Celtic will cruise to 10-in-a-row under Brendan Rodgers
A rejuvenated Celtic are arguably further ahead of the competition in Scotland than when Jock Stein and Martin O'Neill managed the Glasgow club in previous golden eras, writes Desmond Kane.
Brendan Rodgers is keen for Celtic to buy a fresh pitch. Yet the threadbare nature of Celtic Park is not the only uneven playing surface in Scotland.
In the absence of a pitched battle for the Scottish Premiership title, the Glasgow club’s manager probably has time to focus on less hectic thoughts.
Like seeking a new pitch, carpet, sofa or even a player or two. Whatever he fancies really. As a manager, it is a nice place to find one's self in.
He has furnished Celtic with a self-belief and a level of self-awareness that works well on most surfaces.
"When we’re trying to entertain supporters and play a level of game, the pitch is vital," he said over the weekend.
Moussa Dembele - linked with Real Madrid and Bayern Munich at a cost of over £30m - and Scott Sinclair have been startling successes, but they were only two attackers bought by Rodgers for less than £5m last summer.
The other nine starters in the 2-0 win over Motherwell on Saturday were all at the club last season under Norwegian manager Ronny Deila.
Scott Sinclair and Moussa Dembélé. AFP
Rodgers has brought Celtic onto a higher plane by adding a vigour and elan to his vision of all-out expansive football. He has demanded more from a squad that was drifting over the past two seasons.
Celtic’s success against Motherwell was their 24th win in 25 games. They are an astonishing 24 points clear of second-placed Aberdeen, and 30 ahead of fierce foes Rangers, who lost 2-1 at Dundee on Sunday.
One does not have to be a soothsayer to suggest Celtic will secure their sixth straight title in Scotland before the clocks go forward at the end of next month.
With matches looming against Hamilton, Inverness, Rangers and Dundee, another 12 points are eminently winnable which would leave Celtic on the cusp of their latest flag providing Aberdeen enjoy a month-long winning run.
Barcelona's Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez (R) reacts after his header was saved by Celtic's Scottish goalkeeper Craig Gordon (L) during the UEFA Champions League group C football match between Celtic and Barcelona at Celtic Park in Glasgow on November 23,AFP
Rodgers finds himself in forward planning mode which involves sorting out a reliable pitch with a similar desso surface worth £2m deployed at Wembley Stadium being touted, building for the Champions League qualifiers in July and attempting to keep the vibrant young French striker Dembele for another season.
For Rodgers, there will also be the trifling matter of maintaining a squad that will be surely be strong enough to secure a seventh straight domestic gong.
But the Carnlough man was not recruited solely to make Celtic Scottish champions on a yearly basis. Deila managed that trick despite latterly struggling to cope with the role.
He was recruited to restore the Glasgow club’s reputation in foreign climes, and reap the financial reward that accompanies such ambition. It has been a case of so far so good, with Celtic earning over £30m from UEFA for advancing to the group stage this season.
Celtic captain Scott Brown and manager Brendan Rodgers.Eurosport
A side that were sharp enough to twice draw with Manchester City and Borussia Moenchengladbach has proved far too classy for the rest of Scotland. As it should be.
Celtic are the richest club in Scotland, but the wealth of their play has been striking.
There remains much debate about their ability to win 10 straight titles to break the record jointly held by Jock Stein's European Cup winners (1965-1974) and Rangers (1989-1997), but it is difficult to see how such progression can be halted.
There are only two foreseeable ways Celtic will fail to set a new Scottish record of 10 or more straight titles: either Rodgers leaves Scotland for a more lucrative league. Or Celtic leave Scotland for a more lucrative league.
Such a huge gap in finance - the club's revenue has gone from £31.4m to £61.2m over the past year - will surely be trimmed in points next season, but it is difficult to see it being obliterated unless Celtic embark upon a fire sale. And even then, it would only raise a point of dubiety about the level of quality they would bring in.
Without an infusion of millions of pounds, it is difficult to see their city rivals Rangers, without a manager after expressing their discontent with the departed Mark Warburton, possessing enough resource to cope.
Not while Rodgers is building a project that stretches far beyond Hadrian’s Wall and John o’Groats.
It is quite interesting observing attitudes toward Celtic in England since Rodgers became manager. A veneer of respectability has been restored
Rodgers decided Celtic was a wise career move after the messy nature of his Liverpool divorce in 2015, but both have found fresh energy in this venture. It appears to be a marriage made in an emerald paradise.
Of course, Celtic breaking the Scottish record remains conjecture. Rangers, Aberdeen or Hearts could be taken over by a billionaire with money to burn. Which he or she would need to be to invest in a league lacking serious TV largesse.
But Rangers and Hearts have already been badly burned by dodgy figures promising them the world in recent times.
Perhaps their best hope lies in a billionaire enticing Rodgers away from Celtic.