Let’s get a couple of things straight, before the media starts its nonsense.
We won that game without getting into high gear today. There were moments when it was not pretty to watch – Simunovic’s shocking back pass was “don’t watch alone” stuff – but I never felt, at any point, that we were in danger of a replay far less going out.
They had two shots on goal and scored them both.
They did virtually nothing else in the match.
The near-hysteria of the commentary was ridiculous.
The after-match analysis so far has been unrelentingly negative.
Thistle barely deserved their two goals far less taking anything out of the game. Celtic were not terribly impressive. But nor were we terrible. I know the narrative will be that it was close; if you didn’t see it pay no attention to that. Watch it for yourself. You’ll see how far from close it actually was.
James Forrest was magnificent. His hat-trick was well deserved.
He played exceptionally well. He took his goals brilliantly.
The guy is having the season of his life.
Nobody else stood out. That’s not a huge concern on a day like today, when we win. But Simunovic, in particular, is riding the ragged edge as far as the fans go. He had two very bad moments; I thought he was responsible for the loss of both goals. He was extraordinarily lax, even lazy, with his pass back for the first and he looked weak for the second, and was too easily muscled out. For a central defender with pretensions of playing in the EPL … horrible.
This game will not go down in history as a Celtic classic.
But it takes us another step closer to a brand new DVD box-set celebrating a treble.
No-one at Celtic Park will allow themselves to think about that – one game at a time, remember? – but there was no point where it looked like it would be 18 Rated. This was not a Clyde or Inverness and never looked likely to be.
Dembele looks frustratingly ordinary right now.
No player at our club is more in need of goals to give him some of his spark back. Sinclair looks one dimensional. But we know both players have talent, huge talent, and we can only assume that at some point it will return. Footballers go through these spells; I badly want this one to be over.
But what matters – all that matters –is that we’re there in the quarter final and frankly I don’t care who we get in it although Ayr United would be nice. On our day we will beat anyone. On an off-day anyone will beat us. That’s the trouble right now; you just never know which version of this team is going to show up at the moment.
We were not at our best today. But nor were we at our worst. Ignore the howling shrieking criticism I already know is coming our way. It is not warranted. But equally, don’t let anyone tell you that this was a result which should give us confidence of going towards the end of the campaign unbeaten. We landed square in the middle today. I am not going to freak out about it. But nor am I going to celebrate it as some glittering achievement.
We did what we had to.
For now, that’s enough.
In the aftermath, Brendan was clear that we have to be better than this to win the treble, but he did not strike me as a manager who was panicked.
Nobody should be.
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