‘Do it once they call you lucky, doing it twice shuts them up’
Brian Clough said words to that effect regarding his second Big Cup with Forest.
Whether right or wrong, I can fully attach the sentiment to Sunday’s big semi final clash.
Two wins in two weeks over your biggest rival just can’t be dismissed as luck, it’s that simple.
Ange will, of course, know this.
He approached the Ibrox derby as a one off fixture and the exact same thing shall happen for the big game at Hampden Park. Fresh, motivated players on that wide pitch, urged on by a sense of occasion and thousands of boisterous Hoops versus a jaded eleven who must overcome nerves and an expectant support before even kicking a ball.
They are the classic wounded animal, so our team had best prepare to be attacked.
I’m of the opinion GVB’s job essentially rides on this cup tie, my reasoning being three rapid but successive defeats to Celtic would surely see him flung out the door. With fixture number one at home a defeat, and heavy odds of being outplayed again at Celtic Park soon, this tie is their managers lifeline.
A victory and he keeps the job, with something to show for his endeavors, a statement victory and/or silverware, revolt shall be staved off by the glimmer of hope, one important victory in battle while losing the war, and the STs shall shift.
A defeat and,,,
Three victories in a row over this opponent would offer confirmation, on many fronts.
It would tell us all, clearer than ever, we’ve backed the winning horse.
It would show all and sundry we are the country’s premier football power unequivocally full stop.
It would confirm Ange and this team have GVB and his team’s number.
If I know this, their manager will be certain of it, so I expect he and his charges to give it their absolute best effort come Sunday. There’s no point holding something back, it’s crunch time, and they did manage to penetrate our defense recently, no mean feat these days.
He, the ref, the fans, and the players, will throw absolutely everything but the kitchen sink at Sellic right from the whistle sounds.
Don’t rule out the kitchen sink actually.
I expect an intense affair, and to be honest more cards than the last one, counter attacks halted by whatever means necessary. It won’t be a game for shrinking violets, if a betting man I would fancy a red card or two.
I don’t envisage many goals, mainly due to both sides adopting a siege attitude, defending in numbers, always giving everything to be first to any stray or second balls that fall within the box.
We are aware they start fast, how could we not be, so we should look to keep it tight for the first ten then play our way into the game.
I don’t predict a game for the purist, but on one level I’m excited to see what exactly takes place out there on the field of play. Ibrox was a test of mentality and footballing ability, with a so-called period of being under the cosh greatly exaggerated.
Hampden could actually see our Hooped heroes genuinely under the cosh, having to weather a difficult storm. We don’t often get to witness this collectives defensive resolve, more used to witnessing action at the other end of the park.
We as a team need tested sometimes, to learn our weaknesses and limits, to study and improve flaws.
I do think this particular game shall test us, a tough one awaits.
Ange Postecoglou has his hardest opponent standing in the way and shall of course go for the victory.
A famous victory.
I’ll admit I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes come Sunday, the selection headache alone would have me phoning an ambulance, nevermind the near certainty one of our stars shall receive ‘a calling card’, that peculiar way of saying a red card that wasn’t given. Look out for that ‘tactic’ early in the game, easier to stay on the park as the ref is usually loath to spoil the spectacle.
I’d stick with G-Mak but alas injury strikes. Our mercurial Japanese striker is more than adequate and wants to play, plus he tends to rise to rise to the big occasion, so injury elsewhere might be a blessing in disguise. Maeda and Jota on the wings.
Middle of the park, Calmac, O’Reilly, Hatate.
Usual suspects at the back.
A couple weeks ago Tam playing in the hole made the difference, and a fool out of me. I wouldn’t try the same trick twice.
Our two man midfield did great, but a good manager would have swamped the area and taken control of the middle of the park.
We can’t leave only two there, not this time. That’s why I don’t think Tam shall start, it will be more of a key battleground area and any three named shall need to stand up strong plus get forward into the box supporting the attacking Trident.
Later on, bring on pace (Abada, Forrest) to stretch the game and keep their defenders busy in their own area and not attacking ours.
Ultimately, I hope we witness a much more respectable affair than last month’s derby, and not another repeat of the shame game. The fixture could do with some injected sanity, but a high stakes cup game is hardly the perfect occasion.
If the whistlers wish to hinder our sensational treble aspirations, they have their perfect opportunity, and the perfect antagonist team to play the role.
Trebles are great, Cups will come and go, but if every Tim gets home safe, I include the team and staff, that’s a victory. I pray for George Square in advance should we lose.