Last week was a good week for the critics of Brendan Rodgers and this team.
What a pity it had to end.
This week has started with a 2-0 win at Pittodrie and talk of the “title challenge” has been shelved a while longer.
I’ll write about the “title challenge” later today, but for now let’s focus on what we witnessed today.
That was the answer the fans and the manager would have wanted from those players, as well as punters at https://www.yourate.com/. That was not classy. It was not silky football. That was 90 minutes of pure hard graft and the team showed that it was up to the fight. And a fight is exactly what it was.
But two moments of excellence are what made the difference. I am delighted to say that Moussa Dembele was at the heart of them both. His perfectly timed run met Forrest’s perfectly timed cross for the first and his lung-bursting run set up the ever-excellent Tierney for the second. In between times his latest moment of utter stupidity saw Mikael Lustig sent off.
I’ll come to that later in the week.
It was a day for digging deep today. It was a day that was always going to test this leg weary, psychologically battered team. I knew we wouldn’t see superb flowing football, the worry was that the pressure that’s been slowly ramped up on them for weeks and which culminated in that defeat on Thursday would tell today; it didn’t.
Sure there were a couple of heart in the mouth moments; this is Celtic. When are there not? But they were few and far between and the team did not let their heads go down. We scored the goals at just the perfect times too, the second coming shortly after we’d gone down to ten men and McInnes smelled opportunity in the air.
But of course, McInnes is a joke as a manager and he has perhaps the worst signing policy in the whole of the league. It was quite clear why he brought on Cosgrove, a striker he signed from Carlisle United and who has exactly one career goal; this is his replacement for Stockley. Is there another reason why McInnes thinks he’s a suitable signing for a team chasing second spot in the league? He was brought on to throw his weight about and he did.
And shortly thereafter was sent off. There, Aberdeen fans, is your manager’s level of “ambition” and his signing policy in a nut-shell. You must be so proud.
We knew what we had to do today, and certain players excelled in that atmosphere. Young Ajer was tremendous, even after taking a heavy head knock. Moussa had his best game in a long time. One goal, one assist, one clearance off the line … he was excellent. This was the game we’ve waited for him to play. His confidence should be high, his head up.
That was just what the doctor ordered. Our character and commitment have been questioned, the manager has too. His tactical decisions today were excellent. He played the right time. He made the right substitutions. His decision to take off Sinclair and bring on Edouard was particularly pleasing to me, because it was so clearly the last move McInnes expected.
We needed the three points today. Not because other clubs are creeping up, or because the media has been talking up their “challenge” but because we had to stop the bleeding of the past few performances and show again what we could do.
We were tested and not found wanting.
Onward to midweek, and another three points against Dundee.
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