This midweek has gone just about perfectly. Yesterday I asked that we pick a team to win the game, but play Griffiths, Armstrong, Roberts, McGregor, Izaguirre and Gamboa. All played, as did Christie and Henderson. And we recorded a remarkable 0-4 away win.
Meanwhile, in the land of the also-rans, our four nearest ‘challengers’ all dropped points. It’s still early days, but this league’s turning into a procession. Embarrassingly so, for some.
After opening the scoring within three minutes it wasn’t the most fluid of performances from Celtic, but an incredible eight outfield changes will result in a lack of familiarity. What the outfield players lacked, Craig Gordon more than made up for. He made three excellent saves, extending his run of fine performances since returning to the team against Kilmarnock last month.
Will the biggest impact Dorus de Vries has at Celtic be on the form of Craig Gordon? Don’t bet against it.
The Scottish Premiership table is in one of those bizarre states, where the (game-in-hand adjusted) gap between first and second is larger than that between second and second bottom. The transformation which has taken place in a team already five-in-a-row champions is remarkable, eclipsed in recent history only by the turnaround which took place in 2000.
Last night I read a lot of pennies dropping; specifically there was an acceptance that there was a significant financial gap between Celtic and the newly promoted Championship winners. There are a couple of worthwhile observations to make on this issue:
The financial gap which funded this season’s business is a fraction of what it will be next year, when Celtic will have banked circa £50m more than any other Scottish club. That will be around twice the gap they went into the last transfer window with.
Whatever you think about Mark Warburton’s claims that he’s closing the on-field gap, the structural deficit gap is becoming oceanic.
I again read people digging Dave King up about a perceived lack of his promised overinvestment. What’s going on at Ibrox right now IS overinvestment. The signings of Barton, Senderos, Kranjcar, Rossiter, Gilks, Hill, Hodson and Garner were designed to give them the advantage they needed over a team they eliminated from the Scottish Cup last season.
The accounts when published in 2018 will prove this. Or I should say if published. Not every team survives long enough to publish accounts, lest we forget.
For them, winning the league is evidently not going to happen, but if this week’s results teach us anything, it’s that the European qualification places (second and third) are wide open. For a team spending more than their direct rivals combined, that should be an achievable target.
The real problems come when the overinvestment has to stop and budget is cut.