Get This Team To The Winter Break And Watch Them Conquer Again.

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Zenit St Petersburg will start their winter break tomorrow, when their team takes a three-month sabbatical from playing competitive games. That’s necessary because they play in Russia and there are limited opportunities for football with the snow thick on the ground and even the best maintained pitches in the country turning to sheet ice.

We start our two-week winter break at the end of the month.

It’s not much.

It’s not a lot at all.

But by God is it necessary. Few teams in Europe have played the staggering number of competitive games that we have already; almost half as many as our nearest “domestic challengers.” This is no joke. That kind of schedule is bound to have an effect.

The feeling is growing that this is a Celtic team in need of a good rest. Michael Stewart, writing at the weekend, said that he believes we are headed for another Invincible campaign … if we get through December. Do that, he reckons, and it’s ours to lose.

I agree with him, wholeheartedly. There are players in our team who’ve barely had a break. Put them all on a plane, take them somewhere warm and sunny and let the stresses and pressures of this long first half of the campaign bleed away. By the time they come back, refreshed, they’ll be keyed up and ready to go. It can only help them.

It can only help this quest for perfection which has taken a crooked turn.

This team of ours isn’t playing terribly; we’d have lost by now if we were. We were the dominant side at Easter Road, completely, utterly, unquestionably. Had our third goal stood we would have been on easy street and probably scored a few more. Once they scored the first and came at us hard, tired legs and the mental weight of carrying the unbeaten run started to take a toll. But even then we created chances, enough to have won the match.

We face a difficult trip to Tynecastle at the weekend, following our midweek game against Hamilton.

Testing games.

Every game is going to be testing for us in the weeks to come. There are no easy ones, and at the end of it Sevco come to town with Murty at the helm and their own point to prove. We should win, but they will give it everything to make sure we don’t.

That’s the Last Hurrah for all of our domestic “rivals” though. If we get through it then they are not going to see us for dust. Our players will emerge from that spell refreshed and with a sense of togetherness which will propel them forward into January and beyond.

If someone’s going to take it away from us, it’ll be in the next few weeks.

Because if we get to that winter break, it’s plain sailing the rest of the way.


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