31 Dec Old Firm draw can’t take shine off Brown’s “phenomenal” year
Captain Scott Brown savoured Celtic’s “phenomenal” 2017 despite signing off with a goalless draw against Old Firm rivals Rangers.
Both sides had chances to win the match at Parkhead which left the champions eight points clear of Aberdeen at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership going into the winter break, and 11 ahead of their city rivals.
Celtic won the domestic treble in boss Brendan Rodgers’ first season in charge without losing a game.
So far this season they have retained the Betfred Cup, broken their own 100-year-old unbeaten domestic record when they extended it to 69 matches and reached the Champions League again with a subsequent place booked in the Europa League where they will face Russian side Zenit St Petersburg in February.
“It has been phenomenal,” said the 32-year-old midfielder. “Since the manager has come in he has been a breath of fresh air and with every game we seem to get better and better.
“I am enjoying my football and we have more belief in ourselves.
“The run that we went on to win the treble was fantastic.
“This bunch of lads have been great. They have done everything they possibly could have and have looked after their bodies on and off the park.
“Now it is time for a rest and a little bit of down time and enjoy the family time.”
It was Celtic’s 38th game of the season and the players will have a week off before they fly out to Dubai for some warm-weather training.
Brown said: “When you look across the board in Europe that is up there with the most games played and it is just going to get longer next season with the qualification games for the Champions League.
“We enjoy playing games but we also enjoy the little bit of rest and after a week off it will be like a mini pre-season in Dubai.”
Brown was reluctant to read too much into the draw with their Govan rivals, who had the better of the second half after Celtic has bossed most of the first 45 minutes.
He said: “It is a one-off game. You never know what can happen in these games.
“In the past we would maybe have lost a late goal but it shows you our fitness and we have a top-quality goalkeeper in Craig Gordon who kept us in the game.
“Yet again, we could have scored a few in the first half which could have made it nice and cushy for us but it wasn’t to be
“These games are always tough. Since the manager has come in we have done really well in them though.
“We’ve had six wins and two draws (against Rangers), so it’s been not too bad for us and a great year overall. You’ve got to take the positives out of that”.