Story so far…
Now that we are nearing November,it might be as good a time as any to assess the season so far. Sure beats the crap out of a poppy debate anyway!
Our first competitive match was on 10 July,the eve of my birthday. I certainly can’t remember us playing so early in the season before,and in fact,there was still nearly a week until The World Cup in Russia would conclude. A crazy state of affairs. Although we would run out comfortable 6-0 aggregate winners over Alashkert,we would be without four of our players for a while due to their presence at those finals.
Our next ties would be with regular opponents Rosenborg. Again,fairly comfortable,3-1 overall,but lacking in fluency,I thought. Maybe a bit ring-rusty,be fine when the regulars return,even better when the new signings arrive.
Our first league game was at home against Livingston. Big Tam got us off to a flier in the opening minutes,with Eddy and Ollie stepping up to le plate as we ran out 3-1 winners. It’s difficult to complain about a 3-1 victory,but some of us sensed unease. And some amongst us suspected that a lot of it had to do with a lack of movement on the transfer front. Indeed,our Chief Executive had been noticeable by his absence for some time.
He’ll be negotiating the moves,opined the wildly optimistic.
Midweek was when the cracks became really apparent. AEK at home,and only a 1-1 draw in a very poor display. Followed up by a defeat to Hearts,things were not looking good. Worse still,as Hearts proceeded to kick us off the park,our heroes were lying down and letting them away with it.
Midweek again,and our Champions League ambitions take a reality check. Never mind,we have a chance to qualify for The Europa League. But we are £20m and more down because of this disaster,and it seems likely that Plan B,sell a prized asset,will be enforced to make up the shortfall.
We end August with victories in The League Cup,3-1 v Thistle,League,a shocking 1-0 v Hamilton,and Europa Cup,3-0 v Suduva following an away draw. But those cracks I mentioned? Becoming chasms. Rumours have been rife for weeks that Boyata expects to leave-and I think he would have been allowed to,had a replacement been signed. Like,as if!!! Worse,Dembele seemed to be agitating,Brendan was becoming very tetchy about the situation,and still PL nowhere to be seen.
Last day of the window,we flog Dembele-whose press conference at his new club marked him down as someone I no longer care for-for a knockdown £20m and bring in a centre-half on loan. This leaves us with two strikers,one of whom is permanently affected by fitness problems these days. It’s also two days before the huns game,and there is civil war behind the scenes.
Well,we beat the huns comfortably enough to head into an international break. There are problems at the club-on the back of SIX successive trophies,two Champions League campaigns and squillions in the bank,we have a manager and a Chief Executive who are clearly not on the same page. This divides the fans too,as some point out the poor record of signings under Brendan,while others query how many of those were HIS targets in the first place.
For once,the international break is probably too short. Peace and common sense still haven’t prevailed as we return to action.
In our next SIX games,we score FIVE goals. Worst run of form in that respect since late 93,I believe. 1-0 victories v Rosenborg-aye,them again!-St Johnstone and Aberdeen,as well as defeats to Kilmarnock and Salzburg,and the fans are in despair. I won’t even mention,oh alright then,the shocker v St Mirren. Nae goals,nae fitba,lucky to get nil.
But,we are Celtic supporters,and as we all know,we can spot green shoots of recovery better than anyone. Just as we are about to head into another international break,many of us have The Samaritans on speed-dial. So many of us,in fact,that they’re engaged every time I called! And we have St Johnstone in Perth. They make it difficult for us even when we are on form,and with no Broony or Ajer available,this might not be pretty.
Oh,aye,pretty it was. Pretty bloody wonderful,in fact. We sailed into a five goal lead by half time,James Forrest playing the way many of us wish he could do more often. He was ably assisted particularly by Tom Rogic,who has been playing himself back into form this month for club and country. 6-0 flattered the hosts,but we were left to wonder,was this a false dawn,were we maybe on the way back,no point worrying over spilt milk of the previous two months,the season starts now!
International break,just at the wrong bloody time. This one was way too long,the fans had their hopes up,the players had their heads up. Home game against Hibs,who were above us in the table,also won 6-0 last time out,and made life bloody difficult for us last season.
Ajer still missing,Broony taken off injured early on,Griff ill. Et cetera et cetera,et cetera,as Yul might say. Or sod it,as Tom Rogic might say. A typical left foot finish under pressure from 20 yards allowed us some breathing space as we took them apart in the first half. James again was on top form,and Calum McGregor really looks more comfortable holding and tackling,with the play in front of him.
Our French boys were also outstanding,and Sinclair,on as a sub for Broony,well,you just know he needs the breaks,but he looked sharper and more eager than he has for a little while. I want my Sinky back,and I refuse to give up on him,but he’s obviously run over a few black cats lately!
I won’t mention the defence as I only saw highlights-which tend not to show defence in a good light-but Craig Gordon made one absolutely stunning save in particular. Aye,4-2 sounds close. Four going on fourteen,as their keeper made some excellent saves too,and when he couldn’t,the woodwork saved him. About six times!
So,are we back? I dunno. That’s why I’ve done this article now,and not this time next week. We have some really important matches coming up which will go a long way to answering that question. Personally,I couldn’t care less about The Europa League,but for the sake of firstly our pride and secondly our cohesion as a unit,we need to start stringing some results together on that stage. But domestically,I think we have five matches-and another international break,who knew?!-between now and the end of November.
If we are in the final of The League Cup,and top of the table by then,that’ll do me nicely.
We can start by winning every battle on Sunday against every Hearts player who decides that football is not a beautiful game. And one in particular.
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