Excuses in early
The week started very well with the Tims rubbing hands, two sixes in a row, playing slick, and having the momentum despite the derby being away in front of zero Tims.
Oh, and a new Croatian International right back brought in who just like Furuhashi is actually up to gamespeed, available right here right now, and can find the net.
Plus the versatile Scales, and then the small matter of progressing into the Europa League group stages which halves the financial rewards across the city.
Yep, it was certainly the Tims who were looking forward to this fixture the most, for this one game could jettison us out of orbit.
And then came the mind games. Please do not think I’m being flippant of a deadly virus, but ever since it emerged one teams Covid testing gets done independently overseas in a city with some historic allegiance towards that team, eyebrows were raised. Especially when the cases are significantly lower than normal for that sector.
After news the virus has hit that camp just as an energy sapping pan continental trip was about to take place, Covid has now become a footballing smokescreen in my humble opinion. The timing is extremely convenient.
I’ve previously indicated I felt this week could be decisive in the title race, and I will stand by that. There’s a huge amount at stake in this first derby game for should we record a resounding victory a march to the title looks a certainty.
And a resounding victory was very much on the cards. We all know that.
Now there’s an excuse on the table for their manager who may be looking to move down south, therefore won’t want his managerial reputation trashed at this time.
A defeat here with ‘a Covid decimated squad’ offers him an out.
I once heard a football manager state of you offer players an excuse and they will take it.
Whether we were understrength or poor ref, offside or disallowed goal, there’s very few times the collective take the blame, and that collective now have their out.
A confident team and manager need no excuses, and never look for them. They simply go about their business, and express a confident aura.
This is the opposite, sewing confusion.
It’s self serving and smacks of fear, and a far cry from this time last year when that dugout correctly believed they had our then managers number.
Where’s that confidence? With another season of working on their shape and fine tuning their Champions, where’s the bravado?
They win and all of a sudden ‘look what we did with a Covid hit squad, we are still fantastic and Champions elect’ and a draw or loss shall be met with Covid being prominently mentioned post match.
They are preemptively trying to take the gloss off any Celtic result and it’s that simple. The rags will roll with the virus angle also, job done.
I’ve no doubt Ange and the Bhoys have cottoned onto their charade, and could use it as a motivating tool if it’s felt necessary, but I doubt it is. Nearly every Tim will ignore the steady stream of deflection, and begin looking forward to a famous march towards the title. It’s my belief should the above look likely their manager will jump ship, giving that entire club and support a huge excuse for being unable to halt Ange’s juggernaut.
A juggernaut I predict shall walk away with three points on Sunday by hook or by crook. I don’t think for one second they or the whistler shall allow us to actually play football, but rather shall attempt to turn the game into a battle, set up defensively giving away very little shape and using the referee to their advantage.
While some players like Tam, Ryan, maybe Liel may not be best suited for battle, we’ve quite a few that won’t shirk and will stand their ground if needed.
Happily the back five fall into that category, and we do have steely midfielders to draft in for that type of occasion.
It’s a huge conundrum for our Greek Australian, who loves to stick with his style of play but having just witnessed his preferred trio be completely dominated, he must have some doubts if this game suits them.
On the one hand, win with his style of play and preferred eleven he’s halfway to Godlike status,,on the other he risks some accusations of naivety should those three get overrun twice in two games.
It’s Ange’s call and it’s why he gets the big bucks, and I certainly don’t envy him on this one.
It’s tough, but I would start either Soro or McCarthy, whoever is showing up best in training I suppose.
Anthony Ralston has fresh competition for that berth yes, but he will realize a goal at Ibrox cements his cult hero status and probably keeps him the jersey, therefore I’m expecting our Bhoy to storm forward with intent (on causing heart attacks) a lot, for better or worse.
Leaving Nir Bitton at home would be the first tactical masterstroke of the day.
Let’s hope it’s not the only one.
Enjoy the game and your weekend.
Come On You Bhoys In Green !!!