First things first, and many happy returns to all the readers of the blog. Yesterday I took a wee day off to enjoy Christmas, which I did in spite of Sky Sports News running an outright lie and almost forcing me to blog on the one day I wasn’t going to.
Celtic’s response was swift and the mockery of the Twitterati was so severe they reversed their big “exclusive” within hours, changing the story to one just as pitiful, which soon enough was also more full of holes than a Lib Dem manifesto.
That aside, it was a perfectly good Christmas Day and helped along by several large Jack Daniels’. Today it was back to business, and with no hangover I was able to enjoy a decent enough Celtic performance against Dundee, albeit one we could have won by a few more goals. We lacked that cutting edge which characterised us last season, but that aside this was a very good display in which we looked more relaxed than we have in a while.
We are ready for Saturday. We are raring to go. And with three wins on the bounce we can reach the fabled land of four wins in a row; other clubs wanted to bring out a DVD. I suspect the game itself might prove to be DVD worthy; for Sevco fans it will be strictly X rated. I cannot conceive of a scenario where we do not win and win well.
Indeed, we learned a little something today; we learned what the midfield should be next week. Brendan will have his own ideas, of course, but he can’t have failed to notice that certain players – and one in particular – were head and shoulders above everyone else. In the defence, Ajer was superb yet again, but Olivier Ntcham simply has to start.
He controlled everything. He passed the ball well. He tackled hard. He ran the whole show, and it was notable that performance levels dipped when he went off. The team handled that very well today, but I thought he, in particular, was immense.
Scott Brown will definitely start against Sevco; that’s a given. Forrest will be on one side of the pitch and Scott Sinclair will be on the other; he was left out as a precaution but he’ll be ready. Forrest is in the form of his life. This is his time. Hayes would not have played, but I hope that injury he picked up today isn’t nearly as bad as it looked.
The real question is whether Callum McGregor or Stuart Armstrong gets the nod in the final position, but Olivier played so well today that it’s just no contest; he has to start.
The forward position will be the one that creates controversy of course. Leigh Griffiths gave the headline writers their story of the week but I still expect Dembele to start, in spite of the sheer nonsense that surrounds him. For the record, Brendan’s comments of today are in no way new or even particularly newsworthy. The club has always asserted its “moral position” in relation to our players; we will not stand in the way if someone genuinely wants to go.
But Dembele has never made any suggestion that he does. He and his agent are amongst the most clued up in the business; they have a “career plan” for him and that does not, in any way, involve the player winding up in a relegation battle.
We’ve almost completed December. We didn’t get through it unbeaten, but we’ve opened up our lead at the top and we’re motoring towards another title. The Scottish Cup starts for us soon and few can see how we’re going to be stopped in our quest for back to back trebles. One game remains in the incredible year 2017.
Looking forward to it? Yeah, me too.
More importantly, as was made clear today, so are the players.