Strachan: Ibrox date was biggest certainty of all time

Last updated : 30 April 2009 By Mikbhoy
Back at Lennoxtown and focused on the title fight

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan was very happy with the work completed by his squad during their sunshine break at La Manga and he thought it was the ideal place for his squad at this pivotal time of the season. "It was a good trip," he said. "Whether it will make a difference or not, we won't know until the end of the season, but everything we are doing right now is geared towards trying to win the title. The pitches at La Manga were perfect, the service from the staff was brilliant and the players' attitude to the training was excellent. Everything that was put on for us was fantastic, so it's all down to us now."

"It was good." he told the Celtic View. "I said before the trip that there were three groups of players. I had ones who had to do more, ones who had to rest and ones who had to rehabilitate from injury. They all got good weather to go and do what they had to. We thought it was the right thing to do. I just felt that training here for two weeks would have been too long."

"Over in Spain, we were almost guaranteed decent weather." continued the boss. "We got that. It all went well on that front while the players behaved themselves immaculately. I spoke to a couple of the locals, who said they didn't even realise we were there. That was good. For everyone, I think it was a good idea to get away, even for the coaching staff and other people who work hard all season. Don't get me wrong, we worked extremely hard when we got there but it was a different environment."

"We got away from it all for a few days and it was good." said Strachan. "We got away from the media and bits and bobs. We could talk about football in our own way."

Now that the final fixture list has been published the Celts know exactly what they have to do. "There's a real focus now," said the boss. "We managed to re-energise ourselves in Spain but it was also important to set ourselves up for that by getting a good result against Aberdeen before we left. That made the journey a lot more relaxing. We have some hard games coming up but we just have to get on with. As a matter of fact, the Aberdeen people told us after we played them at Celtic Park that we'd be at Pittodrie for the first game after the split. That cleared things up."

The timing of the visit to Ibrox was no major shock to the manager either. "We always knew the second game would be against Rangers," he said. "That was the biggest certainty of all-time, but we also knew it would be Aberdeen away first. We knew what was coming. It didn't surprise me when the two away games came out first. I knew it was happening before I boarded the flight to Spain."

The manager isn't sure if travelling to two of the most difficult venues in the SPL for the first two post-split games is an ideal way to begin the last lap of the championship race . "I don't know if it will be a good or bad thing for us," he said. "We won't know until the end of the season. The split means that the best teams play against each other in the last five games. There's never going to be a real 50/50 fairness to it, but that's just the way it goes."