Another one gone, another one gone, another one bites the dust.
Celtic has put another win, and another three points, in the bag after a game at Parkhead today which was tougher than many of us expected. How many times must we write this? Other sides would have curled up and died having conceded that early goal. All we do is redouble our efforts and get on with it. All we do is step up a gear.
Late goals have become the forte of this side. Nobody wants to have to depend on late goals of course, but it is a critical skill for a title winning team to have. It shows a strong mentality. It reveals a resolve never to lose as much as a point.
That kind of will is so, so massive. It is so, so big for us. It is the difference between teams which win titles and teams who do not. This is why we are champions.
We weren’t great today, not even close. We could have won this game more comfortably, and no mistake. But right now, as we hurtle towards the World Cup break, the win is all that matters.
The win and the way that we did it; perseverance, drive and that never say die spirit.
Imagine being part of the chasing pack having to watch this, over and over and over again. Imagine having hope dangled in front of you and then cruelly snatched away from you over and over again like this. It must be soul sapping.
Three more points. Another victory. The pressure being applied, and the ratchet handle turned. There is always debate about who the pressure is greatest on; the team chasing, or the team which is being chased. Watch that again. Watch the number of times we do this and score late goals. Neither chasing nor leading seems to bother us too much.
For the last year and a bit, this team has been playing like champions.
For me, then, it’s not about the fear that we will slip and see that capitalised on. Every week now is a chance for us to move further ahead. Every week that’s what we’re waiting for.
Will it be tomorrow? Who knows? We’ll find out in due course, but the thing is, as long as we keep winning we know that it’s going to come, and this team has been built to win.
Even when we don’t play well. Even when they stack the odds against us. Even with top players off form. Even when we aren’t at our scintillating best and crushing teams. Even when we have little periods of panic and almost stack those odds against ourselves.
We endure. We overcome. We rally. We win.
It was good to see Haksabanovic getting his goals today. It was good that he was able to get that reward for his recent form, which has been great. He’s had everything except for the goals, so now that he’s amongst it with those we’ll see much more.
His versatility is a huge strength to this team, and another excellent proof of the strength of our squad building.
There are goals all through this team.
We are not over dependent on one or two players.
Even on a day when we didn’t score nine, when Jota didn’t play the 90, when Abada didn’t start the game, when Maeda didn’t get on the pitch until right at the end there is still too much quality in the forward area for anyone to cope with. The quality is clear.
Ladies and gentlemen, that was a tough one … but this team is made of tough stuff.
Grit and determination, sheer will to win … and the quality to combine those things into goals and victory.
That is why we’re champions.
That is why our chasing rivals cannot catch us.
It is why they are wracked by the fear that the only thing they are waiting for is to fail.