BT Sport had Alan Thompson on at the weekend previewing the Cup Final and I was reminiscing about him. When he played, I wrote he was the most influential Celtic midfielder since the Lisbon Lions. Not the most talented, McStay and Collins among others could claim to be more gifted, by Thompson pushed Celtic into places none of the others managed.
His goals in Europe and against Rangers are legend, and his assists record is outstanding, but despite my complete adoration of the player, he had a clear drawback. Whenever he was absent through injury, it took weeks in the first team before he looked moderately competent. So much of his game was about sheer physical effort that anything below 100% fitness made him ineffective.
This week Boli Bolingoli, Mohamed Elyounoussi, Leigh Griffiths, Jonny Hayes and Mikey Johnston started games for the first time after injury. Bolingoli (that corner kick!) and Elyounoussi both reminded me of Alan Thompson returning from injury. We should cut them some slack as they build fitness.
The same cannot be said for Leigh Griffiths, who looks as sharp as a tack. He will benefit from 90 minutes last night but he is ready to lead the line, if required.
Scott Robertson looked the part, especially early on, when Celtic had more shape than they did at the end of the game. Delighted too that Karamoko Dembele got his first outing of the season. He was not able to contribute much but he is a lad we should have plans to develop into a first team player.
Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the raffle for Tom Rogic’s signed shirt for the Celtic FC Foundation’s Christmas appeal. It is humbling to see Celtic fans in action like this. The winner has been informed by email – so check your inbox!