Neil Lennon has dominated Scottish football since he took over as Celtic manager in 2010, but there is one significant blotch on his copy-book that he can’t seem to shift – namely his Hampden hoodoo.
Lennon’s side lost 3-2 to St Mirren at the national stadium in the League Cup semi-final earlier this year, following on from Scottish Cup semi-final defeats to Hearts in 2011 and Ross County in 2010.
Add to that a League Cup final defeat to Kilmarnock last year and another to Rangers in 2011 and you have a list that makes grim, and embarrassing, reading for everyone in Glasgow’s East End.
Just why the Hoops seem to freeze at Hampden Park is a mystery that bemuses Lennon as much as it bemuses everybody else.
This is a team, after all, who have performed admirably on the biggest stage of them all this season, the Champions League, and who are accustomed to lifting silverware as a matter of course.
Yet the performances don’t lie. Lennon’s men have been woeful in semi-finals and finals and it is a trend that they will want to reverse as soon as possible.
On Sunday, however, they face a Dundee United side who are experiencing an upturn in fortunes under new manager Jackie McNamara and who go into the match bursting with confidence after their injury-time triumph over Aberdeen propelled them into the SPL’s top six with seconds to spare before the split.
United have already held Celtic to a 2-2 draw at Tannadice this season and are unbeaten in their last eight matches, making them extremely dangerous opponents for Lennon’s men as they try to finally banish the Hampden hoodoo once and for all.
For this reason, odds of 11/25 on Celtic to win in 90 minutes seem a little mean, while odds of 19/4 on Dundee United to triumph will have plenty of people scrambling for their wallet.
The draw, available at 31/10, also looks like a decent shout given the Glasgow side’s poor recent record at the venue.
New customers who sign up with bwin qualify for a free £20 bet and using that to back a draw at Hampden Park will return £82 if successful.
As it is a semi-final you will also get odds on which team will progress to the final, including victories in extra-time or penalties that aren’t included in the 3-way betting market.
United are 15/4 to progress while Celtic are 17/100 – again, odds that arguably give Celtic a little bit too much credit.
The SPL champions are always going to be strong favourites in games like these even despite their poor record, but don’t write off a resurgent Dundee United side too quickly.