A 1-1 draw might not be much to boast about in the best of times but these are not the best of times for Celtic Football Club, so we will take the point and offer thanks! Neil will be pleased with the point gained and also be comforted by the fact that a goodly number of his players rose to the challenge.
Thanks to my DSA (Dental Surgery Assistant), who when we are working together in the surgery has a local radio station on all the time, I hear a lot of – not always by choice – the music of the younger generation. And last week, when I heard a line from a song by Jordin Sparks, it made me think of the manager’s predicament. “One step at a time” was the theme of her song and that should be Neil’s mantra at the moment.
We picked up a point against Rennes; now we must prepare for the visit of Aberdeen, our whipping boys of last season. They seem to have tightened up their defence this time round but there is still a gulf in quality between the sides and Celtic must take control from the first whistle. Teams coming to Celtic Park expect the Hoops to do that and try to anticipate the onslaught but there is a real difference between expecting something and experiencing it. After our excellent results against the Dons last season, their players will be extremely apprehensive about what awaits them at Parkhead. It is up to the Hoops players to turn that apprehension into reality and keep the screw turning.
This could be an interesting weekend in the League campaign. While every Celtic fan is expecting three points from the Aberdeen clash, Rangers fans might be less confident when their heroes visit Tynecastle. Hearts have come on to some form of late and are never an easy proposition at home. However, there are several factors to take into account. Firstly, could the fact that the Hearts players have not been paid for last month (at the time of writing) affect their morale?
Secondly, as Rangers dropped their only points this season in two drawn matches at home, will their excellent away record continue? And thirdly, will the good win over Liverpool in midweek give the club a boost or will the bad publicity their behind-the-scenes activities are causing start to affect the players’ form?
One final point …and it concerns the Europa League. I am always of the opinion that we, as fans, should respect every side in any competition that our club is involved in. However – and I really mean that ‘However’ – every time I hear the name Sion, I can feel the pressure building inside me. Why this club is wasting everybody’s time with repeated legal challenges is beyond me! It seems to be quite clear that they transgressed the rules and regulations concerning transfers in the earlier part of the season, so why did UEFA not take some action at that point? A Swiss club in a continent whose governing body is also based in Switzerland?