There was much to love in yesterday’s win at St Johnstone, so many lessons played out, it was a clear opportunity to learn a bit about the game.
On Tuesday last week, before Leigh Griffiths had kicked a competitive ball this season, I wrote, “Leigh is one of the most natural goal scorers we have seen at Celtic this century. He has natural pace, confidence and an attitude that will not easily be subverted”, and that his campaign “could start as early as Thursday, if we need a goal late in the game.”
In July, after he was left at home while the squad travelled to France, I wrote, “My money is on him scoring the goal that seals the 10.” He is that good a striker you can hang yourself out there and know he will perform.
The header was a dream; watch how he arced his back before thundering the ball inches inside the post. It was an exceptional finish, from an exceptional goal scorer. If you think he is the only player in the squad with baggage, you were not watching carefully enough yesterday, but he has the talent that could be the difference between first and second in the league, and he wants to be here.
I don’t think I have seen a player play on after being scythed in two, as Patryk Klimala was yesterday. Mark him up as another with talent, who wants to be here. Tom Rogic did his part too, but how consequential was Scott Brown’s arrival?
Without Brown on the field, Kristopher Ajer would not have been advanced enough to do a jink on the edge of the St Johnstone area, making space for Hatem Elhamed’s cross. Nor would Shane Duffy be as high up the field to play a short pass to Klimala on the edge of the area.
After the game, Neil Lennon spoke about those throwing stats at his captain, you can see he’s been affected. Suggestions that the manager does not see what tens of thousands of fans see is ludicrous. Stats are a great tool, but they need to be interpreted correctly; some of the best defenders hardly ever touch the ball or tackle, but they can still control a game, while some captains impose a gameplan. Neither attribute shows up well on the stats.
Maybe see you later.