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Page last updated at 18:21 GMT, Saturday, 17 May 2008 19:21 UK

Chairman lauds Strachan and Burns

Tommy Burns and Gordon Strachan in happier times
Burns and Strachan helped Celtic turn the corner

Celtic chairman John Reid has praised Gordon Strachan and the late Tommy Burns for leading the side to the brink of a third league title in a row.

Burns worked closely with manager Strachan until the first-team coach's death on Thursday.

"There's still a long way to go in the league," said Reid, whose side are now three points clear of Rangers.

"But they have showed character, showed courage, showed finesse and they have done it by playing Celtic football."

Celtic are now favourites to retain their title after Rangers were held to a draw by Motherwell on Saturday.

Rangers still have a game in hand, against St Mirren on Monday, but Celtic have a superior goal difference going into their final game against Dundee United, while their rivals face Aberdeen.

Minute's applause for Tommy Burns

"A few weeks ago, we were in difficulties," said Reid, recalling how Rangers emerged as favourites before the Ibrox side lost two Old Firm derbies and squandered games in hand.

"At that time, I spoke to Tommy Burns and Gordon Strachan and basically they said to me, do I want us to play the Celtic style of football or do I want us to get results irrespective of that.

"That was their message and Tommy Burns never compromised and Gordon was not willing to compromise that kind of football."

Gordon has known behind the scenes that, irrespective of the patch that we went through, he had the support of the Celtic board

Celtic chairman John Reid

Rangers have been criticised by some for playing too defensively, but Reid feels that the present league position justifies his own side's approach.

"It's coming through now," he said. "It's not over, but it's game on now and that's credit to their consistency."

While Strachan has also had his critics, Reid praised Celtic's supporters for uniting behind the team.

And he stressed that he had never had any thoughts of replacing the manager during, or at the end of, the season.

"Gordon has known behind the scenes that, irrespective of the patch that we went through, he had the support of the Celtic board," said Reid.

"He has delivered two league titles and taken us into the last 16 in Europe.

"He is on the verge, although you never count your chickens, of perhaps doing what we have not done for a long time."

see also
Smith bemoans lack of composure
17 May 08 |  Rangers
Motherwell 1-1 Rangers
17 May 08 |  Scottish Premier

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