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Winning Ugly Is Still Winning…

Winning Ugly Is Still Winning…

With one eye on the Champions League, Brendan Rodgers made several changes to his Celtic team to take on Dundee at Celtic Park this afternoon.

In came goalkeeper Dorus De Vries, defender Cristian Gamboa and midfielder Koussi Eboue to compliment regulars captain Kieran Tierney, Scott Sinclair, Leigh Griffiths et al.

Having recently thumped Dundee at Dens only a few weeks ago, the Faithful were expecting the Bhoys to win this league match comfortably. That wasn’t to be the case.

Dundee in all fairness didn’t come to Glasgow to park the bus or kick us up and down the Gallowgate, which is unusual, although with the assistance of referee Dallas Jr, they did get away with being a bit more than physical, particularly on Paddy Roberts.

Like his father, Dallas has difficulty applying the rules evenly, choosing a different set for Dundee to Celtic. Some of his decisions were blatant in their bias. More performances like that and I’m sure he’ll be rewarded with a Celtic game where he can make a REAL difference…

As for the rest of the game, Celtic did miss a number of chances, and Scott Bain was in good form. Dundee on the other hand did play well and would have gone up the road with a share of the points but for Dorus de Vries.

The Celtic number two pulled off a couple of great saves to keep the Bhoys in front and continue the amazing 59 unbeaten run. His performance today will go some way erase the nightmare of the Nou Camp and help endear himself to the Faithful.

Ultimately, you can’t play well and win easy in every game. Winning ugly gets the same three points as winning well, and that’s what counts…

Time To Get Back To Winning Ways At Paradise…

Time To Get Back To Winning Ways At Paradise…

Celtic go into tomorrow’s Premiership game on the back of an amazing 58 domestic game unbeaten run. The consistency of Brendan Rodgers’ team over the last 15 months has been nothing short of remarkable. Record breaking in fact!

And when you consider the amount of European games we’ve played, coupled with players away on international duty, there’s not enough words to express how wonderfully the Bhoys have performed.

This season though, we’ve had a wee bit of a blip at Celtic Park.

We all know teams come to sit in, with the exception of Neil Lennon’s Hibs a fortnight ago, so sometimes it can be difficult breaking our opponents down.

Teams depend on riding their luck and the possibility of Celtic not firing on all cylinders, both having contributed to St Johnstone and Hibs taking points away from Paradise. (Although Willie Collum did have a hand in the Edinburgh side’s good fortune.)

However, having hammered Dundee, despite what their turncoat manager said, a couple of weeks ago in the BetFred Cup, I would hope to see the Bhoys get back to winning ways at Celtic Park tomorrow afternoon.

With captain Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong still missing, I’d expect to see the on form Callum McGregor get a starting birth in the middle of the park. Who partners him is anyone’s guess, but I doubt we’ll see Tom Rogic there after his week of traveling.

So it’s three points a must, and then on to the magical sixty…

The Long And The Short of International Success..

The Long And The Short of International Success..

There’s been much debate about ‘genetics’ since Scotland manager Gordon Strachan mentioned them in his post match press conference following the 2-2 draw with Slovenia in Ljubljana.

The draw meant Scotland had gone on an undefeated run of six games but also resulted in the country failing to secure a play-off place for the 2018 World Cup Finals in Russia.

Whether WGS deliberately mentioned we’re ‘too small genetically’ to take away from the fact Scotland failed to qualify or not, he succeeded. He’s now the focus, mostly of ridicule, with his statement. But f you think back, Sunday was NOT the first time he commented on the size of players we produce.

I remember him using the same analogy when Shaun Maloney was playing, in fact I’m sure it was after the European qualifiers against the Republic of Ireland. So, it’s obvious, rightly or wrongly, he believes he’s right.

Like Gordon himself, there are many contradictions to the validity of the genetic argument, namely the fact most of the best players in the world are on the small side, Messi, Iniesta, Xavi aren’t exactly giants, but to be fair, with their ability, size isn’t too much of an issue.

Scotland simply don’t have players with that ability, or even near that ability.

I do get the physicality argument, bigger, stronger players tend to be more athletic, but to blame it on genetics is a bit of a no-no, in my opinion.There are way too many connotations as to how you win a football match.

If Scotland’s ‘taller’ players, Charlie Mulgrew, Christoph Berra and Darren Fletcher had dealt with the two set pieces better, then wee Leigh Griffiths goal might have been enough..

The Catch 22 of An International Break…

The Catch 22 of An International Break…

There’s always a dilemma when the internationals come around. Yes it’s nice to see players get a call up to their respective countries national set up, in recognition of their club form, but for us fans, and no doubt our manager, it’s a worrying time.

