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Limited time to build fitness for new recruits

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Celtic have only one game before they meet Benfica in the Champions League, away to St Johnstone on Saturday.  The Perth team are bottom of the SPL without a win so far this season, so will not present a significant challenge, but Celtic could do with a sterner test.

Lassad Noiuoiu, Efe Ambrose and Miku Fedor each need to be stretched before they will be ready for Champions League football.  Even if they get a full 90 minutes on Saturday, so I can’t see either starting against Benfica a week on Wednesday, unless they possess uncommon natural fitness, or our injury crisis steps up a level.

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  1. Just got back from Waterstones, got a copy of “DOWNFALL”. The assisstant told me that their Head Office has had loads of death threats for selling it, saying it would be safer to burn pages of the Koran.

  2. Regarding Sammi

     

    A friend of mine lectures on physotherapy he says the elbow is the worse joint to treat. Hope the big man gets better soon.

  3. tictastic

     

    What a sad sick wee place this is. Shocked but strangely not surprised to hear that bud.

  4. .

     

     

    Courtesy James Forrest FB..

     

     

    The long wait is over. At the end of the match v Helsingborgs a familiar tune rang around Celtic Park, one we all know well. For the last 4 years it has been heard only on our televisions, reminding us of what we were missing. Those lilting strings, uplifting, soaring, poured into the night. They call it the Champions League Anthem, although it is mistakenly sometimes referred to as Zadok the Priest, a piece by Handel, on which it is partly based. Written in 1992, specially for the tournament, by English composer Tony Britten, when it was blared over the sound system the melody was greeted with acclaim. It means only one thing.

     

     

    Those big Champions League nights are back at Celtic Park.

     

     

    How we have waited for this. To see the biggest teams of all come to our home ground, to plan those crazy away trips. And isn’t it strange how things turn out? With a 50/50 chance of getting a team from England, with the possibility of us visiting faraway places we’ve never been before, and cities we haven’t visited in God knows how long – and how many people were hoping for a journey to Madrid? – we end up in a draw with some old friends.

     

     

    And I do not use that term lightly.

     

     

    The last time we visited Benfica, we were involved in a great tussle with that club, and with Manchester United, to qualify from our group, which we did in the following match, at Celtic Park, against the English club courtesy of Nakamura’s magnificent free-kick. That night in Lisbon we suffered a setback on the pitch – we lost 3-0, in a typically disorganised away display – but off the field we showed, as ever, that our fans are special when we unfurled a banner to commemorate the Benfica player Miklos Feher, who had died, in tragic circumstances, whilst playing a match for the home side. To say we made a whole heap of new friends that night is an understatement.

     

     

    “It was a unique moment and a wonderful gesture and we want to say thank you,” Nuno Gomes said. “You don’t see this often and fans around the world can learn a lot from these British supporters. We are very glad because every day we remember our friend Miki Fehér. He is always with us. This is a great display of fair play from an opposition club.”

     

     

    Neil Lennon, who that night captained the team, said “You know how passionate these fans are, not just about their own club but about football worldwide. It’s a tremendous gesture and they make us very proud.”

     

     

    The City of Lisbon itself is, of course, a special place. My father went on the last trip, and he made a point whilst there of visiting the site of our club’s greatest triumph, the hallowed place where we won our own European Cup. Doubtless, many Celtic fans will take the same opportunity when we visit Lisbon again during this campaign.

     

     

    Our results against the Portuguese giants are patchy. At home we’ve beaten them three times in Europe. Away they have beaten us three times. If there was ever a year to slant that equation in our own favour, this is surely it. Last season, in the Europa League, our form on the road was typically poor, but the performances, particularly that in Udinese, showed a team learning quickly about, and adapting to, the rigours and pressures of continental away games, something which we have already put to good use in the two qualifying rounds.

     

     

    Benfica will be a murderously tough team to play on their own ground, but I suspect this is a Celtic team which is capable of going there and getting a result.

     

     

    Playing the Russians of Spartak Moscow, however, is another matter entirely, because they are something on an unknown quality, although one player there knows us very well indeed. If Guinness did reunions, this would be one to raise glasses across Scotland and Ireland; Aiden McGeady will be returning to the club where he spent his formative years.

     

     

    I was a sometimes critic of Aiden McGeady. I thought there was more style than substance to his play, that for all the trickery he lacked the ability to make that killer pass which separates really good players from genuinely world class ones. I liked watching him playing direct football, running at defenders, taking them on, but there was something missing from his game.

     

     

    When the chance to go to Russia came along, I honestly thought he would reject it. I thought he would do what other players on these islands have done when faced with the chance to experience a foreign culture and a different style of football. I thought he’d say no, and vote to stay in his comfort zone. I honestly believed he would hold out for a move to England.

