WE’RE ON THE ROAD AGAIN and after what seemed like the longest international break ever, thankfully the last one until March, the Celtic away support is currently feeling sorry for themselves for the earliest of Saturday starts as they make their way up the A9 towards Dingwall.
It’s a journey and a half that one but it’s usually eventual. Last time we got conned out of two points after some blatant cheating from the home side in the closing minutes, aided by the over eager match officials. There was still time, though, to wrongly send off Scott Brown. Celtic won the appeal but today’s the day for putting right a wrong and out that wee Dutch diver in his place.
The impressive Chris Davies, Celtic’s assistant manager, spoke earlier in the week about the trip to Dingwall, and the run that has seen Celtic going 63 domestic matches unbeaten since he arrived with Brendan Rodgers to lead the green and white.
“Hopefully we can extend the run, starting with Ross County, but that’s not how we approach games,” Davies said.
“Playing for Celtic brings an expectation in every game, regardless of whether there’s a record or not, so that won’t affect us in any way.
“It’s about performing, focusing on the game and the game-plan,” he continued.
“Hopefully that means we’ll win games and continue the run but it’s really not something that will affect us moving forward. We’re proud to have stepped past the previous record and now it’s about business as usual.”
After the lull caused by the dreaded international break Celtic have a real intensity of fixtures ahead of them before they get the chance to head over to Dubai for a few weeks in January to re-charge the batteries. December’s fixture list is exhausting to look at for the supporters never mind the players and even over the next 11 days we have two league games, a Cup Final a trip to Paris to play against the financially doped Paris Saint- Germain side.
Both Davie Hay and Chris Sutton are talking about Celtic’s chances in this match in today’s papers. Last Saturday, when we had no football, CQN went into the Tolbooth recording studio in Stirling with Kevin Miles (listen below, it’s brilliant!) and also Lisbon Lion Jim Craig.
Jim’s podcast won’t be available until next Friday but he did’t know that at the time of recording. He spoke about the Paris game and stated that Celtic will be much closer to PSG this time. He reckons they won’t be as impressive as they were in Glasgow and we will be better, having licked our wounds and with something to prove.
Jim, who is releasing a sensationally good book – JIM CRAIG, Right Back to 67, A Lisbon Lion Diary, on CQNBookstore.com this month (you can order a signed copy now), didn’t go as far as to predict a Celtic victory in Paris but he gives us a chance. And that is a measured, intelligent voice of experience.
1 on 1 Chris Davies: “I can’t speak highly enough of Celtic. You have to see it to believe it. It’s a phenomenal club!”
— Celtic TV (@CelticTV) November 17, 2017
Davies recognises that the team is about to enter the hectic part of the season, starting at lunchtime today, and points to the challenge being one that the entire squad will be involved in if we are to be as successful as this time last year.
“It’s the busiest period of the season coming up in terms of the sheer volume of games,” he said.
“We have 13 games in a six-week period, which works out about a game every three or four days, so we’re going to have to use the whole squad and make a big push now towards the winter break.
“That’s something which maybe hasn’t been mentioned as much but it’s definitely a factor in football.
“To maintain the high level of performance for such a long period packed with so many games is another positive for us.
“The manager has installed a culture whereby the players are very much a squad of players rather than just a team.
“The mentality is such that the players who aren’t starting a game are working hard on their fitness and their own development and their game so that when they do step into the team they’re ready and prepared.
“That mentality is ultimately set by the manager and the culture he has established. That’s allowed us to change players and different players have game-time and perform at a high level. All the players in the squad are valued and feel valued by the manager and the staff.
“That’s important as well because each and every one of them is important and unique and we need them all. The success of this run is testament to that.
“All the best teams have competition for places and that’s exactly what we’ve got here. You look through the positions and each position has good competition because there’s quality throughout the squad. That naturally helps players maintain their level and it’s very important.”
Chris was speaking to The Celtic View.
We mentioned the CQN Podcast, Kevin Miles in Session is an enjoyable way to spend the next half hour. You will love the songs!
NEW CQN PODCAST, KEVIN MILES IN SESSION, SENSATIONAL!
A Celtic State of Mind presents its 24th instalment of insightful discussion into the culture of Celtic Football Club, the city of Glasgow, and fans of the reigning invincible Scottish champions.
In the first ‘A Celtic State of Mind: In Session’ show, Paul John Dykes and Kevin Graham are joined by former Yashin frontman, Kevin Miles.
Kevin is supporting the Celtic Foundation’s Christmas Campaign by releasing a charity single, ‘Celtic, My Heart and My Soul’, and he joined The CQN Podcast at The Tolbooth Studio in Stirling to play an exclusive acoustic rendition of his magnificent ballad.
As well as playing a further three tracks, Kevin also speaks of his passion for Celtic Football Club, and explains why he wanted to support the Foundation this year.
The CQN Podcast has gone from strength-to-strength over the last few months, and there are many more guests lined up in the months ahead from the world of sport, music, film, art, broadcasting, literature and politics.
Connect with A Celtic State of Mind @PaulDykes, @anorthernprose and @CQNMagazine and subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or through your podcast player.