Last time I checked Celtic had played domestic opposition 53 times, in all competitions without suffering defeat. Just nine games short of equaling a record 62 games created by Willie Maley’s team from 1915-1917.
It’s an incredible feat, when you consider how the game has changed, and how many games are played after the team has travelled away in Europe, this week is a good example of that, Brendan Rodgers Bhoys returning from a near 4,000 mile journey to Kazakhstan.
And the last time I checked, the players were human. Like me and you. Which means, like me and you, they make mistakes.
Yesterday, maybe just to prove the point, young full back Anthony Ralston and goalkeeper Craig Gordon conspired to make a hash of a defensive clearance, resulting in St Johnstone taking a one goal lead at Celtic Park.
The goal came in a first half that was, by Celtic standards, very lacklustre to say the least.
After falling behind, the Bhoys stepped up a gear and finished the half more like themselves, with Scott Sinclair more involved in our attempts t draw level.
Going in a goal down at half-time is something unusual for this team. And for some fans, who thought booing the Hoops off was a good idea. Though I don’t know how,
The gaffer made two changes at the interval, taking off James Forrest and midweek man of the match Olivier Ntcham, replacing them with Jonny Hayes and Stuart Armstrong.
Immediately, the team driven on by a revitalised Broonie and Armstrong, upped the tempo and spend the whole second half peppering the Alan Mannus’ goal with shots. For a long a long time it looked like being one of those days, when the ball just wouldn’t go in.
However, it was Brendan’s third substitute, Callum McGregor, who made the breakthrough, rifling a right foot shot into the corner of the Saints net with only 11 minutes to go. the goal came in a hectic period that saw the Champions hit the bar twice and goalkeeper Mannus make several good saves.
Our run will end at some point. It may be through a mistake, or through an incredible referring decision, like Willie Collum’s yesterday, when he only booked goalscorer Steven McLean for raising his hand to Kieran Tierney.
Reducing Saints to ten men at that point could have resulted in a very different outcome. I look forward to hearing loudmouth manager Tommy Wright tell us how Celtic get all the decisions like he did last season at Perth….
A 1-1 draw wasn’t the worst result, but to many in our support, it was really too much to take. How dare Celtic drop points? Its pretty obvious they weren’t around in the really bad old days when, we actually LOST a game!
The draw for the group stages of the Champions League put Celtic in Group B with European giants Bayern Munich, PSG and Belgian league winners Anderlecht.
We’ve met all three clubs before in European competition with PSG being the only club of the three to beat us home and away. That was in 1995 in the now defunct Cup Winners Cup, with the French side going all the way to win the trophy, ironically in Brussels, Anderlecht’s home city!
As much as we look forward to these massive occasions of welcoming the best teams and the best players in Europe to Celtic Park, there will always be an issue regarding the pricing of the tickets for the games.
Ticket pricing in general is a contentious issue at any time.
Celtic announced the prices for the three games as:
– Adults – £114
– Concessions – £90
– Under-13s – £81
These prices are for season ticket holders only. Should there be a public sale, I’m sure they’ll be much higher.
Now some may say watching the best players etc for £38 represents good value for an adult, but £27 for a child is outrageous. Others opinions will fall somewhere in between.
From what I read yesterday on social media, it’s all about an individuals circumstances. No fan has any right to tell any other what’s best for them. I saw some high and mighty selfish bast*rds telling other fans if they can’t afford the tickets, tough.
Maybe it’s a generation thing but to me, that’s not how to treat your fellow supporter. We should be looking to help each other, not create a ‘I’m alright Jack’ mantra.
While some of us might be able to afford a season ticket others can’t. Doesn’t mean those who can’t love the club any less. Unfortunately, we live in a society where Foodbanks are all too common. That’s the reality of things.
I hope everyone who want to take in the games, have the opportunity to do so. Regardless of affordability. That’s what supporting Celtic is all about.
If results in other matches had gone our way, Celtic would have been in Pot 3 for today’s Champions League draw.
As it turned out, they didn’t and we’re in Pot 4.
What difference that makes over the course of the competition, no one knows, but as we are in the bottom Pot, then we’re less likely to be expected to progress.
Now, I know a lot will depend on who we draw, a more favourable group will increase the level of expectation, however, we’re where we are for a reason.
If Brendan manages to have the Hoops playing European football after the New Year, be it last 16, or the Europa League, then the campaign will have been an overwhelming success.
When you consider we started this season’s campaign in early July and have already played six qualifying matches, getting to this stage itself is a success.
Three more sell out Champions League nights at Paradise, the best clubs and players in Europe visiting our stadium and city and of course, the pot of gold, and estimated £30-35M after add-ons, will solidify Celtic’s place as the dominant force in Scottish Football.
And it’s all above board...no cheating.
At 5pm this late afternoon, we’ll all be glued to our screens, be it TV, laptop, tablet or mobile, watching the draw live from Nyon, waiting too see who we meet in this years group stages.
Meanwhile, the Sevconians will be tuned in to the aptly named Pointless. A bit like their club…
We’re having a party in the Champions League…
Apart from a mad 11 minute spell in Kazakhstan yesterday afternoon, Celtic’s season has more or less gone according to plan.
We’re unbeaten in domestic competition, winning three league matches out of three, took care of Kilmarnock with a young second string in the BetFred Cup a fortnight ago and more importantly, progressed through SIX qualifying matches in the Champions League.
To date, we’ve scored 27 goals and conceded 5 in the ten competitive games we’ve played, all without our recognised defensive pairing of Jozo Simunovic and Dedryck Boyata, the latter has been injured before a ball was kicked in earnest.
Throw into the mix the games where Brendan has had to field a team without a recognised striker too, as both Leigh Griffiths and Moussa Dembele have had spells on the treatment table, then I’d say we’ve done exceptionally well to be in Thursday’s Champions League Group draw.
We’ve also scored an incredible 15 goals in Europe, only conceding 4 in that crazy spell in Central Asia yesterday. All in all, Celtic and the support can look forward to European football at least until Christmas, and with a kitty of £30M plus to sweeten the deal, maybe a couple of new faces.
If any of the new recruits fare as well as Olivier Ntcham, then we’re all in for a treat. What a find he’s been already…
Celtic for long enough had a European record that was a hacks dream. Despite our many successes at Celtic Park, we always seemed to fall short on our travels, much to the delight of the SMSM.
It gave them a stick to beat us with, and boy did they use it.
However, since our thrashing at the hands of Barcelona last season, a 7-0 defeat that more established sides have suffered, Brendan Rodgers has put a belief into the side that gives us all the confidence in the world when we play away on European soil.
A credible 1-1 draw at the Borussia-Park against Borussia Monchengladbach followed, a game we could have won, then in our last trip in the group of death, we secured another 1-1 draw against money bags Manchester City, with loanee Patrick Roberts scoring the Celtic goal.
Since then, we’ve travelled to Belfast and Trondheim in this years qualifiers and have yet to concede, even though our defence on both occasions wasn’t at full strength.
As we head into today’s Champions League play-off second leg against Astana, we’ve never been better placed to face an away tie. Not only are we five goals to the good, but we’re playing with a confidence rarely seen by a Celtic team on their travels.
Personally, I don’t fear us going away in Europe anymore, sure we will lose some games, but the trepidation that was the norm is no longer there. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Celtic win in Kazakhstan this afternoon…