PADDY ROBERTS like his fellow countryman Scotty Sinclair had to sit it out and wait for the end of the international break. Both were involved on media controversies with both the England manager and his Under 21 colleague getting involved in unnecessary conversations about why they each decided to overlook the Celtic pair who both scored in the Champions League win for Celtic at Anderlecht.
England’s loss is hopefully Celtic’s gain as Brendan Rodgers will be looking to get maximum benefit from their fresh legs along with the likes of Callum McGregor who made it onto Gordon Strachan’s squad due to the injuries to Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong in Brussels.
However as we always suspected it would take the end of the Strachan era before Scotland looked to McGregor.
Anyway, today it’s back to league business. Joint league leaders Aberdeen are at Hibs, Celtic’s opponents in the Betfred Cup semi-final next weekend. The Dons are out of the Cup and have no European football to distract them so they are 100% focused on their league campaign and keeping toe to toe with Celtic.
So today’s visit to Celtic Park by Dundee, managed by the loathsome Neil McCann, is far from a mundane fixture for the Champions. Celtic are looking for the three points that will extend their unbeaten domestic run to 59 matches and keep them at the top of the league.
And a refreshed Paddy Roberts is set to play a significant role in achieving that objective this afternoon at a busy Paradise. Roberts refers to the squads mental toughness as a reason that this run has been put together.
“It’s down to us and our mentality,” Paddy said. “We’ve got that right now and we’ll have it for a while. We will keep going in training and in games, working the same way and showing the same focus which is instilled by the manager.
“Right now, we don’t really think about it. We just go out there to try and get the three points. Nothing else really comes into our heads, about being unbeaten or anything like that. We just try not to lose.
“Of course, the manager here is great. He wants us to do certain things but he also wants us to use our imagination and creativity.
“That’s where our best football comes from, just playing off the cuff and improvising, creating chances and scoring goals and we’ve done that brilliantly at times this season.” “You saw that last season as well, the desire to win is huge here. We love that buzz of winning and not wanting to lose is the most important thing.
“You saw that in the way we got the draw against Hibs last time out – we could even have nicked the win in the end.
“Just not losing is our mentality right now. We’ve had that throughout the season. It has put us in good stead and hopefully we can continue that.
“Everyone is in a good mood right now – we’re winning games and playing good football and that’s what we like.
“Obviously, we know that we need to win games but we still go out there and have fun and everyone has a smile on their face.
“The main thing for us is to enjoy it – there are always going to be bad times in football so we need to be able to enjoy this.”
Celtic have been able to eek out games with late goals, something that Roberts puts down to the Parkhead side’s superior fitness.
“The coaches here work us hard on our fitness off the ball. We keep going to the end.
“We made a few substitutions, which we can do. We have quality off the bench. It’s about the big squad we have. In the last 20 minutes, we can turn the game on its head and turn up the tempo. When teams get tired, we can really go at them and try to get the win.”
The new Invincibles treble disc DVD is now available from CQN Bookstore HERE. It is quite simply unmissable. What a season that was!
All CQN t-shirts are now reduced to £10, choose from our Invincibles shirt, the Jock Stein one or the Gotcha classic! We’ve added some new books too and there’s some crackers on the way! More on that over the next few weeks or so.
Previous encounters. Celtic beat Dundee 3-0 to win the 1987/88 league title. pic.twitter.com/Eze7vwwkgM
— CelticLisboa (@CelticLisboa) October 14, 2017