Now the part that really struck me was when Neil started discussing Rangers and whether or not the rivalry will be the same once the Ibrox club get back into the SPL.
These are the paragraphs I found intriguing…
And in the inevitable circumstance that the Glasgow duo meet again, will things be different? “I think it will be. I don’t think Rangers are as strong on the pitch and I don’t think they are as strong an institution as they once were.
“And we are, we have got stronger. We have got better on the pitch and the revenue we have brought in this year will leave us financially stable for a long, long time. I don’t know the ins and outs of Rangers, I just look at their team and it has been significantly weakened because of all the big players who have gone.”
Ok will they really be that different?
Yes if they met in 2013 then Celtic will be huge, huge favourites and rightly so. If they were to meet at Celtic Park then you’d think that Celtic could take 3 or 4 off their Old Firm rivals.
But the institution comment is slightly strange. No matter when the two collide again whether it be at Celtic Park or at Ibrox, can anyone expect anything less than a full house? Are you going to tell me that fans wont hate each other and their teams for those 90 minutes?
Now what made Rangers the institution that Lennon talks about?
Its the fans.
Now whether you are on the Green side of Glasgow banging on about Rangers being ‘dead’ or you side with the Blue half and equally bang on about ‘Rangers now, Rangers then and Rangers forever’. The fact remains that both sides have the same support they had last year, ten years ago or even 100 years ago.
The rivalry is still there. Both sets of fans equally obsess about the other team. That is why Ewan Murray asked the question to Lennon (Because that is what fans from both teams want to know).
Now you can attack Rangers and their fans for a lot of things but you can’t say they have deserted their team. They have over 30,000 season ticket holders in the SFL 3. In fact Rangers have had 330, 130 through the gates in their 7 home games in the league this season, while Celtic gave the figures for seven of theirs and only got 321,535.
So what does Neil mean by institution?
Because its clear to me that they are still serving a huge part of Scottish footballing society.
In three years time and say Rangers are back in the top league, who is too say that they won’t have a healthy squad?
They are no longer in debt (for whatever reason), they have had a successful share issue, they may have new sponsorship deals, They can’t buy a player till January 2014, the youth players are getting valuable experience playing now and once in the SPL they will attract big players again (providing they can afford them).
Also who is to say in three years time Celtic will be the same force they are now?
Three years ago, under Tony Mowbray they were extremely poor and Rangers were running the league. In those three years under Lennon they have improved beyond recognition but nothing is to say in three years time that will still be the case.
They have done wonderfully well in the Champions League this season but they may not do so well in Europe in the next three years. They are a side that looks to sell on the talent and bring in cheaper replacements with good potential, but what if they don’t get their buying right in the next few transfer windows?
That said there is also nothing to say that Celtic wont be stronger when Rangers return to the top flight and the Hoops run away with the league.
So yes looking at them now, Rangers are weaker as a footballing team but now isn’t the time to judge them as rivals.
The Old Firm matches will still be heated, Glasgow will still be caught up for a week and a half talking about the build up and the aftermath.
Lennon’s comments don’t square up with Celtic owner Dermot Desmond who said this on Rangers…
“Rangers are a fantastic club with a great history. They will, in not too long a time, be back in the SPL. I have no doubt about that.
“And they’re needed for Scottish football because of their following, the size of the club and especially their history. We certainly would like to contest with them every week. We believe we have a better team and management structure.
“For us, it’s disappointing that they are not there but that’s decisions by the various clubs and leagues and we accept those.
“Rangers are one of the great clubs in Britain and we have to acknowledge that.
“They are a motivation for us to go along and beat them in every Old Firm match, so we miss that opportunity.”
Now looking at those comments its obvious that Dermot Desmond believes Rangers make Celtic stronger and that they are still a huge institution.
But say Lennon is just having a wee pointless pop at Rangers and its all a bit tongue in cheek, can we blame him?
He has suffered abuse from the blue half of Glasgow since he arrived in the city back in 2ooo, he is probably sick of talking about a club that isn’t his own and he might feel its an opinion that placates his own supporters.
But whatever anyone says when the next Old Firm match comes round, whenever that will be, you’ll have two sets of managers, players and most importantly fans determined to get one over the other.
Neil Lennon will be no different!
Posted on December 21st, 2012 by scott
Filed under: Article