And a gloriously Happy Monday to you all. Oooops,wrong band!
I must admit that I greeted the team announcement with some trepidation,but really Lenny’s choices were limited to who was available to him. Neither Ajer nor Simunovic were fit so it was Jullien and Bitton in central defence,directly in front of Big Fraser. I was glad to have Elhamed back at right back,but the choice of Boli over Hayes concerned me. It shouldn’t have. He had an outstanding display,showing a defensive discipline that I didn’t think he was capable of.
A champagne performance,if you’ll pardon the pun!
The other six? I would have played Ollie in front of Michael Johnston,but he came of age with a terrific display of footwork,passing and gritty determination. With Broonie,Ryan and CalMac anchoring the midfield and James wide right,big I Wanna was left as the lone striker. But he was ably backed up all along.
We kicked off with a tactic straight out of the coaching manual. Of Rugby Union! Kicked it long and into touch. Then pressed them into defensive errors as they failed to clear their lines. This was to be the main tactic of the Day-do not give them time to settle,don’t let them play,don’t give them an inch of space. And it worked a treat as they were continually pressured into hurried passes,stray passes.
They made a big mistake of turning up for blood and snotters in the midfield. They didn’t expect us to meet them with the same,and a whole lot more of it. And when we won the ball in midfield,we would spread it wide for Johnston to work his magic. We were creating the openings,but we just couldn’t manufacture the chances.
Our first real chance fell to Eddie,a free kick about thirty yards out. With a bit too much curl on it,he hit it about four feet wide. But it wasn’t long before the harrying in midfield paid real dividends. Michael Johnston picked up the loose ball and I Wanna sprung the offside trap. He doesn’t miss many of them,not the one on ones. And he didn’t this time either. Left side of the box,opened his body,right foot to the far corner.
The rest of the half proceeded in much the same vein as before,with some brutal tackles from both sides being permitted by an overly lenient referee. But to be fair,he was the same for both sides. Still managed to award about a dozen free kicks though in the first half of an enthralling battle but a poor display of football,truth be told. We didn’t care too much,we were ahead. And while we hadn’t offered much creatively,they had offered nothing.
Our full backs had their wide men in their pockets,while our centre backs won every ball. A head injury to Elmahed had us a bit worried,but he shook it off and simply carried on with his excellent work.
They came out with the same attitude in the second half,and led us a merry dance for about fifteen minutes. They threw everything at us but really all they created was two half-chances,easily dealt with by Forster who then went back to doing his crossword. We picked up the tempo after that,with a few good chances falling our way. Halfway through the half,an enforced substitution of Bitton with a ridiculous hamstring injury saw him replaced with “Jack” Bauer,who slotted in at right back as Elmahad shuffled into central defence. Ollie came on for Forrest,and the midfield was effectively closed for the day. Ollie had his shooting boots on,and with better luck surely one of his four efforts would have gone in. Christie and Jullien also had a go,with McGregor in goals doing what he does when he plays against us. Playing well and being a cheating basturt!
But try as he might,he couldn’t stop The Jolly Dubliner making it two in injury time. Jonny Hayes had only recently replaced an injured Michael Johnston when he burst in from the left after Ollie and Eddy had worked the ball through to him. The keeper saved his first effort but there was nothing he could do about his second bite at it. I don’t think there was a happier guy in the stadium!
2-0 and game over. Well,it would have been,but the ref had committed to six minutes,and six minutes we were getting. That was long enough for their carthorse of a sub to lumber into position with only one thing on his mind-we’re getting gubbed,so somebody’s leaving on crutches! No attempt to play the ball,he clattered into Bauer. A shocking assault,full of intent only to do damage. But karma has a way with such things,and Jones injured himself more seriously than he did Bauer. Guess who left the ground on crutches? I hope it’s nothing trivial.
After the match,our heroes celebrated in front of our small band of supporters in the corner. 800 fans in the stand,fourteen heroes to a man on the field,and all giving it big licks. What a day,truly a great day to be a Tim!
Yes,I know it wasn’t a great game for the footballing purist,but for the purely partisan amongst us it was a gripping spectacle. A display of disciplined football,where the players each stuck to their assigned task. One where every one of them won their battles in their own area of the pitch-and it was an area they they all stuck to. I don’t think I saw a Celtic player caught out of position all day,and they deserve great credit for that alone-as does the coaching staff who had clearly drilled it into them.
It was a day when our new signings became real Celtic men!
We now have a two week break for international duty,and I expect Lenny to have most of the non-internationals in practising their roles,getting to know each other better as a unit. Broonie excepted,I’d tell him to piss off for ten days and get some relaxation into him.
How do you award a Man of the Match when you think that every player out there gave us 100% and deserves 10/10? Simple answer is that you don’t. Yesterday was a day which was won for us by the team. They played as a team throughout. No slackers,no fancy dan stuff. And no failures. They won it as a team,so they can share the Man of the Match award as a team.
To say I’m a happy bunny is an understatement. I’m away to watch the highlights!
Above article by BMCUWP. Want to have your say on things? Let us know what you think,we’ll let the world know by printing it as Article of the Day. Mail it to Mahe