Hibs boss Pat Fenlon today claimed Rangers’ collapse into administration will give Celtic fresh impetus despite admitting the SPL title race is all but over.
The ten-point deduction imposed on the Ibrox club has left their arch-rivals 14 points clear at the top of the table, but Fenlon believes Neil Lennon and his players will now want to take the championship flag by as great a margin as possible to avoid accusations that they had won it in a courtroom. Celtic will pitch up at Easter Road on Sunday having already clocked up an incredible 17 straight wins in domestic competition, making them red-hot favourites to lift the treble. However, Fenlon feels Lennon will now be setting his stars new goals to achieve between now and the end of the season.
Hoops defender Adam Matthews has already claimed he and his team-mates can remain invincible between now and the end of the season, and Fenlon believes that’s just one target Lennon will be setting his players.
Insisting events in Govan will have little, if any bearing on this weekend’s match in the Capital, Fenlon said: “The league is obviously more or less done and dusted now but it will be a challenge for them in that they will probably want to win it by as many points as possible so people do not point the finger and say they only won it because Rangers were deducted points.
“I’m sure Neil will be driving that, saying ‘let’s go and win it without people having any doubt’.”
Fenlon also believes that while Celtic fans will undoubtedly be ecstatic at this week’s turn of events, Lennon and his players will possibly be a touch disappointed at not having the opportunity to take the title on the field of play.
As such, he feels Celtic manager Lennon will be pushing his players on to new heights. He said: “They have been playing really well, the run they have been on, going from week-to-week without any blips, has been incredible.
“For any club to be winning so many matches consecutively is an amazing achievement.
“Now they will have to set their own goals, trying to break records that have been set previously, the number of games won, going through the rest of the season unbeaten, winning the treble. They’ll be talking about all of those things.”
Coincidentally, Hibs were the last side to take a point from Celtic, a no-scoring draw in Glasgow at the end of October, and although he conceded, given the respective positions the clubs currently enjoy, most will see the outcome of Sunday’s match as no more than a formality, Fenlon insisted he’ll be operating on the maxim that all good things come to an end.
He said: “Everything has to come to an end at some stage and we would like to be the ones to end it although it is going to be a big ask.”