Yesterday, We Saw The True Strength Of Celtic … And The Weakness Of Our Rivals.

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For the last couple of days, I’ve been thinking, and writing on the blog, about Sun Tzu’s The Art Of War. When I read Callum McGregor’s comments about our “preparations being ready” my belief that we would win yesterday hardened into certainty. I slept like a baby on Saturday night, which is rare for me before a big game. I had no doubts.

I wondered if we would go for Shock & Awe.

It’s a strategy preached by the great general. But it overlooks another of his teachings, and it’s the one that has proved the most effective. In watching the game, it was clear what all the preparation had led to.

Our team functions as a single, perfect unit now. Ange has drilled this team like nothing we’ve ever watched. There will be some complaints that the performance was not exactly dazzling, but that rather depends on how you watched it.

Because the machine worked perfectly yesterday. It worked the way it was designed to. Ange gets a lot of credit for building an attacking juggernaut. He does not get enough for instilling other disciplines in this side as well. Hard work is a key reason we won yesterday and a key reason why we just keep on winning, game after game.

But Sun Tzu said it best; “The possibility of victory is in the attack. But invincibility lies in the defence.”

He could have been talking about our team.

Because if the opposition literally cannot score on you then you have, in a sense, become invincible.

Yesterday they fielded their best attacking footballers, and we rendered them irrelevant. Once you do that to an opponent, once your blunt their swords or plug their guns, once you make their attacking plays exercises in futility you sap their morale and leave them vulnerable to the sucker punch. We duly delivered on both fronts.

The midfield was exceptional. The defence was so good that it was outrageous. The more I watch Cameron Carter Vickers the more convinced I am that he’s the best centre back to play for this club in a long, long time. People will talk about Virgil Van Dijk for years, but he was a cultured footballer who you could tell was going to go far. Carter Vickers is a warrior, an old school centre back whose first function is simply stopping opposing attacks.

He was magnificent. He might well be Ange’s most important signing, and what he does is, in its own way, every bit as crucial and sexy and thrilling as Kyogo and Jota and others deliver at their end of the pitch.

The same goes for his partner in crime Starfelt, one of the most consistent players at Celtic Park, and still being underestimated in a big way.

That was a complete triumph yesterday, a tactical masterclass from Ange and the proof that the man is following a strategy which does not simply depend on superior firepower.

It may not have delivered a bucket-load of goals or even chances … but that’s rather the point. We built a wall that they found impossible to penetrate … and seized our moment when it came.

The talk over there now is of a “complete rebuild.” The Mooch has thrown to the wolves some of the players who next season he’ll be depending on. He’s in real trouble.

Ange in the meantime marches bravely forward.

The promise of this man’s appointment is about to be fulfilled in a big way. When he said the second season would be better than the first, with the first having already delivered a double, he was not kidding.

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  • John says:

    Another great performance. All around the pitch not a player put a foot wrong.

    Need to get Ange on a linger term contract

    • Peter Cassidy says:

      Celtic just coasting along yesterday you felt if needed they would and could go up a gear don’t get me wrong below par but they still can’t beat us . Regarding Cameron just a solid no messing centre half what a buy has been fantastic player for Celtic. When you see the dross they have at spurs at centre and they let him go for peanuts no wonder they are in a mess they had a top player in their ranks and sold him to Celtic more fools them great for us.

  • S Thomas says:

    It was biting your nails stuff to the extreme yesterday.. the good thing is we managed to still win which is very pleasing. I can’t believe Sakala missed that chance.. that was a terrible miss from there point of view, yesterdays match was fine margins, and it most certainly was that’s for sure. I see they are looking at a massive rebuild.. which won’t be easy to do. The thing with that is.. Celtic won’t stand still, we will strengthen as well. After yesterdays match.. I still think we need another couple of players. To finish on a positive note though.. we still won and that’s the main thing at the end of the day.

  • Neil Smith says:

    If Cantwell can harness the strength and aggression he put into defending their water bottles into his football he could be a giant like CCV ?

  • Henry McDade says:

    Can’t agree with this. At times our midfield really struggled. Hatate was poor and O’Riley was a bit hit and miss. If they had had a better forward line we might not have won. Instead, they had their worst forward line since the early 80s and it showed. Salaka missed a sitter and any danger seemed to come from their full back.

    We never really consistently clicked and ddn’t have many attempts on goal. Still, happy with the outcome and glad there is now additional pressure on the Mooch. Hail Hail.

    • Jackson says:

      Agreed Henry
      Hatate was poor and our midfield struggled a bit because of that…Calumn put in some shift on the day.
      Reo will be all the better for the outing.
      What can you say about Cantwell
      no class whatsoever …. Was hoping CCV would give him a “tackle”

    • Martin says:

      Spot on Henry. We were an open goal miss away from a draw or worse yesterday. We were well off it again. Jota was excellent but I felt before the game and with hindsight I still think starting Hatate was a mistake. On the plus side it gets minutes into his legs. I thought Mooy when he came on was good, which is great news for us.

      We’ve failed to dominate the games vs them too often and yesterday was no different. Yes, it was a defensive powerhouse but that’s not what we should be doing against domestic teams.

      The result is important, but I’m not buying the retconning that we were magnificent yesterday. There was little between the teams, especially after Morelos and Kent left the field to be replaced by people who actually did things.

  • Michael McCann says:

    What a MAN, what a TEAM, what a SUPPORT, nothing else to add

  • Mark B says:

    It was very close yesterday. If we are honest a draw would have been right. Second half for first 20 -25 mins we were poor and they dominated our midfield. We won I was there I am thrilled but the performance was more grit and winning ugly which you sometimes need to do. We need to keep building and another treble beckons wow

  • Effarr says:

    What utter rubbish! If the Daily Record had written something like that you would have been all over it. I must have been watching a different game from you yesterday. Celtic were atrocious. All the talk is about Celtic strengthening: so what about this so-called strong pool of players Ange has put together? If he goes out and signs more that must mean that a few of the ones he has already signed haven’t passed the test.

    I was delighted by the score but it was disappointing to see that they only made it and no more. I shudder to think what motivation they would have got if Tavernier’s shot would have gone in off the post.

    I think I’ll just reserve judgement on this Celtic team until they are tested in Europe, After all, if you look at all the results of this season, including the European adventures and all the friendlies, especially in Australia during the WC, you will see that not one victory was gained outside of Scotland.

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Was more releived yesterday at the end than pleased. If that lot had an on form striker in their team yesterday, a real target man, we couldve been in trouble. That was another lacklustre performance from us and tae me, in that 2nd half, it was like watchin lennon-kennedy days over again and it’s been a similar pattern these recent games. Hope they get it sorted.

  • Frank says:

    no midfielder with areal physical presence. A lot of our play we look like we might maybe put in a tackle when opposition have the ball but we dont. I think we lacked real bite when they had the ball and this is allowing them good possession and bossing games. Being honest they created the better chances and could have won and for me it was a mirror of most of the matches this year excluding the first one at home in the league

  • Andrew Lamb says:

    Got to agree with a couple of posts here. I thought we were poor overall, Hatate should never have played and they canceled out M’greggor.Yet they haven’t got the players to hurt us but I feel we are on the verge of being complacent and if they do get their act together I worry we will shoot ourselves in the foot again similar to what we did when we were going for 10. I know that Ange is unlikely to let standards slip that far but its hard to keep on winning.

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