Celtic Diary Monday October 22
A devastating first half performance, combined with four well taken goals, set Celtic on their way to a 5-0 win in Paisley over St. Mirren and allowed everyone to concentrate on the rather more mundane Champions League top of the group clash with Barcelona tomorrow night. A victory over there will see Celtic lead the group at the half way stage. (Well, it will.)
After being so far in front after the first forty five, it was only natural that Celtic should take their collective foot off the gas, with minds straying to the upcoming visit to Catalonia, but the hard work was already done, and St. mirren never looked like recovering. There was one moment of alarm in the first half when Efe Ambrose performed an energetic somersault to celebrate his goal, but he didn’t hurt himself, which was a surprise. Its not something that we are used to seeing in a Celtic shirt, as it expends more energy in just ten seconds than the likes of John Hartson would use up in a whole game. Still, its another sign players are enjoying themselves.
Despite being four up at half time, manager Neil Lennon took the time to remind his charges of ~swedens comeback against Germany last week, and afterwards praised his team for their professionalism.
“I have been involved in games like this myself, you are playing at a tempo and a rhythym then you come in and cool down for 15 minutes and its very difficult to get back to that tempo again.” he said “So I just wanted them to win the second half. We were a bit sloppy at times but Iunderstand that.”
On ambroses celebration, he admitted a wee bit of surprise.
“My heart was in my mouth, I had never seen him do that before. If he had landed on his neck he could have been in trouble, but he has been a huge asset.”
Celtic are now three points clear at the top, with St. johnstone, on a five game winning run, holding down second. From celtics point of view, the league might already look like its won, but just five points between second and tenth means a lot of other clubs have something to play for.
With thoughts now turning to the Catalonian visit, Joe Ledley admits he is relishing it, claiming that “we believe we can go there and do something”-and already experts such as the diary author have been predicting that he will score the winning goal over there, which is the main reason the author stays out of bookies.
Andres Iniesta has singled out Georgios Samaras as a big threat to his team, and notes that Celtic are collectively very strong. Barcelona always do pay Celtic a lot of respect before playing us, and this time is no different. “Samaras is special” he said, and goes on to say the win in Moscow has made the “best team on the plabet” sit up and take notice.
The most heartwarming comments come from European journalist Guillem Balague, who when asked if Celtic have a chance, replied
“Oh yes, if Celtic decides to play a box to box game at a high tempo it will be like throwing a coin into the air. If they end up defending deep and offering all the possession to Barcelona, they will be beaten.”
Wait, thats just what they’ll be expecting us to do…
Between the lines though, it seems Barca are taking Celtic a little more seriously than when the draw was made.
But thats not till tomorrow, and as usual there are one or two injury worries going into the game. Lennon has said only those 100% fit will play, and there are doubts about Scott Brown, Kelvin Wilson and Kris Commons. Brown shouldn’t be a problem, especially considering his alleged drunken antics in a hotel last week when on international duty. apparently he was allowed a drink, had a few and then put the radio on a bit loud in his room. shockingly, when asked to turn it down, he did so and apologised to all concerned.
Aye, must be a big game coming up.
One thing that might have a bearing on the game is the imminent birth of Lionel Messis first child, due this week. Messi has scored 71 times since January 1 this year, and will more than likely score a few more. Hopefully, his baby will be born in the early hours of tuesday morning, he’ll have a few beers to celebrate, and will phone in sick around lunchtime.
Domestic football again, and while Celtic supporters turn their thoughts to a game in the Camp Nou, ally McCoist, the man charged with taking a new club to the top of the football tree has given us another example of Orwellian doublespeak. hot on the heels of owner charles green claiming £20m has been “pledged” for their revival, the chunky ex Rangers plyer says he never said that division 3 would be easy. no, he didn’t. And he has demanded to know the names of anyone who said he did. green himself has gone public with the threats he has recieved from those cuddly supporters of the former Rangers, and lets hope for his sake he makes enough money to make it all worthwhile. Police actually told him if he was caught between angry Rangers fans and Celtic fans, he should run to Celtic fans. strange advice, considering it could be years before we play them again, in any incarnation. With the big tax case result known to those involved, a decision having been reached, they probably won’t have a ground anyway to play in, whatever they call themselves. The real fun, one suspects, is about to start very soon.
Times are tough down Govan way, stories of players fighting with each other, over raw meat, presumably, are beginning to leak out, and even the prosect of the “Original” Glasgow derby last Saturday couldn’t fire his players into life. well, original in this context must mean” fresh and innovative”, because, firstly, Govan wasn’t in Glasgow until 1912-so the first meetings weren’t derbies, and Queens Park had already played several Glasgow teams anyway, Pete Con was the closest, with six of the seven teams, but the one he missed was Queens very first game, a 2-0 win over Thistle FC, another now defunct Glasgow side.
Last night saw another podcast hit the airwaves, with Stephen O’Donnell, author of Paradise Road, a novel set loosely around going to Celtic games and more about growing up in eighties Kirkintilloch, joining us for a chat. To my eternal shame, I downloaded the wrong book and spent about an hour frantically trying to read it online and talk about it at the same time. Its still worth a listen though, as Stephen and Bedford Falls covered for me. And most of last night was spent sending flowers to Stephen and apologising. Its a refreshing change from football novels about crowd trouble, and he does have the storytellers knack. (Yes , I read some of it last night, whilst closing the stable doors after my horse ran off.)
Theres a link on the front page.
Todays teaser, moving on to the European stage, concerns a past Champions League campaign. Who got to play against his hero at Celtic Park, and nutmegged him in one memorable instance, before more or less controlling the game until he was substituted to save the opponents any more embarassment?