Despite what new Sevco boss Pedro says, Brendan Rodgers has the best squad in Scotland, and the gap of 25 points his Bhoys have over nearest rivals Aberdeen, with Pedro’s team a further 8 points behind, is proof of that.
Players like captain Scott Brown, Moussa Dembele, Stuart Armstrong, Kieran Tierney and Scott Sinclair, to name but a few, are all having fantastic seasons, meaning there is no other team in the land that can touch us.
And it’s entirely possible that the Hoops could go a full domestic season unbeaten, with only a handful of games left.
But it’s not just ability Celtic have in abundance. It’s discipline too.
From the start of the campaign, you could almost say from the minute John Beaton gave Hearts a phantom penalty at Tynecastle, the Bhoys have had to put up with more than their far share of nonsense.
Ridiculous refereeing decisions along with some brutal tackling, almost week in, week out, have tested the discipline of the players who to be fair have kept a lid n their emotions, particularly with so much at stake.
There’s no doubt Brendan Rodgers’ temperament has had a massive influence over how the Bhoys react. It’s very seldom, if ever, d you see Brendan lose his composure.
So, while ability counts, keeping the heid does too…
As one of the few Celtic players not away on international duty, Scott Sinclair was asked at yesterday’s press conference, if he still had any aspirations to represent England at full international level again.
Scott of course answered yes, and hinted that he didn’t see playing in Scotland for Celtic would be a hurdle, considering the Bhoys, with Scott in the team, have played at Champions League football anyway.
His opinion confirms the notion that playing your football in this country harms any chances of being picked for your country, as absolute nonsense.
As I listened to one of the radio phone-ins last night, one of the callers slated the standard of our game, without even considering how many players we have away representing their respective nations.
A case in point is the call up of centre-back Dedryck Boyata. The big fella hardly kicked a ball during the first half of this season but since the winter break has been an ever present. His form has resulted in a call-up to the Belgian squad by manager Roberto Martinez.
And that’s without playing any European football.
And today, Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane, close friend of France’s international manager Didier Deschamps has told our young French hit man Moussa Dembele, to bide his time, a full international cap will be his sooner than later.
While the knockers claim our game isn’t doing so well, if that was a fact, then Scott Sinclair would have a lot more company at Lennoxtown this week…
This slump of 36 domestic games unbeaten is really beginning to take it’s toll, not only on the players but on the fans too.
As the SMSM keep telling us, the Bhoys are looking tired and jaded, and to be fair they’ve not been firing on all cylinders recently, especially in the 1-1 loss at home to Sevco, the fans are reflecting what’s happening on the park.
We’re getting frustrated and a bit tired and jaded!
And just to put things into perspective, let’s look at the performances since the return from the winter break.
Teams aren’t going to let us play and will be ‘in our faces’ as much as possible. That’s something we have to live with, as long as they do it within the rules. But that’s NOT happening.
Sure we’re playing round or through our opponents and taking the points in nearly ever game, but our opponents are going that step further and using tactics that can only be described as brutal at time, with what appears to be the blessing of the officials.
That in turn leads to a break in play more often than not, hence the play isn’t as fluid and more passes are misplaced.
We, then in turn start to get anxious and this transfers onto the park. Indirectly, this only serves to help our opponents.
What’s needed, in my opinion, is to cut the Bhoys some slack. We’re in a history making run of unbeaten games, we’re in the hunt for a domestic treble in Brendan’s first season, and off the park, the club are in a league of our own.
Let’s just keep the faith…
It’s six weeks since Celtic were awarded a ‘phantom’ penalty at McDairmid Park in our 5-2 win when the ball was judged to have hit the hand of a Saints defender.
Referee Craig Thomson saw something no one else in the ground saw and pointed to the spot. The score at the time was 2-1 to the home side, but parity was restored when Moussa Dembele planted the ball behind Clark in the St Johnstone goal.
To be fair, very few Celtic players claimed for the penalty. It did however put the Bhoys back on even terms and give us a platform to go on to a convincing win.
The penalty award incensed the Saints manager Tommy Wright. He went ballistic during and after the game, so much so the day after referee Thomson called the Perth side manager to apologise.
