Ex-Rangers boss: 'Celtic are average'
Perhaps only in Scottish football could a team be odds-on to follow an invincible campaign with an unsurpassed achievement and be thought to have gone into decline.
That, though, was the tag applied to Celtic by Mark Warburton when the former Rangers manager was invited to judge the Hoops' progress under Brendan Rodgers.
Warburton, who was ditched by the Ibrox board last year with Rangers 27 points adrift of their arch-rivals, declared during the international break that "all Celtic have done is regress to the mean".
The Englishman added: "Celtic had an outstanding season last year, but this season they have dropped many more points. They've gone back to having an average season."
Certainly, compared to last term's unbeaten annexation of Scottish honours, Celtic have displayed some vulnerabilities this time. Nevertheless, they are closing in on another singular accomplishment in the form of a second successive clean sweep of the domestic silverware.
Rodgers, when invited to reply to Warburton's assessment, argued that Celtic's all-conquering exploits had, in fact, raised expectations to an unsurpassed level.
"It was always going to be difficult to recreate what we did last year," he said. "On the back of the recovery the players had - which was minimum - it was probably impossible to recreate that." (© Daily Telegraph, London)