Just as a year ago, we lost the first game of the season against Newco, but the similarities end with the result. Celtic bossed the first half and created the better chances in an even second period. Goals change games and when Kyogo Furuhashi centred a cross for Odsonne Edouard, the game should have changed. Instead, Odsonne took his eye off the ball, which bounced off his heel and ran to safety.
One week ago today, despite scoring six against St Mirren, I urged Ange Postecoglou to play Kyogo through the middle, if necessary moving Odsonne to the left. He started Kyogo on the left yesterday and although Celtic enjoyed the bulk of possession, they were blunt in front of goal; Odsonne’s miss starkly demonstrating the point. It was a foreseeable error from Ange, which he later accepted.
Although Newco were unable to keep possession throughout the first half, at home, exclusively in front of their own fans, news of their demise was exaggerated. They survived the torrent when required and adjusted their game plan at halftime. From that point, Celtic were no more than equal in the contest until Kyogo moved into the middle on 70 minutes.
After Kygo shot from a tight angle, Ryan Christie reacted animatedly towards his teammate, presumably complaining that the Japanese striker did not square the ball for him to finish in front of goal.
I’m never keen on Celtic players shouting at each other and suspect this show of agitation contributed to Kyogo passing instead of shooting moments later, when the clear shot at goal was on. Our Imperious Icon could be forgiven for wondering why bother laying chances on a plate for others after Edouard’s earlier miss.
Just like the first goal we lost to Newco last season, yesterday’s goal was lost from a set piece but I’m not pressing the panic button on this one. Last year we were unable to form a straight defensive line, it was largely the central defenders who were causing the problems. The defenders were correctly marshalled yesterday, the goal was lost because none of the others picked up a late runner.
The transformation in Celtic in such a short period has been beyond any of our expectations. We will continue to improve and I expect will top the table after Newco’s visit on 2 January. In losing twice so early, however, we have put ourselves under unwelcome pressure. Playing the beautiful stuff is not always rewarded.
Last week they came after the Japanese, yesterday, they came after the Irish. Racism in Scotland is in spate, it was even given a police escort post-match in Glasgow yesterday. It is not the responsibility of Celtic to win so often that the mob have no opportunity to wreak havoc on the city.
Our political leaders and police cannot ignore this problem away. Scotland is home to many cultures, creeds and ethnicities. All will suffer unless the laws of the land are enforced.