This has been a quiet week at Celtic, the first of a few and they’ve come at the right time.
When you are eliminated from European football the sting lasts a few days.
But there are benefits towards the end of a title race, and free midweeks are always welcome.
Celtic has certainly found this one welcome. Ange talked about training being the best he’s seen – I’ll be writing more on that later – and the players will feel rested perhaps for the first time in a while. A lot of them need it, having had no break but the winters break and it was bookended with a truly insane round of games.
Those amongst our stars who play frequent international football are even more prone to burn-out than others.
Our Japanese guys have come off one full season into the back end of another.
My deepest fear was that we would go on an extended European run this season and test this team to the point of destruction.
Last night, the side from the other side of the city won comfortably and this morning the press is full of stories about how wonderful they are and how they can “go all the way.”
Before this month is over they will all be singing a different tune; “Should Scottish football try to help Ibrox?” Because I watched their players towards the end of that game last night and they were purely and simply exhausted. That team is out on its feet.
The idea of two more games in Europe should be terrifying, especially in light of the way their manager has voted no confidence in so many of his squad. He picks the same players every week.
These guys will be dropping like flies before long.
A lot of the bloggers took stick when we wrote our initial articles after the team went out of Europe, by people who seemed to think we were too sanguine about losing to a side that we shouldn’t be seeing on our road.
But if you value this league title – with all the riches that go with it – ahead of the phony glory about getting to the latter stages of the tier three European competition then you have to see our knockout in that light.
We are better off for it in the here and now.
The players have enjoyed their spell without a game. We have a few more of these free midweeks to look forward to even as the side across town tries to fit more games into the schedule.
The benefits of that will be seen long before this campaign ends.