Neil Lennon seems to have been pleased rather than relieved after his charges fought back to earn a 2-2 draw with Inverness on Saturday;
“I was disappointed with the first half but pleased with our character in the second half.
“We don’t want to go back to last year in terms of dropping points. But that was a point gained because of the situation we were in.
“Mulgrew, Joe Ledley, Matthews, Scott Brown and Efe Ambrose – stalwarts of the team – got us through the game.”
That most of us would not consider two of the above as automatic starts, and he apparently does, could be a warning sign ahead of Wednesdays game against Shakhter Karagandy, a game where the unthuinkable could happen, and Celtic could exit the Champions League.
For all the moaning, and all the criticism of the management and board, theres nothing they can do about it now. So we have to get behind the team, and allow them no distractions, such as who is coming in, or who has bid for which player, or who is paying James Forrests medical bills.
Its all about the game now.
This wee guys got the right idea.
Put simply, Celtic must score three more goals than Shakhter, something that given the Khazaks side lack of ability and experience should be achievable.
Lennon himself seems to think so;
” Karagandy are organised but not the most subtle team.
“If we go a goal down and have to score four then I think we’re capable of doing that.
“But we lacked a bit of conviction in our finishing in the first leg. We didn’t maximise the opportunities we had.
“If we go out at this stage it would be a real head-wrecker.”
Scott Brown reckons the atmosphere at Celtic Park could be a ” head wrecker ” for the visitors;
“The atmosphere at Celtic Park when it’s full is incredible and as soon as Shakhter walk out they’re going to be hit with 60,000 fans singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.
“That’ll put shivers down their spines because I know it did when I came here with Hibs.
“They’re going to give us a lot of possession because they will try to defend a 2-0 lead but we’ve got good enough players – including those who didn’t play against Inverness on Saturday – to come in and score goals.
“In the second half against Inverness the fans were behind us 110 per cent and that pushes us on to that extra 10 per cent.
“It’s going to take three goals and we’re going to have to start high up the park and put them under pressure, make them make mistakes. If we don’t score in 70 minutes we’ll stay patient because we know we can score two goals in five minutes.
“Look at the end of the first half against Inverness and how much pressure we put them under.
“They didn’t get out of their own box, let alone their own half, for the last five or 10 minutes.
“It shows we can do that. We just need everybody to focus and do their jobs properly.”
Realistically, its only the last sentence in that statement that matters. Brown also had a word about the new guys when prompted about how long its taking for them to settle in, kind of irrelevant for this week, since its unlikely any will start against Shakhter;
“It took me a good six months to settle in but these days there isn’t that much time.
“They’re straight into big games. I don’t know if they realise how huge a club Celtic are but that’s why you come here – to play in the Champions League, in the big matches. They’ll figure that out very quickly.”
With very little appearances between them, its a harsh press that points out that they haven’t settled yet, and the Record headline, based on the above quote, goes even further;
Thats not quite hat he said, is it ?
But lets just put all that to one side for now.
When the team play at a high tempo, they can be unstoppable, and thats how it needs to be from the off. If there is a tiny worry , its that everyone seems to be relying on the crowd to do their bit. Thats why the tempo has to be high. Although the players are looking to the crowd for inspiration, it won’t take long for any nervousness or panic to spread from the stands to the pitch.
Tickets are still on sale, and the ticket office will be open until seven tonight and tomorrow so you can go and pick them up. Which means they haven’t sold as many as they had hoped by now, although there is little doubt it will be a big crowd.
Meanwhile, London Times carried a curious article at the weekend. The Co-op bank is restructuring the way it lends money, as they are a bit short themselves this week. At the moment, Celtic can borrow from them, via overdrafts or loans, up to £34m at just 1.5%.
Which is a cracking deal. But it isn’t going to last. Which is the way things happen in the real world.
But the Times actually singles out Celtic as suffering for this, which is unusual considering the restructure is because the Co-op is a bit short by over a billion pounds, and that means they probably won’t be too concerned about Celtic when they look at the big picture.
Especially as it is a loan facility, not a loan. Not a debt.
However, one or two less enlightened on websites that would get your computer taken off you reckon that Celtic too, are facing financial oblivion. Thats to be expected, as they don’t understand any of the basic financial premises.
What is worth asking though, is why were Celtic mentioned in the article at all ? Oh, hang on, yer man Irvine is back as the voice of Rangers, shortly after the club said he wasn’t the voice of Rangers at all.
Incidentally, the Second Rangers revolution continues, despite allegations of betting, false advertising and boardroom shennanigans, and the club should be proud of the fact that they have achieved another milestone in Scottish-and possibly World-football.
Their game against Brechin, broadcast live on new channel BT Sports, drew an incredible , and commendable, 24,000 viewers. 44,800 were at the game, meaning that they had nearly twice as many ” real ” fans as “armchair supporters ”
Well done, they have to be proud of that.
Sorry, wrong picture.
To put it into perpective, 24 hours in A and E , channel 4, Wednesday that week, was watched by 2.3 million viewers, almost a hundred times as many.
It also seems that Mediahouse do the PR for the new sports channel;
“Sky Sports allegedly have five times our audience yet they only attracted twice as many viewers to similar Rangers games last season, as well as some top tier classes from the Scottish Premier League,” said a spokesman for BT. “That is despite them being around for many years. That simple comparison shows how well we are doing.”
The world is full of idiots, and they all meet up in the Blue Room, where they all discuss the real world, a place where one or two of them claim to have once visited.
Yesterday saw Virgil van Dijk make his appearance amongst those who have pictures selected from google to identify them, and today, see if you can guess who this is;