The transfer window is now closed, and the first Old Firm clash of the Premiership season has been and gone.
I promised you back on July 28 that this morning I would reveal who I think will win the title
So I have to say there is no doubt Celtic will take a bit of stopping.
Indeed, I’m struggling to see a side out there that will beat them this season.
And I include Rangers in that.
They remain the biggest threat to Celtic, but they still have an awful lot of work to do.
They have improved under Steven Gerrard, and they will continue to do so.
But they are still behind their great rivals on the other side of Glasgow.
Steven has had to make massive changes in the past 15 months, and it’s always going to take time for everything to come together. That’s just a fact.
As a manager, you just hope that the new boys gel and get to grips, mentally, with the pressure of being at a big club.
That’s something that can never be taken for granted.
So the performance from most of his players last Sunday will have disappointed Steven.
Rangers didn’t keep possession well enough, and they didn’t threaten Fraser Forster as often as they should have.
Too many of them didn’t show up on the day.
Steven has been criticised for his team selection and tactical formation.
Why did Alfredo Morelos not start ahead of Jermain Defoe? Why was there no width in the team to really get at the Celtic full-backs?
Listen, when a team loses a game and the fine detail starts to be analysed by supporters and media pundits, the players that have been left out automatically become better players.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
No manager has the benefit of hindsight to use to his advantage after the final whistle has blown.
Steven picked a team he felt was going to give Rangers the best possible chance of winning the game.
But it just didn’t go to plan.
Conversely, Neil Lennon’s team really impressed me during the 90 minutes at Ibrox.
They played with a really high tempo and closed out the play. They then capitalised when Gers gifted them possession for the opening goal, and hit them on the break to set up Jonny Hayes’ clincher.
On that display, I can see them drawing no more than a couple of games here and there this season.
Of course, they are not unbeatable and if they have an off day then some sides will be capable of taking advantage – providing that particular team is at the top of their game.
It’s probably predictable how the past few days have been around the Old Firm.
Just two weeks ago, it was Neil who was getting pelters from all angles after the Champions League defeat against Cluj.
Now it’s Steven’s turn.
That’s the way football works.
Managers know they need to have thick skin but, more importantly, believe in what they are doing and not be swayed or distracted.
One defeat should not mean that the plan gets ripped up.
I’m sure that was the way Neil and his staff handled it last month, and they recovered well.
Steven will look to do the same and get back to winning ways at home to Livingston.
To mount a serious challenge, they need to go on a strong run to keep up with Celtic.
But they face one helluva challenge to get ahead of the Parkhead club.
It shows the ability in Neil’s squad, and their strength of character, in the way they played at Ibrox with less than 1,000 of their own supporters inside the stadium.
They still won comfortably, and deserve enormous credit for that.
Since the new Old Firm ticketing allocation came in at the start of last season, that’s the first time the away team has won.
It should be beneficial for the home team to have almost 50,000 of their own fans. But it can also put them under greater pressure, especially when there is discontent and they go a goal down.
However, the rules are now there to accommodate all season-ticket holders, and I can’t see it going back to the away team being given 7-8,000 tickets any time soon.
But the 2-0 result shows why Celtic are the Champions, and that’s why I think they will go on to do nine-in-a-row.
However, it would be foolish to totally write off Rangers as there are 34 games to go.
It is now paramount for them to win at least two of the remaining Old Firm games. But that is a huge ask.
They will be delighted to have got Ryan Kent on board.
He has cost them a hefty transfer fee from Liverpool, but he is a fine talent and can give the team something special. He is a match-winner.
Likewise, Celtic spent plenty in the transfer window, and they have assembled a really good squad, with an exciting mix of experience and potential.
Neil will be thrilled with getting Fraser Forster in, and Christopher Jullien looks like a solid and reliable central defender. He was outstanding last Sunday.
Also the addition of Greg Taylor from Kilmarnock was one he wanted to get over the line.
It could have been doom and gloom with the loss of Kieran Tierney, but it has all worked out very well.
They are now out in front and will expect to stay there. It’s very much in their hands.
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