Well, the Brendan Rodgers attacking experiment lasted just over 10 minutes. A brutal challenge – unpunished by the ref, who had a nightmare in spite of finally having to show a red card to Tansey – ended Lustig’s afternoon and we had to drop the 3-5-2 system.
Richie Foran’s guys certainly tried to make it tough for us, but they did it without making trouble.
They did it in that typically negative way they have, with men behind the ball and swinging boots. This was frustrating to watch, but to be honest we had such firepower on the pitch that this was always going to be an exercise in futility for them.
So we secured the win in a second half where our goalkeeper could have got out his record collection and had himself a nice wee sing-song. He had so little to do the only danger was that he might doze off. When teams come to Celtic Park you don’t expect them to be gung-ho. When they’ve given up before the game begins and simply decide to do some damage limitation you wonder how they have the brass neck to charge their fans for tickets.
We ended the game with three goals, but with Lustig injured, Brown going off with a knock and with Leigh Griffiths limping as he left the field. It was that kind of day. A battle. But it was a battle we won with some room to spare.
The danger to us this season is going to be keeping these players focussed when all around us other sides are deteriorating to the point of shambles. I read an article earlier in the week where a hack was making excuses for their pal McInness by saying he’s turned Aberdeen into a “70 point a season team.”
Hey, 70 point a season teams don’t win leagues. They don’t challenge for leagues. It’s a second rate ambition; Aberdeen should want to be more. They should never settle for it. I can only think of one season when a team like that might have done something and that was in 2012-13, when we won the SPL with 79 points but that was the year after Rangers was liquidated and a lot of our players were going through the motions.
There is no threat to us from a 70 point team, not now and not in the future.
Sevco at least aspires to be more, even if they want to do it by spending money they’ve not got.
Aberdeen won last night, but no-one will convince me they are doing any more than treading water whilst McInness is in charge. I had hoped for a challenge from Edinburgh, but Hearts dropped points again today and needed a late equaliser to keep from things being worse.
As I said in a piece earlier in the week, we can’t be held accountable for the dreadful errors that are being made elsewhere. All we can do is concentrate on our own job, and doing that job week in week out. We’ve set ourselves phenomenal standards this season, and Brendan exemplifies them in the way he’s clearly still rankled by our dropped points in Inverness, something I’ve rarely seen a Celtic manager get so animated about.
But the longer this season goes on the tougher it’s going to be to keep the players drilled and ready for days like today, for hard slogs, for tough battles. This is why I scoff at the idea that even this team might go through the domestic season unbeaten; it’s not going to happen. We’ll have reversals, and although on a day like this it’s hard to see where they are going to come or who they are going to come against you can see clearly the conditions under which they will.
It probably won’t cost us more than a shot in the record books, but there’s always that concern that it’ll come when the treble is up for grabs … I have no fears about the League Cup Final; that’s in a few weeks and everyone has their eye on the ball. But by Scottish Cup time the SPL title could be well and truly wrapped in a green and white package with a big bow on it. That’s when teams get complacent. That’s when records slip through their fingers.
But all credit to Brendan for instilling in us the kind of relentless drive that’s powering us forward at the present time. You want to talk about a 70 point season? We’re nearly halfway there already after just 11 games; 31 points and sitting pretty.
We are surrounded by loser-thinking in this league, except at Ibrox, whose delusions are at least delusions of grandeur. The rest? No ambition to be anything more than they are, as we saw today with that men behind the ball display from our visitors.
Every other club in this league is involved in an ungainly scrap to be second best, and it’s ugly and it’s abysmal to watch as each of them conspire to throw it away.
Wasn’t there supposed to be a challenge this year?
Mind the gap … everybody.