Theres an old Indiana Jones film, maybe the first one, where the adventure hero is faced by an Eastern swordsman, who in front of an adoring crowd swishes his sword through the air in pretty, deadly patterns, the implication is plain-yer man is doomed. Jones, our hero, simply pulls out his gun and shoots him.
Thats what Celtic did to Barcelona last night.
The reason for what has to go down as the best night at Celtic Park since the St. Johnstone win last week, doesn’t lie with stoic defending, or clinical finishing. Indeed, Barcelona must know that if they make mistakes at this level, they will be punished, as they were with both goals. No, the reason, for me anyway, was something that has gone largely unnoticed this morning by radio, tv and newspapers alike.
During the first half, after a throw in below the north Stand, a second ball entered the playing area. Play was halted while it was removed, and Lionel Messi then instructed Charlie mulgrew how play should resume and where he would like the ball played to. Charlie stood tall-physically and metaphorically, telling the precocious little Argentinian exactly where he would put the ball. Messi then skulked away like a child sent to his room.
The other Celtic players would have seen that, and realised that they too, had no need to bow down to the Catalan wonderteam and its reputations. In fact, it reminded me of the story when Stein told Herrarra where to go in Lisbon when the former miner used miners language to tell the Inter manager that he, Stein, would be using this particular bench.
Neil Lennon promised to bring back the thunder, and last night the lightning was there as well.
“It is a very special occasion to do themselves justice tonight and they’ve just beaten the best team in the world. It is two of the stiffest examinations they will everget in their careers and they have come through it with flying colours.”
Lennon had done his homework before the game.
“We felt we could affect them at corners, we knew the back post area with Alba they mark zonal and we knew we could threaten that. ”
He went on, and claimed that
“I am not saying that this is the pinnacle because i think there is more to come from this team -you know the progression is great.”
Well, there is a huge improvement every time this team -with whatever players-takes the field as this group goes on, and I’m pretty sure i’m not the only person checking what relatives and friends i have in London, who will have a couch for a couple of days come May.
Not putting a damper on it, but now that the team has raised its profile, there will be bigger contracts from bigger leagues dangled in front of some of these players. Not from bigger clubs-such a thing doesn’t exist.
We hear that Barcelona are keen on Wanyama, their reps have spoken to his agent already, presumably to get him out of our team before we meet again in the final. Fraser Forster is the subject of enquiries from Arsenal and Chelsea, and they are looking at Stevie Woods as well, the goalkeeping coach.
The most important member of the club right now though, the one who should be holding his head very high this morning, is John Park. He found a few of these players, and he , too, has been the subject of attention from the likes of Tottenham and West Brom.
We are all realistic enough to know that most players will want to move on at some point, but keeping Park happy and content is a must. We cannot afford to lose him, and surely some kind of bonus commission related to transfer fees when his discoveries move on should be written down and put to him?
Anyway, lets enjoy it while we can. They might just stick around, they might not. But while they are here, they are giving us something to smile about, and they’re not done yet.
Meanwhile, not to be outdone, Richard Wilson, the journalist, not the grumpy , bitter old man who moans a lot, (well, i think so anyway), combined with Sandy Jardine in the most deluded article of 2012-and quite a few other years as well).
Rangers are now celebrating 140 years of history, and Jardine talks of their achievements being unmatched etc.
Will someone just tell him, please. Its not nice watching him embarrass himself anymore. It used to be funny, now its just kind of sad.
Anyway, yesterdays teaser got us all thinking. We have played Elgin-twice, but never Rangers, Airdrie and Annan -three delightful clubs , all with their own unique brand of supporters. why have we not played them? Because we don’t want to.
Today, an easier one, keeping within the theme of linking the questions in a semi straight line.
The first two of those clubs have both had to reform due to financial problems. We all know what happened to Rangers, but how did Airdrie finally go under?
If you see someone suddenly burst into a grin and punch the air today, shouting “Yes”, you’ll probably know what he’s thinking. And it’ll probably be me.