Quality Shows And Celtic Are In A Good Place. Elsewhere, The Agony Goes On.

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There are two very different moods tonight on either side of the Glasgow divide. Both teams won, and for one half that’s actually part of the problem. Our club is building momentum. Across town their fans know what they watched today was a papering over the cracks. At Celtic you get the feeling that this is a team which is steadily ramping up.

That was apparent even in a first half where we didn’t score in spite of all our efforts. Nowhere today was the feeling of stress and panic I remember from the St Johnstone game some weeks ago, that sense that points were slipping away. One of the reasons I felt that way was the strength of our subs bench, which has as much quality on it as I’ve seen in a while.

There was always the sense that if the guys on the pitch at the start couldn’t get it done that we could turn to them and find out what they could do. As it is, we’d made just one change – taking off Phillips at half-time, I presume because he was only ever meant to get 45 minutes, to bring Lagerbeikle on. That the boss kept the faith with Liam Scales was, I thought, excellent. That’s a sign that if you earn a place here you will keep it.

That said, with the strength of this squad some people need to up their game. I didn’t think Turnbull was bad today, but too many of his passes were too short or too long and in the bloody battle for one of only three midfield slots when there are so many others in competition he will have to be a lot better to hold down his starting slot.

No such worries today for Daizen “Danger Mouse” Maeda who I thought was absolutely exceptional and was very unlucky not to get the opener; only the VAR decision, which I definitely want a better look at, prevented it.

He was outstanding and I think he’s the only player I enjoy going away on internationals because when he returns he’s always got an extra edge to his play, an extra yard to his pace, as if being back amongst so many of his countrymen has reinvigorated him.

I thought certain other players had good games today, especially O’Riley and Kyogo. But the moment we’d all waited for, more even than the debuts for Palmas, who impressed mightily, and Bernardo, was the return of Reo Hatate … and the whole team just went up a gear the second he was on the pitch. There is no doubt at all that he elevates us.

His being fit is critical. It is great seeing him back in the side, because the whole machine just looks more complete when he is in the middle of the pitch and running his show. That run out should put him in pole position for the Champions League game in midweek.

I would be amazed if the man of the moment, Liam Scales, doesn’t start in that game, having had another very steady day today. I would be surprised if Yang does not start, as he’s really a great player and it stands out a mile that we’ve got a real gem there. Palmas is going to find it tough to crack this side, but he apparently has the skill-set for it so we’ll see. Maeda looks comfortable on both the left and right, and defenders look uncomfortable facing him.

Kyogo, of course, continues to astonish everyone who watches him and wonders why that guy was allowed to languish in the J League all these years when he’s clearly capable of a major step up. How major? This will be the season we find out, in Europe, but i am really glad that we tied him up on a longer deal before we get a chance to.

We’re not there yet. This team is not yet at the level of the Ange team, or even previous Rodgers sides. But it’s coming, you can see that, the pieces are starting to click together and although we played a team today which demonstrated breath-taking cynicism and came to Parkhead to play for a draw, we broke them down through sheer perseverance and, in the end, having too much quality. And we’re five games into the season and four points clear of Ibrox.

When this team does hit its higher gear we will leave them in the dust. And their fans know it too. They are in that awful twilight zone where watching your team has become a chore and a test of your endurance, and the football itself is a slog which makes you want to gouge out your eyes, and through it all you know it can’t go on and you badly want it to end, and so every victory just extends the agony … and something worse. It refuses to extinguish hope.

And it’s the hope that kills them, every single time.

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  • Scud Missile says:

    It will be interesting to see how the hacks put the positive spin on sevco’s win today,while digging up the negatives in our win.

  • Horsis says:

    Don’t know what game you were watching. Dundee were up for it and could’ve had a couple of goals. Hart had a great save first half and we needed a fortuitous penalty to go ahead. A stronger team may have taken points off us today

  • Martin.H says:

    Why doesn’t Brendan like Reo? He lifts the crowd and makes us a better team.

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    It IS the hope that kills them. Ye only have tae look at obviously ragin mark pirie of the DR’s articles. One makin a case against his favourite clubs disallowed goal at Perth. And the other, a case against Celtic’s penalty award. So typically, his reaction is tae highlight some sort of negativity about our win. Clearly hurtin.

    • Wee Gerry says:

      If you’re on Twitter ask him when was the last time they had a penalty awarded against them in the league.

      He’ll hate that as it was some 55 games ago now, with another similar figure before that.

      So one penalty against in some 110 or so league games.

      Pure ‘coincidence’, they say.

  • Johnno says:

    As a team we are continuing to be heading in the right direction, even if our overall performance remain in fairly low gear still.
    The overall quality within the squad will continue to grow, I believe.
    The real challenges ahead start next week with the CL, and are we actually ready for such a challenge?
    One thing’s for sure is Rodgers needs to get the team selection right, to get any chance of getting the right result.
    Wouldn’t like to be calling it, but surely hatate has to start ahead of turnbull?
    A decent work out today, and great to give the newer players a bit of game time also.
    The overall depth of the squad is looking far better than a few weeks ago and the quality of the performances will improve also when everyone within the squad gets to know each others game a bit better, yet a few decent moments of quality football shown today all the same.
    Still believe another gear upon improvement will be required in order to gain a result in the CL opener, but Rodgers has to get the team selection right from the start.
    Hatate has to start ahead of turnbull, as we remain a far better team with hatate on the pitch than off it.
    CL will be a massive test for ourselves, not convinced that we will be actually ready for the opening game, but nothing is going to be decided upon 1 game either.
    Still looking forward to the start of the CL campaign, where our home form will remain crucial, but confidence is continuing to grow along with the performances, so could well be in for a better CL campaign than many are expecting.

  • John smith says:

    Awful first half,(almost eye gouging) much better second half ,when the subs came on, Turnbull shouldn’t be anywhere near a Celtic shirt imop,,,,

    • Wee Gerry says:

      He hasn’t improved in any way since he arrived as yet another ‘prospect’ and the fact he’s keeping the imperious Hatate out the team is bordering on the scandalous.

  • Johnny Green says:

    I agree wholeheartedly James, we are stoking things up and we will continue to improve on a weekly basis. I just hope our CL participation doesn’t upset the applecart too much.

    I do wish you though, that you would stop referring to the huns as ‘Ibrox’, for it’s a wee bit disrespectful. I think Sevco is a much better description and it annoys the fk out of them.

  • Jackson says:

    Turnbull was his usual self.. woeful
    he slows it all down… fans were screaming for him to be subbed…even one guy posting “ a half fit Hatate is better than a fully fit Turnbull”…., spit on


  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    Sevco will be under some pressure in these four home games…

    Normally you’d say Livingston in The League Cup would be a given for Sevco…

    But if wee Davie has an eye on Beale’s managerial chair then he might just have his team up for that one !

    • Wee Gerry says:

      ‘The Crook Outs The Fraud’ is a headline you will not read in the Record if that were to happen.

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