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A Beautiful Bore Draw In Baku

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Tonight we took a big step closer to the Champions League Groups.

You know what? It wasn’t pretty.

But last week was nail-biting and tense.

This week wasn’t even remotely like that.

I’ve spent the last couple of days worrying about this match, but tonight I feel as cool as a glass of iced water, and I was that way for most of the game.

We didn’t look in any trouble.

We didn’t look like we would concede even a single goal.

More importantly, it was clearly a disciplined performance.

We had one or two more gears in us, and we didn’t even have to bother going through them to get the result.

I thought Boyata looked shaky at the start but matured into a fantastic performance.

I thought our midfield gave the ball away more often than I would have liked, but Scott Brown, in particular, was willing to chase after it and win it back.

No real complaints there.

The problem, and I am not looking to quibble on a night when I’m actually very chuffed, was up front.

Mackay Steven hasn’t started this campaign in the fashion we’d hoped and Stuart Armstrong’s clear and potent talent is wasted in a wide position he’s never played in before and looks ill suited too.

Nadir continues to languish, partly due to bad delivery and partly because the one man lone posting isn’t his natural game.

Craig Gordon had one save to make, and let’s be clear; he did it splendidly, to the standard we now expect from him.

I heard on the radio, after the match, that Hull City lost part of their relegated central defence, James Chester, last week for £8 million.

That made me snigger a little; it’s reputedly a million less than we were allegedly offered last week for Virgil Van Dijk.

That offer insults us, and it insults Scottish football.

Tonight he looked unflappable.

If he stays at Celtic Park for one more year the chances are now good that he’ll get a chance to impress on the biggest stage of all.

That will seal him a bigger move than he ever dreamed and it will net us a transfer fee vastly in excess of that offensive one.

I understand the lure of the EPL for a guy like Virgil.

He wants to play in his national team and the chatter from his national coach (who ought to shut up, by the way, and stay out of club matters like this) is that he has a better chance of it playing in England.

Fair enough.

But to go to Southampton or somewhere like that … I think this kid would be himself short when one more year, and exposure to the biggest clubs in Europe, will get him the move his talent deserves.

We are now two matches away from reaching that Promised Land.

Will we go through the next round?

Who knows?

I care very much, but the horrible feeling I’ll have if we’re knocked out will be tempered – slightly – by the guarantee that we’ll have Europa League Groups to look forward to come what may.

It’s a substitute – like cheap takeaway food as opposed to fine dining – but a chicken kebab can taste mighty fine on the right kind of night, and the contrast between our own coming adventures and those of a certain other Glasgow club could not be more great.

The excitement generated by the Petrofac Cup (stop laughing!) just ain’t on a par with the buzz (and the financial rewards) of European football.

The global exposure you get from one … well you only get exposure from one of those scenarios, don’t you?

So yes, chicken kebabs hit the spot when you’re starving, and just out the pub.

But you’d be prefer top sirloin any day and I still very much hope for that.

Time will tell.

But frankly, Friday can’t come quick enough.

Come on you Bhoys in Green!

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5 comments

  • Don Paton says:

    Am I alone in thinking that Nir Bitton was far and away the man of the match?

  • Ernest Zambucco says:

    If I was a Celtic fan I can see why you want to keep VVD, I’d also be insulted by Soutampton’s offer. But according to your Manager Ron Delia, there hasn’t been an official bid, it’s just the press as always.
    As a Southampton fan, I’d love to sign him, even if we offered your estimate of £10m. I know he’s worth much more to you, but in the current market, he’s not a full international, he’s not English, he plays in Scotland all go against his value.

    As for playing for a ‘bigger’ club of course you want him to go there, it eases the loss knowing he’s gone to a worthy club. You are correct he is good enough to play for any one of them. I should know with the players we’ve lost these last two seasons. However Southampton are now known as a club who can bring players into the Premier league, see them improve and attract a massive audience. We are the team all the big clubs look at to raid. So he plays for us, he gets into Europe with us, he also makes the Dutch national squad, his price doubles, he is tracked by big Champions league clubs he leaves, we make profit, you make more profit too.

    We’ve done some good business with you Victor Wanyama is already my player of the season. Now he’s got the midfield to himself the old confidence is coming back, he’s like Vierra and Toure rolled in to one, he’s a beast!

    Good luck you Bhoys in Green and COYR #wemarchon

    • James Forrest says:

      Ernest, good to hear from you mate.

      I do, of course, mean no offense to your club … in fact, I think you guys are the best run club in that loony league.

      We miss big Vic. He is maturing into one Hell of a player.

  • eddie says:

    the ref was pretty poor i would say atrocious

  • Nelson says:

    Couldn’t agree more with what you said bar one point,I thought Armstrong was terrific tonight. Ciftci and GMS struggled,the jump from UTD to Celtic will take a bit longer for those two. Job done,roll on Friday. Hail Hail. ????

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