Celtic’s Win Today Is Our Entire Season So Far In Miniature.

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The Jekyll and Hyde nature of this whole season was encapsulated today in 90 minutes of football at Celtic Park. We won and we deserved the win.

The second half was brilliant, and some of the football was actually superb. I could write flowery tomes on how good that 45 minutes were, but that would detract from the very real need to explore what went wrong, badly wrong, in the first half, which was as awful as the second hit all the right notes.

The stop-start nature of this league campaign is exemplified in the stop-start nature of some of our games. We seem, sometimes, to show up for just one half of the matches; in the same way, we’ve turned up for only one half of the season.

For every game of brilliant football there has been a turgid, deadening one. For every blazing 45 minute spell there has been another where we’ve barely shown up.

The first half today was painfully slow. The conditions played a part, for sure, but they weren’t the only factor. Brendan Rodgers spoke at full time and said much the same; we didn’t move the ball quickly enough, and you could see that right from the beginning.

It did not look as if we were a side trying to open a four point lead and that was hugely concerning. We all agreed at half time that something had to change.

I think most of us thought the same; take off Kuhn and/or Yang.

Neither had done nearly enough in the game. Yet the team came out for the second half with no changes … and yet everything had changed. The team stepped up a gear, and it was immediately apparent that we were playing with the verve the first half had lacked.

It took a moment of magic to open the scoring, but Hatate announced his return to Celtic Park with a peach of a strike. Kyogo made it two after we saw the movement off the ball and the precision of the passing that restored confidence …. and Adam Idah came on and got the third, and further made his case for being signed on a permanent deal.

We needed the win and we got that win, and those things should be all that matters, but the boss himself knows better and said as much in the post-match interview.

There are five league games to go; realistically, I think we need to win all of them. If we do that we are champions. But we will not do it turning up for five half’s rather than for five complete games. That was flat and dire today until we sparked to life after the break.

To be frank, that first half and displays like it are why we’re not 10 points clear and in cruise control. That second half and our ability to show up and produce is why we’re still in this in spite of too many dour displays. It’s our season in a nutshell, and which of those selves we bring to the rest of this campaign will decide how it ends.

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  • Saulgoodman says:

    James you’ve absolutely nailed it – nothing to add from me

    • Roonsa says:


    • Brian says:

      Exactly what I have said for months, but as usual the results all that matters brigade like to not look at the bigger picture. Sure ultimately the result is the main thing, but open your eyes people this league would be over if we played more 90 minutes. I hope we play the next 5 like cup finals. HH

  • Denis O’Connell says:

    Poor we were but, as in many a game, the referee exerted his authority influence by allowing fouls to go unpunished, or not punished sufficiently, as well as breaking up the tempo should it start to gain momentum.

  • Legend07 says:

    I believe the first half was like the majority of our season where teams come to parkhead or their own grounds for that matter. Where they sit in bore the sh*t out of us or feign injury time waste at every opportunity because they know they won’t be booked for it.
    Anges team struggled as well (although everybody seems to forget that) until the first goal goes in then the anti football side usually has no option but to open up.

  • Jim M says:

    It is strange that we seem to start some games slower when you know that after the athletico and Derby game we are so much more lethal when coming out of the traps and attacking straight from the off .

    Teams feared getting an absolute tanking when were at our best, hopefully this glitch that has hampered us disappears and as someone has already mentioned we play like every game left is a cup final.

  • Colin McDonnell says:

    There is definitely a good partnership forming between Kuhn and Johnston. I think you are unkind in your assessment of Kuhn. I thought he had a good contribution. I have high hopes for him.

  • Paul says:

    The problem is the opposite team slowed the game as much as possible 20 seconds plus for goals kicks and throw ins The ref allowed this along with diving and stopping the game as much as possible. Once we scored it changes the whole concept of the game which suits the way we play.

  • Brattbakk says:

    Time wasting in the first half from opposing teams is absolutely brutal to watch and they all do it to frustrate the crowd. It works, definitely on me anyway. The first goal sorted us out. I must admit I thought we’d made a huge mistake making the 6th sub, I never knew that rule and the whole way home I was worried. Phew! It’s a game ticked off the list.

