Scottish Premier League: Playing for 2nd place
As another season in Scotland’s Premier division draws to a close, another inevitable Celtic title has already been sealed. Having secured their 1st place finish with any amount in hand, Celtic have now come out on top in each of the last six seasons.
Even though it’s widely known that the Scottish top flight is lacking in competition, six in a row is still impressive.
Of all their recent titles, the first of Brendan Rodgers’ tenure is likely to be remembered as both the easiest and the classiest. Right from the word go, it was clear that the Celts were going to have far too much in the locker and thus, even as far back as October/November, it was always going to be a case of when rather than if.
Given their apparent monopoly over the Scottish game, it’s certainly not uncommon for Celtic to have in their ranks the cream of the crop when it comes to talent, but this season they were able to take this to the next level. In signing players such as Moussa Dembélé and Scott Sinclair, Rodgers simply had a calibre of player in his squad that’s simply higher than any other team in the division. The fact that the aforementioned pair netted 37 times between them – more than seven of the other 11 teams managed overall – says it all really.
How does this season compare to previous campaigns?
Even by their own lofty standards, Celtic really have been outstanding during this campaign. Their points total of 90 after 32 games is far superior to the 76 that they managed to accumulate over 33 matches during the previous two campaigns and better than the 88, 69 and 81 accumulated in 10/11, 11/12 and 12/13 respectively. In terms of goals scored, the Bhoys have also reached new levels, scoring no less than 85 after 32 games, beating totals of 78, 70, 82, 78, 72 from their previous five title wins.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Celtic’s campaign has been the fact that they’ve remained unbeaten. In fact, after 32 fixtures, Rodgers’ side have only dropped points on three occasions, one of which came after their league victory was mathematically confirmed. Considering they lost at least once during their previous five title romps, this is hard to knock.
Where do they go from here?
If their squad remains the same – big if with clubs likely to be queuing up for the talented Dembélé – then Rodgers and his men really ought to be looking at putting up a better fight in Europe next season. Given the manner in which they’ve walked the league title (once again), it appears as though a new challenge is in order. Having gone out in the groups, with just three points to their name, Rodgers will be hoping his team can showcase the progression that has been made over the last year by acquitting themselves better on the continent.
Where does Celtic’s dominance leave Scottish football?
Although a sixth consecutive title is a fine achievement for Celtic as a club, as is this year’s success for Rodgers and the current crop of players, it doesn’t exactly paint the rest of the division in the best light. Celtic’s dominance suggests that the rest of the top flight are some way off the pace. Realistically, 11 of the 12 teams in the Scottish Premier League are effectively playing for 2nd place, or at least they have been for some time.
Aberdeen turned out to be the title winners’ closest pursuers this season, although they were never really close at all. After 32 games, Scotland’s 2nd place team are a massive 26 points behind Celtic and have generally been closer to relegation for the majority of the campaign. In fact, in each of the last six seasons, no team has managed to get within touching distance of the Celts come the end of the season with their smallest winning margin being eight points back in the 14/15 season.
Unless something drastic happens, it looks as though the chasing pack in Scotland will be led another merry dance next season. Given their performances during the course of this campaign, it’s hard to see Celtic faltering any time soon as far as the league title is concerned. Put it this way, if you’re a betting man, or maybe even a tipster, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be fancying any of Scotland’s other clubs to beat the Hoops to next season’s title.
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