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Andy Walker reflects on Celtic's season

Features - Andy Walker Posted 15th April 2013 view comments

Celtic will be looking to put on a title party this weekend when Inverness Caley Thistle travel to Glasgow on Sunday for the first of the post-split fixtures live on Sky.

Clearly, championship winners in every league deserve praise for their efforts over the course of a long and demanding season but it's fair to say this has been a campaign like no other.

Neil Lennon: Going for a Scottish Cup and league double

Neil Lennon: Going for a Scottish Cup and league double

When Rangers were liquidated and eventually placed into the bottom tier of Scottish football last summer, it left Celtic without a reasonable challenge for this season's title.

The simple truth is that no other SPL club can compete with the Glasgow giants in terms of resources, spending power, depth of squad and quality of player leaving this SPL title success as a foregone conclusion before a ball was kicked.

A Scottish Cup final against Hibs at the end of May might just bring a double success but I can't see how this title triumph can be anything like as satisfying as the one Neil Lennon and his players delivered last year.

Andy Walker
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Keeping his players motivated to produce a level of performance that the paying customer deserved was difficult for Neil Lennon and to be fair to him, he has managed to provide a few highlights over the course of the year.

Highlights

Undoubtedly, qualifying for the knockout phase of the Champions League served up the type of occasion that will live long in the memory for every Celtic supporter.

Not only did Celtic see off the challenge of Benfica & Spartak Moscow but to also beat Barcelona in front of their own supporters was truly magnificent.

Eventually, overcoming Juventus proved to be a step too far in trying to navigate a two-legged affair but taking part in Europe's premier club competition kept everyone's mood buoyant in the absence of any genuine title threat.

Most of the Celtic support thought a domestic treble would be on the cards but losing to St Mirren at Hampden in a League Cup semi-final put paid to that dream.

A Scottish Cup final against Hibs at the end of May might just bring a double success but I can't see how this title triumph can be anything like as satisfying as the one Neil Lennon and his players delivered last year.

Just before the turn of the year, a strong Rangers side led by Ally McCoist held a 15-point lead over their greatest rivals. Overcoming that type of deficit is surely much more convincing than securing this title in what has effectively been a one-horse race?

Missing rivals

The challenge now for Neil Lennon is to ensure that same level of excitement is available for the supporters next season.

Some of my best memories as a Celtic player were competing against Rangers and coming out on top. It's always satisfying to beat strong opposition and I have missed the Old Firm derbies this year.

Even allowing for the intense rivalry, I have been taken aback at the number of Celtic fans who don't miss that type of challenge. In my view, when Rangers are back competing with Celtic for domestic success, the better it'll be for our game.

So yes, I'm sure all the Celtic players will reflect on their efforts this season and be pleased at having a winners' medal to show for it.

Believe me, their pleasure at succeeding when there's strong opposition to overcome is far greater.

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