Celtic fans’ fear of Rangers has blinded them to Scottish Cup possibilities - and it shouldn’t

A crushing crisis of confidence has enveloped the Celtic fan base over the crumbling of the club’s near-decade title hegemony.

Celtic players celebrate their 2019-20 Scottish Cup success after the delayed final in December - now they have the chance to become the first team to claim the trophy twice inside the same campaign. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
Celtic players celebrate their 2019-20 Scottish Cup success after the delayed final in December - now they have the chance to become the first team to claim the trophy twice inside the same campaign. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

For striking evidence, you need look no further than their reaction to the news the other day that this season’s Scottish Cup will indeed be played to a conclusion.

Not so very long ago - as Celtic fans thought an unprecedented 10 straight titles was their destiny, and speculated the historic achievement could even be permed with five consecutive trebles - they would have relished the opportunity to gobble up another honour. However, the surprising development that a way has been found to stage the competition over the next three months, despite the pause placed on the lower leagues by the Covid-19 pandemic, seemed only a source of regret and angst for them.

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Frankly, the Parkhead club’s supporters want this season over without any further damage or despair being inflicted on them by champions-elect Rangers Contesting the Scottish Cup deprives them of that being guaranteed. Instead of two of the three trophies over which they had taken sole ownership across a four-year span, now everything could go. More specifically grevious for them is that their bitter Ibrox rivals could claim a first Scottish Cup since 2009 to sit alongside a first league crown for 10 years.

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It could be considered that Celtic followers are putting a dreadfully misanthropic spin on their club’s forthcoming tilt at the tournament. Failure certainly would put the tin lid on a fall from grace that has proved spectacular inside the past five months. A period during which they didn’t just fail to mount any serious defence of the Premiership, but also the League Cup. How much the latter hurt was evidenced by the violent scenes generated by a mob outside Parkhead in the aftermath of the second round home loss to Ross County in November - a defeat that brought to a crashing halt Celtic’s seemingly never-ending train of trophies.

Yet the flip side is that the staging of this season’s Scottish Cup offers possibilities for more history-making. The opportunity to win the trophy twice across the same campaign - following on from Celtic’s success in the Covid-19 delayed 2019-20 final in December, which sealed a world-first quadruple treble of national football competitions - is without parallel. As is the fact the Parkhead club have the chance to win it for a fifth time in succession.

Moreover, with Neil Lennon having departed last week to result in his former assistant John Kennedy stepping up to the role of interim manager, the 37-year-old could become only the second man in Celtic’s annals who has assumed such a position to claim silverware. He could follow on from no less than Kenny Dalglish, who led the club to the League Cup in 2000, six weeks after John Barnes had been removed as manager. Add to this the fact that, having eaten massively into Rangers’ lead in the trophy-gathering stakes since 2016, a cup triumph would allow them to remain only three behind their ancient adversaries, whose soon-to-be 116 honours is a best global haul for national football competitions.

Football is all about risk and reward. Yet, the Celtic support now appear consumed by the sense that, in this miserable season, no risk is worth any potential reward.

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