Celtic are on the march in final push

TEN games to go with 10 points required.

Loading Comments
Share
Print
Leigh Griffiths celebrates his hat-trick, main, after banging in three against Inverness Caley Thist on Saturday
Leigh Griffiths celebrates his hat-trick, main, after banging in three against Inverness Caley Thist on Saturday

The final countdown is now on for Celtic.

They don't even need to win another match to be crowned champions again. Drawing all the way to the finishing line would complete the job.

However, that's not the way Neil Lennon, or anyone else at Celtic, wants to achieve three-in-a-row.

The one frustration for the manager and his Bhoys is that, due to the William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-finals taking place next weekend, they will have to wait until a week on Friday before they can begin their final match sequence.

"Yes it is frustrating," acknowledged Lennon, "especially off the back of what has been a really good performance against Inverness.

"Then you worry about the players coming back in one piece from playing for their respective countries this week.

"However, for some of them, it is a good time to give them a little break before the final push.

"The ones who are not on international duty will be in for training until Wednesday, then they will be back in next Monday.

"So, they will get three or four days off."

The 5-0 thrashing of Inverness at the weekend - it could have been double that score line - was certainly a good note on which to head so many different ways.

It confirmed to the Hoops boss that the mis-fire at Aberdeen last midweek was, indeed, a temporary glitch and not a serious breakdown.

Leigh Griffiths' first-ever hat-trick in league football, supported by a flicked goal from Charlie Mulgrew and a long-range effort from Kris Commons (albeit his effort was seriously aided and abetted by calamity Caley keeper Dean Brill) ensured the day which started with a tribute to Fergus McCann ended with everyone singing the praises of the side heading towards another title.

It was fitting that the team from Inverness provided what passed for opposition on this significant occasion.

Had it not been for their shock Scottish Cup win over the Hoops in February 2000, John Barnes would not have been removed and replaced by Martin O'Neill, who kick-started the club's most successful period outside the tenure of Jock Stein.

Lennon is now continuing the domination of the championship.

This will be the club's ninth since the turn of the century, and marks up a hat-trick under the Lurgan man's leadership, matching the achievement of Gordon Strachan.

Even allowing for the delay for internationals then the cup action, the job can be completed before March is out.

And that is very much the aim of all involved.

Aberdeen and Motherwell continue to keep the trophy at arms' length from Celtic.

But, while the maximum they require are 10 more points, Lennon interjected: "That's if results elsewhere all go the way the clubs nearest to us want them to go.

"I think three wins might do it, and we want to get them as quickly as possible.

"You can see the players have got the bit between their teeth, and I don't think we need to hang about before getting over the line.

"We have got targets we want to achieve. We would like to get to 100 points, and the goals against record, we'd like to beat that.

"For that, I think we need to concede no more than three in our remaining games.

"We also want to remain unbeaten until the end of the season and just have that one loss, at Aberdeen last week, against us."

Lennon had called for a reaction from his players following the 26-game unbeaten run in the league having been ended at Pittodrie.

He was delighted that, to a man, everyone stepped up and delivered.

Entertaining remains as important as winning to a manager who demands standards are maintained.

And, while many of the season-ticket holders who were at the core of McCann's business plan for the club once again elected not to attend on Saturday, those who did turn up were treated to an attacking banquet.

Girffiths served up the starter after just 12 minutes with a close-in finish which delighted Lennon.

The new Bhoy from Wolves went on to gorge himself on another two specials, with his strikes separated by the counters from Mulgrew - set up by a Griffiths corner - and sub, Commons.

There was certainly a hunger about Celtic to devour Inverness.

And the sight of Griffiths leaving the field at the end with the match ball stuck up his shirt was almost a metaphor for how satisfied everyone at the club felt.

Lennon reflected: "We are a team that creates a lot of chances, and we're hoping Leigh will thrive on that.

"The first goal in his hat-trick was my favourite because we've been crying out for a penalty box player for a while."

Lennon continued: "There was a flow to us. Everyone made a good contribution and the pace of our football was a joy to watch.

"I actually thought we played very well at Aberdeen. In fact, we've been playing well for quite a while now."

And the good news for the Celtic manager continues to arrive because Beram Kayal - who has not played since breaking a bone in a foot in the Champions League defeat against AC Milan in late November - returned to take one of the substitute places on the bench at the weekend against Caley.

His comeback will take another big step today when he plays in a Development Team game at Cappielow.

Lennon is delighted to see the Israeli international back in contention.

He said: "Beram has been out for a long time with this injury, but it was good to be able to put him on the bench at the weekend.

"He will play in the Development Team game today, and we will see how he gets on in that and take it from there."

Football

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on Evening Times on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

154220

Have you got a story?

Contact the news desk on 0141 302 6520 or email news@eveningtimes.co.uk
A weekly round up of social highlights

A weekly round up of social highlights

Cat's Eyes on Glasgow

Where to find the best scares this Hallowe'en... if you dare

Times Out

Entertainment

Lifestyle

TV Advert
Gail’s Gab

Gail’s Gab

Gail Sheridan is a mother-of-one and wife to Tommy and she likes to get political with the hot topic of the week in her column Gail’s Gab.

Games news:

Sussed in the city

Michelle McManus

Special cause helped me to keep off wine

Janice Bell

Janice Bell

You couldn’t make up half the stuff that happens to PA Janice Bell- some of the jams she gets herself into are worth a story or two.