Whatever maligned Celtic during the recent dark days when they dropped points to Hamilton and Dundee has cleared up. Hearts made the very best of a chance in the opening minutes on Saturday but the response was swift and conclusive.
Patrick Roberts deservedly picked up the accolades for his goals but the contribution of Tom Rogic should not go unrecorded. In creating the second goal he demonstrated ball-winning skills and creativity, a priceless package for a midfield player. Let’s hope he’s over his head knock for tomorrow night.
Mention should also go to Stefan Johansen, who played the deep-lying midfield role until Rogic went off, when he moved into the advanced position. His blind flick onto Roberts at the third goal was sublime.
The most pertinent comment I heard on Saturday was “It’s good to have the goalkeeper making saves again”. Craig Gordon appears to have his confidence back, perhaps as a consequence of the defence performing better.
For most of the second half Celtic defended more deeply than we’ve seen throughout the league campaign. With a two goal advantage, Griffiths and Johansen were asked to run into space, while the rest of the midfield became compact. As a consequence, Hearts had plenty of the ball, and created a few half chances, but they never carved Celtic open.
Had we been that compact during the European qualifiers our season could have been different.
There’s a process I go through when we sign a new foreign player: do I add his name to the spellcheck or not? I decided long ago I wasn’t prepared to pollute my dictionary with the names of transient players. Derk Boerrigter’s name still appears with wavy lines below in my word processor three years after his arrival.
His name will go down in Celtic annuls alongside Rafael Scheidt. We spent millions on them, they both went down with innocuous injury moments after starting for Celtic and that was pretty much that. In his opening 30 minutes for Celtic, Derk produced evidence that there was a football player hiding inside his psyche, but he soon found the rigors of the professional game too challenging.
He leaves Scotland with millions in his bank account and with a lot of frustrated people at Lennoxtown.
Did you read during the week that the Association of Irish Celtic Supporters’ Clubs raised €500 for the Foundation’s Ability Counts Ireland Project? The Ability Counts Project offers children with Downs opportunities to develop motor skills and team-working through football and dance. This is one small frontline of all the fundraising, badges, buckets, zip wires and dinners Celtic fans participate in.
It’s an important part of the relationship thousands of us have as Celtic supporters.
Consider getting involved. The Foundation is holding a H.E.L.P. Pilgrimage on Bank Holiday Monday, 30 May. Participants will walk the 17 miles between St Mary’s, Calton, Barrowfield, the Jimmy Johnstone statue and gardens at Viewpark and back to Celtic Park.