Tomorrow, Celtic Should Focus On Keeping It Simple. Goals Don’t Require Perfection.

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Tomorrow is cup final day. Be honest; has this week dragged on, or has this week flown by?

I think in some ways it’s gone in the blink of an eye. In another way it has lasted forever.

I’ve spent much of it working. When I haven’t been working, I’ve been reading.

And I read a brilliant piece of movie arcana which I thought illuminated one of the points I’ve been intending to make prior to this game.

Let me tell you about the single shot from a 1990 movie that cost $80,000.

It is just ten seconds long, and it happened in Brian De Palma’s film Bonfire Of The Vanities, based on the outstanding novel, from 1987, by Tom Wolfe.

I’ve loved the book since the first moment I picked it up, in high-school. As a consequence, I loathe the film although I love De Palma’s work. I found it hard to believe that he had ever produced such a dreadful picture.

But the movie did spawn a book of its own; Julie Salamon’s The Devil’s Candy, a staggering behind the scenes expose of the making of the film, and that is a treasure, and it was in that book that I discovered this quite amazing story.

One of the lead characters – Maria Ruskin – played by Melanie Griffiths, flies into JFK, and De Palma wanted a scene which captured her persona. Now, De Palma is a perfectionist and doesn’t like to make conventional films in a conventional way, and neither do his people.

One of them was Eric Schwab, his second unit director, who bet De Palma $100 that he could do one of the most hackneyed shots in all of film-making – the landing of an airplane – in such a unique way that De Palma would have no choice but to include it in the movie.

They made a bet. Schwab won it, although it cost the studio $80,000 to do it.

The shot he envisioned was this; a Concorde coming in to land on the runway at JFK, framed by the setting sun, and the Empire State Building visible in the background. As straightforward as it sounds, the complexity of that shot was enormous and it’s still unbelievable to consider it today.

To do it right, without digital technology, Schwab found out that the sun would only be in the position he wanted it for exactly 30 seconds of the year … as amazing as that sounds it’s true. He would need everything in place and ready to shoot at two minutes before sunset on 12 June.

And as if that wasn’t difficult enough, the Concorde would need to be landing on that exact runway, at that exact moment. So, he spoke to Air France, and he rented a Concorde and its crew to basically take off and land in that precise 30 second window, and he and his crew used a five-camera setup to make sure that they got the shot right.

Of course, he succeeded and De Palma had to include it in the movie where it stands as a testament to film-making ingenuity and persistence.

Here’s the thing; it accomplishes no story-telling function. It is a shot of a plane landing, for which they could have bought a piece of cheap stock footage and stuck it in there. But Schwab wanted something special and De Palma wouldn’t have used it otherwise.

For all that, it lasts just ten seconds. Some might call it overkill.

Well, that’s what I think we try to do sometimes under this manager.

I’ve watched our games carefully. There is a tendency to over-elaborate. There is a tendency, I think, to try too hard to play beautiful football, an effort almost to walk the ball into the net. But what’s required sometimes is that the team keep it simple.

We don’t need to create the football equivalent of Schwab’s famous shot, although I sometimes feel that we’re trying to do something very similar … to produce something that is pleasing on the eye and endlessly rewatchable, rather than simply functional.

It’s one of the reasons I grind my teeth at those moments when one of our penalty takers tries to be too clever with a Panenka or some other derivation … it’s show-boating when sometimes what you want is for the guy to be focussed and hit something unsavable.

Odsonne Edouard scored with a Panenka in the 2020 Quadruple Treble final … and I remember being pretty relieved he’d succeeded and pissed off with him for trying it at the same time.

I get the attraction of the fancy stuff, of course, because everyone loves it when we produce a piece of football artistry, just as critics drooled over that landing sequence. We did it a couple of times against Kilmarnock, and against Hearts. The opener against the Ibrox club was one of the best bits of football in the whole of the game.

But there were moments during the second half when we were inside or just on the edge of their box, when we should have been killing the game off, and I thought that too many players were looking for the stunning pass, or the perfectly placed finish, rather than just doing the simple thing and leathering the ball into the net.

There was too much taking that extra second, as if everyone wanted the game decided by a goal of the season contender.

Hey, if the result doesn’t go your way your fans won’t care that you scored an otherworldly, although, like Schwab’s famous scene (and a handful of other brilliantly shot sequences) in an otherwise poor film, it will probably be talked about for years afterwards.

But the result is what matters, and I just feel like we had a real opportunity to put them to the sword and we let them off the hook. Some will say that it’s unimportant, that we got the result we needed, but what if they’d gotten a late equaliser because we hadn’t been ruthless enough to kill the game stone dead?

