There are good ways and bad ways to win the League Cup; yesterday was perfect. The atmosphere reminded me of the 1997 final at Ibrox, where a similar result was achieved against Dundee United. That was our first League Cup in 15 years, but there was a more substantial reason to be optimistic then. At that moment, we began to believe that this could be the start of something significant.
Contrast that with the sentiment two seasons later, as we left Hampden having beaten Aberdeen in the same final. We’d won a trophy but celebrations were muted. We were miles behind in the league and that season had splurged significant resources on players who failed to deliver.
Celtic’s performance yesterday was imperious. It was controlled, oozed competence throughout the team and subjugated the second best team in the land with little fuss. Dare we start to believe we are at the start of something significant?
The “start” of something significant is an unusual phrase to describe five-in-a-row champions, but having plateaued as merely champions in recent seasons, the Celtic Movement is on the march again.
These are exciting time – enjoy them.
What did you like most about the win yesterday? I’m really pleased at how effective and important our central defenders are becoming. They helped deliver a trophy without the loss of a goal in any round, but, more importantly, Jozo Simunovic and Erik Sviatchenko regularly morph into deep-lying playmakers.
At the opening goal, Simunovic wasn’t so deep-lying. Having carried the ball into the opposition half, he won a tackle 30 yards from goal before feeding Tom Rogic. Can you imagine how disruptive it is for opponents to have to deal with a central defender that high up the field? Who picks him up and what are the subsequent consequences?
Those of you old enough to swoon at the great No. 14 will remember when the world first discovered Total Football. As I watched Scott Brown drop behind his own defensive line to create space for others to move into it all came flooding back. The concept which ‘did for us’ a couple of times in the 70s echoes in what you’re now watching. This is Total Celtic. It’s difficult to get right but if you achieve it, it’s very difficult to play against.
This is why we’ve won a cup without conceding. This is why we plucked a guy from Fulham who appears to have geometrically appreciated in value. This is why a guy who didn’t get a lot of football at Aston Villa last season was given special treatment by Barcelona and Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League. This is why Stuart Armstrong and James Forrest are looking like new, better, players. They’re not, they are just working in a vastly better system.