League Cup Offers An Early Chance At A Trophy, And A Shot At Bloody Revenge

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Tonight Sevco plays in the League Cup against Queen of the South. They’ve been dreadful for months, but surely they should be good enough to win tonight. If they don’t Warburton is on the verge of the sack, and few would argue he didn’t deserve it.

Tomorrow night we play against Alloa in the same competition.

A win puts us in the semi-final. What an opportunity that gives us to open the path to the treble.

The three ties outside of our own are, of course, the Sevco – Queens match, Aberdeen versus St Johnstone and Greenock Morton versus Dundee Utd. Which of those sides would you fear in the semi-final in front of a packed Hampden?

If we are to win the League Cup we need only win three matches right here in Glasgow, none of them in front of a hostile crowd.

The Gods should be smiling on us here. You’d think so anyway, but Ronny Deila failed to do it last season with a match at the national stadium costing us. There’s a chance that Brendan Rodgers team could go the same way, that we’ll choke on the big occasion.

But I doubt it. Not the way we’re playing right now, not the way we look going forward.

In Moussa and Scott Sinclair we’ve got the firepower we lacked last year, and of course those two players augment the majestic goal scoring talents of Leigh Griffiths, who will be back from injury long before we play the semi-final game.

Of course, we have to get past Alloa first, and there are suggestions that we’ll field a B team for that game tomorrow night. I would have no objections to that, to seeing some of the kids get a run out, just so long as we don’t leave ourselves too short to win the game.

Alloa, like any club, deserve our respect and I have no doubt they’ll get it from Brendan.

Nevertheless, the passage towards Hampden seems pretty clear-cut. Get there and we’ll face one of the three winners of the other ties. Aberdeen or St Johnstone would be the toughest. Morton or Dundee United should be another straightforward enough game … but the one that will tantalise most would be the chance to play Sevco, again, should they manage to scrape through tonight’s game. That’s something I suspect their fans want to avoid.

What some people might not understand, of course, is that the format changes to the cup aren’t the only alterations to the competition. In fact, the League Cup Final has traditionally been held in March, with the semi-final stages being played after New Year.

That’s not the case here; the semi-final will be on 22 October and the final will be on 27 November.

This disenfranchises us, massively, of course; this is an extra two matches to fit into our football schedule, at a time when we’ll have European adventures to go on. I can’t help but wonder if the change to the dates was somehow a reflection of that, much as our start to the league campaign was curiously tough looking this time around.

Hell, we weathered that okay. A top team does that.

I have little doubt we’ll get through this just as resolutely.

What it means, of course, is that Brendan Rodgers could have his first Celtic trophy – and the first leg of the treble completed – before the turn of the year.

It also means that we might well be facing Sevco again in advance of that meeting with them in the league, at Ibrox, on Hogmany.

Anyone who still thinks Warburton will be their manager come 4 January – the anniversary of the sacking of Paul Le Guen – should think long and hard on that. I wonder what odds the bookies are giving on him being gone by Christmas?

The League Cup is the Lesser Competition for a club like ours, but you need it if you’re going to make history and Brendan is at Celtic to do nothing less. But this year offers up the tantalising prospect not only of victory but for revenge, a chance to end the Warburton era on the ground where he had his great moment of triumph.

In truth, I don’t particularly care what happens after tomorrow night; if we’re in the semi-final I’ll take anyone who’s left. I would also prefer – just for the sake of the downward momentum – to see Sevco turfed out of the tournament tonight.

But for once I won’t be particularly aggrieved if they scrape by, as long as it sets us up with another chance to pour on the pain.

Does that make me a bad person?

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