The truth is, football is not always exhilarating. If we were two points off the pace going into yesterday’s Premiership game, all sorts of dramas would have taken place, but with an 8 point lead and a game in hand, there was no conceivable jeopardy.
Instead of contesting for all three points with his strongest available team, Brendan Rodgers chose to rest limbs ahead of the trip to St Petersburg, where he will attempt to defend a one goal lead. This was, without shadow of a doubt, the correct course of action. There are few enough advantages of playing in a weaker league, being able to rest players before a European game is the principle benefit.
Brendan also has developmental considerations. Jack Hendry, Calvin Miller, Odsonne Edouard and Charly Musonda will all gain from game time in the first team. The expectations when playing for Celtic are uniquely onerous, these four young players will learn that from occasions like yesterday.
We came through a unique season last term. The treble was won with a procession of brilliance, but our European endeavours ended in at the Champions League group stage. If you look at the league table, you might be tempted to assume there is clear evidence that we are weaker now than a year ago, but the jury is out on that question. If we progress to the Europa League last 16 on Thursday evening, Brendan’s second season will be set to eclipse his first. This is perhaps a consequence of enduring some afternoons like yesterday.
Developing great footballers, building great teams, is not a linear process. It takes time and patience. Don’t bet against this squad delivering another treble and a European run which extends into the light nights.