This has been an unusual international break,has it not? It’s almost been interesting for a change! There have been the usual Covid outbreaks caused by the ludicrous method for transporting our valuable players across continents and oceans-pubic transport,natch!-and even a Euro Finals qualification for Scotland!!!
To put that into a bit of perspective,my niece is in her final year of a five year course at uni and it will be the first qualification in her lifetime. Congratulations,of course,are due.
Then there’s the news-as yet unsubstantiated of course-that a certain southside institution owes millions to wur wee pal Hector. Possibly adding another reason as if any were needed for ensuring that said institution win the league this season and get their mitts on a Champions League crock of gold. Not forgetting two important issues arising from the much delayed announcement of the date of the Celtic Plc AGM. Firstly that it will be a virtual AGM held via Zoom and secondly that no questions from the floor will be permitted. Only written questions submitted in advance will be given airtime. I wonder which ones will be considered suitable for the occasion…
The big talking point,of course,is the latest resolution put forward by the shareholders et al who supported the original Resolution 12 in 2013. And that the board do not consider it worthy of a response,much less action,merely broadcasting that it is dead in the water already.
Shameless behaviour. From originally trying so hard to derail Res 12 in order to cover up their complicity in the alleged actions,they now can’t even be bothered to hide it! They know that not sufficiently enough of the fans are invested in this,due to the policy of Omertà by the SMSM,who would normally have a field day ripping our board to shreds over such a blatant and longrunning corruption,or collusion at the very least. (I used to cut them some slack by suggesting that they were simply outwitted,but fair minded as I am,I can no longer clutch onto that straw.)
But then to damage Celtic,they would have to explain what it was all about,and that is a can of worms that everyone involved wants to see deep-sixed altogether.
But that is for another day nearer the time. It is back to the proverbial bread and butter stuff this weekend,with a difficult trip to Easter Road. Once again,the TV companies have given our fans a contemptuous boot in the balls with their preference for the live match that day being a visit to their spiritual southside cesspit. Any Celtic fans wanting to watch our Bhoys live on TV will have to cough up £15. That’s the third time this season,I believe,while the hun hordes have been able to keep their hands in their pockets. And they call us paranoid?
To the football itself though. No-one can say that our team has excelled so far this season,although our home performance against Hibs was probably our best of a dreadful season so far. There are perhaps a number of factors behind this,including the unscheduled break due to Boli buggering off to Spain against the regulations at the time. Then there’s the absences due to Covid isolation as well as perhaps the worst run of injuries-even by our standards-that I can remember since the 77-78 season. But if we are honest,the biggest factor has been the form of those players who have been on the pitch. There really are no excuses,we have a big enough squad for a reason,and that is to be able to cope with absences and poor form. Everyone who is near to a place on the bench is capable of holding down a first team place.
Frankly,too many who are holding down a first team place are being found seriously wanting,far less their potential replacements.
So why is this? There are a number of theories,from a lack of coaching,a drop in fitness standards,poor tactics or team selection. All of these can be laid at the door of our manager,because players NEED to be coached and to know that they are always being taught how to improve. They NEED to be pushed that extra yard to take them out of their comfort zone,and they sure as hell need to know what is expected of them and their colleagues on any given day. But the biggest problem as I see it is more straightforward,even if unpalatable. We simply have too many players who do not want to be at the club any longer,players who a year ago were expecting their big move at the end of the season.
Two problems,though. Firstly,the club decided that The Ten was more important,that we would hold onto our best players and in fact sign a few more. And secondly,the Covid crisis meant that we would be unlikely anyway to achieve our target sales price for those players. Both of which are very good reasons indeed for holding onto our stars,and I have no problem with that. Indeed,it could be argued that we did the players in question a favour,as they would be expected to sign a long-term contract for any new club but would be unlikely to receive the wages that they might have expected pre-Covid.
But too many of them seem to have brought their grievances about this onto the pitch with them-or not,as the case may be. Those players who are perceived to be in the group who would prefer to be elsewhere are playing way below their usual high standards,the standards that might have attracted suitors in the first place. Others seem reluctant to risk themselves after injury,despite hightailing it to join their international squads immediately afterwards. One or two,in fact,appear to bother their respective arses as and when they feel like it.
Not only is this unprofessional and disrespectful to both the club and to the fans,it is simply not in their own interests in the long term. Or even the short or medium term. We saw some of our players performing superbly for their international sides during the break,showing all the attributes that made them the heroes of the Celtic Park stands. So we know that the skills and the desire are still there. But for the players in question to get the move that they want,to a club of the expected stature and commensurate wages,they need to be doing it week in week out at club level. They need to get those buying clubs interested in the first place,and they can only do that by their performances for Celtic.
If they aren’t interested in doing it for the fans or for the immortality of being part of a legendary Ten In A Row side,then surely it makes sense to at least do it to improve their own prospects? I don’t care what reason is needed for them to up their game and get back to the level we know they are capable of with their eyes shut. Celtic needs them to get back to their previous high standards-even if they are only doing it for what they can get out of it.
Starting at the weekend.
Above article by BMCUWP.