Journalist , broadcaster and comedian Tam Cowan has mentioned all the empty seats at Celtic Park the other week, and asks if Celtic could donate a few of them to Motherwell, to replace the ones broken in the riots. Well, we could, but surely they would be better going somewhere where they might be used ?
Celtic travel up to Inverness this weekend for the last game of 2013 , and Anthony Stokes is looking forward to seeing his old pal John Hughes again. Hughes has taken over from Terry Butcher at Inverness, who having waxed lyrical about the drive to work in the highlands, obviously felt the east coast was just as aesthetically pleasing.
And if he’s not happy with it, they’re going to change it for him.
Hughes, when boss at Falkirk , found Stokes in Arsenals reserves, and gave him a shot at first team football.
“He gave me a great chance when I went on loan to Falkirk. It was the stage in my career when I had to get out and get playing first-team football regularly. He gave me a great platform to show what I could do and it’s something I will always be grateful to him for. ” said Stokes
“I didn’t know him from Adam when I went there but I clicked with him straight away.”
“His management style really suited me and we became good pals. I’ve had some of the happiest times of my football career under him.
“Terry Butcher has done well at Inverness and is away to Hibs, which is another massive club. But the gaffer is also a big character. He got the best out of me and I’m sure he will get the best out of the lads up at Inverness too.
”The one thing I’d say about him is that football’s his life. It’s all he does. It’s all he speaks about. It’s all you can get out of him.
“He’s got a reputation from way back of being crazy but he’s a great football man and goes up and down the country scouting players and trying to make his teams better.”
Adam Matthews and James Forrest should both be in contention for the game tomorrow, and it would be nice to keep the run going. Finishing a whole season unbeaten, regardless of who’s been liquidated or administrated, is a hell of an achievement. You still have to win the games, and when you play a side three or four times a season, even the most limited of sides should be tactically aware enough to make life difficult for you.
The manager would, it seems, agree. Or am I agreeing with him ?
“To go through a league season unbeaten is virtually impossible but where we are at the minute is very pleasing,” he said “The attitude of the players has been fantastic. People will look at the Scottish game and talk about the level of competition. But I’ve got to make this season better and the only way to do that is to instil a certain mentality, a will to win and a determination to not get beat. We’ve just had a Champions League campaign which wasn’t as good this year compared to last season. But we have set the bar very, very high.”
Another Celtic striker in the news is Tony Watt. Currently on loan at Lierse , in Belgium, as manager Neil Lennon felt it was time for him to experience a different culture and to learn his trade away from any local distractions.
Stanley Menzo, the boss at Lierse, has openly criticised Watt a few times about his attitude and work rate, and Watt usually responds by scoring goals, which shows that Menzo knows how to get a positive reaction from the lad.
So, will he be recalled and given the chance to stake a claim up front for Celtic, given the current dearth of quality strikers ?
Manager Neil Lennon ;
“I’m not of a mind to bring him back just yet. We’ve loaned him for the year and I’d like him to see that one out.
“We couldn’t put him out on loan anywhere else if he does come back so that’s not crossed my mind.
“I wasn’t aware the Lierse coach has had a pop at him publicly. I’ll speak to Tony, see how he’s feeling and what the situation is.
“There’s an immaturity about Tony and the reason for putting him on loan was we wanted him to sample a different culture and a different type of football.
“If it’s not going well then he needs to knuckle down and make it work. The onus is on him.
“He can be a difficult boy at times but there’s no malice in him. He just needs to knuckle down and make the most of the opportunity he has.
“When he has finished he will still be part of our plans for the future. There’s no question Tony definitely has ability. He’s raw and just needs to polish himself off as a fully-rounded figure.
“He’s not a man yet. Some players take a bit longer to mature than others – not physically, in a mental aspect as well. But Tony’s a good kid.”
Watt offered his own thoughts;
“I’m going to see my family for the holidays. I’m happy because Christmas away from home was tough.
“I don’t know if I’ll return. I’m going home to speak with my manager and we’ll see what his plans are.
“I’ll look at this again from a sporting angle.
“I keep getting painted in a bad light but I’m a long way from home and it hasn’t been easy for me.”
Watt was stunned at his Boxing Day recall and added: “I had a conversation with the coach so I was surprised when I was back in the team.
“But these things happen in football. I’m not here to make friends but to work.
“My job is to score goals and I’ve done that.”
Thats the bottom line where strikers are concerned, and frankly, if you are going to have a problem player, especially where attitude is concerned, it will be the striker. Watt went from playing for Airdrie to scoring against Barcelona, and no doubt it went to his head. Sending him back to the bottom is the usual response from management to deal with the sudden head swelling, but its not always the right way.
Judging from his time in Belgium, Watt seems to react to being wound up , so get him back and wind him up.
But I could be wrong. I’ve been wrong before.
Theres all kinds of rumours flying around just lately in the world of football.
Jimmy Calderwood is an early favourite for the newly vacant Cardiff job. He’s used to working with a crazy Tan
Crystal Palace are the latest to be linked with Joe Ledley, as Tony Pulis has another go at offering the Welsh midfielder a chance at obscurity.
And Neil Lennon is away at the end of the season.
With Stewart Houston already in place to step up to replace him.
The last one I think is designed to make us all happy when it doesn’t happen and Steven Frail gets the job instead.
Can’t wait for January when the real bullshit starts.
The picture yesterday was of Paul Sheerin, who did his bit to get rid of John Barnes and pave the way for the most successful spell in Celtics recent history.
John Hughes in 1996-why would he be so pleased with himself ?