Celtic stormed to a superb home victory against St Johnstone today, to keep our well-oiled machine rolling on towards the historic unbeaten campaign. It’s getting close now. There’s little left in the way. We have three league games and one cup match to go.
Can you believe this?
A few months ago, when people started talking about it, it just seemed impossible.
There was too much in the way.
The obstacles were too great.
The team was facing so many tough games, and with the potential for Honest Mistakes, it just seemed like there was no way that it could be done. As we got into single digits, we were thrown two massive games in a week against Sevco, in an effort to halt the momentum.
You could almost hear their thinking, right?
Surely we’d lose one of them?
Surely we’d slip in either league or cup?
Instead those games gave us unstoppable momentum.
We rolled out of Hampden and straight to Ibrox and left having not so much won a football match as administered a punishment beating. Records are falling in front of us, and we’re running over them like a coked out parks worker pushing a mower. This is how it feels to be Celtic.
For much of the early stages when this talk started, I was writing about how this had to end, how an unbeaten run wasn’t important, that it only took one slip in one match to end it and that because of that it came down to luck as much as anything else.
But I underestimated the drive of this team. It will take several bad elements to come together in a single 90 minutes to halt this now.
It could still happen, of course; the games we have left to play include a trip to Pittodrie next Friday night, and there’s that wee outstanding matter of a cup final against them to come, with Thistle away and Hearts at home in between … but it looks now not so much unlikely as improbable, barring a confluence of events so bizarre they’d belong in a Jerry Bruckheimer film.
On our day, we’ll win every match. The problem for anyone who wants to see us fail is that we don’t have too many off-days, and even when they come around we dig in and find that wee bit extra that gets us over the line.
Today we started two kids; Ralston and Johnston, and both acquitted themselves well. Johnston will get all the ink for his fancy footwork – and because the English teams are allegedly openly their nostrils and sniffing around – but Ralston was solid enough too. It gave the fans good reasons to cheer, as it always does seeing promising kids breaking through to the first team squad. More of it, Brendan, please. More of it, in these final games.
Dedryk Boyata popped up with a goal, as he did last week, and so too did Callum, as he did twice against Sevco. Neither of those goals was as good as the one he scored today, although I have a feeling we’ll be replaying those more over the next hundred or so years. His superb solo effort in this game should get more credit, more praise, more kudos than it probably will; he has become a cracking attacking asset to this team.
But today was the Patrick Roberts show, as everyone will be well aware. He was sublime. His decision to stay for the remainder of the season rather than hook up with the England Under 21 team was so important that Celtic issued a press statement to that effect; this, today, is why, and it’s why we will certainly make a major effort to bring him back to Celtic Park for the next campaign. We all understand his need to go back to City and see what’s what, but if they can’t find a place for him, well, there’s no place like home, right?
This team is going to get across the line; with four games left I’m finally throwing caution to the wind and saying we’ll do it. Even without Scott Brown today, even with no Moussa Dembele, with Scott Sinclair on the bench, we moved through the gears and we beat the side challenging for third place. There is no tension in this team. Everyone’s at ease.
They’re believers. So am I.
We’re on the verge of history here.