Well well well, that was easy wasn’t it?
Deary me. What a strange game.
In the previous game we had camped in their half from the first kick and going by yesterdays start, or lack off, it seems Lenny and the Bhoys fancied seeing what that felt like. We simple weren’t at the races as the Team in Blue tried to push forward and bravely earned corner after corner.
(I wonder if Iain Black had a bet on the number of set pieces? – Ed)
Thankfully the corners came to nowt thanks to Goldson having a head like a cabbage and when they did finally manage a shot, the 20 yarder from Ryan “Superstar Crier” Jack was superbly pushed away from the top corner by the wonderful Fraser Forster.
Sadly, despite all the Celtic fans hoping that would be a wake up call, the Hoops, bar Frimpong, Hayes and Forster all shrugged, turned over and went back to sleep. God only know why we were so lackadaisical and off our game. At one point I suspected it might be another flu virus as befell us before that pathetic Ibrox game display under Brendan.
Sadly it seems it was just one of those days.
Rangers kept on huffing and puffing and in fairness the Morelos vs Forster show had more action than the previous nights encounter between Anthony Joshua and Mr Blobby.
Forster used his body, arms and legs, and at one point a dainty style jump over the ball to prevent any goal success for Rangers and the more he tried, the more the Morelos confidence crumbled and larger grew the lip of El Pettiness.
Right in front of Forster though, it was utter calamity with Celtic fans standing staring and thinking “WTF?”. We couldn’t string 2 passes together, if we even attempted to try, and for those watching at home, it was a game where Rangers would attack, and by the time BT Sport had shown a repeat of the attack, Celtic had already given the ball back to Rangers to attack yet again.
All I could think off was “Is this some sort of practise session for the latter stages of the Europa League?” where we could face high quality opposition and need to batten down the hatches.
In truth, most fans had a sense of “Ohh ohh” when they heard the line up and the subs bench. While SuperMo had made the First XI, Eddy was only making the bench with Lewis Morgan starting through the middle.
In the full back position, we had Johnny Hayes ( still wearing shoulder strapping) and Jeremie Frimpong. So that was a utility man at left back and young boy freshly promoted on the right. Rangers must have been licking their lips but in truth they didn’t actually get much joy down the flanks at all.
Frimpong would go off after bringing Morelos down when Ajer and Jullien were caught playing pinball in their own area but he was having a fine game up and down the park. There were a few questionable times when he ended up 1 on 1 with Morelos peeling away so Frimpong has to learn to tuck in and also call for help from his centre halves more often but the Bhoy did well in his first big final.
As for Hayes on the other side, wee Johnny never stopped. The Irishman cleared well when needed and just keeps on giving all he has, we cant ask for anything more.
To highlight the shifts of Frimpong and Hayes, its worth remembering that out on the flanks, we were 2 men down. James Forrest continued his recent run of no-shows. Maybe those book signings are wearing him out and the returning Mohamed Elyounoussi was clearly off the pace and spent his 45 mins watching the game pass him by.
So that was the flanks, the places where Tavernier, Barisic and Kent were expecting to shine but it was surprisingly down the middle that Rangers had all their success.
Celtic when in possession, were for some unknown reason totally avoiding Broony and Calmac. Our game place resorted to just sending high balls way down the middle of the pitch where a stranded Lewis Morgan could only watch the Easter Island statue that is Conner Goldson say “Thanks very much” and duly nod the ball down to start another hun attack.
The Rangers midfield soon realised Christie, Brown and MacGregor were all having an afternoon nap and gladly charged forward at will to the delight of their fans and the Media.
The team in Blue also didn’t need to worry about missing the injured Stephen Davis as they had nothing to defend against. The one run Celtic did manage would see Jack slide in on Morgan 30 yards from goal and nick the ball away to safety. That was as close as we got in the first half.
Its not clear why Broony, Calmac, Christie and Forrest were so abject. “Flat” is the technical phrase it seems but it does the exact opposite to your blood pressure when watching on. Celtic fans were exasperated as we looked like a shadow of a decent outfit. To say we were glad to hear the half time whistle is an understatement.
