Many years ago, Celtic defeated the much fancied, if not admired, Leeds Utd home and away in a European cup semi final, before losing the final to a much admired, if not fancied Feyenoord side. One player, involved at the time, described it as “climbing a mountain before falling over the molehill at the top.”
After the mountain climbing heroics in Barcelona last Tuesday, Celtic fell over a molehill again as Kilmarnock left Glasgow yesterday with a comfortable 2-0 win which means that the lead at the top of the table is back to two points. With three teams sharing second place. Of course, the press are falling over themselves to herald this new competitive Scottish football , with just two points separating four teams after a quarter of the programme is complete. Unlike last year, when one team was fifteen or so points ahead. From a neutrals point of view, or from the view of someone, who say, had to negotiate tv contracts you’d think its a godsend.
Celtic ,as expected made some changes to the midweek line up, but still managed to replace five players with five internationals, who were expected to make their case for a regular start. The support sat back and waited for something to happen, but unfortunately , the players sat back and waited for something to happen. By the time it did, Killie taking the lead, they weren’t sure what to do next. Even Paddy McCourt, so often the saviour, struggled to make an impact, and he tried harder than most.
Kilmarnocks goals came from a mistake by Adam Matthews, and a penalty after Emilio Izzaguerra tried to make amends for some duff defending. Celtic nearly scored through Joe Ledley, and again through Gary Hooper, who came on in the second half, but that was about it. The media hthen made a big thing about the fifty seven year wait for the Ayrshire side to win in the league at Parkhead, and to be honest, if Celtic had fielded the team from that day, they might have put in more heart and graft.
Manager Neil Lennon shouldered the flak, claiming
“I didn’t envisage a performance as flat as that, particularly with freshening the team up. but it was my fault , I picked the team. I am not blaming the players for that. I thought we we had a strong team, it looked good on paper, but there was no fluidity. There was a malaise about the team that i did not like at all. It was too passive, there was no intensity to our play and we got what we deserved without Kilmarnock having to do that much. The first goal was a shambles and the second goal was just poor defending. It is a dose of reality, we cam down to earth with a bump.”
Hard to argue with any of that, but it did remind me of the time Martin O’Neill made a few too many changes, and ICT dumped Celtic out of a cup in the Seville season. But Lennon will learn from this.
Of course, depending on which paper you read today, he will be “seething” “raging or “livid”, but really he just seems more “matter of fact” and will try not to let it happen again.
Kris Commons seemed to be hurting though, in a long winded rant in the Scotsman. Summarising, he said that the team were shite, didn’t try a leg and need to get their fingers out. Hard to argue with that as well, though Commons is unlikely to be working for the Diplomatic Corps when he retires.
Elsewhere in the league, St Johnstones injury time equaliser against Inverness keeps them in touch, Aberdeens unbeaten run-they last lost on day one to Celtic-continued at home to Dundee, with Niall McGinn joining Cillian Sheridan as an ex-celt who scored on a day when the current ones couldn’t. McGinn, incidentally equalled a club record of five goals in five consecutive games for the Dons.
Dundee Utd kept up their goal a game ratio with a 1-0 win over St. Mirren in Paisley, but if you want to catch the highlights show, you’ll have to wait until tonight. Tucked away on a Sunday night is BBC Scotlands piss poor attempt to showpiece the national league, although last night they did have hours of the overhyped English game, featuring the glamour of Wigan v West Ham and Stoke v Sunderland. and after that you got their Second division.
Being at home yesterday due to a family commitments-the wife won’t let me out anywhere near a bar or a football ground-I decided to listen to Radio Scotland for a bit. A bit of nonsense it seems.
Dundee Utd have recently signed Rudi Skacel, and the former Hearts man has elected to wear the number 51 on his shirt, a reference to last seasons Cup final when Hearts beat Hibs 5-1. John Robertson, one of BBCs experts claimed that it was just the same as Gary Hooper wearing 88, or Victor Wanyama and his 67. Except that they actually play for the team wear the number is significant. The high standard of expert on the BBC continued with teatime presenter, do you know, I’ve forgotten his name. Which is a remarkable coincidence as this guy seems to have forgotten to be interesting, informative and competent. Cutting off interviewers, forgetting his lines, and delivering the show in a trance like state whilst laughing embarrassingly at his own perceived wit and wisdom. All done in quiet tones and with absolutely no enthusiasm.
Yeah, actually lets leave the Sportscene show where it is, it isn’t go to help sell the game at all.
Rangers, the new club with the old name will visit Clyde today in the televised Scottish game, which is great because for clubs who operate on a shoestring budget in the bottom tier will welcome the cash, as it could be the difference in some cases that keeps them afloat. It will help Clyde as well, and to publicise the game, sleekit timourous beastie Ally mcCoist has been up to his tricks again, warning Craig whyte he “would be ill-advised to attend Ibrox again” He went on to say that non-payment of VAT and National insurance was the reason the old club went into administration before vdeciding he wasn’t going to talk about it. Presumably to avoid comments such as “Aye, but if you had qualified for Europe the bills could have been paid.”
Yesterday we asked who sat on a plane looking forward to doing his best at his new club, and it was , of course, Henrik Larsson. The man who when he played his last game at Celtic Park was responsible for sunglasses sales going through the roof, as grown men at the ground didn’t want to take them off as he came back out to wave goodbye.
At the beginning of todays diary, there is a quote about mountains and molehills. Who made it?