Yesterday’s international results seem to have buoyed those who turn up at Hampden to watch an inferior product manufacture improbable failures. In making this sweeping statement it would be remiss of me to add one caveat: the Celtic core of the team are far from inferior. However Celtic have a team that combines the Scotland stalwarts with the best of French and English youthful flair, buttressed with Slavic/Scandinavian strength.
They have Sinclair, and back by popular demand, Patrick Roberts. Prior to reverting to the international scene I take pause to consider the latest piece by Gordon Parks in the Sunday Fail. If this Trinity title continues to haemorrhage readers at an annual rate north of 14% per annum, it won’t be with us, at least in its present form, much longer.
Parks asserts that Patrick Roberts’ decision to join Celtic for another year’s loan smacks of a lack of ambition.
Is this the ranting of a bitter, jealous Hun who realises that Rangers Lite are doomed to another season of abject failure? The WhatsApp crew are not playing for Primark Pedro. There is a schism in the dressing room. There is a bitterness and envy apropos the salaries being paid to the recent imports, some of whom as is the case with Pena think that training is optional. There is a blatant disregard for Primark’s tactics. There are those like Miller who deride Caixinha on a daily basis and call him ‘banger.’ He has probably been called worse after being dismissed at Qatar. There are even suggestions that he should book a course at Largs and learn how to coach.
Is this the backdrop to Parks’ mean-spirited piece? Is he appealing to the blue demographic in the style of his colleague Gordon Waddell? Or was it a cheap shot to set up a video debate with Darren Jackson to appease Trinity Mirror’s mandate to engage with the Instagram/WhatsApp video generation. My money is on the latter.
Roberts will be playing against the most expensive, and second most expensive player, in world football; namely Neymar and Mbappe. Paris Saint-German, in taking the latter on a season’s loan with an option to buy, thought that they could avoid FFP sanctions. They probably thought that UEFA had no FFP teeth. I would like to think that they will soon be disabused of both notions and that the Mbappe permanent deal will be spiked.
A PSG player Edouard is now on loan at Celtic. Does Parks believe that PSG would loan their player to Celtic if there was no prospect of development?
In the case of Roberts, what better showcase for his talents than the group stages of the Champions League? His agent would have advised him that if he stands out in these matches the world will be his oyster.
Roberts’ decision to rejoin Celtic is nothing if not ambitious. Brendan Rodgers is highly respected. He can make a good player great.
The coaching team behind Bayern Munich will be able to observe Roberts at close quarters. If he twists their defenders’ blood a move to ‘Hollywood’ might be in the offing. Using Celtic as a stepping stone to bigger clubs is a long-established policy at Lennoxtown. To quote Jon Anderson of Yes: Yours is no disgrace.
When reverting to the National team, the headlines may have been dominated by the England result and the lacklustre win at Hampden, but I would caution not to ignore the Slovenia result as it puts them in the mix. The remaining fixtures are as follows:
5 October 2017
England v Slovenia; Malta v Lithuania; Scotland v Slovakia.
8 October 2017
Slovakia v Malta; Slovenia v Scotland; Lithuania v England.
Should England continue to do Scotland a favour by securing their Russian berth with a win at Wembley, the Scotland v Slovakia game will be in sharp relief. Scotland managed to recover from a three goal reverse at Wembley to fashion a 2-2 draw at Hampden. Can they do same, or better, against Slovakia?
If not the game against Slovenia might be a dead rubber. However if they do earn an improbable win the sting might be in the Slovenian tail.
I remain unconvinced that the National team will participate at the World Cup Finals in Russia. I would like to be proved wrong. It would not be the first time.