     

     

    It takes a certain type of personality to move abroad, and I did not think Aiden was the sort who would take a chance like that. How wrong I was. It is the bravest thing a player based in the UK has done in many, many a year, a move which has had, and will continue to have, undoubted benefits to his playing abilities and to his outlook. It was immeasurably gutsy, and I cannot commend him enough for having taken the risk it involved.

     

     

    They are a good technical side. Like many other Russian teams they have a curious mix of Eastern European players and Brazilians, with four Samba stars in their first team squad, one of whom is the prolific striker Welliton, who will be a tricky customer, and is worth watching. There are three Russian internationals in the team – the defender, Dmitri Kombarov; the experienced midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and, lastly, and most importantly, the powerful striker Artyom Dzyuba. At 6’5 he is a deadly physical as well as technical threat, and will need constant monitoring.

     

     

    Yet they finished 2nd in Russia last year, and there will be confidence within Celtic Park that this is a team that can be beaten away from home. A better Spartak side than this was dispatched by Gordon Strachan’s Celtic in 2007, when a Paul Hartley goal gave us a very credible 1-1 draw in Moscow and set up a momentous night at Paradise, where another 1-1 draw sent the match to extra time and penalties, where we won 4-3. Few who were there have ever witnessed a night of such high drama, starting with the away side missing a 24th minute penalty, followed by Celtic scoring just 2 minutes later, to send the crowd into raptures.

     

     

    The Russians equalised just before half time, however, and a nervy 45 minutes ensued before Martin Stranzl was red-carded, handing Celtic the edge. Big Jan Venegoor then missed a penalty in extra time, which gave Parkhead a huge attack of the jitters, which continued into a shoot-out as tense as any our ground has ever seen. Nakamura missed his kick for Celtic, in an uncharacteristic fashion, but Artur Boruc was heroic in saving two from the Muscovites.

     

     

    They can be beaten, but we will have to be at our very best.

     

     

    In Barcelona that term will need redefining. Teams with far great resources than Celtic have gone there and not been beaten as much as they have been purely and simply washed away. Barcelona, on their game, are the greatest side in the world right now, some say one of the greatest club sides ever assembled. Trying to match them, at their own game, would be like setting up a dual between a world class physicist and a City Building electrician at the Large Hadron Collider.

     

     

    We will have to defend like lions to get anything out of the match in Spain. If this were any other form of entertainment, we would be relishing it and the thing to do would be simply to sit back, open some beers, and enjoy the show, but as Nick Hornby memorably pointed out in Fever Pitch, football fans don’t view their obsession in the way others do. The prospect of seeing Messi, Fabregas and Villa should thrill us. Instead, I will be watching through my fingers.

     

     

    No-one realistically expects Celtic to go to Spain and play an attacking system. Better teams than ours have paid a high price for daring to try that. At Celtic Park it’s another story, but even there we will need to be cagey in the face of a team which has gone to every top ground in Europe and given the home fans nightmares to take away with them. We will try and contain them, but that too can be like holding back the tide. How do you contain the dancing feet of the best footballer ever to play the game? You have to try … but it’s like Shylock’s Bargain, trying to extract a pound of flesh without shedding a drop of blood. A practical impossibility.

     

     

    Off the field, it’s a different story. Barcelona and Celtic have an affinity which goes beyond mere football. The social links are there. The historical similarities are there. The ethos of the clubs is the same. The passion of the fans is identical. We have friends at Barcelona, lots of them, and that guarantees a warm and happy atmosphere for our travelling fans, and gives their supporters the promise of fun times in Glasgow. This is the kind of relationship that football is all about, something that transcends the game, becomes about community, and values.

     

     

    Sadly, none of it will matter on the park, where they will show us no mercy. But that experience, though searing for us to watch, could be the making of this side.

     

     

    This is a young Celtic team, which is only going to get better with every experience they have. They have a lot to learn, but last season’s European travels, where we went to Spain, France and Italy, and played very good sides in what was, correctly, described as a “Champions League group”, have already given them a good grounding, which was evident in the two disciplined away performances in the qualifying games. They were just a prelude though. The main event is coming up soon, and these players will never have experienced anything like it.

     

     

    That can only help this team to grow, and learn, and get better.

     

     

    When Celtic takes the field for the first Champions League Group match of the 2012/13 season, it will bring with it the natural high of having come through the most turbulent twelve months in the history of the Scottish game. The things that made the last year unique largely happened outside of our house, but they had an effect on us, as they did every club in the land. Because of them, we will be taking the field not only as champions, but more, we will be walking onto that pitch as the one undisputed superpower of the Scottish game.

     

     

    We belong there, on that stage, as a reflection of what and who we are.