The 2nd Half started with OnlySlightlyFitMo subbed for Mikey Johnston and everyone wondering just how long we would have to wait for Edouard to get stripped. After yet another 10 minutes of the Morelos vs Forster show, Lenny gave the nod and Eddy prepared for action.
Now, its well worth pausing here to think of the true impact that Eddy had on the game. Up till this point, we had been awful. Rangers players were full of confidence and their defenders had absolutely nothing, not 1 thing in 60 minutes, to do. Lewis Morgan was being easily dealt with and the channels were not being utilised whatsoever, bar the occasional Frimpong drive or Hayes cross ball.
Then on came Eddy.
The immediate reaction in Conner Goldson’s mind must have been “Oh fuck!”.
Its the only explanation for him immediately resorting to booting Eddy far out near the left touchline as Edouard went to cushion a pass. Cue the Free kick given.
Ryan Christie placed the ball and stepped up..and “just like the Beckhams of the world” according to Gordon Strachan, Christie produced a quality ball when really needed. The ball swung deep into the Rangers box and the Rangers defensive line gave way as big Jullien strode forward and struck the ball passed a stranded McGregor.
Rangers had just conceded their first goal in the League Cup this season.
Cue utter bedlam and the joy of seeing Allan MacGregors first real touch being to lift the ball out the net!
We had just “Wattied” Sevco.
Payback for all those Laudrup winners…comeuppance for all those “plucky” McCoist steals.
They would claim it was offside but as noted in last weeks preview Elmander is a dud and if you watch closely he plays Jullien on so they can have no complaints about the goal. Anyone following our ETimsNet Twitter would have also seen the recommended 12/1 anytime for the big exuberant Frenchman to score in the game.
The immediate question from the Media was how long could Celtic defend the goal for. Well it wouldn’t be long before it was hearts in mouths time when the penalty came. Frimpong couldn’t do much after finding himself on the wrong side of Morelos, and to be fair to Frimpong, he didn’t expect Ajer to just knock the ball to Super Alberto. Cue the Penalty award and Frimpong shown the red.
It was now “Oh Mammy Daddy” time.
Well it was for us.
It wasn’t for Big Fraser.
The Gentle Giant watched as Tavernier, the regular penalty taker then handed the ball to Morelos and the Columbian placed the ball for the spot kick. “Its so he can finally score against us” said the old guy beside me. “Hold that thought” said Fraser Forster.
Morelos ran up and hit the ball low and hard but towards the centre right of Forsters goal…exactly where Forster was diving to palm it away to safety. He could have probably held it but I suspect he was having to much fun and didn’t want to totally destroy the Columbians confidence.
The next 30 minutes would see Eddy set up Mikey Johnston with a glorious chance for the second but he slid when caught in 2 minds and the chance went with us all a-begging. Rangers piled forward, Defoe came on, Celtic players all got cramp, Rangers unsportingly didn’t give the ball back after a Celtic injury and all the while Forster stood tall and firm like a yellow jerseyed Gandalf shouting “Thou shall not pass!”
Eventually Willie Collum had to concede it was time up and the game was over.
We had won THE TEN!
TEN MEN WON THE TEN.
Amazing. It was an utterly shambolic way to win it but no-one cared bar the greeting torn faced media whose tears couldn’t be seen in the Hampden rain. It was a joy watching Big Chris “The Good Guys Won!” Sutton wind up Alex Rae and Ally McCoist, oh their faces were sourer than the soorest of plooms!
One TV analyst in review highlighted that Lenny had the dilemma of needing to keep the hunger and drive in this side. Lest we forget, this is a side that has introduced Forster, Frimpong, Bauer, Elhamed, Supermo and Jullien and elevated Edouard, Morgan, Hayes and Christie alongside stalwarts Calmac, Forrest and Broony. That’s not too shabby when it comes to fresh blood.
