Having watched previous generations of Celtic teams park the bus at Barcelona I’m not one to criticise Hamilton Accies when they do the same at Celtic Park. They put on an effective defensive performance but although the game got nervy as Celtic defended a one goal lead in the final minutes, Accies were never able to pass the ball well enough to make a genuine attempt at goal.
The only goal of the game came from a deep run by Moussa Dembele, who had dropped behind Tom Rogic, before sprinting forward to collect a pass from the Aussie. The Accies back line were concentrating on catching Leigh Griffiths offside but didn’t have the response necessary to match Dembele’s run.
It was great play from Rogic, Dembele and Griffiths, who remained in control to finish. That aside, the incredibly high standard of passing Celtic have achieved in recent weeks wasn’t matched. That’s football, it’s impossible for players, or anyone else for that matter, to perform with machine-like consistency, even John Lennon wrote the lyric, “I am a walrus”.
As well as experiencing varying levels of performance, we are now far enough into the season for teams to face Celtic with some revised plans. We play three at the back in possession, so Premiership teams push three men up when Craig Gordon has the ball, forcing the keeper to kick to the halfway line, where possession is often lost. This happened against Aberdeen, Motherwell and Accies in recent weeks.
Brendan Rodgers is miles ahead of his competition, but elements of games between now and the break will be more like chess matches than football. Not least our visit to Hamilton’s artificial surface on Christmas Eve. In the whole of 2016 only Motherwell beat Accies in consecutive games, and indication of an astonishing level of resilience by a club without the resources normally associated with senior football. Coo coo ca choo.