Celtic Diary Tuesday October 2
The beleagured pub industry gets a shot in the arm at teat time today as thousands of Celtic supporters, already working on their “theres been an accident on the railway/motorway/helicopter pad as they delay their homecoming to nip into any bar with sky sports to watch round 2 of Lennys Lions and the quest for the big cup.
Well, alright, even if we don’t win the big cup again, at least the side are determined not to make themselves look stupid anymore. Harsh lessons learned by the manager in Sion, Braga, and Utrecht were rectified in Helsinki and Helsingborg, but despite Moscow being a much tougher task, there is again a genuine feeling of optimism amongst the support.
Above is the splendid Luzhniki stadium, capacity 78,360, which will also be used for the 2018 world cup. Hopefully, craig Levein won’t be in charge for that campaign, so there is a possibility of a return visit. Celtic , of course have been there before. In 2007 the club drew in both Moscow and Glasgow which led to a fairly dramatic penalty shoot out which meant Celtic got a shot at the group stages, where Mowbrays men completely embarassed all concerned. The only reason Celtic finished fourth in the group was that we couldn’t go any lower.
Back in the old days of football in the Soviet Union-for those who are too young to remember the USSR, have a look on notwithusanymore.com, where you will find it just after the entry for Rangers-the clubs took their names from whichever government agency backed them-for example CSKA prefixes meant it was the army team, Dinamo, the electric suppliers, Lokomotiv the trains and Spartak the trade unions, making them the club of the people.
The club had a run of success in the old supreme league but faded from view towards the seventies, eventually being relegated in 1976. Then, a chap called Konsantin beskov took over the managers job, and introduced a couple of youngsters, such as keeper Ranat Dasayev and Georgi Yartsov. (look them up if you don’t know-I had to) . the rebuilding culminated in a 1979 soviet championship, and when the USSR fianlly fell apart, Spartak continued to ride high in the Russian league.
Still, we won’t be facing anyone from that era, so what of the current lot? Last year they made the Europa League quarter finals, before being hammered 5-1 in Portugal and 5-2 in Moscow by Porto, so they are clearly no good at all, and depend heavily on former Celtic forward Aiden mcGeady, who Peter Lawwell sold to them for a reported £9m a couple of years ago. McGeady will be anxious to prove he has got better since he left Glasgow, and will find it bizarre facing his old club.
Especially as he won’t recognise many of them. Hopefully, his last memory of the game will be getting flung up in the air by Efe Ambrose, and landing awkwardly on his arse, so he has to go and lie down for a couple of hours.
McGeady has the potential to damage Celtic, but as we remember can be very hit and miss. They also have a couple of others out, but its important not to take too much notice of that. Russians are notorious liars, as anyone who was told there was a great new life waiting for them in Siberia will testify.
Manager Lennon has a full squad to choose from, with only Niouiou and matthews doubtful (alright, so technically not a full squad) but although he will no doubt be focussed on the game, its fairly likely the pre match press conference will still be in his thoughts.
A UEFA official had to step in to prevent it all becoming a bit daft when the boss was faced with such questions as “Would you ask Sean connery for financial help if Celtic got into trouble?” would you help rangers ?” and “Do you watch Braveheart before matches?”
Captain Scott Brown answered the latter by saying that they did, and also donned kilts and danced around together afterwards. Lennon said that if he had the sort of money required to help Rangers he would be in Vegas, and so it went on.
All we hope for at the diary offices is that we do ourselves proud out there.
Henrik Larsson, the former striker is apparently in the frame for the Blackburn managers job, which could mean he would sell Jordan Rhodes to us on the cheap. (I’m not giving up on that one, especially after a chat in a yorkshire bar told me that there was a bid of £5m from Celtic, but Blackburn just wouldn’t go away. and you can trust people in yorkshire bars, even if its a bit tricky getting a drink out of them.)
Jock Steins last signing was Pat Bonnar, as someone suspiciously called Pat pointed out first yesterday. Easy one again today, who scored Celtics first goal in a competitive European game?
PS-decent tim pubs in Keighley, Halifax or thereabouts? Showing the game? Otherwise its one of those Likely lads scenarios…