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Celtic May Be In The Ascendent Now, But It Is Up To Our Manager To Keep Us There.

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Last weekend’s result changed the narrative around Scottish football. The media had a very clear idea of where they thought this was going. The Ibrox club were in the ascendent. Celtic was the house divided, with a manager who had lost his mojo. In the space of just over a week the whole thing has been completely upended and the scale of their folly is now clear.

Brendan Rodgers is an outstanding appointment. It was the height of nonsense for the media to get its hopes up that Celtic might collapse under his leadership. The Ibrox managers “rebuild” was being talked up even as recently as a fortnight ago.

People in the media thought, when we went out of the cup and were facing the prospect of going with an injury hit team to Ibrox that we would quickly spiral. According to the accepted wisdom, the draw against St Johnstone put us on the brink.

But I argue regularly on this site about the fundamentals, and ours have always been strong.

We have the money. We have the squad. We have the better manager. These things were always going to make the critical difference over the course of a season. Nothing is decided in the short term. For all that, their “hopes” were not wholly ridiculous. Because this is when momentum sometimes starts to accrue, and so far it hasn’t yet.

That’s what we have to change in the course of the next few weeks. It will not be easy. Dundee at home is followed, in the league, by two difficult away ties. Livingston away is first. Then Motherwell away. Before this “cycle” ends we’ll also visit Tynecastle and Easter Road. I can’t remember a team ever getting such a difficult run of away games this early.

But we’ve come through two immensely difficult ones, at Pittodrie and Ibrox.

There is no reason for us to be concerned, and if we do this, if we make a success of it, we will face all these teams, at home, on the back end … and that might be massive for us.

It is up to the manager now to start that momentum rolling. He has a huge job in front of him, and that our run of fixtures comes dotted between Champions League games is murderously hard.

If they had wanted to design it to be as difficult as possible, they could not have done it more effectively. Yet we will play Tuesday and Wednesday games; it is the Ibrox club which will have to play Thursdays and Sunday’s and that gives us a psychological lift if we hit form.

We have a lead, and that is important. We have a cushion, and that might well be vital. We’re also not, at the moment, under the spotlight. Ibrox took care of that for us. It is not, now, Celtic who look in disarray. It is the club across the city, and the depth of their crisis is apparent now to people who have been ignoring the evidence of it for weeks.

That has removed the pressure from us in a big, big way. For openers, people are not focussed on whether our new players are a success; they are focussed on how big a failure those at Ibrox have been up until now. It could all change, but that’s the point.

This is the window we have, and which the manager and the players must use, to ramp that pressure up by going on that winning run, and the psychological aspect of it will be all the stronger because the games are going to be difficult and the opposition challenging to us.

Because if we get through this with a four-point lead minimum it is hard to see how that changes as we go into the second phase of the season. If we’re still four points clear when they come to Celtic Park, we can strike a devastating blow and take this out of their hands … in January. If their manager survived until then, I think that would be the end of him.

Brendan rotated the squad last time he was here, especially after European games. He has the ability to do so here, but that has to be balanced, of course. Most fans would prefer we didn’t mess with the team too much week to week … so that’s the first decision the boss is going to have to make and he has to nail it. But this is where his experience works.

He will know what sort of tinkering he can get away with.

There will be some, and we know it, because there has to be. But I expect him to do it in moderation and in smart places. Home games will see more rotation than games away from home, for example.

We may not win pretty. That’s something we have to be willing to tolerate until every player has been fully switched on to the way he wants them to play. All that matter is that we win, that we keep winning, and that we start putting points on the board on a regular basis.

Beating Martindale will be particularly pleasing, this early in the game … that’s a tough ground. Motherwell are playing well, so their game will not be an easy one for us.

Still, we should have enough about us to win.

We should have enough about us to do the job at hand. I don’t think, when the season started, that any of us expected to be four points clear coming out of Ibrox, even if our side had been on top form. It’s a major advantage, and that’s why we have to press it. The manager has a big task here, but he’s the man for it.

