Brendan Rodgers: Celtic's unbeaten run may never be surpassed
Celtic’s 69-game unbeaten domestic run came to an abrupt halt on Sunday afternoon after they were out-played, out-fought and out-thought by Hearts, but Brendan Rodgers believes that his team have set a record that may never be surpassed.
And, he may well be right.
The reigning Scottish champions were emphatically beaten 4-0 in Edinburgh, something that their Northern Irish manager admitted following the contest, but the defeat was immediately followed by a glowing reflection on the previous 584 days. Rodgers told BBC Sport that his players had “set a record that may well never be beaten” – and it is hard to disagree.
The statistics that back up Celtic’s unbeaten run are astonishing.
The Hoops’ last loss prior to Sunday was in May 2016, a run of 69-games and 584 days without tasting defeat against Scottish opposition that transferred into four domestic trophies and an entire season unbeaten. Celtic won 60 of those contests, scoring 197 goals and conceding just 40, on their way to breaking a 100-year British record that had never before been challenged.
There are those that attempt to dismiss the achievement, tending to either point to the financial disparity between the Scottish champions and the remainder of the league or declare Scottish football as being little more than a ‘pub league’. However, that does little to explain why no one else in the past century has accomplished such a feat.
The reality is that Celtic supporters have been privy to witnessing Rodgers construct the most dominant Scottish team that the domestic game has ever seen and the club, manager and players should receive the praise that they deserve.
It is difficult to imagine any other Scottish team replicating or bettering Celtic’s achievements any time soon, especially considering the financial composition of football north of the boarder, and the feat signifies that Rodgers’ managerial reputation has been rebuilt.
He arrived at Celtic Park just over eighteen months ago battered and bruised from a turbulent final few months in charge of Anfield, despite the fact, barring an unfortunate Steven Gerrard slip, he would have guided the club to the title.
However, Celtic’s unbeaten run has rekindled his reputation and attention will now turn towards what the 44-year-old’s long term plans are.
Rodgers has already accomplished almost everything possible at Celtic. He secured the treble in his first season, something that he looks set to repeat this campaign, and in reality there is minimal opposition on the domestic front to challenge the Hoops’ dominance.
Furthermore, it is difficult to see the club making much of an inroad in European competitions, as demonstrated by the recent Champions League group stage, leaving the question: what more can Rodgers achieve at Celtic Park?
Maybe that is a question for the future. For now, Rodgers is focused on securing further silverware declaring that “We hit the reset button and look to get three points in our next game. Now that the run is finished, we want to get back to winning ways as quickly as possible.”
Maybe the upcoming fixture against Partick Thistle will be the start of another unbeaten run…