Tunnel vision keeps Celtic on track for a treble treble

Scott Bain was talking about the idiots who insist on throwing objects from the stands when he said that no-one at Celtic was ever worried when they took to the field.

Scott Brown celebrates with Olly Burke after scoring on Saturday. Picture: SNS.
Scott Brown celebrates with Olly Burke after scoring on Saturday. Picture: SNS.

Given their ongoing dominance of the Scottish game, that lack of fear could just as easily describe their approach to games and their view on opponents and any other obstacles put in their way.

While most sane football fans, players and clubs have called for an end to the crazy and dangerous actions of a minority after coins, a flare and even glass bottles were chucked on to the pitch on Saturday, Bain said that was something that was outwith the players’ control. He would like to see it snuffed out but says in the meantime all the players can do is focus on the things they can influence.

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That tunnel vision has served them well in a week when managerial upheaval had led some to question the team’s ability to see out the season by maintaining the formidable form they have shown since the turn of the year.

There has been talk of frauds since Brendan Rodgers returned to the English Premier League but, having come through a turbulent and testing week unscathed, there can be no doubting the commitment of the men the Leicester boss left behind or the sincerity of their quest for a treble treble.

Pushed all the way by Hearts midweek, the expectation was that they would have to dig deep again at Easter Road to progress to the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup. But at a ground where they have struggled in recent years, they overcame a surprisingly passive Hibernian to make it 25 cup games on the bounce without defeat.

With an eight-point lead at the top of the league table, which seems insurmountable at this late stage of the campaign, they are now just two cup ties away from an incredible nine domestic trophies in a row. Not that the players are talking about that. Yet. Not publicly anyway.

“You never hear any of us talking about it,” said goalkeeper Scott Bain. “It is the old cliche of one game at a time. That has served us well in the past and we continue to go into each game like it is a cup final. We need that mentality.”

The previous clean sweeps came with Rodgers at the helm but, with Neil Lennon back in interim control, Bain says it is up to players to prove that it is about what they do as much as any manager.

“It would be nice regardless of who the manager is. We know that the players do the business on the pitch and we will continue to do that. I think you can see from the results this week just how professional the boys are. We have just got on with our work, implemented the same things that we have done before. Nothing has really changed for us.”

Two stunning second-half strikes, from James Forrest, below left, and then Scott Brown, dancing away from the Hibs defence in the 62nd and 75th minutes before lashing unstoppable drives past Ofir Marciano, guaranteed the club a return to Hampden as a Hibs side, up against their old gaffer and looking an insipid version of the teams he would set up to tussle with the country’s best, offered little in reply.

“If you look at our season and the number of important games we play you see that these lads are the strongest mentally,” said Bain. “It has been tough, there has been a bit of a distraction but I think we have shown our quality.

“Broony keeps the boys together and demands the highest standards. He is massive, regardless of what has been going on outside the changing room.”