There is a reason why veteran troops are amongst the most feared soldiers on the battlefield. It’s because they are reliable under fire, carrying with them the experience of shooting at the enemy as well as being fired upon.
Back in the days of the Ancients, the most feared armies were those which had already proved victorious.
That combination – the experience of prior battles and the confidence of having won them – made for the most formidable opponents. The enemy would be demoralised just looking across the landscape and knowing that such a force was coming for them.
This Celtic team is fully blooded now.
They have tasted battle, and more importantly they have tasted victory.
When this side came together, so many of its players had yet to taste glory in this country (or any other). Obviously, they had not done it as a unit. That explains the nervousness towards the end of last season.
There will be no nerves when the coming season starts, in a few weeks time.
When it starts it starts with these players as champions.
There’s a different kind of pressure attached to that, but there’s a level of confidence that comes with it too. A swagger.
You saw how they played tonight.
You saw the quality in the final third.
You saw how confident Kyogo, O’Riley, Giakoumakis and others are … these guys were forged in the fire of a high pressure campaign and have come through the other side with their heads up.
I have never seen a Celtic side with this kind of power right across the top of the pitch.
What was notable tonight is that it doesn’t seem to matter what combination of front men we play; we still have enough quality to turn out the lights of any team playing domestic football in Scotland. Whether we can find the right approach in Europe is a different question, and we’re going to be up against the best sides on the continent.
But in terms of Scotland, who the Hell is going to touch us?
Who can defend against our forward players?
God help them all if the manager finds a way to get the two strikers in the team at the same time because one of them is deadly enough.
The fact they are two different types of striker encourages me that there’s a system in which they will both fit … if Ange is interested in experimenting to find it.
One of the performances that stood out to me today – and it has been interesting to watch him over the past few games – is Ideguchi.
He was sort of in danger of becoming the forgotten man of the Japanese contingent; I think he’s going to play a massive role in the campaign to come.
Clearly, he has needed longer to settle than the others … but there’s a player there.
We took our foot off the gas towards the end, conceding a silly goal partly as a result of all the changes we had made.
But of course, we went right up the park and got the fourth and that was due us because over the course we were well up for it and fully deserved that win, and we played brilliantly for most of the match.
It was a test and we passed it.
Ange wanted this team blooded during this summer.
He wanted to see us play good sides so that he, and we, could watch how well we’ve grown as a side.
That is paying off.
Combined with the mental strength that comes with having won a title I think this side is well on its way … and what a season lies in front of us if they can maintain their form.