You Can’t Keep A Good Man Down
An away match in the quarters of a cup is never an easy prospect,but neither need it be a daunting one. Last night,a stuffy and stubborn Motherwell offered a stern resistance to a very strong side fielded by Ange.
This was no time for giving squad players a wee run out to shake off the rustiness,this was business. AP knew it,the players knew it,and so too did our opponents. They held their lines well as we threw everything at them-in our usual manner,nothing new there-and kept us in check by hook or by crook. Those words do them an injustice actually,implying some use of the dark arts that we,for instance,would never stoop to. Mainly because we wouldn’t get away with it. No,Motherwell defended stoutly and bravely,without resorting to such tactics.
It worked for them too,mainly because someone was still holding a grudge against Kyogo for running over his black cat. (See a comment from INIQUITOUS IV about this, during the match.) In truth,Kyogo will run over just about anything to get himself a goalscoring opportunity,and he had three very good ones in the first half hour alone,the type that come naturally to a finisher like him when he is “in the zone.”
Just recently,he hasn’t been. We are all aware of that,and no-one more than Kyogo himself. His first chance resulted in a stabbed effort just wide of the post (an in-form Kyogo would have hit it slightly less firmly so that it nestled the other side of the post.)
Another was an attempted dink in the opposite direction to the diving goalkeeper-who stuck a leg out! The third saw the ball come down with snow on it as once again,the keeper got in the bloody way.
Undeterred,the wee fella tried a different approach,this time from well outside the area. One touch to kill the ball,the other to fire a ferocious volley to the postage stamp. And it hit the sodding underside of the bar,bouncing down onto the line. Oh,how we felt his pain. How much did we all want at least one of those efforts to go in,give him the reward and pleasure that his skill and endeavour deserve? Not nearly as much as him,I suspect.
But still he kept looking for opportunities,making the runs,being in the right place. This is not a man who lets his head or his spirits drop. This is a man who will never hide.
And just when we were about to put the kettle on for a half time cuppa,up pops the opener.
A superbly worked one-two by Taylor and Haksabanovic saw the former deliver that firm square ball across the box,and Liel Abada was on it like a flash. Loitering on the edge of the area,he saw the possibilities and made himself first to it,and we all breathed that bit easier. A halftime stalemate gives the manager a chance to reinvigorate and energise his players. A late opener does that job for him.
The second half saw more of the same,as the flow of traffic was much in the direction of an overworked but still firm home defence.
Yes,Motherwell had opportunities to hit us on the break,but our defence were up for it. Even if they are going to need to learn that passing the ball out from the back is merely a preferred option rather than a mandatory undertaking.
Too often,we are seeing defenders move it about to each other as space is closed down. The idea is for the opposite to happen,for space to open up as a result. When it doesn’t happen,go long and save all the faffing about. If the ball comes back at you,at least you will have had time to reorganise a bit.
Anyway,about ten minutes into the second half,the tie was all but over. A Juranovic shot was parried out to the edge of the area,where the alert Abada first-timed it through a wall of players into the bottom corner,cool as you like. The more you watch this goal,the more you have to admire the technique involved,a truly excellent finish. And on the hour mark,he turned provider for probably the goal of the evening.
He took a walk along the byline,cutting it back where it looked to be an easy intercept at the near post for a Motherwell defender. Hatate had other intentions. He stuck in his foot and lower body to turn the player,did a little pirouette,a touch with his right foot and a finish with his left. Did I say something about technique earlier?
The fourth,fifteen minutes from the end,was perhaps the easiest of them all-certainly the finish was. And with the tie all over bar the shouting anyway,it was merely academic.
Except it wasn’t!
Maeda,recently on as a substitute and himself showing a return of form and confidence,slipped a fine pass through to Abada to complete his hat-trick. There isn’t a Celtic fan on the planet who didn’t want him to finish the job,a just reward for his tireless efforts on the night. Useless git hit the inside of the sodding post!!!
But remember what I said earlier about Kyogo making the runs,being in the right place,never hiding? Yes,he got his goal-and in truth it is unlikely that he will ever score a simpler or more straightforward one.
The Celtic fans hit the roof,the response from them as though he had scored our winner in a CL final! Joy was uncontained-it might not be the moment which brings the whole thing together for him again but I have a feeling that it will. It is a “monkey off his back”,and he will feel a whole lot happier tonight than he has for a few weeks.
Ange sent him out after the match on his own to celebrate with the fans behind the goal. He deserved it,and the fans loved it.
Ange is a lot of things as we know,but one of his qualities is an empathetic and compassionate form of man-management. That isn’t an art form,that is something which cannot be learned.
It is something that very few managers in any industry possess-very few people at all,in fact-but it is one of the most important strengths of them all. It makes people run through brick walls for you,when they themselves would rather be “on the sick” and hiding out of the way from the shame of letting such a man down.
I hope you know what I mean by that,because not only is it a very unusual quality,it is also bloody difficult to put into words.
But then,I don’t have to. The pictures of Kyogo in front of the fans spoke volumes.
Above article by BMCUWP