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  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Tho the usual suspect tabloids, find a way tae keep up the negativity where we’re concerned. Right now it’s frequent insinuations and highlightin from any ‘source’ they can scrape about and weed out, that there are Celtic fans who ‘have it in’ for Brendan Rodgers. There were and still are, differences of opinion in the support about BR’s re-assignment, tho i’ve never met any Celtic supporter, not one, who wants tae see him fail in any way since he arrived back. It’s typical of the type of shit the media’ll shovel out there.

  • Fun time frankie says:

    When are this board going to grab the SFA by the baws and tell them we ain’t taking their shite any more away fixtures against aberdeen,sevco,livingston,motherwell,hearts and hibs and all done at random by a computer my arse, jesus you could get 6 numbers in the lottery easier,get your finger out board members of just do the decent thing and get the fuck.

    • SFATHENADJROFCHIFTINESS says:

      Comment of the DAY.
      Just wish they would, for once, just go to SFA/ SPFL and say, ‘ Play it straight, level playing field for all, get the Lanarkshire Referees Ludge and their VARmen in line or else we refuse them admission to Parkhead,
      We’re the biggest Club in Scotland and the Board should start acting like it. We should be leading the game forward for the benefit of all. Not the whipping boy for Bigots, Crooks and Cheats.

  • Mark Rouse says:

    I’m still trying to get my head around the random fixtures generated by the computer. Celtic face the teams who finished 2, 3 4 5,6, and 7, last season all away from home in the first and third round of fixtures. Meaning if the league finishes broadly similar we face a third trip to two of these grounds. The reverse scenario applies to the team playing accross the city. I thought the idea was to balance the fixtures based on the previous league positions.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    Very sensible indeed not to ever get too complacent and cocky in the world of football for sure and I’m sure Brendan will never allow it to happen…

    My goodness – How often have we heard the Liebrox bragmasters publically spout such cocky tripe from the rooftops only to fall flat on their faces, yet they never seem to learn one little bit from their folly and neither do their fans…

    On another paragraph from yet another excellent article of journalism…

    This absurd ‘random’ computer fixture anomaly of 6 away outta 8 or 4 away outta 5 is it – and bang slap in the middle of a Champions League group campaign as well…

    And quelle surprise – not a peep to The SPFL from the yellow old cowardice men in grey suits that are our ‘custodians’ –

    I don’t give Sevco praise very often but if the boot was on the other foot their manager, limited as he appears to be, and directors would be screaming (and rightfully so) from the heavens about this, and in situations of sticking up for perceived or other injustices against their club they would shame our board night and day 24/7/365 days of the year !

  • Johnno says:

    The start of the season was designed to help the scum as much as possible with making thing’s as hard as possible for ourselves.
    I believe it was designed due to the fear factor that Rodgers brings to the scum, along with there media cheerleaders.
    That plan is now in tatters, when we shredded it to pieces at the scummy shit hole, while understrenght and plenty of room left to actually play much better also.
    We hopefully will really see what values will bring to ourselves over the next 2 games?
    Couldn’t be more different in approach to opposition faced and circumstances involved.
    Massive changes required in tactical approach to such games with the standard involved.
    Has always been a problem for a celtic manager to find the solution, where the term’s of quality faced is so vast between the 3 team’s we face in a week.
    Injuries within a squad are an inconvenience, but can’t be used as an excuse either.
    The next 3 games is where the value of the squad will be tested and a huge test for Rodgers in how he manages the squad, game time, selection process, subs, etc etc in 3 games under such totally different circumstances involved for each game.
    This is where a top manager really earns his money with making the right decisions involved, while installing the belief into the players in getting the right results that our club demands.
    A fair few questions have been raised over squad depth and quality within it?
    Will get a far clearer answer to the question over the next 3 games for sure.
    Personally believe we are well capable of matching the demands involved, with a better squad depth than many aren’t convinced by imo.

  • Frank says:

    granted they are tough away fixtures James but a think thats better cos these teams have to come out playing at home surely. If we can get the early goal in these matches it could work out really well for us. I think given the way teams are setting up against us at home makes it tougher for us to break them down. A just hope am right and not talking pants

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