ONLY Callum McGregor had a clue what was going on in his thought process when he attempted to deliver a suicidal crossfield pass at Ibrox last weekend.
Celtic were leading 2-1 in the 86th minutes when the comeback captain, on the pitch for a mere 21 minutes, accepted a short pass from Liam Scales midway in his team’s half. As ever, he had found a pocket of space in which to operate.
At first sight, there were two passes immediately available to McGregor; a ball to Paulo Bernardo about six yards away or Daizen Maeda who was beginning to motor on the left wing.
Incomprehensibly, a player who has built an irrefutable reputation for his astuteness and ability to size up situations in a heartbeat, opted for a disastrous ball across to the unprepared Yang Hyun-jun.
The South Korean was caught on his heels, Dejan Sterling intercepted and in a matter of seconds the ball was behind Joe Hart and the hosts wildly celebrated an unlikely equaliser.
It was more than ironic the last touch before the effort hurtled past the stranded keeper came off McGregor’s toe as he tried to block the shot from Abdullah Sima.
That was unfortunate, the misplaced pass to Yang was unfathomable.
ENDGAME…Callum McGregor wipes the sweat from his brow at full-time in the 3-3 draw at Ibrox.
In a costly flashpoint moment it became obvious McGregor should have been in the stand in Govan that afternoon. The team’s inspirational middle-of-the-park performer, after missing four and a half games through injury, illuminated in an instant he was not up to the rigours of a derby contest.
“Rusty,” claimed one observer about McGregor after his 33 minutes of action. That was a more than kind summing-up.
The Celtic artist was sluggish, miles off the pace and basically performed as though he was wearing boots often favoured by  deep sea divers.
Please believe me, dear reader, your humble scribe is a monumental admirer of McGregor who has been one of the team’s most consistent operators over the past seven years. That’s a helluva compliment when you consider he goes about his business in the minefield of football’s most frantically-contested arena.
It was interesting to note the player admitted afterwards he would have been “devastated” to have missed the match.
There are occasions when the heart often over-rules the head. Unarguably, this was one of them.
HEAD BHOY…Callum McGregor must remain focused.
Everyone of a Celtic persuasion is eager to witness a fit and functioning McGregor as we head for the campaign’s crescendo.
Common sense would indicate the captain’s value to the team is more likely to be required in the next derby confrontation which will offer the perfect platform for the conductor of the club’s orchestra to lead from the front.
So, with that match looming into view, may I make a plea to our esteemed onfield head honcho?
Do us – and yourself – a favour, Callum. Don’t rush back. Your time will come.
Patience, after all, is a virtue. So I am informed.
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