As much as we’d like to see the Bhoys do well and hopefully win the games they take part in, pf course it’s great for their confidence, the most important thing as far as Celtic are concerned is players returning to Glasgow without any injuries.

We’ve seen in the past, players coming back from international duty with a niggle here and a niggle there, and the next thing you know we’ve lost key members of the team for weeks on end.

In this particular break we’ve seen what only turned out to be scare with Sweden’s Mikael Lustig, he appears to be fit enough for tonight’s match against Luxembourg, and the withdrawal from Bosnia’s squad of Jozo Simunovic, although the latter appears to be injured beforehand.

With five Celts, Craig Gordon, Leigh Griffiths, Kieran Tierney, James Forrest and Callum McGregor on duty for Scotland, Tom Rogic away with Australia, Dedryck Boyata, Belguim, Jonny Hayes, Republic of Ireland, Cristian Gamboa, Costa Rica, Nir Bitton Israel and seven Bhoys, including Moussa and Olivier with France, away on under 21duty, we’re all in for a squeaky bum time until the games are over and the lads get back to Lennoxtown.

We’ve a lot of important games coming up…

*hopefully Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong will make a full recovery following their rest period.

Sticking By The Bhoys….

Sticking By The Bhoys….

Brendan decided to change the team around on Saturday leaving out Jozo Simunovic, and putting Scott Sinclair, Paddy Roberts and Leigh Griffiths on the bench. All three eventually came on.

The loss of two main players in the middle of the park, Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong, meant a wee shuffle in there too. This game the gaffer the opportunity of starting Eduard upfront with Moussa just in behind him.

Both players need time on the park, and although Moussa still looks a bit rusty from the form he showed last season, he did enough to assist man of the moment Callum McGregor for the first goal. Eduard on the other hand missed a good chance to make it two for the Hoops, but again needs the minutes on the park.

The Bhoys need our support, it’s difficult coming into a winning team and trying to impress, sometimes players try too hard and things look worse for them. Fellow countryman Olivier Ntcham seems to be a good example these past couple of games.

Although he had a poor opening 30 minutes in Brussels, he did chip in with a fantastic pass for Kieran to set up Leigh for the first goal and won the ball in the middle of the park for Scott Sinclair to score our third. It would have been easy for the manager to take him off but chose to stick by him, and it paid dividends,

At the weekend he was caught napping a few times, maybe not having his captain beside him didn’t help. Who knows? But the Bhoy despite his price tag, is still only 21 years-old. He’s still settling in. Let’s show the same faith in him that both Brendan and Zidane have.

I’m sure they know a bit more about the player than we do…

Can Brendan Expect A Phone Call From The Consistently Inconsistent Willie Collum?

Can Brendan Expect A Phone Call From The Consistently Inconsistent Willie Collum?

You may recall the hullabaloo last season when Celtic were wrongly awarded a penalty at McDairmid Park in the 5-2 win against St Johnstone.

Saints manager Tommy Wright was inconsolable on TV after the game, even though the Hoops won be three clear goals, and with the support of the SMSM demanded an explanation from referee Craig Thomson.

He bizarrely got his explanation on the Monday, in a phone call from the whistler. Although the content of the call was never disclosed, Wright got what he wanted. The ref to apologise and take the shine off Celtic scoring five goals on his patch. (Including the goal of the season)

The same Tommy Wright never said a word when the Bhoys were denied a clear penalty in the previous encounter there, the day Brendan Rodgers’ men won 4-2 and Leigh Griffiths wrongly received a yellow card for diving!

Which leads me on nicely to yesterday’s refereeing performance.

Now before I go any further I didn’t think the Bhoys played particularly well, maybe the changes and the midweek European exertions took a bit of a toll on the players? But credit must go to Lenny and his Hibs team, they did play well, enjoyed the big pitch and were worthy of their point.

Back to the consistently inconsistent Willie Collum. Scotland’s top whistler is a joke figure, not quite in the Pedro mold but not far off. He sees things others don’t and doesn’t see things everyone else does!

His booking of James Forrest for diving, when he was clipped, then failing to book him for diving minutes later, is just one example of another woeful performance from Collum.

However, the one that really irks me is the decision to allow Scott Sinclair to play on after being tugged back by Efe in the closing minutes for a stonewall penalty, then not giving the spot kick when there was no advantage.

That in itself is bad enough, but midway through the second half he DID the exact opposite when a Hibs player was fouled, played advantage, the player lost the ball and Collum pulled the ball back to award the visitors a free-kick!

It’s that inconsistency that makes players, managers and fans mad!

Brendan did state after the game it was a clear penalty but didn’t break down and make too much of a fuss. And the SMSM just brushed it off, as the penalty would have been FOR Celtic, so I doubt if he’ll be getting a phone call from Willie Collum apologising for robbing us of two points…

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