St. Johnstone v Celtic -Player Ratings
St. Johnstone 2, Celtic 4
Craig Gordon 6
Still solid over the piece, still more likely to make a save than an arse of it, and although he wasn’t to blame for any of the goals, there is now an expectancy that sooner or later he will do something daft. Probably when he takes a goal kick. Distribution has always been his weak point, and yesterday we can only hope he was showing us how bad it is-one pass in is own box to Tierney was particularly poor- so that next week he can show us how much he has improved.
Saidy Janko 6
He’s quick, good going forward and has the pace to get back when he needs to. Unfortunately yesterday he showed that he isn’t quite in sync with the rest of the team yet, though there is still hope for him. Needs to stop trying so hard, and make better decisions. Too often passes when he should have taken a man on, and takes a man on when he should have passed. Should get better with more game time. Then again, so would I probably.
Eoghan O’Connell 6
Showing signs of wear and tear now, and having enjoyed a successful wee run in the team, could probably do with a rest before he does something daft. Not because he’s a poor player, or even playing badly. He’s doing fine, but is starting to show signs of mental fatigue if not physical tiredness. Though one does usually lead to the other. Has proved he can do the job, but once or twice yesterday he seemed to be below par, and maybe now a little break will do him good.
Kolo Toure 7
Bought in to keep the ship steady at the back, he’s doing his best to do that, but is probably still a little surprised that it was going to be this difficult. Quiet and effective again yesterday, but perhaps needs to be a little more vocal. Either he or Gordon, and it should be Gordon, needs to decide who is in charge back there. But still a damn sight better than any other centre half we have.
Keiran Tierney 7
After Tuesday, it wouldn’t hurt to give him another wee break either. Just once or twice he was getting caught out as well, but overall still played well. It’s just that he has set very high standards for himself, and what he did yesterday got him a seven, but had Janko played as well as Tierney did, he’d have got a nine.
Nir Biton 8
His standards have slipped of late, with question marks hanging over his attitude, which may have led to him slowing down his game. Yesterday, he picked up quite a bit, and even looked interested enough to get himself booked after intervening when there was a bit of a to do after another rash challenge on a team mate. Much , much better from him, and when he went off on the hour mark, Celtic did seem to lose a little composure.
Scott Brown 9
Continuing to show us what he didn’t show us last season. A genuine driving foece in midfield, with his enthusiasm spilling over into attack and defence. It could also be argued that he has managed to drag Nir Biton up alongside him in terms of application, instead of Biton dragging him down into apathy, which happened too often last term. Should continue to flourish after retiring from international football, something that Scotland did a few years ago anyway.
James Forrest 9
Whatever has caused this transformation into this James Forrest should be put into a bottle and sold on the high street. Maybe it is just simply the acquisition of other players who can share the load, but Forrest is genuinely now asserting himself as probably the best attacking player in the squad right now. Yesterday he showed, again that he can do anything that he is asked of, and when he ran all of six miles beating dozens of St. Johnstone players on the way to scoring what Chris Sutton described as probably the best goal of his career, it was clear that the lad is having the time of his life. Was replaced on the seventy minute mark , wrapped in cotton wool and placed into storage until Tuesday. Now that he has started to score goals and has built up and understanding with Scott Sinclair he’s going to get better. but only if he gets a haircut.
Tom Rogic 7
Lasted the full game, but probably wouldn’t have if there were four subs allowed. As with O’connell, he’s not used to playing so many games in succession, and didn’t have that fire in his belly that was evident against Be’er Sheva, Having said that, he still puts himself about a bit, and still links well with the other three forwards, but the man who often works as his on field assistant, Calum MacGregor, was rested yesterday, and Tom missed him.
Scott Sinclair 8
Another superb team performance from the newly arrived , well, midfielder ? Forward ? Winger ? Striker ? . Its easy to see why he wanted to work with Brendan Rodgers again. He’s a footballer, and footballers like to be given a little freedom to play the way they want to. Sinclair thrives on this, scoring again yesterday, and working for the team in a way which hasn’t been seen in an individual since the days of Paul Telfer, who used to just be there when someone needed a hand. Sinclair gives a hand to his colleagues, but also has a huge contribution to make himself. He showed yesterday that he has an uncanny sense of positioning, and not only that anticipates the game very well, hence being in the right place to take his goal. You’d be hard pushed to put together a video of his great moments, because sometimes it involves him moving out of everyone elses way, a bit like some of our defenders used to, but unlike when they did it , it actually benefits the team.
