Today at Hamilton, this team has to get over whatever it is that’s been ailing them for the past few months. Today we can move within one match of being champions and this team has to grab that opportunity by the throat. Pulverise the home side early. Get a couple of goals to the good. Then relax and let players catch their breath for next week.
But do so only because the job is finally done.
As many of you know, I haven’t taken the sort of unbridled joy in this season that I did in the last one. Mistakes have been made. Form has been poor. Dave Campbell wrote a piece pointing out that it has been roughly in line with that in five of our six title wins thus far; he’s correct, and you know what? I moaned all the way through those seasons as well.
Because I don’t think it’s acceptable for a club with our resources and advantages to drop points in upwards of a dozen matches every single year. Injuries were blamed in this campaign. What were the excuses in those? Ronny was denied a treble, probably, by a diabolical refereeing decision, but overall both he and Neil Lennon grossly underachieved.
Controversial? Maybe, but I believe every word of it.
Let’s not kid ourselves, one of the reasons the Brendan Rodgers appointment went down so well is that we all believed it to be the moment the club stopped settling for mediocrity. We know we were fed a diet of that during the Lennon and Deila years and I say that with all due respect to both men, men we will honour when the ten in a row is achieved.
Neil Lennon is a man I have the hugest admiration for, as a person. But I was highly critical of a lot of his results as Celtic boss. The amazing thing, to me, is that after an underwhelming spell in England, and a triumphant return to Scotland as Hibs boss I would actually say he’s a better manager now than he was then and I would be genuinely supportive of the idea were he to be mooted as a future boss one day. Just so long as he leaves Efe Ambrose behind!
Last season was notable for the way in which we dominated completely and whilst I don’t expect us to win every game I do want us to. Look back on the articles in this campaign where we dropped points; the early ones. The early games. I was happy to overlook the first couple as simple bad days at the office, mere bumps in the road.
But as this campaign has dragged on and we’ve failed to win four league games on the bounce I’ve become more vocal in my criticism and I do not believe that I am wrong to be. We have six games left to go and based on our current form I expect us to drop points in at least one of them; if it’s today we’re delaying the title party and it makes it more likely that there will be yet more dropped points before we are done.
So today, Celtic, let’s just get this thing done efficiently and early and with a little finesse. On a plastic pitch, yeah I know. But other teams go there and manage it, on a fraction of the resources we have at our disposal. A couple of early goals and all our worries are over.
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