Stephen Craigan: January sales could be make or break
For those who didn't think there was a title race on in the Scottish Premiership, they can think again. Rangers' win at Parkhead last Sunday showed they have the resolve, character and courage to take this pulsating battle right to the very end.
Some said that Steven Gerrard's celebration at the full-time whistle was a bit over the top but it was purely relief. He was well aware that if his side lost, the title dream would have been further away than ever and his reaction epitomised that.
As for Neil Lennon, he will be disappointed in his side's performance but they have been in sensational form and the winter break has come just at the right time for his tired-looking Hoops.
The players may get a short break but both managers will be right back at it as the transfer window is now open. With everything so tight at the top, getting the right players in could be crucial and potentially the difference between being champions or not.
The January window isn't usually ideal for recruitment as clubs don't let their best players go, so both Nicky Hammond and Ross Wilson will have to work their magic.
There is a lot of football to be played between now and the end of the season with Scottish Cup, Europa League, international play-offs and the Premiership run-in so adding depth and fresh competition to each squad is imperative.
Lennon has stated that Celtic will be bringing in a minimum of two and maximum of four, which shows their intent. Celtic have accumulated a very healthy bank balance in recent seasons with European progression and the sale of Moussa Dembele. Loosening the purse strings and flexing the financial muscles could bring the much talked about ninth title in a row.
Please log in or register with belfasttelegraph.co.uk for free access to this article.
A centre-forward is a must as Odsonne Edouard has carried the fight on his own all season long. Leigh Griffiths and Vakoun Bayo haven't shown they are capable of being able replacements, so support is vital for Edouard.
Another wide player should also be a target. James Forrest has looked jaded in the last couple of weeks and needs someone to spread the workload. Mikey Johnston's career is in its infancy so a more experienced winger should be on the radar.
Callum McGregor is a player who seems to play every minute of every game and rotating him at times could be essential to keep him at his best. A centre midfield partner for Scott Brown could help him carry the burden.
As for Rangers, winning last weekend may have helped Gerrard's case to his board for reinforcements. I'm not sure Rangers initially intended to be active in this window after a fruitful summer in which they spent big money. However, with momentum behind them, surely now is the time to strike.
Joe Aribo has been a revelation on the right-hand side of the front three but a more natural winger must be in the thinking of Gerrard for teams who pack their defence and sit deep.
With Alfredo Morelos having the possibility of a lengthy ban hanging over him after his red card and gestures at Celtic Park last Sunday, a striker will have to come into Gerrard's thoughts. Jermaine Defoe is, of course, an able replacement but can't be expected to play a high number of games in a short spell at the ripe old age of 37 if Morelos is unavailable, so recruitment will be critical - of that there's no doubt - but on the flip side, keeping hold of their prized assets will be just as important for both clubs.
I've absolutely no doubt that predators will be circulating over Edouard and Morelos. If either club relents and cashes in, that will only hand a huge psychological edge to the other and bring the wrath of their own fans. It could be a case of who dares wins.