It was such a jar to the senses. Twice a striker was clean through on the keeper inside the box. For 12 months, this only led to one outcome. Last night we saw Joe Hart make two saves we have not seen since his former England squad team mate was in goal.
Playing out from the back, as we do, takes nerves and practice. The key players are the goalkeeper, the central defenders and the two deepest central mids. The latter two need to be comfortable controlling a pass facing their own goal with an opponent on their shoulder. Callum McGregor and David Tunbull have this.
You can expect a few bumps on the road; McGregor’s nightmare back pass being an example, but we will improve as the season progresses. Developing this attribute will inevitably cost goals, but you see the speed and effectiveness of the transition into attack. Gone are the days of circulating the ball endlessly in a horseshoe pattern, or worse, the long ball.
I also liked our new player, Tom Rogic – another who has the ability to bring the ball under instant control with an opponent (or two, as it often was last night) breathing down on him. Kenny Dalglish would use his body to keep an opponent from getting a toe on the ball, Tom brought it all back last night. For me, this is an unexpected sunset performance. Tom is a throwback, without an engine for the modern game, so these treats will remain a cameo.
How are you feeling about the direction of travel?
Last night’s starting 11 had three new signings, eight players who were here last season, seven of whom are Scottish. Three signings and, of course, a manager we traveled the world to bring to Glasgow! There are certainly no guarantees against AZ, but the recovery has been swift and impressive. You are not going to hear this from too many sources, but the fundamentals at the club remain very good; watch how we grow.