The Celtic players gladly celebrated again when Lenny announced “Day off tomorrow!” and returned to Celtic Park for a party. We can send the weans to play Cluj on Thursday and concentrate on the December league fixtures.
As for the Rangers, their players are “Devastated” in the words of their Captain and they now face a tough schedule of high pressure games with Europa League qualification almost in their grasp but one slip up away from disaster. Oh the pressure to qualify might just get too much after Sundays devastation you know.
They then have to come to Celtic Park knowing they need a win..they couldn’t win when we were missing our two main fullbacks, when we had our main striker only 40% fit and in a game where our whole midfield were posted missing so just what will they be thinking about their chances come Dec 29th…its when such questions gets into the players heads that it really does all start to crumble…which is nice.
Somewhere at Hummel Park, the players are looking at Tavernier, Morelos and Kent and wondering why they let their side down yesterday. They are also looking at the Manager, who is looking back at them, all wondering “Why didn’t you do better yesterday?”. The seeds of doubt are sown and await anger blossoming soon enough. Aberdeen was the first hammer blow, yesterday was the 2nd, Young Boys may be the 3rd or it may be December 29th, either way, they know they are on a cliff edge at the moment. Good!
Forster 10 : “The greatest goalkeeping display Ive ever seen” said big Kris Ajer. So say all of us. Even Craig Gordon was smiling at Forsters performance, now that really must have been something special!
Hayes 7 : Got stuck in and tucked in when needed. Sent in some crosses. Decent show.
Jullien 7: What a finish and now knows the rat that is Morelos after a raking down his ankle. Watch out for retribution come Dec 29th.
Ajer 6: Bit all over the shop at times. Allowed Morelos in on goal by yet again going to ground. Set up their penalty too by failing to clear a bouncing ball.
Frimpong 7: Would have been higher but only played 2/3rd of the game after sending off. Great showing and at one point squared up to Morelos to show the boy has steel as well as speed, skill and the greatest Celtic Smile ever. “oh My Days” was his catchphrase after the game, hes gonna have plenty of such days on this form.
Broony/Calmac 5: Hardly in it. No passing game, no composure, no involvement bar a few niggles here and here. Quite weird really.
Forrest/Elyanoussi 4: Invisible. Utterly Invisible.
Christie 6: Nothing in first half. Almost nothing in 2nd half but then that perfect ball for the goal and then a few clever runs and touches off rangers players to win throw ins or fouls and kill the game.
Morgan 5: An utterly thankless task in that position with those tactics. Ran about between their defence and keeper to keep warm in the rain whilst game passed him by. One shot well wide and one run soon stopped.
Bitton 5: Solid enough and cleared his lines, job done.
Johnston 5: Should have scored to be the hero.
Edouard 6: Won the free kick for the goal and set up Mikey for his chance. A different level but he needs quality back up in a similar fashion so we don’t rush him or rely far too much on his style of play.
Won a watch and he knows it.
A wins a win but we had no clear tactics yesterday whatsoever and no clear direction from the Manager during the game until Eddy arrived and changed the outcome.
Lennys talk off “a flat team” is all well and good but he has to ensure they don’t flat-line like that again .
The Squad selection was interesting for want of a better “WTF” word. No Griffiths and no Bauer yesterday raised a few eyebrows. Be interesting to see what happens with Griffiths especially. The Manager will need to consider quite a few options and rotations to deal with the run up to December 29th and then comes a big January window and hopefully he can stand up to any dilly-dallying attempts from Peter Lawwell.
At the very least we need a back up striker and a centre half as we are going to the Well with Ajer, Jullien and Eddy far too often. I doubt Bayo and Jozo are the answers that Lenny seeks but hopefully Elhamed at least isn’t too far away from a return along with SuperMo and Bolingoli hitting peak fitness sooner rather than later.
We won yesterday and that was great but we probably used up all our luck so its now back to the Manager to get the results the old fashioned way with the proper tactics and personnel. That can start tomorrow though, he can enjoy his day off, he has earned it.