Tonight, Celtic takes on Suduva in the Europa League and the only thing more important than a good performance is that we get the victory. Frankly, there is nothing else for it. We’ve suffered through a poor and wrenching fortnight, one that has seen the club get negative headlines even this site will not try to argue against.
Some have been hysterical and the notion that we’re a club “in crisis” or “under a cloud” is ridiculous, but that we have been the architects of our own trouble is an undeniable fact. Saturday saw us take a step towards fixing that.
Tonight we take another one, and there are a couple of players who are going to want to make this count.
If he plays, Cristian Gamboa will be one of them.
There was a lot of talk after the World Cup finished about Dedryck Boyata and the role he played for Sweden. I thought Gamboa was equally entitled to praise. He showed the dynamism and pace on the right for Costa Rica that we have sorely lacked on that side at Celtic Park. Having watched only the highlights (the lowlights if you prefer) of the Athens game, it looks to me as if they knew exactly where our biggest weakness lay; down the right hand side.
Everyone involved with our club is suitably appreciative of the role Mikael Lustig has played in our quest for eight in a row. He has been a stalwart since the moment he was signed. But he lacks the pace to bomb down that line like he once did, and he too often finds himself caught out of position when he needs to be alert.
Gamboa is younger, and he has greater speed. He has never been properly utilised at Celtic; he is one of those players Brendan is often criticised for signing. But I saw him perform well at the World Cup and then again against Rosenborg.
I was stunned that he did not play against Athens, and I will be amazed if he does not feature tonight.
If he does he has to grab the chance. He has been a forgotten man at Celtic Park for the last year, but I think that’s been unfair on him. He was excellent against Thistle at the weekend and has proved that he is a better player than we’ve seen thus far in our jersey.
He needs to prove it when the moment presents itself.
Tonight is his night, and if the manager starts him he has to cement his place in the team.