Triple threat: Christie pre­dicts ti­tle chal­lenges from im­prov­ing sides

The Herald - Herald Sport - - LADBROKES PREMIERSHIP -

CELTIC mid­fielder Ryan Christie ex­pects the Premier League to be sig­nif­i­cantly more than a two-horse race next term.

Speak­ing as the fix­tures for 2016-17 were un­veiled, the for­ward shrugged off the sug­ges­tion that it could be a league ta­ble of old next sea­son, with the ex­pec­ta­tion be­ing that Celtic and Rangers will mus­cle out any other chal­lengers for the ti­tle.

And Christie has pointed to quiet threats from Aberdeen and Tynecas­tle – where Celtic open their de­fence of the ti­tle – as to where the other run­ners may come from.

Asked if he ex­pected Rangers to chal­lenge Celtic for the Cham­pi­onship, Christie said: “I don’t know. You look at Hearts – they did very well when they came up last sea­son. It’s hard to com­pare with Rangers, who came up from the Cham­pi­onship, which they kind of cruised last sea­son.

“But it’s not just us Rangers are go­ing to have to deal with. It’s Aberdeen and Hearts as well.”

Rangers have added Joey Bar­ton to the mix this sum­mer, and he has proved to be good value for writ­ers so far, but Christie has been re­luc­tant to take any of his barbs too se­ri­ously.

“I hadn’t seen it [the com­ments] but I’ve been told,” he smiled. “I know for sure that it won’t faze Broony [Scott Brown]. I’m sure Joey is go­ing to play it up a bit. I’m look­ing for­ward to play­ing against him. He’s not go­ing to come up here and have an easy time be­cause it’s not an easy league.”

Mean­while, Christie is look­ing to im­press new man­ager Bren­dan Rodgers when pre-sea­son gets un­der­way at Len­nox­town on Mon­day morn­ing. The for­mer Liver­pool boss has al­ready voiced his pref­er­ence for a tight squad and although the Park­head side have dis­pensed with An­thony Stokes and Carl­ton Cole, the cur­rent ros­ter still num­bers about 30.

“I’ll have to play it by ear but ob­vi­ously my aim is to stay at Celtic,” he added. “It’s the man­ager’s choice. Most of them like a tight-knit squad, so we’ll have to wait and see.

“I think we go in with ev­ery­body on level par when it comes to im­press­ing the new man­ager. Who­ever im­presses him the most will stick them­selves in his thoughts and could be in the team through­out the sea­son.”

Pic­ture: SNS

BATTLE ROYALE: Ryan Christie says Rangers won’t be only chal­lengers to Celtic’s crown.

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