     

     

    Champions League football is coming home. I can’t wait for the music to start.

     

     

     

    Summa

  5. I’d like to echo many of the posters on cqn and express my deepest condolences to DBBIA, Jobo Balde and DJBEE on the passing of their mothers , may they rest in peace.

     

     

    Take care and look after yourselves.

  6. Steinreignedsupreme on

    Gordon_J backing Neil Lennon 13:23 on 9 September, 2012

     

     

    “Some thoughts on names and legalities:

     

     

    “Rangers and The Rangers – What’s The Difference?”

     

     

    Good piece, well explained – but this common sense malarky will never catch on.

     

     

    No doubt you’ll have some Zombies on your case accusing you of being ‘obsessed’ with their club … although which club is anybody’s guess as they seem to support two.

     

     

    But this is their approach when people express opinions on Rangers (in administration and soon to be liquidated) and provide factual detail to cement their case.

  7. Steinreignedsupreme,

     

     

    I used to work with a guy whose first language was Spanish. He always insisted that “common sense” did not translate and that we should use “good sense” instead – because it’s not that common!

  8. Steinreignedsupreme on

    That’s a fair point. English is not my first language – I wish I had thought of that…

  9. Steinreignedsupreme on

    Tictastic 14:49 on 9 September, 2012

     

     

    “Just got back from Waterstones, got a copy of “DOWNFALL”. The assisstant told me that their Head Office has had loads of death threats for selling it, saying it would be safer to burn pages of the Koran.”

     

     

    No one will die as a result of stocking Downfall. It’s the safest bet in the world.

  10. Lennon n Mc....Mjallby on

    I hope ‘Downfall’ is flying off the….er,under the counter,an absolute disgrace that it can’t be put out on the shelves and advertised on billboards on ever street corner,every second commercial break on television,radio,Eddie Stobart lorries,motorway bridges,movie trailers,buses,ice cream vans,election motors with megaphones,zeppelins and hot air balloons above Glasgow and the west coast,milk cartons, football shirts,pub toilets and newspapers.

     

     

    But no,they would rather be known as bookburners and limiters of free speech.

  11. All Ireland hurling final not long started, followed by the NFL!!

     

    Squeeze Mass inbetween and a Chinese carry out afterwards!

     

    SuperSunday!!

     

    Galway just scored a goal! This could be a cracker.

     

     

    SPF

  12. Seven Fishes Four Steaks

     

     

    sorry to be pedantic – but just for info i saw the getafe-madrid game – and Miku went off early in the second half. his replacement actually scored the second goal i think!

     

     

    Either way, it is a moot point – the new signings will be fit. Neil said Miku was in Lennoxtown on the sunday for a session, and is clearly an excellent pro – eating a very strictly controlled diet etc. this adds value across the Club as his good example rubs off on other guys in the squad.

  13. Steinreigned – if they had been a little more obsessed with the details of what was going on at one of their clubs they might not have to watch the next train wreck at the new club unfold in front of their eyes.

     

     

    They really are stupid. And they got precisely what they deserve.

  14. DBBIA, Jobo, and DJBEE:

     

     

    My thoughts and Prayers are with each of you and your loved ones. It is hard when you lose a Parent, I know. However, I still have my Mother. Mothers are the lynch pin of any family. Although I still have mine with us, I feel your pain.

     

     

    May God Bless their Souls, they are in a better place now, although you may not think so at this moment.

     

     

    Keep the Faith!

     

     

    Hail Hail!

  15. Steinreignedsupreme on

    Lennon n Mc….Mjallby 15:39 on 9 September, 2012

     

     

    Downfall has been published. Bookshops are selling it. The people complaining about it would never have ready it anyway.

     

     

    The fuss has generated levels of publicity the author could not have afforded to buy. Life goes on.

  16. Good write up Paul67 as usual, the new recruits are going to take time to bed in.

     

    Hopefully they will be good additions to the present team.

     

    Although I would still like the Hoops to keep looking to strengthen the Defence

     

    we still are a bit light in that part of the Team.

  17. DBBIA –

     

     

    From much earlier, didn’t manage to reply. Hoping but not 100% sure that I can get down on the 22nd. Failing that, it will be the 7th Oct (Sun) against Hertz. Next Setterday game is 27th Oct!!

     

     

    Yurcl (off for a pint!!)

  18. Glendalystonsils likes a mr whippy with his lime green jelly on

    My suggestion to Sammi ,to avoid further elbow injuries, is to do what “elbows” McCulloch does. Steep your elbows in vinegar for a couple of hours each day to toughen them up.

     

     

    Grannysfamilyremedies CSC

  19. Steinreignedsupreme on

    RobertTressell 15:43 on 9 September, 2012

     

     

    “Steinreigned – if they had been a little more obsessed with the details of what was going on at one of their clubs they might not have to watch the next train wreck at the new club unfold in front of their eyes.

