Brendan Rodgers’ decision to play Nir Bitton as a Centre Half with Forrest as his number 9, whether real or false, is not working. Should he continue with this experiment Astana will punish Celtic. One can understand Rodgers’ rationale. Sviatchenko is a good stopper but does not have the skill to build attacks from defence. Van Dijk is that kind of player but is now commanding up to £50m in the overheated transfer market that is The English Premiership. Friday evening’s game against Partick Thistle was poor box-office as the hosts showed no ambition whatsoever. It was hardly ‘Firhill for Thrills.’
As for the penalty claim, only in the fevered imagination of Robert Grieve, the hun with a laptop who infamously asked Brendan Rodgers whether he was having a mid-life crisis, could Miles Storey be described as an ‘Ace.’ The Jags journeyman was not in possession of the ball, stuck his leg in, did not touch the ball, and then dived theatrically when Bitton tried to hand him off. It was simulation. Thistle deserved nothing from this game.
I’m not convinced by Ntcham who hit a nice volley which would not have been net bound but for a Brown deflection. Hayes is a shadow of the player that he was at Aberdeen. I was informed that Patrick Roberts, whose genius can unpick teams like Thistle who put ten players behind the ball at home, would sign on Tuesday. I trusted my source. I will be more circumspect in future. I’m no longer convinced that this deal can be done. Celtic will be a much poorer prospect if Hayes is his permanent replacement. Ntcham should not be keeping Armstrong or Rogic out of the starting lineup.
In the final analysis Celtic stretched their unbeaten run in domestic games to 51. Are they awaiting a Van Dijk sell-on premium to source a centre back?
My tip for second place, Hibs, did nothing to undermine my prediction. Lennon sent out a 3-4-3 formation at Ibrox. No-one could ever accuse him of showing Rangers Lite too much respect. Ambrose was commanding at the heart of defence and showed a composure that Celtic clearly lacked on Friday evening. Lennon knew that Alves’ best days are behind him and that the speed of Stokes, Murray and McGeouch would show him up. They also twisted the blood of Ryan Jack who assaulted McGeouch, acting as peacemaker, to get to Stokes.
It was a red card all day long but Caixinha pandered to the one-eyed gallery by stating that they would appeal. Always cheated never defeated seems to be the Poundstretchers’ Mourinho’s mantra. I grew tired of claims that Alves was Ronaldo’s mate. Alves was sent off at Euro 2016 for a head high tackle on Harry Kane. He was only in the team due to an injury to Pepe. As he is a few months shy of his 36th birthday he won’t be Ronaldo’s play mate for much longer, if he ever was in the first place. Alves arrived on a free transfer. He was surplus to the requirements of an average Italian team who only recently gained promotion to Serie A.
Did Jack’s dismissal tip the balance towards Hibs? Probably, but Hibs inventive forward play looked good enough to prevail against any 11 in the Lite squad. Caixinha who is a devout practising Roman Catholic had the audacity to assert in his summing up that ‘We are the people.’ Is that all it takes to excuse a home defeat? Is playing to the deluded bigoted supremacists his get out of jail free card? His ‘people’ on this showing will do well to finish fifth and despite the best efforts of the SFA will win nothing this year. Will they still be ‘the people’ when they call for your head at Xmas, if not before? Another cash injection is now urgently required. Buying Walker for £1m is pie in the sky.
Motherwell and Dundee, who are already shaping up to be the whipping boys of the SPFL, both lost by three goal margins to St. Johnstone and Hamilton respectively. However as Motherwell finished the game with eight players, with three sent off, their reverse was hardly surprising.
There were six sending offs and eighteen goals across the full card of six fixtures. Scottish football may be a corrupt backwater but it does not lack excitement.
The pick of the Championship’s games was Morton’s win against local rivals St. Mirren. I can confirm that The Buddies lifelong fan Chick Young was not present to see Morton prevail with two converted penalties.
Readers of this site will know that I’m an ardent advocate of Junior football. Hats off to Largs Thistle who fashioned a three goal win at Dalry.
The last word goes to Neil Lennon who is apparently going to be reported for the following gestures. Is celebrating goals by opposing teams proscribed at The Sectarian Speakeasy? Was the fenian blood not high enough for their tastes?