It’s high time that we started to sing the praises of certain people at the club. It is high time we acknowledged that some of the contributions that have been made to this campaign have been invaluable, although unsexy.
It is easy to look at the likes of Abada, Kyogo, Giakoumakis, Jota and others and pour the love onto the heads of these guys.
It is easy to acknowledge the growing brilliance of Callum McGregor and to acknowledge, with great enthusiasm for what comes next, those like Maeda, Hatate and O’Riley. It is much harder for some people to praise others.
Tony Ralston is not exactly unsung, because even the most cynical fan has long since been turned around on this one. He has been fantastic. Much of our success this season is down to this guy’s determination not to be side-lined and his obvious acceptance of Ange’s suggestions and improvements to the way he plays.
Carl Starfelt looked shaky in the early stages yesterday, but he settled into a dominant match where he was the most successful player on the pitch at winning duels in the air.
His talents should now be obvious to even those guys who had real doubts and continue, in some ways, to still have them. He is becoming a top class centre half and he has made a huge contribution to the defence, which need I remind people is the best in the league.
Rounding out the defensive trio, I have to give special praise to Greg Taylor. He was immense yesterday, absolutely immense.
One of the most maligned players in the Celtic squad, he has become an Ange first-pick and the decision to start him – remember, in my chosen eleven from earlier in the week I had gone for Juranovic in his position and a lot of folk did the same – was fully vindicated by a quite exceptional display.
Last but not least, it’s time to recognise, in full, the brilliance of Nir Bitton. He is the perfect Ange player; loyal, hardworking, willing to step into the starting eleven or to come off the bench and he’s dependable in either scenario. Back in his midfield position now, he looks a different player to the one who was so often nervy under Lennon.
These four guys have all played momentous parts in what has unfolded this season, and three of them were far from being favourites at the club before Ange arrived and Starfelt was the target of so much odium and criticism from the moment he played his first game that you can only admire his mental fortitude in riding it out to emerge as a crucial part of the team.
But let’s not stop at the players because it is high time that we directed some love to the coaching team, and not just Ange but those much criticised guys who stand with him in the dugout, and especially in a week where one of them has been wounded in the line of duty. You look at that disciplined defensive performance yesterday and the way the team has steadily gotten better week by week and you have to admit that they’re also getting it right.
These are Celtic’s unsung heroes, because winning things is a team effort and in the modern game it really is true that it takes more than the players on the pitch to secure a title. We are almost there, and there is surely enough credit to go around.