Brendan Rodgers has claimed that if Celtic were to clinch the treble this season it would eclipse their unprecedented unbeaten clean sweep of the domestic honours last term.
In making that assessment, the Irishman sets apart what could be achieved this season with the chance to “rewrite the record books” through becoming the first manager in the history of the Scottish game to lead his side to back-to-back trebles.
As a stand alone achievement, Rodgers says ending the season with all three major trophies at the club would be a bigger deal than doing so in his debut season – even if Celtic have earned 21 points fewer from 31 games compared with last year, in part because of two domestic losses.
“If it was to be done this year it would be better,” he said. “You think last year was the first time in the history of the club for it [unbeaten clean sweep] to be done which was absolutely remarkable. For this year, it’s felt as if it’s near enough the standard [with the treble still on]. It’s incredible really to think that is the case but actually there’s a possibility of it.
“You can’t emotionally look too deep into it. That’s the other thing. But there’s no doubt that if we finish this season with that it trumps last year’s. No doubt. Because of expectations, the scrutiny, the added pressure to it. Last year we weren’t even expected to get to the Champions League. Now we’re expected to compete and win Europa Leagues. This year the players have been great. Yes, maybe they haven’t quite hit the heights of last season but we’re still on the upward curve here and are still developing and improving.
“It was always going to be difficult to recreate what we did last year. On the back of the recovery the players had which was minimum, it was probably impossible to recreate that. If we did exactly the same this year, it probably wouldn’t have the same feeling as last year.
“But if someone would have said to me at the beginning of the season that you are sat here having reached the Champions League, got to the last 32 of the Europa League, won a League Cup and be ten points clear with a game in hand and in the semi-final of the Scottish Cup, I’d have snapped your hand off.”
Meanwhile, Rodgers dismissed speculation this week linking Scott Sinclair with a summer move to the English Premier League. “I saw some stuff over the international break. I know people have to fill pages and write headlines [but] Scott is very happy here,” said the manager, who revealed Leigh Griffiths is fit enough to be considered for tomorrow’s hosting of Ross County after two months out with an ankle problem.
“Of course Scott hasn’t played in the last few games because we changed the tactical ideas of the team. But this is a period of the season now that he loves. He is a really competitive player and he turns it on in the big games. He is still very important to what we do.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if there is interest in him. He has scored more than 40 goals since he has been here over the two seasons and if you can do that as well as create all the assists that he does then he is always going to create an interest. He has had experiences that makes him appreciate what he has here. He is on a nice little break and he looked very good this week in training. He is here for the run-in.”