It’s really refreshing to hear the positivity towards the manager from senior players at the club. He has the squad pulling in his direction like no one has since Martin O’Neill. This hasn’t come about by chance. When a player asked Brendan if he could arrive late one day this week to see his child start school, training was changed for the entire first team squad.
With term starting across several days at the start of this week, training at Lennoxtown started at 11:30 Monday and Tuesday (we’d a game on Wednesday, in case you forgot). The fathers all got to see their kids start, or return to, school, while the others fell into line.
This kind of family support is credit in the bank for Brendan (a lot more than some entire clubs have). Players want to him.
I watched highlights of the Hapoel game and caught things I’d missed on the night. Leigh Griffiths’ delayed run for his first goal being the most striking. As Scott Sinclair pushed the ball right to James Forrest, Leigh stopped his forward run, waiting at the left edge of the box.
This created space. With that space, he built-up sufficient momentum to out-jump a defender and power a header into the net. It was a stunningly intelligent thing to do.
I had a word with a Celtic coach a while back on how intelligent you need to be to be a modern footballer. It turns out footballers need to be smarter than you probably think. There are outstanding talents in football, and we’ve had more than a few at Celtic, who are just not clever enough to understand how and when to use an abstract entity like space.
Today’s great teams deploy very complicated tactical systems in defence and in possession. It doesn’t matter how good you are with the ball at your feet, if you can’t keep up with the tactical demands of the game, you’ll bounce around clubs never quite fulfilling your early promise.
Some big decisions for Brendan about the line-up tomorrow. McDiarmid has often been a tricky place to go, so resting players could result in points being dropped. We’re three days away from the >£20m game in Israel, which I’d be reluctant to take risks with, despite the three goal advantage.
It’s probably a good opportunity for us to have a look at Dorus de Vries but I’d be reluctant to tamper too much. Only the two big Glasgow clubs haven’t dropped points yet, and I’d like us to be the last man standing in that race. A win for us in Perth and a draw at Pittodrie tomorrow would do nicely.
Sorry to see Scott Brown retire from international duty but it’s unquestionably the right decision. It’s also an acknowledgement that he needs to manage his fitness and recovery cycles carefully.