At this point I’d like to point out the same Tommy Wright wasn’t so vocal when Celtic were denied a penalty in the same fixture earlier this season* after Leigh Griffiths was felled by Richard Foster in the box, resulting in a booking for the Hoops striker.
Again the press had a field day, somehow blaming Celtic for Thomson’s mistake, yet they conveniently forgot the whistler’s gaff in the semi-final of the League Cup when he wrongly chopped off Erik Sviatchenko’s header.
Craig Thomson didn’t have the courtesy of phoning Brendan Rodgers the day after that. Nor did Kevin Clancy after he allowed Ian Vigurs of ICT to almost maim Scott Sinclair in the Scottish Cup tie at Celtic Park.
In fact, the referees in the following games Don Robertson against Motherwell and Crawford Allan against Hamilton both had shockers but didn’t bother apologising to our manager.
In the last two weeks, Bobby Madden and Willie Collum’s names should be added to the list of incompetent officials who allow Celtic opponents a free rein to kick, pull and wrestle our players whenever they see fit.
There’s no doubt the managers of our opponents are instructing their players to use as heavy handed tactics as they see fit, without fear of reprisal. It seems to be the only way they think they can stop us on our unbeaten domestic run.
Without success I must add.
What is concerning is the acceptance by the SMSM, the officials and our opposing managers that kicking ten shades of shit out of our players is the only way to stop us. I really fear for our players well being.
*the same game Craig Thomson kicked off early as a protest to BT SPort after Chris Sutton had criticised his performance in the Dundee v Sevco game the week before, calling him a ‘bottler’ when he failed to send off Forrester after two atrocious tackles.
That ludicrous statement was part of an article by Gordon Parks in yesterday’s Sunday Mail, an article that could quite easily have had the headline ‘it’s no fair!’!
Parks starts off his piece with a derogatory jibe at Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers by alluding to his lack of trophy success, although he doesn’t mention his one out of one, and soon to be two out of two radio in Scotland.
This hack obviously has a bug to bear, which becomes more evident as the article moves on.
His assumption that Brendan, who’s been in the game and managed at a higher level longer than anyone else in this country, should stop asking the players who have played most in our 36 games unbeaten domestic run, and start playing kids like Jack Aitchison.
In other words, drop Broonie, Sinky and Moussa to play the youngsters.
Well, according to Parks, this unbeaten run is becoming an obsession of Brendan’s and it’s just not fair that Celtic keep winning all these games. In an effort to cover his tracks he reckons the gaffer should bedding these young players for the Champions League qualifiers!
As if Brendan is going to go into the qualifiers with a bunch of kids!
In the interest of balance, Parks could have suggested Sevco new manager Pedro, do the same, as he is only trying to gain second place in the league and surely by bedding HIS youngsters in would set them up for the new season?
Of course he didn’t his sole intention was an attack on our club and manager.
I hope he’s man enough to ask Brendan the same questions when he next attends a presser at Celtic Park…
The next time Callum McGregor pulls on the Hoops, it will mark his 100th appearance for the Bhoys, a feat most would have considered unlikely just a few seasons ago.
As a teenager, the Celtic manager at the time Neil Lennon, decided young Callum needed games and sent the Bhoy out on loan to Notts County. McGregor took the bull by the horns and proved a real success with the League One side, scoring twelve goals in only thirty-seven appearances.
When Callum returned to Celtic Park, it was to play under a new manager, Ronny Deila.
Ronny saw enough in Callum to give him his first team debut in a Champions League qualifier against Icelandic side KR Reykjavik, where he scored Celtic’s only goal.
Young McGregor did really well that season for the Hoops, particularly in Europe where he scored against Legia and Maribor, both away from home. Something more established players have failed to do over the years.
However, Callum suffered a freak training ground accident and he missed the last few weeks of that season.
With a change once again at the top, Callum found he had to start all over again and impress new gaffer Brendan Rodgers, something he seems to have achieved considering the amount of game time he gets.
Often a target for the boo Bhoys, Callum has stuck to his task well, and now in his FOURTEENTH year at the club, having joined as a nine year old, will become a member of the 100 club sooner than later.
Well done son, you’ve shown great resolve and deserve your accolade.