Celtic today wrapped up their pre-season preparations with a very credible 2-0 victory over Rennes at a nearly deserted Parkhead.
Goals from Griffiths and Gary Mackay Steven, both in the first half, took care of the visitors today, and allowed Ronny Deila to try out some of the fringe players before Wednesday’s far more important business, the Champions League second qualifier first leg.
So how do we look, overall, coming out of that pre-season?
I have to say, we seem pretty decent.
This was not a typical Celtic pre-season, in that we were all over the place and looking like a team in need of a right good kick up the backside.
The Prague game notwithstanding – where we simply looked a yard slow – we’ve seemed composed, capable and up for the battle.
Don’t forget that we’ve played good games here, good quality opponents, and we’ve looked pretty composed in the matches.
We’ve also eased through our first Champions League round.
There are just a couple of little hairs in the soup.
First is that Ciftci hasn’t scored yet, and with the new Son of Sevco scoring his first two goals today against a shambolic Hibs defence that evidently believed they were still engaged in pre-season faffing about, it’s a matter of time before the media starts piling the pressure on him.
They’ll have to wait a while, of course, as he serves his six match domestic ban.
This boy has something.
He’s clearly not been brought in to sit on the bench.
He links up well with other players, and that convinces me that the manager will, sooner or later, see the utility of putting him upfront along with Griffiths, who’s buzzing like I’ve never seen and looks like he could score in every single game.
I’m sure that anyone who was harbouring the slightest doubts about Leigh is over them already, but even I (and I’ve been a huge fan for years) will admit that I’m surprised just how sharp and focussed he seems at the moment.
Ronny is getting more out of him than any manager ever has, and Celtic will be reaping the benefits for years to come.
I’ve said this before; now one more time for the record.
Leigh Griffiths will be the next Celtic player to hit the 100 goals mark.
There are some areas of our team that need work.
We do still need a left back, and the manager needs to work out what most of us already have – that you have to pair Ciftci and Griffiths together and see how that turns out – and there’s the endless worry over whether big Virgil Van Dijk will be sold … but all in all I think most of us are pleased.
The season ahead promises to be an exciting one.
We’re heading to Azerbaijan in a couple of weeks, and although that was the trip our players would not have wanted they are, nevertheless, flying there first class and shouldn’t be looking for excuses for not going through.
Ticketing policy has some fans upset, with this year’s Champions League briefs increasing in price by 25%, which seems a little steep especially when you consider the rows of empty seats that are guaranteed by setting these prices wrong.
We all want to see Celtic Park filled to the rafters for these games.
It helps the players to remember what it’s all about and it unnerves the opposition like nothing else.
Those are small gripes in the Grand Scheme of Things.
We’re about to embark on another adventure aboard the Good Ship Celtic.
This time, nothing short of the treble will do.