To listen to some of the reactions on last night’s Europa League results, you’d think that one half of Glasgow performed heroics whilst the other scraped through against a lesser side. In point of fact, that’s exactly what did happen … just not the way they presented it.
I thought that two errors aside – the ones that cost us the goals – we were disciplined and solid enough.
You cannot legislate for a goalkeeper freezing on the spot as Hart did.
I’ve seen defenders do what Starfelt did last night in all manner of circumstances. But he performed well in spite of it and Hart made the saves you expect a good keeper to make.
AZ created chances. Were they not supposed to?
They finished third in Holland last year so anyone who expected an easy ride against them must not know much about football.
The press corps talked as if they were an ordinary side of no quality … we certainly made them look that way in the first leg and in flashes last night. We deserved to go through over the two legs no matter what idiots like Pat Bonnar might have thought.
I mean, what else can you ask of a team except that we get the critical opening goal, and go through because of it? At no point were AZ level in the tie. At no point did they look favourites to progress.
They gave us a couple of scares. No more than that.
Yet our media acted as if we made it by the skin of our teeth.
Even with away goals, we’d have gone through without needing them. It was an aggregate victory. The hacks who wanted to focus on nothing but negatives were simply indulging their own bitterness.
Because let’s be honest; few expected us to go through.
If you’d polled the press corps before the home game you’d have gotten near unanimity that the Dutch would be too strong for us. Before we so easily took care of Jablonec I’d have said the same.
But I knew we had a right good chance, and I knew we were probably secure from the moment the full time whistle blew at Celtic Park. I knew we’d score over there. I just didn’t expect that we’d do it in the first moments of the game.
The hacks believed the Dutch would go through comfortably, even after we beat the Czech side. Many of them, doing what they did last night, focussed on our defence after the first leg and still believed that AZ would be too strong for us over the tie.
The second half performance, after we took off Rogic, was a level well above what they expected. To be honest, it’s a level above what I expected. We comfortably closed the game out.
We never looked in real danger from the moment we made that change.
The credit our team deserves for navigating this tie … well, it’s vast isn’t it? Consider where we were just a few weeks ago. Consider the predications of those who thought that we would be in the Europa Conference League if we were lucky.
Some, like Keevins, thought we’d be challenged in terms of second place in the league.
We are miles ahead of where they reckoned we’d be. Miles ahead.
I understand that it takes a huge amount of mental adjustment when your prejudices are challenged like this. I understand that there is a sting when what you hoped for comes into conflict what reality.
It hurts. It’s difficult to manage. But hard lines.
Some of the criticisms are absolutely ludicrous.
Some of them reek of frustration and bitterness. The way they’ve talked about the club across the city, you’d never believe they were reeling and rocking and toiled against a ten-man team from Armenia on the same night.
Alashkert are a team who wouldn’t have lived with us.
We’d have blown them out in the first half of the first leg of the tie.
No-one who has watched us can be in the least doubt about that. If we had turned in such an horrendous display over the two legs the media would have been screaming. But their club got praised instead whilst we eat dirt.
Their bias is obvious.
So is their bafflement that we’ve turned this so quickly.
Their fear is too, their fear of what we are what we’re going to be.
We’re going to make them choke on it.