Everyone At Celtic Is Ready For Next Week, But Especially Brendan Rodgers.

Image for Everyone At Celtic Is Ready For Next Week, But Especially Brendan Rodgers.

Today Steven Naismith’s side did exactly what we all expected them to do. They came to Celtic Park to make our lives difficult. They came to Celtic Park to get in our faces and let us know they were there. Had they approached the recent Hampden semi-final in the same manner they might have another chance to play us this season, and for the famous piece of silverware. Their performance was brutal. It was cynical. It was exactly what you expect from a Naismith team. And it was wholly ineffective.

Naismith has enjoyed himself this season, in no small part at our expense. Hearts sit in third having beaten us twice. Some of that is the result of self-inflicted wounds; when we played them at Celtic Park earlier in the season we got exactly what we deserved. We were poor. We were disjointed. We were a shambles, and it didn’t help that the mood that day, the atmosphere around it,, was horrible. The Green Brigade ban was in effect, the February window had shut with glaring holes in the squad, and fans were not impressed.

Some of the decisions that day were fairly lamentable as well. But by and large, we got what we deserved which was nothing. That was the first defeat against them. The second, at Tynecastle, was such an utter travesty that i don’t know a single fan who got angry at the manager or the players over it, so scandalous it was. I said in an earlier article that I thought our response to that was crucial to keeping going the feeling that we had this title in our own hands and that we had started playing like we believed we’d win it.

I thought last weekend was a tough battle, and I knew we would get that today. Hearts were not going to simply roll over as they did at Hampden; their whole appraoch would be markedly different, and it certainly was.

But today we were on a whole other level to them. They snarled, they clawed, they dived, they harassed, they elbowed. And we kept our discipline and our composure, We pegged them back into their own penalty box for much of the game. Before it kicked off, Naismith had been mouthing about how they didn’t fear us; he’s too stupid to know what it is he should and shouldn’t fear. He is ludicrously over-promoted .

I am writing this from the Celtic media room, and he was here not five minutes ago, answering questions from the handful of hacks. He looked like a man shaken out of a blissful dream into the proverbial rude awakening. That’s nothing compared to the one his board is facing when it finally comes to terms with how limited he is. This is a guy who talks a lot about how much he’s learning, but who in a few short weeks will lose to Ibrox’s current boss for the fifth time, and make it a clean six out of six defeats against their team since the season started. He cannot now even cling to the notion that he has least figured out how to beat us; we made mincemeat out of his team today.

What did we learn today? That this team was brilliant, at just the right time. We had a number of things we needed to achieve in that game and we achieved them all. We needed to win, and that was the first thing. We needed to produce a display that gave our morale a lift. We needed to see certain players back to their best.

And as far as those things go, that was a home run. The performance was excellent, the three points are secured and the big players had big, big games.

Rodgers praised them all but he singled out James Forrest, and after a campaign which has been characterised by the abject failure of the signings he beamed with pleasure as he spoke about a player who, in his eyes, has everything; high football intelligence, technical ability, strength and vision. If Forrest were just a couple of years younger, I do not think you would ever see him out of this side.

Rodgers also expressed his pleasure at the team, and the support of the fans. He spoke in some detail about the Matt O’Riley forward pass for Kyogo’s second goal, again about how he hasn’t changed anything about the way we are set up. He praised the atmosphere and the fans … and he crucially said that the physical preparations for next week are only 20% of the work left to do; the rest, he says, is mental.

And he dismissed any notion that he’ll be watching the game at Ibrox tomorrow on TV. He is taking the family away instead. This is Rodgers at his best in the same way the players now are. They’ll have the day tomorrow to enjoy, but as of Monday the work turns to the next game on the list, and you can tell how seriously he takes that when he dismissed the idea that even the fans were in celebratory mode today by saying he didn’t think that was the mood at all, that everyone realises there is still work to do.

I was so impressed by his demeanour and his confidence. The Ibrox fans are in a fury because when he did talk about the game next weekend he referred to having a bit of fun. Oh we’re all going to have a bit of fun.

Because Kyogo was superb. Forrest was quality. McGregor was immense. Hart did what he had to do when he had to do it … we’re ready, there’s no question about it. The team is firing, the fans are up for it … and the boss is cracking wise, engaging in a bit of psych warfare and exuding calm. It radiates off him.

That was the performance we needed on and off the park. It feels right. It just feels like we’re in a really good place now here, a feeling that I think started to grow after the big win at Motherwell and which a couple of poor results never dispelled. Today we had to be right up for it – because the opposition was – and we were. The top players turned up and gave top performances … but the boss himself, well, this is the Rodgers we’ve been waiting to see and he should scare the living daylights out of our rivals.

Share this article


  • Billy says:

    Wow..well done Jamsie and the rest of the bhoys. The biggest joy yesterday for me was seeing Callum our leader back to his best, bliss.

  • Gerry says:

    Yesterday transpired as I’d hoped and expected ! Apart from the first 15-20 mins, when Hearts came out, with their predictable gusto and aggression, our team performance was tremendous! To find ourselves 2-0 ahead when we were still finding our rhythm, is what champions do!

    Getting the early goal was not only a huge bonus, but essential to our whole mindset. The second goal was sublime, and underlined why Kyogo is the best striker in Scottish football!

    Play to his strengths, and play him in when he makes his runs, and the wee man will always deliver!

    Our team were dynamic, energetic, aggressive and stylish. They matched and oversaw Naismith’s approach & tactics with relative ease!

    The atmosphere was fantastic and the crowd enjoyed a wonderful performance from a team, that is ready to retain their rightful crown ! We do go on about consistency, but when we turn up like yesterday, with the stadium in full voice, there are no better places to be !!!

    Well done Celtic, and we move onto next week and hopefully, the title winning performance against Phil of Clement’s Sevconians!!!

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    Yep – Watched this in the pub and it was great fun indeed…

    The same next Saturday and we are as good as home n’ hosed !

    Brilliant for Brendan and The Bhoys !

Comments are closed.