Craig Gordon: Hibs have potential to finish second

There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth at Ibrox last season when Rangers, in their first season in the Premiership, could only finish third behind Celtic and Aberdeen.
Celtic's Craig Gordon promotes the new Christmas Appeal fundraising initiative Light up the Clover. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNSCeltic's Craig Gordon promotes the new Christmas Appeal fundraising initiative Light up the Clover. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS
Celtic's Craig Gordon promotes the new Christmas Appeal fundraising initiative Light up the Clover. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS

It would now appear that whoever the Ibrox directors persuade to take the vacant manager’s job, the new man could find the club again struggling to remain in the top three.

Last weekend, in the wake of a 1-0 win over Partick Thistle, Hibernian goalkeeper Ofir Marciano insisted that Neil Lennon’s side had the potential to finish as runners-up to champions Celtic, who visit Easter Road tomorrow 

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It is an opinion shared by Celtic and Scotland keeper Craig Gordon, although he points out that a team which wins at Ibrox and draws at Parkhead should not be dropping four points to Hamilton.

“I think if they can find the consistency to play regularly at their best then they would have a chance of [a top-three finish] because, on their day, they can match anybody and get results,” said the 34-year-old. “They have quality players, especially at the top end of the park. They are dangerous opponents who’ve been doing reasonably well recently after getting used to playing top-flight football again.

“In terms of how they play, the way they work the ball and try to create openings, they’re definitely one of the better teams, so this should be an attractive game.

“We’ll need to be at it because this is another big test. They’ve given us two hard games already and it always seems to be the case that we play them immediately after a European tie.

“This will be the third time in a row this season that’s happened and that makes it even more difficult because they are a very good team and they continually try to put you under pressure.

“People say they haven’t scored enough goals but, when you look through their team sheet, there is no shortage of threats from all sorts of areas. We’ll need to be on our game and wary of their danger men.

“I played against Neil but I’m getting to the stage of my career where I keep coming up against managers I played against.

“He had a successful time here as manager and he’s now brought Hibs up from the Championship and established them in the top half of the table.”

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Celtic had Gordon to thank for a save from Steven Whittaker during the 2-2 draw between the sides in Glasgow on 30 September which kept their undefeated domestic sequence, which now stands at 67 games, intact.

“We ground out a draw that day, really,” he conceded. “We weren’t at our best but we found a way to keep the run going, which is what we’ve done on a few occasions when we’ve been up against it.

“This sequence is something we’re looking to stretch for as long as possible but Easter Road is a hard place to go. I’ve played there plenty of times and know what it can be like.”

So, too, does Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers, although his experiences of the famous old ground could be counted on the finger of one hand.

“Last season I went to Easter
Road for the first time for the Edinburgh derby against Hearts in the Scottish Cup and the atmosphere was brilliant,” he said. “It’s a lovely stadium and I really enjoyed it.

“I loved the song that they sing at the end, Sunshine on Leith. It was absolutely amazing, brilliant. I also saw it at Hampden when half the stadium was singing it and it was just great.”

l Craig Gordon was speaking to publicise the club’s Light Up The Clover Christmas Appeal, which will take place before Wednesday’;s home game against Hamilton.