Celtic Diary Thursday August 1
Celtic kept up their 100% record in this years Champions League qualifiers – over two seasons thats played 7 , won 7 -with a narrow 1-0 win over Swedish club Kickers Elfsborg.
The champions of Sweden had their own game plan, and stuck rigidly to it all the way through what was a nervy game, and almost got what they came for. Kris Commons downward header put paid to that, and as the game drew to a close, the gulf between the two sides became more evident. Had Stokes scored very early on when Samaras flicked on to him, it could have been a cricket score, but it wasn’t to be.
The side travel to the Boras Arena next Wednesday for the return, a goal to the good, but more importantly, no goals conceded, which after a couple of episodes during the first half, when Celtics defenders forgot entirely what they were there for, has to be a bonus.
Elfsborg played like a mid table Scottish side, packing the defence and tripping anyone who went past them. Although they did attempt a couple of touches of continental savvy as well, especially when Mo Bangura fell over, clutching his face, presumably after one of the floodlights shone in his eyes. Fair to say, his Celtic career ended at that moment.
They will have to come out and have a go at Celtic next week, which should enable the likes of Samaras, Commons and Forrest to exploit spaces-though why Forrest didn’t keep running at the left back last night is a bit of a mystery, as he was booked very early…
Kris commons summed it up quite well;
“Apart from them hitting the bar it was a frustrating night for us. Fraser didn’t have much to do. Their game plan was to keep nine men behind the ball which made it frustrating for us. I think the second leg will be more open, so hopefully that will leave more gaps for us to score. The vital thing is that we have a lot of players coming back into the squad. Hopefully, Virgil is not too far away, Joe and Adam are fit again, Scott Brown is back up to full fitness, so it’s important for us that we are entering the most important games of the qualifying campaign with some of our best players back in the squad. We are confident enough in our ability that we can go over there and score..” Thats from UEFA.com
For the thickies, this was his Daily Record interview;
“They set the tempo right from the kick-off.
“As soon as the whistle went, they sprinted back to their own goal-line and it was hard to break them down. Big Fraser Forster could have stayed in the changing room for 90 minutes.
“I don’t think the ball touched his gloves and apart from one shot that hit our bar it never looked like doing so.
“It was one of those nights where they were quite happy even to keep it at 1-0.
“It’s not just frustrating for the players but also for the fans. You’re desperate to score and, funnily enough, we could have done so after 10 seconds. Had that gone in from Anthony it would probably have blown their plans out the window.
“It actually reminded me a lot of when we played Barcelona. We had to give them a lot of respect because they had top-quality players.
“We had to try to get as many men behind the ball as possible and leave it up to them to break us down.
“To be fair to Elfsborg they probably saw how good we are at home and gave us the credit and respect.
“They would have been delighted with 0-0 but we are more than confident of going there and getting goals.
“The first half was played at a bit of a testimonial pace, with slow passages of play and we didn’t really get our tempo going. In the first 15 or so minutes of the second half we upped that and the crowd got behind us. At that point we started to show the quality that got us to the last 16 last year.”
Neil Lennon was undoubtedly the happier of the two managers;
“You can’t make predictions so I don’t know if 1-0 will be enough to see us through.
“What I do know is they are growing and learning from experience. Our away form last season was very good. There is a belief about them away from home now.
“The Astroturf pitch in Sweden may change our thinking on the team a bit but I’m pleased with the result tonight and that’s the most important thing.
“I would have taken 1-0 before the game considering where we are and where Elfsborg are at the minute. These aren’t easy games.
“There are a lot of pluses tonight. Yes, there was rust. The final ball could have been better. We could have worked the keeper more.
“But we got stronger as the game went on and that surprised me given where both teams are in their seasons.
“We weren’t at our best but that was always going to be the case. I have to compliment the team – they dug out a very good result.”
Hard to argue with any of that, and its worth remembering that we actually do have a pretty good record on artificial surfaces.
The Nottingham Post has spoken to some Nottingham Forest supporters-actually, they spoke to three-or 58%-who have all condemned Neil Lennon for his “outburst ” regarding the “naughty ” business surrounding Kelvin Wilson. All were in unison, saying that Lennon was out of order, and saying that the agents were responsible, as that is how things are in football. Lennon, of course, played for Forest when he was winding down his career, but he’d probably rather not be reminded of that.
This comes on the day when Forest were pleased to announce their new sponsorship deal with ‘Fawaz International Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Company’. Still a big club, then.
The Record says that Celtic have had another offer for Kevin Doyle knocked back-Wolves want £2m-, as they attempt to spoil our summer for us, but even the tone of that report can’t match Ian Turner, of Radio 2, who , on the Chris Evans show this morning, said that Celtic had scraped a win, will it be enough etc , especially as the second game is in Sweden ( maybe some of us figured we could play at Celtic Park again ) all delivered in a doom laden monotone that would have got him flung out of a funeral for being too miserable.
This might imply he is not a Celtic supporter. I could be wrong, but if he is a Tim, its going to be a long season for the poor sod sitting next to him at the ground.
Second Rangers were in action last night, and gained a credible draw with Dundee. Not notable for the quality of the game, but the quality of their new Honduran players celebration. He ran towards the fans and appeared to cross himself. Somebody should refer him to the “strange case of Marco Negri ” -the Italian striker who sustained an eye injury after a game of squash while allegedly passing a chapel on the team bus and fighting with anti catholic team mates.
Whilst Celtic were involved with tedious Champions League duty, Second Rangers fans had their ears glued to shop windows in Clydebank, while the draw for the second round of the prestigious Ramsdens Cup took place. They will face Berwick at home.
Interestingly, it seems that some sections of their ground will be closed during the upcoming Newcastle friendly , which is worth a thought or two. Especially when you factor in the lack of glamour games at Ibrox during the close season. Could there be a problem with safety certificates ?
Which reminds me, a big thank you to Charlie Saiz, who pointed me in the direction of Law Laughs and whatever it was called. There is an interesting chapter on the Ibrox disaster in there. More on that when I’ve digested it.
Yesterdays mystery moustache belonged to Johannes Edvaldsson, from his Tulsa Roughneck days.
Moving back through the years, who is this guy, and whats his story ?