A 3-0 win and convincing performance over Dundee United at Celtic Park yesterday left fans, players and management with a sense of confidence that the trip to Ibrox on Saturday may yet not be as bad as we feared.
As long as we don’t try to fix things that aren’t broken.
Goals from Ismael Soro…which somehow ended up in the wrong side of the net….David Turnbull and , eventually, after quite a few attempts, Oddsone Edoaurd put a few smiles on faces, and although “rangers ” are still way out in front, there’s now a reasonable chance, if everyone keeps doing what they’ve been doing, that not only will they be beaten on Saturday, they will be caught in the race for the title.
Which of course, will be viewed as not being good for Scottish football….
After all, an establishment that ignored racism and bigotry to protect their club is unlikely to balk at choosing match officials who protect them as well….especially in their hour of need when they badly need European champions League money to survive.
There is an insolvency event looming, delayed only by the global pandemic, at Ibrox, and they need money. They need their players to be seen as worth buying, and their club to be see as worth investing in. If they don’t win something soon, they’re in trouble.
And of our club isn’t prepared to help bury them, we have to hope the players are.
For the Scottish lads at Celtic, there is more than a title to play for. There’s the added bonus of being involved at the finals of whatever the European nations championship is called these days, and the possibility of playing at Wembley against England, something every Scotsman wants to do, and to do well in.
Griffiths, Forrest, Turnbull, Christie , MacGregor and maybe even Taylor could make the squad, and should certainly be trying as the season progresses.
We must be getting somewhere, and whatever probems there were must have been, to a degree at least, sorted, because Keith Jackson in the Record has noted that Celtic now have “momentum “….
It’s been been a month-long hunt for momentum. And yesterday Celtic completed the job.
This may not have been exactly vintage stuff from Neil Lennon’s side.
And the injury to Christopher Jullien, who left on a stretcher after thudding into the frame of his own goal while scrambling off the line, could yet prove to be a costly one given what lies around the next corner.
But with three more goals and three more league points tucked away, Lennon could not have wished to be in a better place than this when the car park was under siege at the start of this month.
Celtic’s recovery is not yet complete but it certainly must feel much better being Lennon these days after six straight wins.
The turnaround has been remarkable, and enjoyable, and we can almost say we’re looking forward to Saturday’s game.
As usual, we all have our own ideas as to who should start and who should play where, and I’m no different.
Greek goalkeeper Vassilis Barkas played yesterday, and the manager further boosted his confidence by announcing he’ll play at Ibrox. Barkas, more than anyone, has suffered from having an assortment of players, some not even defenders, in front of him this season, yet has kept clean sheets in half of his appearances.
Like Greg Taylor, he’s suffering from not being someone else,in this case Fraser Forster, and needs to be given a break.
At right back, Kris Ajer should get the nod. Equally pacey as Jeremie Frimpong, he;s less likely to be bundled or bullied out of a game, and whilst a defender may want to obstruct Frimpong running at him, the prospect of the giant Ajer running towards you at pace will make anyone think twice about getting in the way. Thats not to say Frimpong doesn;t have a part to play. An entrance later in the game, trying to get behind tired defenders would cause havoc, and might even get Celtic a free kick.
On the left, there’s a similar scenario…start with Taylor, and latterly introduce Laxalt. The former has defensive discipline and the latter doesn’t have any discipline of any kind, and that discipline will be needed on Saturday.
Chris Jullien and Shane Duffy to keep it simple in the middle…I know Jullien banged his leg, but a bit of ointment and he should be fine….which also gives us that extra option in their box from set pieces, especially now we’ve got someone who can get the ball over.
Another talking point is the Brown/Soro conundrum. Soro further strengthened his case with his goal yesterday, and again he has the positional and mental discipline that Brown, who can be a bit , er, excitable, doesn’t have.
And it’s no surprise that both midfield and defence have benefitted from his presence. Brown can make an appearance later, doing his peacock strut in front of the home bench at full time.
Calum MacGregor and Ryan Christie can play on either side and just behind David Turnbull which, if Steve clarke wants me to be even remotely interested in the England game next summer, should be the national midfield, along with James Forrest, completing a midfield diamind that can both stifle the opposition and create chances for the dynamic duo up front, Edouard and Griffiths, who are improving as a double act with every appearance , in exactly the same way that Mike and Bernie Winters never did.
Even with their fucking dog.
For those of you who don’t know who those two are, don’t look. It’s really not worth it.
Pace, power, attitude and effort.
With 2020 now behind us, football wise, it’s time to look ahead.
Starting on Saturday, starting at Ibrox, by starting with those mentioned above.
Piece of piss this management lark.
As regular readers of the diary will recall, i’ve been harping on about the current health crisis for some time. some have agrred with me, some have disagreed.
What is certain now, despite the media doing their darndest to hide the grim realities, is that it’s approaching, if not already usurping, the disaster that was spring this year.
It’s clear the government hasn’t got either the desire or the ability to offer sensible advice, so please, wear your mask, wash your hands but above all, stay as far away as you can from anyone you don’t live with.
And keep your own at home as much as you can, if you have to go out , go out alone.
Then, we can not only have a Happy New Year, but we might all be around to wish it to each other this time next year.
Thanks everyone for taking the time to read this shite, and also for bearing with me while it’s been a little more erratic in its appearances since the plague came to town.
Here’s to a better year next year, and at midnight tonight I’ll raise a glass to each and every one of you, to your health and happiness.
The same glass, mind you, if I were to toast you individually I’d be in a coma before the hootenanny is finished.
All the best.