Every game now, every match in the league, another date is marked off on the calendar and the countdown clock ticks down. Sixteen games to go now before the campaign ends, although we know that we will be celebrating a league title way before that.
What it means to the chasing band of misfits across town is that a little more hope dies on the vine, another possible route to a fantasy-land comeback is closed off.
The Green Machine, for that is what it now resembles – a machine which chews up the opposition and which rumbles on without mercy, a clinical thing which grinds up other sides – continues to look imperious.
We have seen sides that were solid looking and seemed much, much better than those around us, but I cannot remember ever having seen one that so resembles a great engine purpose-built to win football matches. It does this without even seeming to make much effort at times. It can produce in any weather, on any day, at any ground in the country.
It helps to have exceptional players, and we have a core of them at this club now and Kyogo Furuhashi is the first amongst equals. He has another two to his season tally, he is well on course for twenty in the league and I think there’s a realistic chance that he’s going to hit 30. His overall play is excellent, but in front of goal … incredible.
Even with a changed team tonight, and an all-new backline, with Juranovic in his least impressive position, we looked way too good. We had a sticky early five minutes where they had the ball in the net – rightly ruled offside – and gifted them a couple of opportunities, but once we got the game by the scruff of the neck the traffic was just one way.
It was good to see Kobayashi make his debut. He wasn’t tested much but breezed through it. The boy Johnston continues to grow into the right back position and I like the look of him. Our new midfielder Iwata didn’t get off the bench but we’ll see plenty of him in times to come, and I think we’re all looking forward to that.
There’s a lot going on around the club, although those who were having palpitations before the kick-off were assured that Giakoumakis absence was about nothing other than a late injury, and I would take that to the bank. He and Carter Vickers should be fit for the weekend, the manager said, and if not then they’ll be ready for Dundee Utd.
If Giakoumakis is still at Celtic when we travel to Tannadice.
He might not be. But then again, he might because we’re not going to sell him without a replacement and that’s not happened yet. We will see what transpires; don’t count on having seen the last of him or Juranovic. Don’t even rule out that one or both of them will be a Celtic player when the window shuts.
Our next league business is that game at Tannadice, a week on Sunday, with the transfer window drawing to a close.
That’s a tough one, and we’ll see how the squad looks when it kicks off … but tonight is another step closer to the title and an important psychological one considering St Mirren are the only team who have beaten us in Scotland this season.
The longer this campaign goes on the more that game will grind on me, because it’s starting to look as if it might be the only one we do lose.