Celtic were beaten 3-1 by a much hungrier Motherwell side yesterday at Fir Park. It was the Hoops seventh defeat in the new one team league which either means the bhoys are getting too complacent, or the other teams have changed their attitude and have upped their game a bit.
Gary hooper opened the scoring after tidying up when his initial header hit the bar when it would have been easier to score. After that, Motherwell equalised just before half time when Thomas Rogne slipped up and lost his man, and then after the break, a dubious penalty and a Fraser Forster own goal meant that Motherwell have now beaten Celtic in back to back games for the first time since dinosaurs roamed the earth.
It has to be said though, that it was a fairly open, and dare I say, fairly enjoyable game, until there were about four minutes left, and it dawned on the Celtic minded that perhaps this time we weren’t actually going to win 4-3. In fact, if the game was still going on we wouldn’t have scored yet.
Chance after chance went begging-at both ends-and it begs the thought that if supporters think we are going to win no matter what the circumstances, then perhaps the players do. Only Tony Watt and substitutes Anthony Stokes and Paddy McCourt really seemed to be trying, whilst it looked like Beram Kayal and Thomas Rogic weren’t strong enough for a full shift.
When the dust settled though, Motherwell won it because they wanted to. The win gives them a place in Europe and it would be churlish not to congratulate them on this achievement. So thats me churlish then.
All the post match chat revolved around the spat between manager Neil Lennon and Kenny Shiels, who last week labelled Celtic as “Paranoid FC”, which as we know, if anything , the events of the last couple of years , and probably the fifty or so before that, have proved that we probably weren’t paranoid enough, but it gives the press something to harp on about.
“Kenny has always had plenty to say about our club. Nothing surprises me from Kenny. He has had a couple of barbed comments about my team and the club over the last couple of years so he must have a personal agenda, I don’t know, you would need to ask him that. I do take exception to the paranoia comment. Thats been thrown at our club for the last 15 to 20 years and I think that the last three or four years have proved that we weren’t paranoid, we were just right.”
Then he had added that he felt Shiels was an “unconscious comedian, like David Brent”, moaned a bit more about the lack of Celts up for player of the year, and toddled off to get ready for the Celtic Player of the Year do.
In Saturdays diary, we asked who you thought was the player of the year for the club, and there was, as expected , a fairly wide spread of nominees. Although it looks like Commons would win an Etims poll, Wanyama second, after that its anyone from five or six.
At the club do, Georgios Samaras won Player of the Year
Young Player of the year was Victor Wanyama, with Tony Watt getting the goal of the year for his strike against Barcelona. Fraser Forster won players player of the year, and remarkably , managed to come out from his seat and collect it without it zooming over his head. And he didn’t drop it.
The clubs own awards highlight the simple fact that whilst no player has had a great season, quite a few have had a good season, and maybe Lennon should just let it go.
Meanwhile, James MacFadden may yet end up at Celtic, as Neil Lennon still hasn’t ruled it out. Perhaps its just a ploy to get more money out of Lawwell. The referee even called Lennon into his office after the game, presumably to talk about this (can’t think of any other reason ) , and when Lennon emerged saying he might be in trouble again, but gave no further details, then one can only assume that MacFadden is on his way. Because sincerely, if he was this summers main addition, then we are all in trouble.
There is also a lot of talk emerging in the MSM that Lennons own future is by no means certain. Currently on a one year rolling contract, he said he will sit down after the cup final to discuss it. He also said, when asked where his future lies;
“I don’t know. I’ve got magnificent support from the Chief Executive and I’ve got a great group of young players. But you just don’t know whats around the corner and what challenges lie ahead for you, not just in your professional life, but in your personal life as well. ”
Can’t see this as anything other than putting it all to one side until the Cup Final is done, but having failed to sell all Celtics players, its only right the MSM should try to shift the manager.
Tonight sees the Glasgow Cup Final, contested between the U-17 sides from Celtic and New club Rangers International. The Scotsman says it is the return of the Old Firm game, which is bizarre, when you consider that all of the Sevco youngsters are considerably older than the club they play for. Estimates that the crowd will be around 10,000-which given current sales is unlikely, are cited as a reason to bring the new club, and its large but dense support into the higher reaches of Scottish football.
Its almost exactly a year since Celtic defeated Rangers 3-0 in the last ever big Glasgow Derby, and a repeat of that scoreline in the first meeting of the two clubs in a national final (at any level ) will do just nicely. Good luck to the young bhoys as they try to add to the allover tally of trophies for the club this season.
The senior side over at Ibrox might just make it to the end of a turbulent and controversial first season, and I asked our Larkhall man Billy MacBiggott what he thought of the recent shennannigans-he hates that word- at his club.
“I don’t care anymore, I’m away to watch Hamilton.”
Frantic press releases and favourable stories in the Sundays yesterday, incuding a “we have seen the deeds ” from the Mails Gary Ralston means another push for season book uptake is under way. Except, Ralston didn’t publish the deeds, and hardly pushed Malcolm murray on his claims that they still have plenty of money. Or was it Craig Mather. It was one of them anyway, the procession of spokesmen from that place are virtually indistinguishable from each other these days, but thats because they have their heads in the sand and its the upturned orifice which makes the speeches.
Anyway, manager Ally McCoist is due for a few meetings with new man Craig Mather to discuss budgets and stuff. As usual, McCoist endorsed the new man, just as he did with Whyte and Green, and will continue to do so as long as his money goes in the bank every month. Or up until Mather leaves, when McCoist will say he never liked him. Like he usually does.
On Saturday we asked about POTY nominees, and this followed on from Fridays diary, which turned into a bring back the bunnet campaign, referring to the possibility of Fergus McCann raising the flag next season. Can’t argue with that, no-one deserves it more.
Right, back to the odd one outs. Who is not in the right company here, and why?
Willie Maley, Jock Stein, Jimmy McGrory, Neil Lennon.