Robertson caved to Nicholson over must-win game


When Michael Nicholson picked up the phone to Stewart Robertson last month, he gave the Newco chief executive a dilemma.  Nicholson said Celtic were finished with the 700 away fans limit when the teams meet each other.  It did not allow visiting fans unrestricted entry and egress from games, along routes which had reduced flashpoints for a century, and therefore created an unnecessary safety risk.  It was Newco’s choice but Celtic’s options, either revert to 7,000 visiting fans or have none at all.

We have already covered how Robertson had boxed himself into a corner years earlier, when he located the Newco ultras group in the Broomloan Road stand, only to dislocate them whenever Celtic visited.  That was incredibly short sighted and soon led to a straightforward challenge: give primacy to your own fans or to Celtic fans.

Robertson will scarcely let a moment pass without the weight of his club’s financial problems weigh down on him.  He knows winning the league, with automatic Champions League qualification, would allow him to delay the worst consequences of Uefa’s enforced financial restrictions, which limit his ability to renew contracts and sign players.

On hearing from Nicholson, Robertson’s mind, therefore, would immediately go to what he needs from tomorrow’s game – a win.  This alone is not enough, but it is absolutely necessary to ensure Newco remain in the title race, even remotely.  It is just as important in their desire to be competitive next season.

So Robertson’s choice was simple: go into a must-win game with 7,000 fans, or go alone.  The former would give Newco their best chance of remaining competitive in the years to come, the latter would pander to his ultras and damage the club’s prospects.

It is not the job of the directors to be popular, or to pander to any group, no matter their sense of self-importance.  Often, they have to be unpopular, especially if it means diminishing your club’s chances of winning an absolutely must-win game.  And diminish his club’s chances is what the fool did.

I don’t know if Michael Nicholson is a strategic genius who set a trap for Robertson, or if he just played the hand in front of him.  Either way, Celtic have the advantage.

To the game itself.  After two lacklustre Celtic performances in his absence, Aaron Mooy is certain to start.  It will be his first game in four weeks, most of that time he has been injured, although I have great hopes for the balance he will bring to the team, he cannot be at his sharpest.

Greg Taylor took what looked like a straightforward muscle knock against Ross County last weekend.  If it is nothing more than a standard knock, he should be ready for tomorrow.  Greg’s importance to Celtic this season can scarcely be overstated.  He is a crucial part of how we attack and an endless source of energy getting back.

Reo Hatate strained a hamstring three weeks ago.  The minimum period for recuperation from this particular injury is three weeks, but hamstrings take months to fully recover (years if you are above a certain age).  If Aaron and Greg are fit, I would save Reo for the more important Scottish Cup game later this month.  Ange Postecoglou likes a big line-up refresh around the hour mark, tomorrow is likely to be no different.

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  1. High tempo. Quick free kicks and throw ins. Go at them from minute one and give them a torrid first hour then bring on the subs to batter them for the last thirty mins. Tried and tested.



    I rarely bother with the huns line up but I’m genuinely interested to see if Beale changes things in a must win game or will he play the two defensive mids in the centre of his midfield ?

  2. I disagree strongly with Paul that the Scottish Cup game is the more important of the two.


    A win tomorrow will make the league title if not completely secure then well tied down.


    The final games will become a procession to the title celebration.


    What would a Scottish Cup win bring us?


    European qualification? Access to the kind of prize money that will torpedo hun ambition?


    Not on your Nelly.


    Give us a comprehensive victory tomorrow and we can worry about Hampden some other day.



  3. Back to Basics - Glass Half Full on

    Guy is middle management material.



    Always has been.



    Faced with factionalism, unpaid bills weekly and a diktat to win the back pages …



    … he’ll have had limited capacity to strategize (even if he has the capability 🤔)



    Long may he stay in the job.

  4. We can cope without Reo but I don’t thin MoR or DT have looked anywhere near the top of their game in recent weeks so a fit Mooy really is critical. I expect he will start with Iwata and Calmac. Iwata looks like he is up for a physical game if required.

  5. Back to Basics - Glass Half Full on

    BTW – I think it will be a tough game tomorrow …



    …but expect Celtic to win.

  6. Tom McLaughlin on




    I can see why Paul regards the semi-final as the more important of the two games.



    In the extremely unlikely event that Celtic lose tomorrow they will still win the league. A defeat at Hampden ends our interest in the Scottish Cup. We want to win the cup for a number of reasons.



    1. We win the Scottish Cup.



    2. We win the treble.



    3. We ensure Sevco have another barren season.



    Anyway, we are good enough without Hatate — especially at home in front of over 60,000 Celtic fans — to win tomorrow.



    Only one sleepless night.



    Bring it on.

