That was nice tonight. Nice to see.
Good football, an expansive, attacking style, a decent debut for the new boy (although my heart was in my mouth watching him go off), a Scott Sinclair goal, another wonderful finish from French Eddie and a Nir Bitton cameo where he was a little careless at times but did very little wrong. And a great Kris Ajer display.
All of that was true of tonight, and so too is to say that Lenny played it perfectly, stuck to the game plan and did not panic even after we went a goal down. That was as professional a European away display as you could have hoped to see.
And for all that, none of it will make the highlights reel in quite the way Mikey Johnston did. He was fantastic from the minute the game started to the minute he come off with what we can only hope is not a knock that keeps him out for too long.
Apart from showing real dynamism and energy, he showed excellent skill, feet every bit as good as any other player in the team, including the devastating Edouard who showed once again why I believe he is without exception the finest striker in Scottish football.
The £9 million we paid for him is a bargain and he’s already proved worth every penny of it.
But Mikey stole the show.
That fancy footwork was one thing, that goal of his was another entirely, a piece of sheer quality, audacious, creative, brilliant. The confidence has been surging through him all through the close season. We wondered – and not without cause – whether or not he could pull it all together in competitive football.
And tonight, with the pressure on, with the team a goal behind and, to be frank, not looking terribly clever at the time, he stole the show with his piece of genius. Lennon sees a big, big future for him here and you watch that goal and you understand why.
He’s 20 now. The boyhood years are behind him. He has made it to the Celtic first team squad, which is a journey so fraught that only a handful of peers will ever get to do it. You need more than just skill to take that step up, there has to be professionalism and heart and belief and discipline. You need to be able to pick yourself up from setbacks.
Mikey had setbacks. The two games at Ibrox last season could have wrecked his confidence; he was not terribly effective in either of them. But he kept on playing, he kept on going, his head is up and you are seeing the results of it. This boy is going to be a huge, huge star.
That was a very good night for Celtic, for Lennon, for Johnston and, of course, for all of us. It is great to have the football back again, to watch the Hoops, to see a victory, to see youth get its opportunity and to grab it. And the goals for Sinclair and Eddie will have done both players a power of good as we get the new era underway.
Wonderful start, guys and gals. We’re off and running.