Back in the day when the SPL deemed that a winter break was a good idea it wasn't unknown for the Celts to head off for a bit of sunshine training in the bleak midwinter and former boss Martin O'Neill was a big fan of it. Celtic skipper Stephen McManus had the opportunity to experience it for the first time last week when the squad headed to La Manga and 'Mick' was suitably impressed.
"It certainly wasn't a holiday." said McManus, speaking to the Celtic View. "We were out working every day and it was just a normal week in that respect, so it was really good. Normally, we just wouldn't get the chance to do something like this. That's the first time I have been away in the middle of a season since I joined the first team and it's been brilliant."
first piece of silverware
"The facilities at La Manga were absolutely superb," he added. "The pitches were immaculate and the Gaffer was able to do a lot of work and work some of the lads really hard. It was just what we needed. Personally, I was able to enjoy some rest and rehab. I didn't do any heavy training, but was going on walks and jogs and was in the gym every day. It was basically what I would have been doing here, but in a much better climate. Time will tell how great a benefit it has been, but I think that the lads have come back from this fresher and stronger."
Now the focus is on the final five games beginning with the trip to Pittodrie for Saturday's lunchtime kick-off. "We're all looking forward to it," said Mick. "We have a five-game league to win the title now and we are lucky in that we are a point ahead of our nearest rivals. We are going into this match full of confidence and ready for it. Aberdeen have done really well this season, they had a few players missing in the recent game at Celtic Park, so it will be a totally different game this Saturday."
"There is a league title at stake and it doesn't get any bigger in your career than winning this," said the skipper. "From the start of the season we have given our all and I can guarantee that in this final push we will be giving 100 per cent in everything we do, because we want to win as many things as we possibly can as a group."