Leigh Griffiths 9
Excelling in the lone role up front, with suitbale and able support from the rest of the team, Griffiths continued to show why he will go on to become a legend. Already has five or six goals this season, and with a possible four games against “rangers “to come, theres every chance he’ll hit fifty this term. Took his goal very well yesterday, a superbly struck half volley from around ten yards, and would have scored more had he not allowed himself to become distracted when he was booked for diving..
Showed considerable restraint when he booted a St. johnstone player when a head butt would have been more constructive, especially if followed up by a forearm smash to the kidney, but thats Leigh. Always a cool head when things upset him.
Was substituted by the manager , wrapped in cotton wool and held in custody for Tuesday.
Liam Henderson 5
Came on after an hour for Nir Biton. Its hard enough to come into a game and adapt to the pace of it instantly, but when you are replacing the guy who largely had been dictating the pace, you will struggle a bit. Credit to Henderson though, who must struggle to remember which strip his team mates are wearing after his recent European tour on loan, and it would be unfair to blame him if it takes a while to get used to a new set of mates and maybe its time give hima start or two. He has got what it takes, but the more he operates on the g=fringes, and the more he’s punted out on loan, he’s going to lose that. He brings energy and commitment to the side, and needs to be praised for what he does, and not condemned for what he doesn’t do. Worked for Forrest, after all.
Ryan Christie 6
The real reason why Stefan Johansen is being sold, or at least being put out to tender, is Ryan Christie. It’s too late to change the ways of the Norwegian, but in Christie there is a younger, smarter and less volatile replacement. He got twenty minutes yesterday, taking over from James Forrest, and didn;t waste any of them. Scored the goal which made the last few minutes of the game a little less worrying, and reminded the boss, the fans and himself that he’s stilla Celtic player. and quite a good one at that.
Moussa Dembele 6
Replaced Leigh Griffiths ten minutes into the second half, a move which probably allowed Celtic to continue the game with eleven men. Dembele did his bit wothout being spectacular, and continues to grow into the role of Celtic forward. With Griffiths off he had to play the lone striker role, which he coped with, but obviously prefers a partner. Still, the effort is there, and the goals are there. Its just that he hasn’t had his ” told you he was worth waiting for ” game yet. but he will.
Brendan Rodgers 9
For the second game in a row, Celtic appeared to have put the game beyond doubt before half time. This tome the team lasted a bit longer before handing the opposition a couple of goals to keep the audience happy, but incredibly there was still enough resolve in the team, to go out and get another goal. Not enough time to add the customary two more, but one will do.
For the second league game ina row , Celtic faced a physical side intent on kicking their way to a draw. Two games played, both at difficult venues against two of our three main challengers, and both times that steel has been missing was evident when things looked a little shaky.
Rodgers has instilled that mentality, and during the game continues to manage it. his use of the substitutes is almost a spur of the moment thing. Yeserday, when Griffiths was starting to lose it, he was replaced. This would not have been in any pre match plan, and he dealt with a potential issue before it became a problem.
We’re only ten games into his reign, and already he’s putting down his mark on the club.
Referee Craig Thomson 2
After refusing to book hardly anyone last week when officiating at Ibrox, Thomson set out to even up his statistics this week by booking anyone who happened to be near him when he remembered he needed to even up his statistics, or anyone who continued running or waving their arms about after scoring.
Pathetic performance for a man who clearly responded to criticism last week by invoking even more this week. BT Sports commentator Derek Rae mentioned that he was undoubtedly an excellent referee, prompting his producer to pin definitions of “undoubtedly ” and “excellent ” to the studio wall.
It might also be worth pinning a definition of the word “referee ” to Thomsons dressing room door before he takes another game this season.
TV Coverage 8
BT covered the game for those who couldn’t make it, and its only fair to point out the good things they do as wwell as the bad things.
Good commentary, with balanced summaries from Derek Rae and Chris Sutton. Hell, they sounded like they were enjoying the game, and as a result that feeling kind of spread to the viewer, and when the new deals are negotiated for the game, its worth ditching Sky entirely and sticking with BT.
The reason ?
Simple. Their entire production, from studio to ground, from gives the impression, from presentation to content, that they want to be there. Too often, other companies have undersold, or at worst , patronised the game in Scotland.
BT sells the game better, and has a team that offers a far more balanced view on the football than its its rivals at Sky. The other night, the UCL game had Gordon Strachan, John Hartson and Chris Sutton offering their opinions.
Sky would have had Neil McCann , Andy Walker and anyone else they could find with a dirty great space between their ears.
I rest my case.