'Next season can be great again' - Celtic great John Collins' upbeat message despite title admission

John Collins admits Rangers will lift the SPFL Premiership title – but believes there are grounds for optimism at Celtic.

Former Celtic star John Collins praised outgoing CEO Peter Lawwell.

The ten-in-a-row bid that Collins played a part in as assistant to Ronnie Deila is coming to a conclusion – but not as the former Parkhead midfielder, or his fellow fans, hoped it would with Celtic 21 points off league leaders Rangers.

But the Ibrox club’s standards are not unobtainable for Celtic, Collins says, based on the last Old Firm meeting which Rangers won 1-0 through a Calum McGregor own goal.

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He believes with a summer recruitment plan “next season can be great again” despite the disappointment experienced this term.

Celtic's Scott Brown (right) exchanges words with Rangers' Bongani Zungu during the Scottish Premiership match between Rangers and Celtic at Ibrox Stadium, on January 02, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Asked about the potential failure to achieve a tenth title in a row, Collins told BBC Sportsound: “It’s disappointing for everyone and every Celtic fan. Sometimes you don’t get what you want or what means a lot to you and ten meant a lot to every Celtic supporter.

“But we have to be realistic. The Celtic fans have got to be loyal and remember there’s another season coming up – the ten is gone but we had nine fun years, with quadruple trebles, but people forget so quickly which I find sad. I’ve got a lot of fans and friends who are raging because of the way this season has gone. But I say we’ve had nine great years and next season can be great again.”

Reviewing the season and the travails that have beset his team, Collins added: “From start to finish, it’s been one error, one mistake, one bad decision week after week, month after month and here we are in February and Rangers are going to win the league.

"But the positive for me to focus on as a Celtic fan is that last Old Firm game, Rangers weren’t miles ahead of Celtic – Celtic were the better team. They’ve recouped £11m for Frimpong – that goes into the transfer pot. They’ve got to focus on recruitment, new players for next season and moving players out who don’t really want to be there.”

Collins also gave his backing to under-fire – and out-going – chief executive Peter Lawwell, who will be replaced by Dominic McKay in the summer after 17 years at Parkhead.

He added: “Peter Lawwell is first and foremost is a gentleman, I think. He’s a great spokesman for the football club – he doesn’t come out and say stupid things.

"His trophy haul is exceptional. When he took over the club they were in debt after Martin O’Neill’s era, there was success but they were spending more than they could afford and the balance sheet was not good. The balance sheet is now healthy and they’ve had nine years of success domestically, not in Europe it’s not been as good as hoped, it’s been poor.

"But one seriously bad season and that’s what everyone is talking about, because that’s the nature of football – it’s present, the past doesn’t count.”

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