KRIS Commons has dismissed Aberdeen’s status as title challengers this season, insisting he has never felt they presented a serious threat to Celtic’s defence of the Scottish Premiership crown.
Celtic could be confirmed as champions for the fourth successive season this weekend, if they defeat Dundee at Parkhead tonight and second-placed Aberdeen then fail to win against Dundee United at Tannadice tomorrow.
I’d be quite happy about going up to Aberdeen and, hopefully, winning it thereKris Commons
The Pittodrie club have already recorded their best-ever points tally since the introduction of three points for a win in 1994, while they need just one more point to set a new record for non-Old Firm clubs in the league.
But, even when Aberdeen topped the table for a spell midway through the season, Celtic playmaker Commons claims he was unconcerned.
“I always thought we were going to win the league,” he said. “I don’t think Aberdeen have been close enough to really put us under pressure. When we’ve needed to win games, we’ve gone out and done it.
“I’ve never looked at the league table after a game this season. Were Aberdeen top of the league? Even in January, it didn’t feel like that. If we had games in hand, I always thought we would win them and be back to the top of the league.
“It wasn’t like a couple of years back, when Rangers were in the league and we thought ‘we need to get back on level points’ or ‘we need to win to pull three points away’. It always felt very tight then and every game had a massive importance.
“But I’ve never got that sort of feeling of ‘listen, we need to win this game no matter what because, if we don’t, Aberdeen are going to be hot on our tails’. Even though they have been five or eight points behind, I’ve never thought ‘if we don’t win here and they win there, they are within touching distance’.”
Commons says there are no plans in place among the Celtic players to celebrate this weekend should they become champions on Saturday while not playing, joking that they are more pre-occupied by the world’s major sporting event of the weekend in Las Vegas.
“It’s all about the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, isn’t it?,” he smiled. “But we’ve honestly not spoken about anything happening on Saturday night if it works out that we win the league.
“If we beat Dundee then, obviously, we’ll keep an eye on what Aberdeen do on Saturday. You’d be pretty daft if you didn’t. But whether it comes on Saturday afternoon or the week after, it would be good just to get across the line.”
If matters are not settled this weekend, of course, the stage will be perfectly set for Celtic’s trip to Pittodrie the following Sunday. “I’d be quite happy about going up to Aberdeen and, hopefully, winning it there,” added Commons. “It doesn’t necessarily matter to the players when we win it, but if they do win their game on Saturday and we have to go up there next Sunday with the title still to be won, I think it would be a fantastic atmosphere because at least they would have something to play for.
“Aberdeen is one of those places that can generate a really good crowd, a good atmosphere, we take a really good following. As the standings go, they are the second best team in the league so they have everything to play for. We’ve had some relatively tough games, especially up there over the last couple of years.
“It just makes it a bit more spicy, doesn’t it? It’s just nice to be involved in a good game knowing you are going to come up against good players.
“I think we will win the league, but it’s about doing it sooner rather than later. The fixtures we have left, I think we will pick up maximum points in most games. The only tricky game will be Aberdeen away because, at the minute, they are the second best team in our league and they are the ones who will be hunting us down to try to win the championship themselves.”
Despite his assertion that the absence of Rangers from the equation has removed any uncertainty of outcome from Celtic’s perspective, Commons nonetheless does not regard the achievement of winning the league with any less satisfaction.
“I don’t think these titles are any easier or harder,” he said. “Titles and medals in the cabinet look just as good as Neil Lennon’s titles or John Hartson’s medals from their playing days. They say exactly the same thing.
“It’s just that when I first walked through the door here, there was pressure on winning every single game with Rangers around. Ultimately, titles were won or lost on one game. This year, it has not felt like that.
“I don’t take it for granted that we are the best team and have the best squad. But if we win the league, this will be my fourth league title so that becomes normality. You are expected to win it because we are the favourites.”