This was a good weekend for Celtic fans, as Ronny’s Bhoys increased the gap at the top of the table to a cool six points with a healthy win over Aberdeen.
I asked some hard questions here about Ronny Deila and this team, especially in the aftermath of their game against Molde away from home.
The Dundee Utd result was welcome, but it didn’t answer those questions the way the last two pressure games – against Hearts and Aberdeen – have.
The final match in a difficult series, the home tie against the Norwegians, looms on Thursday but the report card thus far is better than a lot of folk expected.
In the course of the last seven days we’ve beaten the two teams closest to us in the league, one in the cup and one in the title race.
We’re in the League Cup semi-finals and sitting top of the SPL with six points to spare, having turned around a five point deficit in less than six weeks.
By anyone’s standards, that’s impressive going but it’s particularly good when one considers that the media has been trying to ferment crisis at Celtic Park.
A lot of this owes much to one particular player, Leigh Griffiths, who’s having the season of his life so far with no signs of slowing down.
Some of the hacks, in an effort to exert pressure where it’s presently not, are asking if he really qualifies as a “Celtic legend”, which is quite blatantly a ludicrous question since no-one’s suggested he is.
But as regular readers will know, I’ve long rated Leigh and I’ve predicted that he will be the next Celtic player to net 100 goals.
I’m comfortable with that one; I reckon it’s a stonewall certainty.
He may not have achieved “legend” status, and might be years away from doing so, but that’s within Leigh’s grasp.
He’s got the talent, and now the maturity to make it and I understand full well why a lot of folk in the media express doubts about him.
They are scared that he’s going to be haunting our opponents for years to come.
And you know what? He will be.
He’s the best striker Celtic has had since The King.
Yes, in my view better than McDonald. Better than Hooper.
Leigh’s now got goals in games great and small. Left foot goals. Right foot goals. He’s scored a healthy number with the head. He’s tapped them in and blasted them in from range. He’s been a penalty boxer predator and, as he did at Tynecastle last Wednesday, he’s made darted, dribbling runs past defenders to put the ball away.
He’s not the only player at Celtic who’s improving his game out of sight. Kiernan Tierney has slotted in nicely at left back, and Saturday provided us with another great example of his growing maturity and confidence, when he crossed the ball beautifully for our opening goal.
It’s always good to see our young players, those we’ve produced ourselves, being given a chance in the first team, and it’s especially good to see them succeeding when we do.
In the fullness of time this season I hope we’ll also see Aiden Nesbitt and others in the side.
Aberdeen’s collapse has been spectacular, but Celtic’s players have had to be on their game to take advantage of it, and we’ve got the results.
The seven point gap between the two sides is all the more extraordinary when one considers how little credit our domestic form has actually got.
That’s equally interesting when you consider how much praise has been lavished on the league leaders in Scotland’s second tier, who’s gap at the top is now the same five point one that Aberdeen have watched evaporate in a very short time.
I had a look at the bookmaker odds today.
Hibs are now 10/1 to win the Scottish Championship outright, accounting for that five point gap.
Aberdeen, in contrast, are 40/1 to win the SPL, although only two points worse off than the Easter Road side.
Hearts, in second place now, are 66/1.
Joe McHugh over on VideoCelts has already noted this unusual trend, which seems to us both to be a suggestion that the bookies are less impressed with Mark Warburton and his cohort than the Scottish media seems to be.
But as Joe noted, and I agree with him, it also suggests something else.
The bookies clearly believe some kind of administration event is likely at Ibrox.
Those odds can’t simply be a reflection of what’s happening on the pitch.
Sunday saw Sevco’s first defeat of the season in the league; they’ve got a goal difference of plus 27 after only 11 matches.
There’s no way those odds are simply about form.
The media isn’t talking about it, but there’s something in the air.
The bookies know it, and we know it too.
Sevco is a house of cards, waiting to collapse.
Celtic might be going through terrible trials trying to find our feet in Europe, but here at home we’re without challenge and that’s going to be the way of it for a long time to come.