman, the players and the chief executive.

They will all be feeling the pain. The club’s majority shareholder, Dermot Desmond, will also be feeling it.

Some Celtic supporters have been critical of him in recent times because they see him as an “absentee landlord”.

They would like him to be more visible, and more hands-on.

But that kind of criticism always happens when trophies are not being won.

© SNS Group
Dermot Desmond and Peter Lawwell have big decisions to make

Did we hear many disgruntled voices when the Treble Treble was secured in May, 2019?

Celtic then went on to win their 12th domestic trophy on the trot when they defeated Hearts in the Scottish Cup Final last month.

Four Trebles on the trot. It was a monumental achievement.

But it is all about the here and now for most Celtic fans, I get that.

Make no mistake, Dermot will be heavily involved in the next few days, weeks and months.

He knows exactly what’s going on inside Celtic Park, and he will be at the heart of any decisions that are made.

It’s clear that Celtic need to step it up to move forward – and I expect that is exactly what they will do.

In a country such as Scotland – with all due respect to the 10 other Premiership clubs – the title race is always a two-horse race.

And when you finish second in that race, you always get battered.

Right now, Celtic are getting battered from all angles, and more dropped points against Livingston yesterday will bring more criticism.

But there has to be a balance to that criticism.

That’s why there needs to be a recognition of how good Rangers have been in the past six months under Steven Gerrard.

They have recruited well, and their summer signings – such as Kemar Roofe and Leon Balogun – have made brilliant contributions.

Their more-established players have also excelled this season, from James Tavernier to Ryan Kent, from Steve Davis to Allan McGregor.

Rangers had several things to address eight or nine months ago when things went wrong after the winter break.

It looks as though they had open and honest discussions at several levels inside the club and, between them all, they found a winning formula.

Gaining those small percentages is exactly why Celtic booked to go to Dubai.

It had worked for them in the previous two or three years, and they wanted to repeat it.

Nobody told them they couldn’t go to Dubai.

With the benefit of hindsight, as Peter stated in his interview, it was a mistake to go on the trip in the current climate, with the pandemic and restrictions.

But the trip didn’t go to plan. They lost key players for the Hibs game and dropped two points. The same again yesterday.

That, however, is in the past.

It’s about what happens in the weeks and months ahead that are important for the club.

The Celtic supporters are looking for answers.