  7. Prestonpans bhoys on

    But but but there was safety concerns at both grounds. The media says so, it must be true………

  8. Fabrizio Romano




    Not just Manchester United. Understand FC Bayern and Barcelona have also had direct meetings with Jeremie Frimpong’s agent Jeffrey Lemmert 🚨🇳🇱 #transfers



    Bayern priority is to decide on Cancelo in May; Barça situation unclear due to FFP.



    Frimpong, on #MUFC list since October.

  9. Tom McLaughlin on



    The chances of any financial penalties, or restrictions on Sevco, are nil.




    I would agree with you if we were just talking SFA/SPFL but Sevco are currently under UEFA financial restrictions along with several other clubs throughout Europe.



    These sanctions cannot be ignored either by Sevco or the SFA.

  10. If Reo is fit then play him. No point in thinking ahead a few weeks , anything can happen in that time

  11. PARK ROAD 67 on 7TH APRIL 2023 9:29 AM


    MARSPAPA 8-43am





    How’s it gaun B ?



    Getting there pal a wee setback stopped me attending BRTH and the lovely Ruth’s wedding, but on the mend now.



    Looking forward to the Bruce Springsteen gig at Murrayfield.



    Are any of the guys meeting up before the game tomorrow?

  12. Have to confess I didn’t think Frimpong would make it like he has. If we have 30% on his next move we could net 10m. Crazy.

  13. I’ve seen many describe Bernabei as a winger. Now I haven’t seen Frimpong since he left us, is he a much improved defender?

  14. Tom McLaughlin on

    Leith CSC has two buses leaving at 9:30 tomorrow. Getting picked up at 8:45. Alarm set for 6:30. Gonna be a long day.



    3-1 Celtic 🟩⬜🟧

  15. Paul 67,



    Many on this blog have long advocated a ban on the huns attending Parkhead.


    We don’t need them and we don’t want them. Especially at this time of the year.


    Easter Bunnies are happy and joyful Not snarling and obnoxious.



    What was there to negotiate?


    At the dilapidated lavvy they can do as they wish.




    I can understand your logic about the more important game. However the league and Europe must remain our priority.


    Domestic cups are a bonus.




  16. Our most important game is our next one






    Aj ccv starf taylor(bernabei)


    Jota calmac reo(iwata) mor maeda





    Bench oh kobe abada



    Newclub P67 not newco.


    Hope Celtic stick to it.fookum!


    Let them walk in their own treacle maze.


    Like Dave murrays hunner pence wurff,


    All that occurs to them originates and is rolled out as(karendunbars) policy


    The continual elbowing for room



    You have to temper this continual association P67.In the years ahead our Clubs continual history will work hard towards taking over the mantle of Wuruldrekord titles and trophies for club Identities.That is a sphincter loosener for them.


    I noted on there sites a change after LCF



    We have lots to be gettin on with in future.


    But I think National league football everywhere is in trouble


    Look at our own game.


    Give me an audit path for youth to senior team


    A league/age structure.


    B league -that’s it.


    We need to stop trying to make cream without milk!



    Anyways thanks and happy easter p67


    Tomorrow we have a day’s work to enjoy



    Hail Hail

  17. I see predictions of 3-0 etc for tomorrow . I sincerely hope it’s more than that , but I’ve seen too many Celtic v old firm games to say we will win easily , and if our play is anything like the past few weeks we may be in for a surprise . So up and at them from the off celts . Watch your passing .and pay attention Carl . H H

  18. Melbourne Mick on

    Hello again all you young rebels.



    Sorry Paul, but if Reo is fit we play him.


    Right now the league is all that matters, in my humble opinion.


    Can’t wait for the game, 9.15 at night k.o here in Aus.since the


    clock change.


    Trying very hard to while away the hours, gather up the Autumn


    leaves, scrape months of grease off the barbie, fill up the birds


    feeder, all the time thinking…will Ange surprise us with his line


    up ? he’s obviously a shrewd cookie, my bet is he will fit big Oh


    into his line up, with kyogo playing off him.


    Too much ? not for me, I reckon the boss would be a great poker


    player, and he might just go all in 👍


    H H. Mick

  19. for those with a passing interest



    bbc2 now



    the hairy bikers – the pubs that built britain – Glasgow .



    will any of the shipwreckers make a background appearance ?

  20. Melbourne Mick on

    Hatate out, that’s bad news, let’s see who can


    play their heart out then to claim his place.


    H H. Mick

  21. garygillespieshamstring on

    A bit off piste, but old Tim just sprung to mind.


    Anyone heard from him or know how he is doing?

  22. Melbourne Mick on




    They might end up in the Louden, apparently they


    serve up huge portions of humble pie 🤣


    H H. Mick

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