The Not-So-Magnificent Seven
Yesterday seven months exactly since any of us attended Celtic Park to do what many of us have spent most years of our lives doing-turning up and cheering on The Bhoys.
The actual ritual of the day involves so much more for most of us than the mere two hours that we spend in the ground,of course. There’s the social interaction of meeting up with our friends and family beforehand,discussing likely team selections and formations,pointing out that this player or that one is out of form or in need of a rest,or that one or this deserves his chance. And then dissecting the game afterwards of course.
And all done over a pre-match meal or a beer or six. And maybe more afterwards. It’s a day out,an event in itself. And I’ll tell you,I’m missing it-and I only get to about three or four games a year! Heaven knows how the regulars,the fans who rarely miss a game,are coping.
We need our fix! If it was heroin we were addicted to,we would be getting more sympathy and assistance with our addiction!!! Sadly,the situation doesn’t look like changing anytime soon-except possibly for the worse if restrictions are tightened on fans gathering to watch the matches on TV in the pub. This is one for the authorities in government and in the game to sort out between them,I’m certainly not going to use this platform for political point-scoring. MAHE and I both agreed from the start to try to,as much as possible,keep political comments away from the site,and we think it was one of our better ideas.
So what has happened since the day we thrashed St Mirren seven months ago-with their goalkeeper getting my Man of the Match award,btw? Well,Monday saw the culmination of an interesting transfer window,and one which I freely admit to having called incorrectly. I’ve always thought that our modus operandi meant that if a top player gets within two years of the end of his contract and showed no sign of renewing,he would be sold to the highest bidder. It didn’t sit easy with me,but I could understand it as it didn’t make sense to continue to pay wages to a player who wanted to leave,and whose value was on a downward spiral.
We had a number of players during the summer who ticked those boxes,and while I thought it would suicidal to sell them all,I genuinely thought that two of Eddy,Ryan,Kris and Ollie would be out the door.
I have to congratulate the board on this one,as in particularly trying economic conditions they have stood by the manager,the team and the fans. On top of that,they have invested a fair amount in new signings. A £5m goalie,who is first pick for his country,Greece. The Yeti,another £5m and looking like a snip up front and an absolutely lethal finisher on the evidence so far. David Turnbull,at 21yo,perhaps the best midfield prospect in Scotland,who will be a bargain at the £3m paid. Additionally we have three players on loan,the returning Mo who will hopefully stay injury free this time,Shane Duffy as the rock at the back,and Diego Laxalt from Milan. With the exception of David Turnbull,these are all seasoned internationals who have been around the block. No projects,none. Not this year.
To help pay for some of this,we lost a number of players whose contracts weren’t renewed. Craig Gordon,Jonny Hayes,Simo being the most high profile ones,but also the likes of Calvin Miller for instance. We took in a fee for Eboue Kouassi and Benyu amongst others,as well as Jack Aitchison on the last day. Add in some of our younger players going on loan-along with such as Shved and Boli-and overall I think we’ve probably cut the roster by nearly twenty players,certainly a dozen nett anyway,even including our new signings.
Certainly not a bad window then,as I said. But what about on the pitch? Well,let’s not make our reference point that game in March-let’s make it the calendar year. Since the debacle just before the start of this most wretched of years. In Europe,we lost the ones that mattered,then realised that they all matter and won the remaining ones that matter! I have to say that the jury is still out on this one,and it hasn’t helped being rewarded for our presence in Pot One of The Europa League with probably the strongest teams available in each of the remaining three pots. But we can only beat who is in front of us,so it’s a case of shrugging the shoulders and getting on with it.
At least we will be spared the patronising crap from opponents telling everyone that the atmosphere is the best they’ve ever experienced!
Domestically though,we have been peerless. With seventeen wins and two draws from nineteen games. And granted that I was raging at both of those draws,the laws of probability are against winning them all-though we won 25 on the bounce under Martin O’Neill,right enough. We have a delayed semi-final of the cup at the end of the month,which will hopefully set us up for a crack at a fourth successive treble,and while we are clearly in for a hard fight to retain our title this season as we strive for The Ten,we have a good chance to put a nail in the coffin of our opponents in the race in ten days time.
And cause much wailing and gnashing of teeth amongst their most die-hard fans,and that’s the SMSM and the MIBs.
Of course,we have a few injury problems to contend with,as Jamesie will be out till mid-November and The Yeti might not be back till around then either. And the news about Eddie on Tuesday night and Ryan yesterday are tough blows too. But we are in a good place comparatively and all we have to do is to play to our abilities. and keep the eyes on the prize. So,a not so magnificent seven perhaps,as we are still locked out. But a very good nine,with hopefully a wonderful eight in front of us,perhaps even pulling off a fifth successive treble.
Aye,that would do nicely.
Above article by BMCUWP. If you have something to say,say it here. We will put it up as Article of the Day. Mail it to MAHE