Celtic drew 2-2 at home on Saturday against a Hibernian side who didn’t want to let go. Despite twice taking the lead, largely due to Mikael Lustig, of all people, the Edinburgh side came back twice, largely due to Mikael Lustig.
It was another one of those games where the bhoys should have had the game sewn up way before half time, but the ball didn’t want to go in. Short of several regular first teamers, including the centre halves, pretty much a full midfield and Sokes and Samaras up front, the replacements all did well, but the result was a bit of a let down,meaning Celtic slip into second place, a point behind Motherwell , but with a game in hand.
Not quite the walk in the park we expected, and with the international break coming up, it will be a couple of weeks before we can try to put things back to their natural order.
Lennon said he was “pretty pleased” with the performance, apart from the goals conceded, and added he was “just annoyed” and felt his side was ” very unlucky not to win the game”
Its hard to disagree.
The mounting injury problems are a concern, none more so than the degenerative hip condition which will eventually lead to a replacement operation for captain Scott Brown. The bustling midfielder played through the Helsingborg game last week after taking pain killing injections, and the manager has admitted that he will only use him in Champions League games for a while, as he tries to rest him to help Brown recover.
If you cast your mind back to the game, there was one incident when he struggled badly after being bounced by a couple of the Swedish sides defenders, which to anyone with Browns interests at heart, was , on reflection , a sure sign for him to drop out of the squad until he’s fixed. This kind of injury can lead to major problems in life, and theres no point in doing irreversible damage now, especially when there are replacements available.
A bit of common sense, and a clear head is needed. Not “oh go on boss, I’m fine” A few sources claim Brown could hardly walk on Thursday, and if this is the case, then clearly he needs to be given a break. It puts me in mind of when Bobby Murdoch used to lie about his ankles, which he damaged during his career to a point when he was in agony in later life. But the difference there was Murdoch had a mortgage to pay, and needed to play. Brown doesn’t have that worry.
So, with a couple of weeks break, there is time for the new players to get used to their new surroundings and meet their team mates.
Thats right, new players.
As he promised, Neil Lennon was a busy man on Friday, the last day of the transfer window. Unless there is a power cut, obviously. More about that later.
First in was giant Nigerian defender Efe Ambrose from Ashdod, an Israeli club. He joined for an undisclosed fee on a three year deal and immediately said all the right things.
“Today is one of the happiest days of my life, signing for one of the biggest clubs in the world-a club I have known about since I was young.” He is only 23, so presumably this means “a club I have known about since the phone went this morning”
He did, however, come out with possibly the reply of the season, when he was asked about playing in a league without Rangers ” I am here to talk about Celtic. I don’t care about Rangers” He then went off to brush up on his English phrases, such as “fuck sake , Mikael” and “Just get rid of it”
It didn’t stop there, goalkeeper Lubos Kamenar joined on a one year loan with a permanent option from french club Nantes. He will provide cover for Fraser Forster, but the Slovakian will not be here to make up the numbers. He was in the Artmedia squad who qualified -at our expense -for the Championas League group stages. He didn’t play at that level, but made 100 appearences between 2005 and 2009. since then, he has been on loan around Europe, and somebody at Celtic has obviously spotted something about him. His air mile account, presumably.
And the stampede continued-a striker with a reputation for scoring goals-Nicolas Fedor joined up. again, a twelve month loan with an option to buy. Fedor, known as Miku, is a Venezuelan forward, with ten goals in forty games at that level, and Venezuela don’t tend to dominate South American football. He comes with an endorsement from none other than former Celt Fernando de Ornelas, who played for us for about an hour some years ago.
He has been given the number seven shirt, which has been a bit of a millstone since Larsson left, and he comes complete with his own song.
Toni Basils eighties hit, “Oh Miku , you’re so fine etc.”
The player has a decent record in Spanish football, and has been allowed to go on loan from his current club Getafe due to the financial crisis in Spanish football. In fact, the visit of Celtic and the support to Barcelona has been welcomed by the cash strapped Spanish government, as they expect a lot of money to be spent by the visitors. Enough to invest heavily in manufacturing and industry, they say.
Miku scored twelve times for Getafe last season, and is the powerful sort we have been looking for. Have we found a new hero? Well, perhaps.
After announcing the acquisition of Miku, Lennon said that he was “hoping to bring in one more striker, ” and (this was on Friday) said “it doesn’t have to be done tonight“.
That was because a power cut was scheduled for Friday night, which in turn would cause computers at the SFA to crash, allowing any late negotiations to be finalised, which was fortunate for us.
It allowed Tunisian international Lassad Niououi to sign a two year deal. Another striker who , according to Lennon “can head it” and “lead the line”.
The power cut also allowed David Templeton to realise his ambition of playing in division three when he joined Rangers -who according to Hearts, where Templeton had been intending to down his contract until January , were the only club prepared to offer cash. Other interested parties were going to wait until they got him for free.
Happily for society, no-one but the SFA noticed the power cut on Friday night, and so there was no looting, rioting or arson throughout the blacked out city.
One other interesting move on deadline day saw Benfica lose midfielder Javi Garcia to Man City, which hopefully will affect them when they visit Celtic Park this month…although they have spent £10m on his replacement Eduardo Salvo from Atletico Madrid…
All in all, that was a good transfer window for Celtic, with a lot of fringe players leaving, and potentially first teamers taking their place. And no sign of James MacFadden or Michael Owen.