Football has a habit of bringing you back down to earth as soon as you think you can fly. That may happen tomorrow evening, but what cannot be denied, is that that this Celtic team provide joy and entertainment that you and I have seldom seen in our lives.
On Saturday, the pass and movement game Ange Postecoglou has been building came together against a Champions League-level opponent who knew what to expect but could do nothing about it. Newco tried to break Celtic’s passing game, they kicked, and elbowed to the face with impunity, but still, the ball kept moving around, making statues of those in blue.
The force and range with which Reo Hatate delivered his passes made it near impossible for defenders to be in the right place to do the basics. Despite what must still be painful memories for some defenders, Liel Abada was able to take up a striker position when Celtic had possession on the left wing.
If Liel’s ability to find space and time in a crowded penalty area brought memories of the Great Swede, Jota’s finish brought you back to a field in Lancashire in November 2002. Jota’s finish was more difficult that Henrik’s that night, though.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst correctly identified how quickly Celtic resumed play after a stoppage. This was key to two of the goals on Saturday; it also provided a moment of panic, when Joe Hart misplaced a rushed goal kick. He was lucky his opponent touched the ball a yard before it left the penalty area. He was lucky his opponent was not competent.
You wait ages for tectonic plates to shift, but when they do, the world shakes. In this respect, we have had a remarkable few days. On Thursday, Newco allowed the transfer window to close without spending any of their newly-earned Champions League money. Then on Friday, Uefa announced they put Newco on watch, as a consequence of their persistent overspend. The latter explained the former. The consequence of all of this was visible to the world on Saturday.
A decade ago it was HMRC who called a halt to Oldco’s excesses, this time, with Newco, it was Uefa. Both clubs won trophies while living beyond their means that would have gone to Celtic had they spent what they earned. Both times were painful, but the fundamentals of business remain true.