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Page last updated at 08:55 GMT, Friday, 23 May 2008 09:55 UK

McNeill hails Strachan's triumph

Billy McNeill
McNeill thinks Strachan has proved himself again

Celtic legend Billy McNeill is urging the club's fans to fully appreciate manager Gordon Strachan's input.

Strachan masterminded a third successive Scottish Premier League crown on the final day - the first man to do so since Jock Stein.

"What a record he's got since he came," the former Celtic captain and manager told BBC Sport.

"I think it's time for the Celtic support to appreciate how well he's managed the team."

Celtic's 1-0 victory over Dundee United, coupled with Rangers' 2-0 defeat to Aberdeen, sealed a hat-trick of league triumphs for Strachan since replacing Martin O'Neill at the helm.

And Lisbon Lion McNeill cannot understand why there are question marks over the current manager's ability to manage the club.

A significant number of supporters have expressed their doubts about Strachan and the pressure on the boss mounted as Celtic fell behind Rangers earlier in the season.

From the board down, from our major shareholder right through to the vast majority of fans, we have supported Gordon Strachan because he has delivered for this football club

Celtic chairman John Reid

The 1-0 home defeat by Motherwell on 5 April ended with wide-scale jeering.

And McNeill added: "The supporters had a genuine doubt about his ability to do the job, but you look at it now and you've got to appreciate just how well he's done.

"Gordon appreciates what is needed at a big club to be successful.

"Obviously he's had experience with other clubs and I think that's helped him.

"He knows just how to put his finger on the place where there is something expected to be achieved."

On top of another title triumph, Strachan has also presided over the club's Champions League last-16 qualification following his first two championships.

Dermot Desmond and Gordon Strachan
Strachan is congratulated by Celtic board member Dermot Desmond

And McNeill says the coaching team and boardroom have dovetailed to deliver these achievements.

"The one thing I think he's fortunate in is that the board, presently, are different class.

"They've brought the club out of the doldrums and there seems to be money available.

"And I'm sure, if Gordon feels that he needs some more players, the money for that purpose will be given to him by the board."

Celtic chairman John Reid was hopeful that speculation about the possibility of Strachan leaving the club on a high would prove unfounded.

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"One thing that is absolutely clear is that, from the board down, from our major shareholder right through to the vast majority of fans, we have supported Gordon Strachan because he has delivered for this football club," he said.

"He is one of only three managers in our history to have won the league three times in a row.

"He has taken a team with very limited resources compared to big Premier League teams to the final 16 of Europe two years running - never before done in our history.

"While we have some weaknesses, which we will address, we have unlimited ambition, a tremendous management team.

"I think the best is yet to come for Gordon and his team and I hope he's there."




see also
How the SPL title was won
23 May 08 |  Scottish Premier
Celtic success delights Strachan
22 May 08 |  Scottish Premier
Dundee United 0-1 Celtic
22 May 08 |  Scottish Premier
SPL photo gallery
22 May 08 |  Scottish Premier


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