Well last night exceeded my expectations. I thought we would win, I thought it would be comfortable, but in the heat and with only a few games under their belts I wondered if the performance would be a decent one, and it was.
The team conserved its energy. The players didn’t run themselves into the ground. They kept pace with the opposition despite only being at half speed. They closed down. They threatened. They scored three times. It was thoroughly professional.
This team has come a very long way since Brendan was appointed boss.
Of course, the level of opposition has to be considered but this was an away game in Europe, in difficult conditions, in our first competitive game of this season. So a 3-0 win is a very fine result and one that should not be underrated.
Some of the players were just exceptional. Kieran was brilliant. McGregor got into great positions. Edouard gave everything. What a fantastic young player we have here, he will prove to be a steal even at a club record fee.
We’re not through yet (oh yes we are) as we still have a tie at Parkhead to come, but we have a comfort zone going into that game and can probably consider ourselves favourites. (That’s an understatement.) Tougher challenges are waiting for us.
The formation last night was interesting; as predicted, it was one we were able to chop and change several times during the match. This definitely bodes well for the coming season, as does Brendan’s decision to go with two up front.
Two up front means several things. It means more game time for Leigh Griffiths for a start, as Brendan will chop and change with the front two for certain games. That ends press speculation about his future, and will let him sign the new contract he’s been waiting on. It’s also a return to the traditions of the club; it’s only in the last ten years or so that I’ve seen Celtic managers playing only one front man so regularly.
But it means something else; it means that Celtic seems to have taken a decision on Moussa Dembele and that he is going exactly nowhere this season. I hope that a brand new deal for him is in the offing, keeping him here for next season as well.
All this is nothing but good news, as yesterday was nothing but a thoroughly good performance. Even accounting for the idea that the win itself was most important, I thought that was a really fine days work, and I laughed at the pictures the players put up online after the match.
That sure as Hell wasn’t EasyJet they were flying.