Hail,Hail! The fitba’s Back!!!
Bloody hell,that was a long fortnight. I honestly can’t recall an international fortnight which has dragged in like this one has. Maybe it’s because we went from the euphoria of gubbing the huns to,well,sod all for a fortnight.
I dread to think what it would have been like if we had lost-I’d probably have had to hide the razor blades!
But we’re back,and thanks to those nice tv people we don’t even have to wait till 3pm to see The Hooooops in action again. Nope,tomorrow sees us kick off at noon,Hamilton time. ATHINGOFBEAUTY doesn’t allow me to do predictions on the site-she’s a right miseryguts until the game is over,then she goes bananas celebrating!-so I won’t,all I’ll say is that we have the opportunity to turn the screw on any potential challengers by opening up a six-point gap before they’ve even got their boots on.
Six points after only five games,the prospect of that would scare the proverbial out of them. And players don’t always deal well with that kind of pressure-I can still remember Regi Blinker turning white when he heard the din as he ran out of the tunnel for the first time at Ibrox.
Turn the screw,Celtic. Starting tomorrow. Our teething problems as we bedded in an entire new defence should be a thing of the past,and as I’ve said before,I expect NL to have used the break to get them drilled and used to playing together,used to playing how he expects them to. Of course,I exempt Fraser Forster from that as I hope he was down in Southampton putting his house up for sale and getting ready to move into a permanent place back here.
I will be most displeased if he doesn’t sign a permanent deal with us.
Talking of deals,hot on the heels of the rumours of an improved and extended contract for CalMac comes news of similar being lined up for I Wanna. I suspect that PL must be kicking himself for not thinking of it earlier. Eddy made his first two appearances for the French U-21 team during this break,scoring twice.
In each of them!
Now,given that Moussa Dembele gained his international acclaim at the same level,with 13 in 25,I think that having a Forward with a scoring rate four times as high means that we throw everything at keeping him till at least 2022. He’s already under contract till then,btw,but it makes sense to improve and extend a contract for someone of his quality.
He’s not even 22yo until next year,so I seriously doubt that we have seen the best of him. And that’s a scary thought,and a delightful one at the same time.
Get him signed,Peter. Give the huns and their cohorts in the media the heebie-jeebies just thinking about him. They’ll need a defence from another universe to stop him!
The thing is,I was all for resting him for tomorrow’s game-until I saw him on international duty. He has been absolutely superb this season already,and he’s absolutely on fire. So play him,even if only for an hour or so. Keep him up to speed for that game in Rennes on Thursday.
Thing is though,that a game like this really is the ideal time to use the squad,rotate a little. I’d say we probably have to start with the same defence that finished off the huns,even if only to give them experience of playing together,but the rest of the team is ripe for a temporary turnover.
I’d go with CalMac and Ollie in the engine room,with Ollie given a freer role to support Ryan Christie as required. Bring Broonie on for one of them with twenty minutes to go,just to loosen up the muscles and get tore in. I’m sure that by that time one or two of the Hamilton thugs will have put the boot in a few times. Gives him something to look forward to…
Up front,I’m inclined to give James Forrest the weekend off entirely. Tell him to use it to find his mojo. It’s probably in Stockholm,I know that’s where I saw him with it last. Once he finds it,great. No better player on his game.
There are a multitude of options available to replace him,even temporarily. We could give his place to Maryan Schved,assuming that he can be bothered to impress Lenny in training. Honestly,son,I know I’ve said it before,but Tony Watt is a prime example of what happens when NL thinks yer a lazy no-use basturt in training. Get out there and show us what you can do-bit you have to show it in training first,and to your manager.
An alternative option would be to go with two strikers,either Bayo or Griff,with the “loser” coming on after an hour for I Wanna. This option is heavily dependent on how good “Jack” Bauer is at storming up the right wing. Only one way to find out,cos we can’t play to the same shape for every game.
The left side of the front line is the one where I’m seriously conflicted. Michael Johnston has really grown into his jersey this season,a sign both of maturity and of the trust of his manager. He has been offered his opportunity,and in his favoured position. He has been given game time,and he has seized it with both hands. And both feet. He has performed excellently,in fact.
But I’m old school. Even as a fan of Bob Dylan-who knows that The Times,They Are A-Changing-I’m with The Greatest Manager on this. Don’t play youngsters all the time. Drop them out for a bit,maybe a few games at their own level,bring them back. Jock by and large knew when it was time to do that,and I don’t pretend to know a fraction of what he did about,well,anything,but a weekend off with his pals will do him no harm.
In which case,bring back Scott Sinclair. Remind him that this is likely to be his last season with us unless he performs miracles. Even Jesus didn’t perform miracles sitting in the stand. He is only 30yo and probably has four more seasons in him at a similar level to ours,but not if he chucks it.
How hard did you work as a kid to get where you are,Scott? Go out there and be that kid again. Your stats for the last two seasons have been very good,but you know as we do that your performances haven’t. This isn’t the last chance saloon by any means,but did that kid really think he would have chucked it at 30?
Naw. So prove it. Starting tomorrow.
Bit of a cock-up on the charity initiative. The obvious time to announce it was on the weekend of our first anniversary,and the obvious choice for first bite at the cherry was THEEXILEDTIM. But we didn’t think it through. His weekend included the international fortnight,a really diddy cup in Scotland and the bottom two tiers in England.
So I’ve decided to call that a dry run. THEEXILEDTIM did not have a hope last weekend,it was a poisoned chalice. He can have his go again shortly. Meantime,I’ll have the next go. Not because I want to but because we forgot to ask who wanted to go next!
So,to remind you all. I’ll have a fiver to use in any way I see fit. Once I lose it,I’m out and another person has a go. But I only have a maximum of three goes,so if I win tomorrow,I’m in for Hootenanny Weekend! Win there,I’ll have the next weekend too. But that would be my turn done. Lose ANY of them and I’m out.
Pre-emptive strike though-I’ll always be two people ahead. So it’s me tomorrow,TWISTSNTURNS next. After that,it will be THEEXILEDTIM again. And we will cancel it during international fortnights unless the competitor wants to have a go.
If you want to have your place on this-which we intend to run for as long as the site does-drop us a line to the usual address.
Above article by BMCUWP. You can also use the usual address to send us your opinions to publish as Article of the Day. Mail it to Mahe