“The Rangers are coming.”
Well, so they say over on the blue side of Glasgow.
There were certainly a few encouraging signs for Steven Gerrard’s team last season. Still, it wasn’t difficult to see that they were far from the full package and some way off being able to pip Celtic to the title.
Rangers’ last Scottish Premier League crown came back in 2011, prior to their well-documented financial and legal problems. Having clawed their way back into the SPL in 2016 from the third tier of Scottish soccer, The Gers have been slowly improving.
Fans have long been waiting for them to recapture their status as top dog in Scotland.
Of course, many of those same fans will be placing wagers on Rangers winning the league.
On the other hand, Celtic fans will be far from wiping the sweat from their brows or worrying too much about Rangers’ threat to their dominant run in the SPL — a run that has lasted eight years and looks likely to continue.
Let’s see what the bookies have to say about who wins the SPL in 2019/20.
Latest SPL Winners Odds
The odds below come courtesy of 888sport and are accurate at the time of writing.
A full list of odds is available visiting 888sport or any of our other recommended soccer betting sites.
As you can see, Celtic are the clear favorites at -286 to win the SPL in 2019/20.
Rangers come in at +225, while the closest to the Glasgow giants is Aberdeen at +2800. Hibs are some way off at a huge +100000.
Is 2019/20 Rangers’ Year?
There is a lot of talk right now about Rangers’ chances of winning the SPL in 2019/20.
There is no doubt that The Bears are in the best position they have been prior to the liquidation of the club. Having watched their bitter rivals dominate the highest tier in Scottish soccer for the best part of a decade, fans are desperate for success.
Now, there is a difference between wanting success and being in the position to achieve it.
With Rangers out of the picture for so long, Celtic have essentially taken the spoils in what was a one-horse race. As such, directors Ian Bankier, Peter Lawwell, and Chris McKay have not exactly needed to shell out for players to ensure they remain on top.
Celtic have spent money over the past few years, sure, but it would have surely been a lot more if Rangers had been in a better position. Now that the blue side of Glasgow is beginning to grow in strength, their old rivals will be ensuring that they keep things in their favor.
Rangers might be growing in strength, but there is no way that they can compete with Celtic financially. On account of the previous collapse of the club, financial dealings have to be above board.
While Steven Gerrard’s team can potentially push Celtic all the way, they do require significant reinforcements before many will be convinced of their strength. To do this, they need cash, right?
Of course, that is the simple answer. Simply throwing money at a problem doesn’t always work, and Rangers fans are more than aware of that.
A certain portion of the club thinks that the team will be ready next year, however. Let’s take a look at how they look right now.
Rangers’ Inconsistent 2018/19
Given that the 2019/20 season is yet to start, we can only look back at last season for answers.
To put it gently, Rangers were grossly inconsistent in 2018/19. They showed enthusiastic flashes at times, let points slip in some games, and were far from championship-winning material in others.
Consistency is what wins titles. The ability to win at all costs is what gets you the three points at the end of 90 minutes. Rangers, in contrast to Celtic, failed to show that killer instinct and paid for it.
Now, Gerrard’s team did beat Celtic last season and showed that they have the ability to push them. It’s the cold nights at St. Johnstone and Dundee where leagues are won, however.
Anyone can gear themselves up for the big games. It’s winning consistently — and ugly if necessary — that distinguishes champions from runner-ups.
So, where are Rangers’ strengths and weaknesses right now?
Well, from what we have seen last year, discipline is a problem. Alfredo Morelos’ eight yellows and three red cards, two straight, is cause for concern. Consistency, as we have noted, is also something the club needs to sort out.
On the plus side, Rangers scored more goals than any other team in 2018/19, with 82. They conceded 27, which is seven more than Celtic.
They have a promising young manager in Gerrard and a couple of standout players. But is that enough to topple the champions?
Celtic’s Nine-in-a-Row Run
Ask most Celtic fans how they felt when former manager Brendan Rodgers left for Leicester, and you will likely receive a glum reaction.
The former Liverpool boss — who was in charge of the Merseysiders when current Rangers boss Gerrard was in charge — was easily the best manager in the league. Under Rodgers, the club was seen as unstoppable, so losing him was a big blow.
