Yesterday … that was beautiful.
Our performance was glorious.
The fans were incredible.
The team was unplayable.
Sevco were steamrollered. I have never seen a finer, more complete, display from a Celtic team. It was magnificent. I now understand, in a way, what my old man and his generation saw when they went to watch the truly great sides.
Is this team going to be one of them?
Who can say, but they have already broken records and have more in their sights. They are on the way to an unbeaten domestic campaign; the Lions came close in their all-conquering year, only for the same team – Dundee Utd – to thwart them twice.
Yet that beauty stood out in the way a rose in one of those dystopian paintings does, a single stab of colour in a charred wasteland. The darkness of Ibrox was all around us, and it was as dark as it has ever been. Some would say that it was toxic.
Celtic’s utter superiority in these games has done something horrible to the Ibrox support.
I am not surprised that this has happened, but I am concerned that more isn’t being done about it. I am going to write a separate article on it, because it needs one, but there was an edge to it that was quite unsettling, and I thought that just watching it and without knowing how bad it had actually been; in a crowded Kerrydale Suite where you can barely hear yourself think you miss a lot. I’ve been filled in on the truth of it since, and the conduct of their fans was shameful.
The game itself was about as one sided as you are ever likely to see. I am watching it as I write this – the first goal has just been scored but even then there was simply no doubt as to who would win this game, and very little to suggest Sevco could prevent it from becoming a real beating. Aside from scoring five we missed several glorious chances, we hit the post once and we had the ball in the net and ruled offside in a very dubious decision.
This was five going on eight going on ten.
There was not an area of the pitch where we were not dominant.
From back to front we were in complete command. Our keeper barely had a thing to do. Our defence switched off just once, for Miller’s goal, and only after we had a four goal lead. One moment epitomised the defensive display; Jozo Simunovic’s magnificent tackle which sent Miller flying … it was timed absolutely beautifully and there was no question about it being a foul, no matter what the gibbering Andy Walker might have said in his demented commentary.
Kieran won the man of the match award, and he earned it for an imperious performance, one that confirms him as far and away the best young talent in the whole country.
The midfield strolled.
Armstrong, Brown and McGregor in the middle were incredible. Young Callum doesn’t get in the team every week but he could; he has developed the skill-set and playing with these two guys has raised him to new heights. Scott Sinclair scored from the penalty spot and caused stark terror every time he got in the box; we had the luxury of being able to survive one of his poorest days in front of goal, with a couple of high profile misses.
Armstrong almost raised the rusty roof with his shot shortly before coming off. He strolled through the game; he is developing into the best central midfielder in the country and one of the finest in the UK as a whole. Brown was typically superb.
But I am leaving two players for last, Leigh Griffiths and Patrick Roberts.
Leigh knew he had to grab his chance with both hands, and he did, with a goal that was simply stunning. He hit the inside of the post with another superb effort and had the ball in the net only for the linesman’s flag to rule him offside, which was a marginal decision if we’re being generous to the official. (The officials had a good game, by the way.)
Roberts was something else though. Every time he was on the ball he took two or three Sevco players with him, and more often than not still managed to get away from them. He drew Beerman’s tackle for the penalty. He ran rings around them all day long.
There’s a great footballer there, not merely a good one, one with the potential to go all the way. We must explore options, including finding out what it would take to keep him at Celtic Park, as our own player, far into the future. He would be one of the best pieces of business in our history.
As it is, one of the contenders for that accolade is the man in the dugout. The transformation of our club under Brendan has been nothing short of incredible. This is the job he was born for, and yesterday was another part of the history he was born to make.
My mate asked me yesterday if I think this might be the highpoint, if winning 5-1 at Ibrox is the pinnacle of our joy, that it’s all downhill from here. Of course it isn’t. We have a treble to win, an unbeaten run to secure, new records to shatter and more goals to reach … and 10 in a row, as I’ve long suspected, is the least of them.
This is just getting started.
Imagine how we’ll do when Brendan has the team he wants.