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Sir Kenny Dalglish: The Old Firm’s Europa League exploits made me proud to be a Glaswegian, but over in Edinburgh, there are issues

© Craig Williamson / SNS GroupJames Forrest, Scott Brown, Fraser Forster and Hatem Elhamed celebrate with the travelling support after beating Lazio
James Forrest, Scott Brown, Fraser Forster and Hatem Elhamed celebrate with the travelling support after beating Lazio

People within Scottish football – or someone like myself, who lives in England but follows and respects the SPFL – know only too well how talented Neil Lennon and Steven Gerrard are.

They are in charge of two massive football clubs, with demands on their shoulders to win every game while also playing an entertaining brand of football.

At times, that will put an enormous amount of strain on them, both in their professional lives but also as human beings.

But being in such privileged jobs can also bring incredible satisfaction and moments of joy.

Thursday night would have been like that for Neil and Steven, and they have deserved every plaudit going in the past three days.

As managers, their stocks are high and will only keep rising.

For Celtic to go to Rome and defeat Lazio 2-1 in the Olympic Stadium was brilliant.

Their performance over the 90 minutes was as good as anything they’ve produced in a long time on the European stage.

Make no mistake, this was not a lucky victory. It was 100% deserved.

Sure, you can point to Fraser Forster pulling off two outstanding saves when the game was at 1-1, but that’s what he is there for.

The Italians were always going to have moments, and Forster was always going to need to be on top of his game.

To weather that mini storm and then emerge with such energy and determination to seal a victory in injury-time – with a stunning finish from Oliver Ntcham – had me up off my seat in front of the TV at home.

The weight of pass from Odsonne Edouard was perfect, and the midfielder’s dinked finish was out of the top drawer.

James Forrest’s drilled finish for the equaliser was also razor sharp.

Celtic top their group and are undefeated in four games. More importantly, they have qualified for the last 32 of the Europa League with two games to spare.

Do not underestimate the role Neil Lennon has played in the past three months.

He has bounced back from the Champions League qualifier defeat to FC Cluj to build a very capable European outfit.

He makes sure his players deliver a brand of entertaining football, but also defend with their lives when they have to.

That’s not a straightforward combination to execute.

After being on such a high at 8pm on Thursday, we were straight into the game at Ibrox.

To watch Rangers defeat Porto 2-0 made the night all the more special.

It made me proud to be a Glaswegian.

My home town would have been absolutely buzzing and will still be. Rightly so.

Rangers didn’t play particularly well in the first half, but they hung in there and it shows the mentality of the team that they put that behind them to focus on the next 45 minutes to get a win.

The goal from Alfredo Morelos was brilliant. Steve Davis then rounded it off from a great pick-out by the Colombian to give Rangers that bit of extra comfort in the closing stages.

There is still work to be done for Steven and his players, but I do fancy them strongly to get the job done in their final two games.

Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them get it over the line away to Feyenoord later this month.

To have both clubs in the last 32 of the Europa League would be wonderful.

And we are only a couple of good results away from securing the chance for two of our teams to get into the Champions League qualifiers in 2021.

How good is that?

Such results will lead to more attention being on Neil and Steven.

It might lead to headlines saying that ‘So-and-so fancy Gerrard as their next manager’ or ‘such-and-such a club wants to bring in Neil Lennon’.

If that happens, so what? I don’t see either of them leaving any time soon.

They are both committed to their respective clubs, especially in this campaign.

We all know there is so much at stake, and neither will go in the middle of it.

At the other end of the M8, both Edinburgh clubs decided to sack their managers in the past 10 days.

I never want to see any boss getting dismissed, but neither outcome surprised me.

There is no doubt that Hearts and Hibs are attractive jobs, and the next guys put into the role on a full-time basis will be fortunate.

They will be taking over at clubs with a good stadium, a great training ground and passionate supporters.

That’s all fine and well, but they need to start winning games of football.

They need to be up there, challenging in the top four, not scrapping in the bottom four.

Both clubs haven’t been anywhere near good enough in the past few months, and they need to improve.

Their players also have to step up and do better.

When you look at the performances from both teams in the League Cup semi-finals, it must have left the Hibs and Hearts supporters disappointed.

They are entitled to much better.

I suspect Hibs will be first to announce their new gaffer, a permanent successor to Paul Heckingbottom.

Hearts may well take a while longer to replace Craig Levein and they could fill the role of Director of Football and then the Head Coach.

That makes sense.

The new guys will at least have a few weeks to assess their squads and realise the changes they need to make in the January transfer window.

On that front, it could well be that the Easter Road club has a wee bit more work to do.