Amidst the anger across the city, there was the making of excuses, and they were plentiful, from the media, from their club, from their fans, from their manager.
Tiredness after their midweek trip to Russia.
A foul in the run up to the goal.
Their team needing to “bed in”.
The injuries they have.
A host of others. You get the general drift.
What appears not to be clear to them is how utterly we dominated that today.
Tiredness had nothing to do with it; our players were out on the park in midweek as well, and the idea that a plane trip had some debilitating effect when you consider how modern footballers are pampered can only mean either that the explanation is nonsense or their players were given the budget airline treatment again. Even that is a poor excuse.
I’ve seen Celtic teams that had been largely assembled over a summer “bed in” just fine for these sort of games. Martin’s first team came out of the traps so fast against Rangers that they were 3-0 up fifteen minutes into the match. Aside from a team where new signings were making their debuts he had players in unfamiliar positions, and he had been working with the squad for a matter of months. Hearts built a new team over this summer; they are flying.
Gerrard’s wailing about the unfairness of the goal was pitiful. It was classic breakaway football, and we deserve immense credit for the way we punished them when we won the ball deep in our own half and were up the pitch inside thirty seconds. If his team were too slow to react that’s just too bad. Jack rolled around like a victim of a drive-by shooting, but TV footage shows that he was barely grazed. It is the weakest excuse of the lot of them.
And injuries? There’s a cast of thousands over at that club; 14 signings no less, and they want another one on a free. We are the team who lost three key players in the window and didn’t properly replace any of them. One new signing made the bench. The idea that their squad was weak today because of external issues is a blatant falsehood.
I understand the Sevco boss wanting to dodge scrutiny and criticism for his own failings; that is par for the course with an Ibrox manager who’s already getting found out. But for the press to be talking such utter baloney tells you how worried they are and how they are clutching at straws already. I’ve been highlighting Gerrard’s poor start for weeks; the Europa League qualification has covered a multitude of sins, but it the worst league start from an Ibrox team in decades.
Warburton was on 8 points after four games. Caixinha was on 7. Gerrard is on 5.
If he didn’t have a famous name there would be serious doubts about his survivability already.
What nobody appears to want to admit is that even last season’s Celtic team has the measure of this side of theirs. They have spent £20 million in the past two summers; that is a number that will be giving their accounts the jitters.
But worse is that it has not made a dent in our supremacy in these matches.
They were played off the park today.
The focus and consistency of this Celtic team is incredible. I’m going to write about one specific player later on, but for now the credit goes to the team as a whole. They were questioned over the summer. They were expected (by some) to be reeling going into this game.
But they dug in, they focussed on the job, and performed exceptionally well.
We deserve, and will get, credit for that. But it will be the grudging sort, with a lot of caveats attached and over it all will hover the idea that we somehow got lucky, that convergence of circumstances all came together to deny Sevco at least a point; it is all nonsense.
We were the ones who’ve emerged from a difficult month.
And today we made that look easy, and it was.