Calm before the storm
I enjoy breaking the season down into mini blocks of games, though whether that’s still taking place in dressing rooms I admit I’ve no idea.
The next block of games differs slightly from the past block in that we do not break up when the games are over, like we are doing currently to allow Internationals to represent their nation.
Instead this block ends with a week off to prepare for the Cup final.
Very nice indeed, ending with a flourish hopefully.
The games themselves come very methodically, weekend then midweek for a month solid starting this weekend.
Every three or four days we have the pleasure of seeing the Champions take to the field of play fortunately.
We have four domestic games, three European ties, and the afore mentioned final to handle, with a weather forecast that shows a single day without rain for the rest of the month.
Such a run of fixtures may be considered typical for a big club, but when one looks beyond the final we face the packed Christmas season schedule including a potentially defining clash against our title rivals.
With conditions bound to worsen around then, and little to no time on the training ground available in the thick of winter, this next month becomes even more important in terms of Neils stewardship.
It’s starting this weekend the seeds of a successful season must be planted, if they are to be planted at all. With a third of the season gone there’s no time for experiments left, we are entering now or never territory for this team.
With an exit from Europe likely, fans should judge those games more on attitude and team shape than result. It’s a small bonus but Neil will take all the luck he can get.
So the impetus is on the coaching staff to hone the shape this month, fine-tune our formation, something that is made much easier by a settled eleven.
It’s now our starters must emerge and stay there. We simply can’t have a season of chopping and changing, and we need to hit form asap, so a settled eleven and formation must not only emerge, but successfully gel. And we have the perfect sequence of games to allow that.
The four domestic games coming up should be won, the continental games there to be learnt from, the final there to boost morale around the entire club.
These eight games are an opportunity for Neil and his team., one that must be taken.
By the time we rock up to Hampden looking to break Hearts, we should be a unit that knows its collective and individual job. If that unit goes onto collect silverware giving an endorsement of a system that’s working, then we as a team and support can approach the holiday period with a degree of confidence, something that will be needed to best those across the city.
This little block of eight games also offers brief respite for the gaffer, for some didn’t think he would make it this far. With the cup final on the horizon then a top of the table New Year’s clash, change now is unlikely. That little bit of weight is off his shoulders, he should enjoy it while he can.
He can thank his lucky stars for the opportunity to preside over a fourth successive treble. Celtic fans love success, seeing it as a vindication of their prudent business ways, not to mention the natural way of things being the larger of the two giants.
Steering the team to glory, giving the support their Christmas cheer, maintaining the success, will not hurt Neils cause one bit, and he will well know this.
This next little run of games can be considered the calm before the storm.
Preparing now before it hits will make all the difference when we do find ourselves in it.
Failing to prepare before its upon us will be our downfall.
Exactly what kind of Captain we have, we are about to find out.