We all love a footballing cliché.
As football fans, it’s part of our make-up and after Sunday we an over-used one would be “it is games like that that win you leagues.” Overused it may be, but it’s also true. I totally agree. They do. And Sunday’s victory may well prove crucial in the League run-in.
Celtic ran out deserved winners despite St. Johnstone’s aim to spoil the game. As a spectacle it was becoming a dirge to watch and that, coupled with the droning of Andy Walker, was approaching dreadful. Sunday was becoming the longest day of the year.
I feared the worse; we looked like dropping two points and maybe even three. With twelve minutes left on the clock though the wily Weah showed his class to set up James Forrest to open the scoring.
The second from the young American was a thing of beauty and credit must also go to Sinclair who started it, as well as respect for the lung bursting run from Callum McGregor to tee up the PSG loanee to score his third in five appearances.
It’s that sort of counter-attacking combination play that’s been amiss at times.
Games like this are as etched on your memory as one’s that won you the title.
At one point, Sky’s Andy Walker was actually praising St. Johnstone for their tactics. It really is a God awful blight on the game watching opposing teams park the bus, even on their home turf. I get why they do it, but it would make your eyes bleed.
I certainly don’t understand why anyone would praise it.
Many will say that it’s up to Celtic to break this down, and of course it is, and of course they did in the late, late show. But too many games in Scotland are being decided by negativity.
The introduction of Timothy Weah was, of course, due to the injury to Odsonne Edouard who had only just replaced Ollie Burke. Burke to his credit put in a great shift and could have scored. There’s a rawness to his game at the moment, but there’s definitely a player in there and there are good signs. The more game time he gets the more he’ll flourish.
It’s easy to overlook in light of the praise Weah is getting, but Burke is also lightning quick.
He pulled St. Johnstone’s defence from pillar to post. He worked them well and could have scored bar Zander Clark’s heroics.
Most of the footballing public will agree that there should have been two penalties awarded to Celtic, firstly when Burke was scythed down just yards from bungling Collum. Then, the assault on Christie on the line. A karate kick to the ribs doesn’t merit a spot-kick apparently. Had Andrew Dallas ref he’d have given them both. To St Johnstone probably.
Collum to me was derelict in his duty to protect the Celtic players, and where exactly are the assistant referees in all this?
One was quick enough to assist Dallas on Saturday, after all.
The Hoops now sit six points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership table, with a goal difference of ten. It looks, on paper, to be fairly comfortable.
But the niggling worry behind most fans confident thinking is that the number of injuries Celtic has picked up this season could cost us. Just look at how many first picks were out before a ball was even kicked on Sunday, and then the carnage that unfolded in the game.
Lustig succumbed after at half time. Edouard joined Lustig in the treatment room having only been on for a matter of minutes. Forrest was next after being taken off as a precaution although by then we had no subs left to make. Noticeably, Christie was struggling too after being assaulted on the line. That’s four in one game … injuries, not penalties though.
All kidding aside, that’s an equally horrible statistic.
Three of them are your first pick defenders, and Ajer’s stupid red card means that he’ll also miss the all-important Hibs game tomorrow night. Ajer needs to learn from that mistake. It was 93 minutes and had St Johnstone scored it would have merely been a consolation.
Brendan Rodgers emphasised how vital the January window has been in keeping us strong in spite of those worries: “It shows the importance of adding to the squad,” he said. “Days like today, we get the benefit.”
Everyone will have their own view as to who was man of the match, and although the latecomer Timothy Weah grabbed the plaudits I feel that a special mention has to go to our captain, Scott Brown.
These are the types of battles Brown relishes and, once again, he bossed the midfield. He did it on Wednesday and against St. Mirren too.
Too many jumped on Brown after the defeat at Ibrox, with some saying he was past it. They heralded the end of his career, adding that it might be decisive in getting him to opt for a move to Australia. Such wishful thinking on their part.
The thing is, Broony looks as if he’s up for the battle again and with a depleted squad, we’ll definitely need him leading the way to eight.
Gavin McCann is a Celtic fan and blogger from Glasgow … and a big Scott Brown fan.
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