We’ve scored the ethereal goals against them this season and in season’s past; Kyogo’s blinding strike could have swept the goal of the season boards, and it should have because it was a beauty and one of the best pieces of technical brilliance in the campaign. When we play the pacy stuff with the running off the ball and everyone seeming to move as if by telepathy it looks truly spectacular and it leaves the opposition with no possible counter.

We’ve done it enough this season to know that we have that in us, and we can produce it to devastate any side in the league.

I hope to see plenty of it at Hampden.

Yet, there are moments when the extra touch is not necessary, when the extra pass is not desirable, when all you really want is for someone to have a crack and test the keeper.

I want us to hurt them tomorrow. I want us to leave psychological scars on that club which it will spend the whole summer trying to recover from.

I want to see us go in for the kill, and once that’s done, we can indulge in all the overkill we want.

You can play all the exhibition football you please when you’ve smashed the opposition so thoroughly, they are a demoralised mess.

Until that’s done, though, the onus should be on the clinical rather than the cinematic.

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  • Bert says:

    I agree James we can showboat when we’re well ahead, I think we will win and win well. Then watch the implosion and aftershocks at the house of the hun hoardes.


  • Bryan Coyle says:

    Totally agree James we’ve been 2 up in 3 games v Sevco but haven’t put them to the sword and hanging on at the end in my opinion.Let’s bury the huns tomorrow.

  • Migano2000 says:

    SPOT ON!!!

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    Just win Celtic…

    Pleeeeeeezzzzzze Just Win –

    Anyway – Whatever way – Just Win (Cheatin Apart of course)…

    If it takes a 20 ball ping pong ricochet in The Sevco Penalty Box going in of the post off Tavernier’s arse then that’ll do just fine for me as long as it’s the winner then that’ll do just fine for me…

    C’mon The Hoops –

    JUST DO IT !!!!!

  • 1887888 says:

    I’ve been saying all season we have a fault in being profligate with chances, not putting teams away, and finding ourselves left with a worrying last 10/15 minutes

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Their game plan will be tae stop us playin, they’ll be more physical and aggressive, nae doubt about it. So we’ll need tae expect and be up for that. Tho if we show up the way we can, we’ve the players who’re well capable of pickin them off. And of course, what influence or effect, var beaton has on the game remains tae be seen. Anyway, we’ll soon see. HH.

  • Mr Magoo says:

    I don’t give a damn how we score goals James.

    I don’t care if we long ball it into the net with a long ball, a sclaff of a pass off McGregors left testicle or your namesakes right boot .

    We will destroy those pretenders tomorrow and that hopefully will put their whole club in such a state that admin 2 will follow over the summer.

    Wishful thinkin but imagine the joy of it

    Their proper manager, fullapee , will be foaming at the mouth live on tv.

    Their open air music festivals (100 of them) over the nxt 2 months will be banned for life in Scotland because of all the hatred and disgusting behaviours of the brethren that will finally be seen as the hatefests that they are.

    I will be watching the game from a hospital bed but am excited for the team to do us proud.


    • Scouse bhoy says:

      Admin 2 is impossible this ibrox club has never been in administration in its history.

    • Gerry says:

      Hope you feel better soon and that tomorrow provides the perfect medicine and positive tonic!

    • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

      Get Well Soon Mr Magoo – And Hopefully Brendan and The Bhoys have ya feeling a lot better tomorrow !

  • Woodyiom says:

    Spot on! I’ve said that all season long – we take one touch too many and we play one pass too many, we try beating the defender one time too many times. The time for that is when you’re 4-0 up with 15mins to go, NOT when you’re 2-1 up with 35mins to go just because the opponents are down to 10men !!!

    The last two games showed what simple QUICK passing to someone running through and behind to the bye-line does. Rangers are weak defensively – lets use that first time pass, the first time movement to exploit them and have a shot – yes Butland may save some – but he won’t be able to parry every shot to safety, and with players like Maeda, Forrest & Kyogo up top its a certainty that they will react quicker than the Rangers backline…

    • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

      Rangers aren’t weak defensively Woodyiom as no club that is dead can play defensively or anything else for that matter…

      However SEVCO can be weak defensively and hopefully that’s the case tomorrow –

      And these are some excellent points that you raise in your post that I wholeheartedly agree with to hopefully overcome Sevco – The Football Club that as of tomorrow are aged…

      11 years and 301 days old !!!

