In the season where they would celebrate the 25th anniversary of their greatest success, Celtic endured something of a nightmare under the stewardship of a rookie manager.
Jock Stein’s side had famously defeated Inter 2-1 playing memorizing football in the 1967 European Cup final with the team from that day at the Estadio Nacional becoming eternally known as the ‘Lisbon Lions’ and etched into footballing folklore.
A quarter of a century later, with Rangers’ financial clout meant Celtic were barely able to make an impact on the Scottish Premier League, never mind Europe, although they gamely attempted to restore a fraction of their former glories in a rather bizarre away kit in an era of shellsuits and Xworx jeans. More on that later.
In the year 2000, David Murray, the Rangers chairman, famously declared ‘For every five pounds Celtic spend, we will spend ten’ and although such a policy would ultimately lead to the club’s downfall, it showed the width of the divide facing Liam Brady as Celtic manager in 1991.
With Rangers chasing three-in-a-row and bringing in Andy Goram and Alexei Mikhailichenko, Brady, the first Celtic manager who had never played for the club, lost cult heroes like Paul Elliott and Dariusz ‘Jackie’ Dziekanowski. Tony Cascarino’s stint in Glasgow’s east end lasted only seven months in all. His return ticket south was still in date.
Despite winning their first three and scoring 11 goals in the process, Brady, still only 35 with no managerial or coaching experience beforehand, underestimated the job at hand, naively suggesting the Old Firm derby was “no different to any other”.
Celtic lost that derby as part of an early-season run that saw them pick up one point from 12. There was also an infamous 5-1 hammering by Neutchatel Xamax of Switzerland in the Uefa Cup. It was a far cry from Lisbon.
Celtic stuttered on but back to back home losses to Rangers and Hearts meant their title charge was over before the Christmas decorations were back in the attic.
With players like John Collins and Paul McStay, the team did improve considerably in the second half of the season and, playing occasionally eye-catching football, won 14 out of 16 league outings, including 3-1 at Ibrox, to almost cement second place.
Then, on the final day of the season Celtic, needing a point, were inexplicably beaten 2-1 at home by Hibernian and ended up in third, behind Rangers and Hearts. In many ways the final day of the season was a soundbite of the campaign as a whole.
The breakup of Yugoslavia provided Celtic a passage into Europe but season 1992/93, bar a new away kit of pinstriped green on black, was no better for Brady as third place was again as good as it got. Rangers clocked up a fourth successive title on a run that would eventually only stop on nine in 1998.
The jersey: Almost as bad as their season, well not really, Celtic ‘s away strip from 1991/92 made it into a list of the ‘Top 20 worst football strips of all time’. It was the only Scottish strip to make it into the list commissioned by football betting website, FootballJunkie.co.uk, was declared the ninth worst kit, in 2019.