Rather than drafting in a big name, Celtic opted to bring Lennon back to the club. He did enough to convince the board that he was the man for the job, even if the appointment polarized fans.
Regardless, the Celtic ship will be steered by the former Northern Ireland international. If he gets the same access to coffers that his predecessor did in the summer transfer window, it is hard to see Rangers stopping The Celts.
Lennon might not have the same star power of Rodgers or some of the names that were on the Celtic shortlist, but he does have the benefit of knowing the club. The environment at Parkhead is a special one, and Lennon had some great years there before leaving in 2014.
The boss aside, Celtic has the best team in the league. Players like Kieran Tierney, James Forrest, Callum McGregor, and talismanic captain Scott Brown are integral to the march to a record-breaking ten in a row.
Before they can dream of the magic number, Celtic will first need to close out this season as champions of Scotland.
Celtic’s Strengths and Weaknesses
Celtic need bolstering in key positions ahead of the new season.
Rangers have dipped into the transfer market to sign Matt Edmundson, Jake Hastie, Jordan Jones, Sheyi Ojo, and Greg Stewart. Celtic will also be looking to add key recruits to maintain their position at the top of the tree.
While Celtic has a strong midfield and quality in certain positions, they need power at right back and center back to offset the losses of Dedryck Boyata and Mikael Lustig.
So, far they have signed center back Christopher Jullien, midfielder Luca Connell, and left-back Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo. There will surely be further activity as the summer goes on.
Last season’s record signing, Odsonne Edouard, will also need some support up front. Leigh Griffiths will be back, but the team will need to ensure that he is up to scratch before they can be certain that goals will not be a problem.
Lennon will also be looking at a little more pace on the wings and a solid goalkeeper, too.
As it stands, the team is pretty much there, although a lack of squad depth caused problems last year.
If Celtic can make it to the Champions League proper, then there will be more money to spend, eventually. The question is, can the club gamble on that alone, or do they need to spend no matter what?
Steven Gerrard vs. Neil Lennon
Both managers have their positive and negative points.
If you had to ask me who I would choose to run my club, I would opt for Lennon in a heartbeat.
Not only is he the more experienced of the two, but he has four SPL titles and three Scottish Cups to his name. Lennon also has a 70% winning record at the club.
Gerrard, for all of his promise, has yet to win a single trophy. Granted, he has only been in charge of Rangers for one season, but his winning percentage of 51% is not great, is it?
Lennon also has experience in the UEFA Champions League, with an exceptional highlight of his experience as a manager in the competition to mention. That was, of course, beating defending champions Barcelona 2-1 at Celtic Park.
If the option is to choose between a manager with a proven track record and one that is simply promising, who would you pick?
Why Rangers Won’t Stop Celtic
It’s conceivable for Rangers to beat Celtic a couple of times next season.
The team may very well push Celtic all the way to the title. But they will not stop Celtic equalling the record of nine in a row.
Celtic is too strong for Rangers as it stands and has the better manager, group of players, and setup. With further investment expected throughout the summer, we can expect to see more quality arrive at Celtic Park, too.
I don’t think the green and white side of Glasgow will be fearing Rangers next season, but they certainly are aware that they are showing strong signs of catching up. As such, it will be time for Lennon and co. to ensure that they can maintain that gap at the top of the table.
I expect Celtic to improve this season in comparison to how they closed 2018/19 out. With Rodgers’ shock exit, there was plenty of uncertainty in the dressing room, and this clearly fed into the performances on the pitch.
With Lennon now at the helm from day one of the new campaign, stability will be a factor in Celtic pushing on.
In my opinion, the club will get to nine in a row. Rangers will improve, providing Gerrard sticks around and they make a few key signings.
Then, it will be a case of stopping The Celts making it to ten.
If the Rangers are coming, I don’t think that they’ll be arriving this season.
Steven Gerrard’s team is capable of improving in 2019/20, but I’m not sure that they have the strength or depth to stop Celtic.
By all means, it was a shaky season for The Celts last year, and they still finished as champions. If anything, they will improve next year, especially with the departures of a couple of restless players.
Neil Lennon will be keen to create his own team from the nucleus left by the now-departed Rodgers. He can make it five championships across two stints with Celtic if he can get it right.
I believe he will.
Celtic fans are confident for a reason. That reason is that the team they support is, by far, the best in Scotland.