  • John Copeland says:

    There is no reason why Celtic cannot play the game like the most recent one against Kilmarnock ,where it was a 5-0 hammering ,going on 10 ! Unrelenting attack,after attack ,after attack ,twisting McInnes ‘ team into book ends and the game was over by halftime . Go 3- 0 nil up in the first half hour ,then rub theRangers ‘ noses in the brown apple sauce in humiliation until the end . Let’s leave the very best for last ……

  • Effarr says:

    I would agree 100%. Too often, good chances are scorned by trying to be too smart by, as you say, the extra pass, or even a pass that gets ignored. Sometimes I feel that the ignorant (as per you-know-who) lob into the box would at times be better than trying to walk the ball into
    the net. It certainly causes a bigger panic than the fancy football does as shown almost every
    week by the Celtic defence.

  • JimBhoy says:

    I foresee a big Celtic win tomorrow. Make mine a double. HH, mon the hoops.

  • Gerry says:

    You’ve hit the nail on the head James. I do agree, that at times this season, aside from other frustrations, we have indeed, over elaborated in our play.

    With all due respect to our manager, team and club, it’s in our DNA, to play a certain way. That’s undeniable, and one of the many reasons we all enjoy supporting this club.

    However, we can be accused, at times, of trying to score the perfect goal and I’ve said that a few times this season, when watching our games…especially at home!!

    When it comes off, fantastic, but if we’re toiling, as we have on several occasions this season, it can be hugely frustrating.

    Let us all hope that from the first minute tomorrow, we are dynamic, stylish, technically superior, and most importantly, clinical, when chances arise. If we do that, and win this cup, we shall all be delighted.

    Quiet confidence, is again, the name of the game here. We are league champions ( again,) we have a fully fit and hungry squad, we are well prepared and we are, or should be, fully equipped for everything and anything they may show up with.

    Big Phil of Clement has kept his team news to himself, but has stated that he may have to take a few risks with his team selection. I may be wrong, but it’s not the sort of statement that you want to hear from your team’s manager, before a cup final ! Though I’m sure our beloved SMSM will put the necessary positive spin on this, for the Sevconian clan!

    It’s the final Derby clash of the season, and with our record against them, why shouldn’t we be quietly confident?

    In Brendan and our bhoys, we trust, and hope that they not only win the cup…but that it can be won in the traditional Celtic manner!
    With smoothness, style and swagger ! HH

  • Bunter says:

    So true James. For years I’ve watched Celtic and score the perfect goal. Just hit it and get into the net!
    Tomorrow we need to do this and kill the walking dead off. Celtic will be ‘Masters of the Universe’ once again!
    By the way, Tom Wolfe’s ‘Bonfire of the Vanities’ is my favourite book and is a true masterpiece. Film was so bad though. A real disappointment. But I might watch it again just to see the 10 second Concorde landing scene!

  • Andy Franks says:

    Hi James, I’ve commented a few times on your articles – they ain’t blogs! I don’t always agree with you, but I think you write not only from the heart, but from belief – anyway, I don’t know whether you’ve seen Ewan Murray in the Guardian latest pile of crap – I assume you have, anyway – I just sent this email to The Guardian

    Please, please get rid of you golf loving “Scottish Football correspondent”. And get someone who actually gives a crap about Scottish fitba’ – you have great journalists on German, Italian, French, even American football, but a half-rate guy (I’m being VERY nice), who doesn’t give a toss about Scottish football – his hatred of Celtic is unreal – and the fact he still can’t get his head around the fact that Rangers 1872, were liquidated and then became TheRangers (Sevco2012), is unreal – and he reckons he’s a Hearts supporter?? Them I have respect for – the fans actually got the team out of shit! Isn’t it about time that The Guardian (a BRITISH newspaper – in case you’ve forgotten – and very well respected), started covering Scottish football as much as they do French, German, Italian, American (!) – Just start covering Scottish football, like you do all the others – hell we’re in the same island!!! I thank you.

  • Frank Connelly says:

    couldn’t agree more James. Lets leave the fancy stuff til we have sorted them right out and a don’t mean when we are two up cos that’s never enough when we seem to lack belief concentration and let this mob back into some of the ties this season

  • Michael McCartney says:

    Trying to score the perfect goal has always been the Celtic way but I agree we tend to over do it at times. When we create a wee bit of space in the opposition box then the shot should be on, with players as sharp and quick as ours, a deflection or parry from the keeper can be seized upon.
    C’mon Celtic start fast tomorrow, the Sevco players are terrified of us, no mercy shown.
    Beaton on VAR duty will try his best and could be their best hope, don’t give him any chances to influence the game. Take the game by the scruff ‘O the neck we’re far better than them, let’s show it tomorrow.

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