Celtic comfortably overcame Rennes last night in Glasgow, as expected.
The last two words in that sentence are the most significant, as it’s been a long time since we have approached a European tie at this stage of the season expecting to and actually achieving the win.
It’s also worth noting that Neil Lennon decided to use the game to try a different tactic, that of playing without a recognised striker. Clearly he thinks that in the more difficult games to come at this level, he may try that again.
Or, given the dearth of strikers at the club, he may have to.
Lewis Morgan was handed the novel role of central winger, the manager having noted that none of his passes or crosses ever find a team mate , and he did well, scoring the first goal.
Smart move by the manager, who had told him just to aim at the net every time he got the ball.
Ryan Christie trundled one over the keeper just before half time, and Mikey Johnstone celebrated his return to the team with a third.
When was the last time three Scots scored all the goals in a European game ?
Lazio beat Cluj in the other match, which means the Romanians have to get something from their game against Celtic, which in turn means either the side who put us out of the champions League or the side that has a support that is our polar opposite will go through, depending largely on how Celtic approach the game.
Frankly, though, it doesn’t matter.
When the draw was made it looked like we had found ourselves with quite a bit of work to do to qualify.
Well, with a game to spare , the group has been won. Four wins and a draw, the dropped points coming in the opening game in Rennes.
One way of looking at it is that now we call it two points dropped, compared with after the game when it was a point won…
This side is progressing rapidly in Europe, and although it’s maybe a little too early to book a flight to Gdansk next summer, it’s certainly worth putting a few quid away each week to pay for it…
Manager Lennon summed it up…
“There were some milestones to achieve tonight,”
“We asked the players if they could go beyond 10 points for the first time, could they win the group, could they win 10 games in Europe in a season. They answered all those questions.
“I’m delighted for the players. They keep setting new milestones. They are a fantastic bunch and playing very well at the moment.
“I don’t know how much of an achievement it is topping the group. But it’s a landmark night for us because we have never done it before. It means we can maybe get a better draw in the last 32.
“What pleases me is the 100 per cent record at home. That sends out a great message. It was important to keep momentum going. If you lose that momentum, it’s hard to switch that flick on again.”
“We have definitely improved results and performances. We have a long way to go in the competition. The last 32 is two or three months away and that’s a long time in football.
“We will see what kind of shape we are in then but I’m delighted with the maturity of the side. We wanted to make inroads in the competition and so far it’s mission accomplished.”
It’s not just the players who have matured, the manager is an now an entirely different manager from the one who was in charge a few years ago.
We are now reaping the benefits, and more importantly, he’s unlikely to head south when someone waves a chequebook at him.
In the other game featuring a Scottish club, plucky newcomers “rangers ” drew with Feyenoord in Rotterdam, which means they need to get something from Young Boys at Ibrox.
If you laugh at the construction of that sentence, there’s something wrong with you.
There was an indication post match , however, of maybe something a little sinister…
In the post match interview he said;
“At times I didn’t recognise us in the first half, what we stand for, our identity.
“I thought we were passive at times and slightly lucky not to be further behind at half-time.
“They got a bit lucky with the goal but certainly deserved to be in-front at the break.
“I asked the players to remember what we stand for, what we’re about and how hard we’ve worked to get to this opportunity.
“I asked for the real Rangers in the second half and we got it.
“We won the second half 2-1, I thought we deserved it.
“But we should have had a blatant penalty, when the ref sees that back he’ll be devastated.
“I’d like an explanation as to why from UEFA we never got a penalty.
“We certainly deserved to take something out of the game, I was really proud of our second half showing.”
Is that because he is used to getting what could be described as special treatment from the SFA ?
As expected, the Celtic AGM saw the board get their wish when Resolution 12 was voted down.
Overpaid CEO Peter Lawwell said he’d spoken to someone that very moring at UEFA about it, and also said he;d never seen the five way agreement, the piece of evidence that perhaps more than anything else around this issue points to an agreement between those who run Scottish football and thise who think they do.
It was certainly sent to him, and if he has , in the interests of shareholders, considered all the evidence before deciding that it wasn’t in the best interests of the club, then he must have read it.
If he hasn’t read it, then I’d like to present him with this new piece of evidence that changes everything.
Except, of course, not now and probably not ever, the man doesn’t give a flying fuck about the Celtic support.
This is not the end of the issue.
All that has changed is that we now know where Celtic stand, and we now know that we cannot trust those who we have entrusted with the running of the club.
Watch this space…
It’s Friday, and of course that means it’s time for
Knob of the week…
Do I have to say his name ?
Do I really have to say his name ?
The last caption competition we had featured this…
Caption: Stop the next bus and we’ll confiscate their beer.