Man oh man, I’m quite excited today because Celtic games are back. And yes, it’s only a pre-season friendly, the sort of game that no-one gets overboard about, and yes I know there are no new signings to parade on the pitch, but I am up for it all the same.
It means that we’re almost back to serious business.
I’ve enjoyed the World Cup. Some of it anyway. I was asked last night what I think the next great game in the competition might be, and I said “the one where England gets knocked out.” The truth is, I don’t really bother overmuch with international football. The two big tournaments in which our country has some interest – not that we qualify for them anymore – are mere close-season stopgaps for the real business, which we all know is watching the Hoops.
Don’t get me wrong, the World Cup and the Euros are far better for the sanity and wellbeing of fans than those dreadful two summers where there’s no football at all, but they don’t get the blood pumping like watching your own team does.
And so today I’m going to enjoy 90 minutes of Celtic again, even if it’s played at a pre-season tempo against a team I’ve never heard of. What you do hope for are some cameos from the forgotten men; Ryan Christie, Scott Allan, Nir Bitton, Marvin Compper and some game time for Lewis Morgan. You hope to see Odsonne starting. You want Griffiths partnering him up front. These are my own personal wish-list items; I am sure you have yours.
We may or we may not see our trialist, Moses Odubajo, take part in the match.
He was once a player of some potential before two injury plagued years put the skids on his career. Is he worth a punt? That’s what games like this are about; his skill is apparently not in question, although he’ll need game time to get sharp. It’s his fitness that will be a cause for concern.
As I’ll write later, for some of the players at Parkhead right now this is the Last Chance Saloon. Allan is almost certainly gone already, although if Brendan wants to prioritise other areas of the pitch there might, just might, be an argument for keeping him around … I suspect not. For others, it is their opportunity to show what they can do. Ralston and Mikey Johnson and others might see this as a big moment, and Lewis Morgan certainly will.
Can we expect Brendan to try a new tactical approach? Will we see Scott Bain in goal or will he go with Craig Gordon? Will Jonny Hayes, newly refreshed and ready for the campaign, feature in the match? Will Jack Hendry start at centre back or on the right?
It feels good to be asking these sort of questions again. This is what we’ve been missing. Celtic are back in training. The next campaign is creeping up on us.
And frankly, it cannot come quickly enough.