FORMER Celtic boss Gordon Strachan has insisted the Hoops deserved their 2008 Premier League success – and Rangers blew their title chances.

The ex-Parkhead gaffer reacted to claims from former SFA president George Peat that an unnamed club chairman demanded that season should not be extended, despite Walter Smith’s men facing a fixture pile-up including a UEFA Cup Final against Zenit St Petersburg.

Strachan led his players to seven successive wins – including two over the Ibrox outfit – before pipping their rivals to the champ[onship on the last day of the campaign.

The former Scotland gaffer, who also had to cope with the passing of assistant Tommy Burns at the time, said: “I have never given it a thought and I’m still not going to give it a thought now.

“This is 10 years ago. Where have you been, George?

“To tell you the truth, I didn’t even know there was a debate about it at the time. I was totally focused on what we had to do.

“I seriously couldn’t tell you a thing about it. We had bigger issues on our plate at the time, like dealing with Tommy’s situation.

“I can honestly say I never gave Rangers’ fixtures a thought. It was never put to me and I never discussed it with Peter Lawwell or anyone else for
 that matter.

“Wasn’t that the season when Rangers had two games against us and they just needed to draw one of them to wrap up the title?

“We had to play them twice in the space of a couple of weeks at home knowing they only needed to take a point away from our place, but we managed to beat them twice.

“They had the opportunity to put it to bed with a draw, but we won the two games, with big Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink scoring a last-minute winner in one of them.”

Strachan added: “Before those two Old Firm games, we were beaten 1-0 by Motherwell at home and no-one was mentioning extending the season at that point because I think Rangers were something like seven points ahead of us.

“I wasn’t looking at what Rangers were doing, I was too busy trying to stop the Celtic fans booing over the last eight games of the season when they were all shouting for my head.

“It wasn’t a fixture pile-up they were bothered about.

“They might have been hoping I’d be involved in a pile-up of a very different kind!”


About Author


Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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