I grew up hearing stories about Bobby Murdoch’s ability to play the game in four dimensions. He could play a pass forward into space, across the field, at the right height, and arriving at the necessary moment, when that area would look completely different than it did when Bobby made his move.
That ball from Ryan Christie for the first goal last night fired a childhood recollection. Ryan took the ball on his chest while looking to his left. He volleyed a pass in the opposite direction into unmanned territory. It ended Alloa’s remarkable resistance. We still haven’t seen enough to know what level of player we have in Ryan, but there are reasons for encouragement.
James Forrest still had a lot to do but his shot was the first accomplished effort from Celtic after (literally) dozens of poorly composed attempts. The Alloa keeper deserved the plaudits, but he didn’t actually make a wonder save all night. He was repeatedly in the right place to do the right thing, we didn’t stretch him.
We dropped points at Inverness due to a truly inspired goalkeeper performance, and a remarkable attraction for the woodwork, but last night’s misfiring was all down to a lack of composure. Kilmarnock may reap a reaction on Saturday.
It’s hard being a keeper. Craig Gordon was caught off his line when Greig Spence got a millisecond of freedom in the first half. Spence fired off a remarkable shot which forced Craig into a diving block. It was as good as save as was made by either keeper all night, but what possessed Craig to go walkabout later, when Kolo Toure was on-hand to shepherd the striker wide is a mystery.
Decision-making like this has nothing to do with core goalkeeping skills. You can drill handling, reactions and starting positions all week, but if there’s a rush of blood on match day, or worse, panic, you’re going to lose a lot of goals.
We’ve seen this movie before. Artur Boruc was, by his own admission, the best goalkeeper in Europe in 2008. By 2010 we did well to get £1m for him, as he made his way to the Fiorentina bench. At 30, Boruc was all over the place. The superstar status had evaporated and few were sorry to see him move on.
Six years later he still has enormous potential for the haphazard, but he’s playing a lot of FA Premier League football on merit. He got his head straight and the rest followed. I’ve no idea what the issues are with Craig Gordon but if Artur can get himself sorted, Craig can too. He’s overcome greater odds already.
The same source of my Bobby Murdoch stories last night referred to Ryan Christie as Tony Christie. It’s a generational thing. Show me the way…..