Leigh Griffiths has ridiculed Rangers chairman Dave King’s claim that Celtic should have taken greater advantage of the Ibrox club’s four-year absence from the top flight of Scottish football.
King suggested the six-in-a-row Scottish champions should have placed even further distance between themselves and their Old Firm rivals on and off the field in the period following Rangers’ financial collapse in 2012.
That drew a withering response from Celtic striker Griffiths, who even went as far as to question the state of King’s mind in the aftermath of a season which saw the treble-winning Parkhead club finish 39 points ahead of third-placed Rangers in the Scottish Premiership.
“If he thinks we should be further ahead, then he’s mad,” said Griffiths. “How much further away does he want us to be? Thirty-nine points, two 5-1 gubbings – one at home and one away – and beaten in the semi-finals of both cups by us. Can you ask for a bigger gulf than that?
“They finished third and were touted at the start of the season to win the league. Last season they had Joey Barton saying he was going to be the best player in the league and he lasted a few months then he vanished back down the road.
“We just carried out our business professionally and respectfully and at the end of the season we reaped the rewards with a domestic treble and unbeaten.
“Instead of talking about us, he [King] should be concentrating on them. He’s got a new manager and he has his own mindset that he wants to bring in players and the chairman should be focusing on that rather than us, focusing on bridging the gap between us and them.”
Griffiths was also scornful of King’s suggestion that Celtic’s record 5-1 victory at Ibrox in April will ultimately prove to be the making of Pedro Caixinha as a successful Rangers manager.
“You can’t get beaten 5-1 and say it’s a good thing, no matter who you are,” added Griffiths. “I’ve been on the end of a 5-1 defeat in a Scottish Cup final for Hibs against Hearts and it will be talked about forever.
“The Celtic fans enjoyed that day at Ibrox and we proved that it should have been more than 5-1 really. They got off lightly. That’s 90 minutes of football and we only wanted to get three points regardless of the score line – be it 1-0 2-0 or 5-1. We did the business, clapped the fans at the end of the game and went home happy.”
Griffiths expects Celtic to face a more difficult challenge in this season’s Premiership, which they will begin with a home match against Hearts on 5 August. But he is yet to be convinced that Rangers’ raft of summer signings will turn them into Celtic’s closest rivals this time.
“Of the guys they have brought in from abroad, the only one I’ve heard of is Bruno Alves,” said Griffiths. “He’s a good solid defender and playing in the Confederations Cup with Portugal and he’ll be a good addition.
“I can’t say the same for the rest of them because I’ve never heard of them. We’ll soon see how quickly they adapt to the Scottish game and if they can, then good luck to them.
“I’d expect a stronger challenge from Rangers and for Aberdeen to be up there again. St Johnstone are a top-six team and Hearts and Hibs will be up there.”