     

     

    “They really are stupid. And they got precisely what they deserve.”

     

     

    They don’t do details. Information overload results in their eyes moving uncomfortably close together.

     

     

    I enjoy discussions with the Huns these days. Especially when they repeat some random sentence one of their heavyweight bloggers has come out with. I just ask them to explain what they mean.

     

     

    They approach that like I have asked them to read War & Peace in Albanian.

  20. Just catching up been away in sunny Vale of Leven since yesterday:).

     

    Condolences to DIBBIA, Jobo Baldie DJBEE

     

     

    CRC replied to email

     

    HAIL HAIL

  21. Seven Fishes & 4 Well Done Steak’s

     

    Yeah that’s how I like my Steak, Cremated.

     

    I’m afraid the Group Scotland is in, is beyond them.

     

    I think that said Group will be between Belgium & Croatia

     

    & I think Belgium will probably finish Top.

     

    Against Land of Our Fathers on Friday there, they stroke

     

    the Ball around well and in truth Wales where totally outplayed

     

    I’m impressed, the Belgium’s look like they are no mugs.

     

    & You have to go back a few years when the last had a decent

     

    Team, but just now it looks like they have accomplished that task

     

    As for Scotland’s match yesterday, a poor show with two average

     

    Teams on display in truth a draw was about the correct result.

  22. jude2005 is Neil Lennon \o/ on

    DBBIA, Jobo Baldie & DJBEE

     

     

    Remember the good and nice times and im sure thers plenty. It helps, believe me.

     

     

    YNWA

  23. This from TSFM is about reforming the SFA so scroll on by if not your thing.

     

     

    Would anyone disagree with the following?

     

     

    ” The game must be actively managed to achieve important overall goals. The current

     

    game lacks an agreed set of aims and this allows each constituent part to pursue its own aims and agenda which can create tensions and conflict and lead to an inefficient use of resources, lack of transparency and clarity and fragmentation of thinking and policy delivery.

     

     

    What is needed is stronger central direction and leadership of the game. There is a need for a vision, a plan for realizing this vision and then a dynamic intent to implement the plan.

     

     

    Such a plan will identify function and then create the form based on building on existing

     

    strengths, addressing existing weaknesses and shortcomings. The plan will be based on evidence and knowledge, an assessment of challenges, problems and opportunities in 2010 linked to a definition of vision and mission, objectives and outcomes and then determining the direction for the future and the shape of the SFA.

     

     

    This will produce recommendations based on what is in the interests of the national

     

    game regardless of the narrow sectional, personal, institutional and representative interests which currently influence our thinking and our collective actions: these have to be acknowledged and understood but they should not be allowed to undermine or dominate the bigger and more important national priorities.

     

     

    · Without a clear sense of national focus Scottish football will drift around issues, giving

     

    too much importance to the less significant and too little consideration to the really

     

    important issues.

     

     

     

    The above could have been written by a few TSFM/RTC contributors and got the thumbs up. However what is interesting about these statements is that they were lifted directly from

     

     

    The Review of Scottish Football

     

    PART 2

     

    Football’s choice: facing the future

     

    by Henry McLeish.

     

     

    All of which raises questions regarding the SFA’s initial response to Rangers demise in that narrow self interests appear to have taken precedence and begs the question about the wisdom of upcoming attempts to restructure the game BEFORE restructuring the governance of it if the same narrow self interests continue to be pursued.

     

     

    In his report McLeish goes on to make a number of recommendations, some of which will still stand but some of which may require adjustment in light of experience since he produced his report. We should not throw the baby out with the McLeish bathwater but we should ensure it stays warm enough.

     

     

    I was reminded of all this when looking for a Mission Statement for the SFA because the question is not “are they fit for purpose” but “what IS their purpose?”.

     

     

    As McLeish himself says elsewhere in his report this is not a matter of tinkering around the edges, what is required is a change of culture at the SFA which McLeish refers to when he says

     

     

    ” There is no performance culture within the SFA and for all intents and purposes the work is isolated in silos. It is constantly worth repeating that much of the weakness of the SFA is based on legacy and history and a traditional mind- set that

     

    surrounds the work of the institution.”

     

     

    Now the problem as I see it is that the SFA simply do not have the skills, competence and possibly the will in house to bring about that cultural change and so the question that has to be asked of Mr Regan and the SFA is just how are they going to make the changes, that are clearly needed, happen?

     

     

    Who is charged with bringing change about?

     

    When do they start?

     

    How will they do it?

     

    When will their recomendations start to be implemented?

     

     

    We need committment and a timetable, not rhetoric and they are needed pdq.

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