Malmo manager Age Hareide’s press conference yesterday had a touch of the Kevin Keegan’s about it. As STV pointed out, Swedish journalists, writing for both Swedish and Scottish outlets, transcribed Malmo goalkeeper, Johan Wiland’s words, “They are pigs, all of them, that’s the way it is.”
Hareide didn’t like the coverage. I’m not surprised, he knows that it will be a significant motivator for Celtic, pinned to the proverbial dressing room wall, but his attempt to rebut reports as a failure in translation does not bear scrutiny. Not if it was Swedes who did the translating. Pigs are pigs. Wiland gave Ronny Deila’s team talk.
While Ronny had an affirmative weekend, winning away at Tannadice, Hareide had to face up to his public defeated, increasingly unlikely to retain the league title. A run of three victories before visiting Celtic Park, has morphed into two consecutive defeats. A four point deficit became seven points, with nine games remaining. They are five points from a Europa League spot next season. In short, Malmo are one bad result from the collapse of their season.
That’s not to say they are incapable of damaging Celtic, or Salzburg, we know that’s not the case, but there is an inherent fragility about them, which Celtic need to exploit. They are a dangerous team who are punching above their weight, but there are no hidden reservoirs of strength.
This is what it’s all about Celtic. This is the reason you’ve pulled your socks on each morning since your first joined a boys team. The challenge is stiff but winnable, the prize, enormous.
Own the field.
Remember, there will be a collection of backpacks for Mary’s Meals on the Celtic Way ahead of the St Johnstone game on Saturday. Bring anything you have along, it will be gratefully received and will be on the shoulders of a kid walking to school in Malawi, Kenya or Zambia in no time. Thank you.