International Week Is Over, And Celtic Are Hurtling Towards A Crazy End To The Year.

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I enjoyed the Scotland game the other night very much, and I thought it was the sort of match that the national team would have lost a few years back, before Clarke steadied the ship first and then pointed it in the right direction. He’s done a fine job.

The end of the game meant the end of the international break. Thank God. I do like to watch Scotland, but they aren’t a substitute for watching Celtic and the one thing for sure is that in the next month we’re going to have plenty of opportunities to see our own team.

We have two matches now before the end of this month, at home against Motherwell and then away against Lazio. Two important games for their own reasons. That sees us through to the end of November, and pushes us into December.

It has been one Hell of a month. Next month is going to be flat out crazy, opening with St Johnstone away on 3 December and not letting up. We hurtle straight into the game against Hibs three days later, at Celtic Park. Four days after that we take on McInnes’ mob on their horrendous plastic pitch, our first visit there since going out of the League Cup.

Three days later is our final European game, against the Dutch club Feyenoord, at home. That’s on 13 December. On 16 December we have Hearts at home. The seven-day rest before Livingston come to Celtic Park on 23 December is our only midweek off.

It’s Dundee away, three days later, and three after that it’s the Ibrox club coming to our home ground on 30 December before we round off the games until the winter break with St Mirren away.

That’s a mammoth number of games in a short time; weeks like these, where it seems to go on forever, are a thing of the past for a while. The sheer number of Celtic we’re going to play before the turn of the year could turn this into a make-or-break spell.

Fortunately, most of these games are at home but we should not underestimate the St Mirren and Kilmarnock away days, not in fact any of our opponents even at Celtic Park.

This is the kind of run that tests squads to the limit.

I think ours is good enough and strong enough, but the injury to Palma last night was the kind of thing we can do without. We don’t know timeframes on certain injuries or when players are expected to be back, but it’s not impossible that we will go through the year without Maeda, Abada and Hatate.

When modern critics of the number of games complain that players aren’t getting adequate rest – with even summers no longer sacrosanct, as filled with tournaments and tours and cash-grabs as they are, not to mention European qualifiers which get earlier all the time, this is the kind of schedule they are talking about.

If we get through it with a series of wins, then that’s huge. Because the side across the city has an even more nightmarish fixture schedule, involving having to travel to several of the toughest away grounds. We remain the only story, the onus remains on us to do our own business and let them worry about their own form.

It will require us keeping everyone fit. Rotating the squad to make sure people aren’t burned out. To keep winning, and doing so in a way that doesn’t leave us scrapping for points. But we’re good enough.

We’ve seen that on the away run from the first section … although it’s hard to remember us playing so many games in a short space of time.

I think our squad is in better nick than the one across town, even with critical injuries. That, I reckon, is what will tell over the course of the coming month. And the coming month might well be the one that decides the destination of the title.

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  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    I’m not pleased with ‘Celtic fan’ Stevie Clarke playing Cal-Mac for 89’ minutes last night while the Sevco protected species Ryan Jack Just sat warming the bench…

    And he played in the other dead rubber as well –

    Was that orders from your bosses upstairs Stevie ‘Bhoy’ –

    Anyway congratulations Scotland on qualifying for Germany 2024 and May Those Celtic supporters going enjoy Germany – How will any Sevco Huns cope with all these Scotland Independence flags on show…

    But it still makes me bloody sick about Maxwell, Doncaster and Co. dining out on the hard graft of our Cal-Mac amongst others !

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Think that’s all the more reason for us tae bring in players and strengthen in key positions. Could turn out tae be hugely important if we want tae keep the rest chasin.

  • Johnno says:

    Can’t ever recall a period of late that even though Celtic are going to miss the firepower that Abada, Maeda and Hatate bring to this team, and yet feel fairly relaxed going into such a busy period of matches?
    Don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t want the injuries to increase by any means.
    Still enough confidence within the squad to overcome this busy period especially within the SPFL.
    The trip to Rome will be a massive challenge especially without Palma, and should be interesting to see how Rodgers will handle the problems the future arises all the same?
    Time for maybe a few to step up, including possibly Johnson and Tilo to see what they are made of with the challenges to overcome.
    Finish this period by extending our advantage over the scum and the title should be as good as ours imo.
    Yet we still have to remain weary of what Scottish football does bring with it, that still has to be overcomed maybe even more so than what the opposition have to offer against ourselves on most occasions?

  • Patrick Cannon says:

    Good article James, the schedule we’ve had so far has been tough to say the least (the random computer aimed for the benefit of one club never fails). But overall we’ve came through it well, obviously not plain sailing but nevertheless the bhoys did well so I’m quite confident the club will rise to the occasion and see it through. That’s because everyone is pulling together

  • SSMPM says:

    Scotland may well have lost or drawn those last 2 games in the past instead they were unconvincingly fortunate to draw both of them. I understand you have hope for the SFA team because … well I guess you have your reason, can’t be more than your birthplace though. There can be no other reason surely for the admiration of football dullness in a team that was 2nd best in both games. Thank goodness the dull ditch water’s gone and we’re back to watching the footballing Hoops this weekend. HH

  • SSMPM says:

    @Clach. Clarke wasn’t much of a loudly outspoken Celtic fan if I remember correctly. If he was it was of a quiet interest. His older brother Paul played at Killie, and so as the younger brother he was given every support possible to progress at the same Catholic school, big Roy Aitken, great friends of Tommy Burns, and Mark Read were a couple of years above us. Bobby Lennox lived locally and would often been seen at our games. Loved Bobby and was very supportive of local schools football.
    Funny that the huns talked of Clarke as a possible manager given his background. He was the year below me and promoted up and allowed the opportunity to play up a year with our team, a team that won everything bar the Scottish schools cup. He wasn’t able to do it and went straight back down again and I don’t remember him being that good tbh or talking up Celtic, though Killie did come up perhaps mainly due to his brother though. He went onto play juniors in Ayrshire, seeming to develop better as he got older then went to St. Mirren. There was talk of Celtic interest but he went south with Chelsea when they were pretty pants pre Maurinho where Clarke was coaching.
    As an aside, Paul Clarke was a big strong player and of the two the better defender imo. Paul’s claim to fame was that he was in the intro to sportscene for years with a great hitch kick goal line clearance away at Partick. Hated living there, full of huns. HH

    • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

      Was that Kilmarnock all these Huns were living in SSMPM –

      It seemed full of them in Irvine one day I got stuck there due to a train line closure with nowhere to go but the pub…

      I remember Celtic being after him around 1987 when Davie Hay was the manager and the Celtic chairman Jack McGinn telling him (allegedly) that – “If you wanna buy Stevie Clarke for £400,000 you’ll need to buy him outta your own pocket”

      Misers then – Misers now – Misers forever !

  • Fun time frankie says:

    James,imo we won’t qualify for 3rd place in the EL ,so why not send all the players who aren’t getting a lot of game time and that allows the bhoys that are always on international duty a free midweek.

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