  • PW says:

    I think the conditions played a huge part. The swirling wind was making passing unpredictable and was clearly restricting any fluency or rhythm. Made it easier for St Mirren to camp in and frustrate play.

    Got the job done. Pressure is all on Rangers.

  • Timbilly says:

    Our matches seem to consist of bad half/good half or vice versa. We need good half/good half now and for the remainder of the season.

  • M Mc says:

    BR has commented before that your namesake is the best winger at Celtic – his Cameo yesterday proved that without a doubt – immense!

  • Gerry says:

    Again, another very accurate article James.
    I always felt that yesterday was going to be quite a tough game, as St Mirren are very well organised. Like last Sunday v Sevco, we had to be at it from the opening whistle, and in the first half, our play was very slow and predictable, with not one shot on target.

    Games like these, you need quality in the wide areas, and Yang, in particular, was well below par. It’s important to mention yet again, the magnitude of losing Maeda for the run in!!!
    It’s now going to be imperative for BR to get the wide player duo, spot on, for our last 5 league games!!!

    The second half was so much better, as we looked a threat, every time we went forward. Hatate’s goal was excellent and calmed our nerves. Kyogo’s was typical of his predatory instincts, and courtesy of a wonderful cross by Johnston, who I thought was one of our best players, on the day, alongside CCV and Hatate.
    Idah demonstrated yet again, that he should be signed, if the requisite fee can be agreed! Good to see CalMac back, looking a lot sharper.

    One down, and five to go. We know there will be plenty of nervy and controversial moments still to unfold, and that we can’t expect favours from elsewhere. This title will be won through our own merits and efforts!!!

  • Michael Collins says:

    As you said James the weather conditions, there was a gale force wind and Celtic were kicking into it. In the second half the wind was behind us hence the reason we played so much better.

  • William Melvin says:

    Perhaps if the referee had exerted his authority we would have seen a more cohesive Celtic performance in the first 45 minutes.
    The time wasting and gamesmanship from a St Mirren side who actually proved in the 2nd half that they can knock the ball around really well when they want to was absolutely shameful.
    Twice,at Celtic corner kicks,when another ball had been supplied for the kick to be taken a Saints player went off the pitch retrieved the ball which had gone out of play ,carried it back onto the pitch and dropped it in the penalty area.
    All the while, the useless bastard of a referee McLean, watched and took no action.
    Another time,after sending the ball up the pitch, the Buddie’s keeper lay down in his 6 yard box for no apparent reason in an attempt to get the game stopped but then got back to his feet when he realised the incompetent ref,who SHOULD have stopped the game played on……….Hilarious !
    Add to this,the 3 stoppages for head injuries within the first 20 minutes and the other acts of prevarication and it is completely understandable that no real sense of rhythm could be established.
    And yet when the additional time board goes up after 45 minutes the 4th official has deemed all this warranted 3 additional minutes.
    The sooner we get people with a bit of backbone into the boardroom instead of these SFA/Hun appeasers the better.
    The game in Scotland is finished if this farce isn’t sorted out and if it’s as plain as the nose on your face that the huns win the title this season because of hun assisting officials and nothing is done then Pete the Parasite had better have a season ticket waiting list of more than 30,000 because he’s gonna need more than the mythical 15,000 we’re alleged to have.

  • Jimbhoy says:

    Thought St Mirren played well the first half. Great score line and Hatate on the scoresheet at 26/1.

    We could have hit 7 that second half.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    Ross Couuuuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnnnnnttttyyyyyyyyyyyyyy !

    Thank You ye Staggies !!!!

  • Peterbrady says:

    Well done staggies hail! hail! Come on Bonnie Dundee put the sevco zombies and big pissourback in there holes

  • Gerry says:

    Three cheers for the Staggies !

  • Magua says:

    Hopefully we can kick on from our current position. That result in Dingwall today, was unexpected…to say the least. Even if the Huns win on Wednesday, we still go into the split a point to the good. This season reminds me of the 1997-98 season. If we win this league, I will be a happy boy indeed.

    Hail Hail.

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