PROUD Scot (@chrisgraham79) pinpoints his best bet from the weekend Scottish action.
Hibs v Celtic| Saturday 2nd March 2019, 17:15
It's not me, it's you. That was the message that Brendan Rodgers firmly said to Celtic Football Club earlier this week as he walked out of the proud, history-laden club to take up new residence at a mid-table Premier League side. As dumpings go, this was as brutal as it gets. This was Paula Yates ending it with Bob Geldof.
Rodgers leaving Celtic for me is one of the biggest stories of the decade in Scottish football. This episode provides an uncomfortable clarity about where Scottish football stands in the grand scheme of the footballing landscape.
We can handle our smaller sides getting knocked out of Europe before the season starts, we can handle Adam Rooney leaving Aberdeen for an English non-league team, but when the esteem and standing of the country's champions gets picked apart then it's real cause for contemplation.
Immortality traded in
Rodgers was on the cusp of being immortal at Celtic. There was a statue with his name on it, he would have been mentioned in the same breath as Jock Stein and his future achievements would have been talked about in Glasgow after we're all gone. Instead he traded all that in to take charge of a club who were playing in the third tier of English football a decade ago.
There has been a sense of surprise amongst Premier League fans at the level of hurt, anger and confusion currently being exhibited by Celtic supporters. And perhaps that's the hardest thing to swallow for Scottish football fans.
While achievements like the Treble Treble and a potential 10 in a row fill the heads of Celtic (and Rangers) fans most waking hours, the rest of the footballing world simply shrugs it's shoulders and asks who Man City are playing next.
10 in a row? No thanks
These huge historical milestones will be the main narrative in the Scottish game in the months and years ahead, but the truth is no one else outside the country (bar fans of the Old Firm) passionately cares. Anyone thinking that Celtic's (potential) 10 in a row triumph in 2021 would be the talk of sports bars in Berlin, Bucharest, or even Brighton is deluded. And the uncomfortable truth for Celtic fans is the fact that Brendan Rodgers simply didn't care enough either. 10 in a row? No thanks, there's a Europa League spot to win for Leicester.
Another sobering thing I discovered this week was Celtic's following on Twitter. I was genuinely surprised to see the club had just 600,000 followers. I presumed it would be in seven figures. In comparison, Arsenal have 14.1 million, Manchester United 18.8 million and Spurs 3.2 million. Leicester, you ask? Umm, how can I put this…1.2 million.
You may scoff at these numbers but Social Media is a barometer of global appeal amongst the new generation of football fans. It's another tough read.
Let me say now that I take no enjoyment from the situation in the previous paragraph. Rodgers walking out on Celtic is not just a club issue, it's a sad indictment on the Scottish game as a whole. When can we next expect to see a manger of Rodgers' caliber take a post in Scottish football? Lads, don't hold your breath!
Onto the betting and Saturday's Scottish Cup Quarter-Final between Hibs and Celtic looks enthralling. Neil Lennon returns to the club he left in January fired up to the max back in the Celtic Park dugout. What kind of reception will he receive in Leith?
New look Hibs
Hibs have reset themselves under new boss Paul Heckingbottom and have picked up three wins out of three under the tutelage of the former Leeds manager.
There's no doubt that some of the players feel liberated since Lennon left and that could feed into their game on Saturday. The Northern Irishman cut a fairly morose figure in the weeks leading up to his exit and you'd like to think his ex-players will look to get one over him.
I'm going to back the same bet that I did when the sides met in October last year. Hibs should be bang up for this with their new boss and the chance to kill off the Treble Treble will be enticing.
Having said that, the last-kick-of-the-match win against Hearts for Celtic on Wednesday night may have refocused the players and put to bed any angst about their former boss leaving. Lennon will be drilling these lads into making sure this historical opportunity does not slip.
The stats back up the bet. Hibs have scored in six of their last seven games and in all three under Heckingbottom. Celtic have won all 10 of their domestic fixtures since they returned from the winter break. At 11/5 it's worthy of interest.
The pain may still be raw. The hurt still palpable. But just like Geldof Celtic can bounce back. The healing process should continue on Saturday.
Hibs v Celtic – Celtic to win and both teams to score (11/5 188BET)