Danny McGrain’s bearded army…

Tonight, Arbroath will get the sort of chance that doesn’t always come along for a 2nd Division side. A cup replay against Celtic must be a huge bonus for the Angus club and it’ll be an entertaining winters evening for the locals as well.

Celtic on the other hand will be looking to kill this match off as they should have done at Celtic Park. Home advantage has not exactly been kind to the Hoops this season, on the domestic scene anyway.

Away form has been the success of Neil Lennon’s team both in Europe and domestically. The players going out there tonight will be administered with the task of not doing anything silly.

In all fairness to Arbroath, Celtic gave them a bit too much respect in Glasgow. You could even say they were complacent.

Lennon knows the score when travelling around Scotland though. Gayfield is a new venture for the Celtic manager so he is bound to have his wits about him.

One man returning to Arbroath is their former manager, Danny McGrain. The Celtic first team coach managed the club between 1992 and 1994.

I wonder if any of his bearded army will be out tonight? Danny looks about as old then as he does now but his promotion from the Development Squad shows you just how far he has come.

It’s doubtful though that Danny will be able to offer any insight to tonight’s fixture. The task for this evenings match is simple.

Maintain possession and avoid complacency. The goals will come in and around that mindset.

Arbroath will have a go for sure, but Celtic should have this one wrapped up. Neil will be looking to continue with the team’s domestic revival, and erase that result in Glasgow.

He can also enjoy the steady return to fitness of his players after a hard fought European battle. The efforts made on that scene have distracted and disabled the team for the better part of the campaign.

With a little luck, we should be seeing the more players coming back now. Tonight though, all I want is a wonder goal from Paddy and glut of goals from Celtic.

And let’s hope that pitch isn’t too frozen. Arbroath in January will be harsher than December for sure!

Hail! Hail!

Stevie

Succulent Lamb at the Piggery

He has gotten the backs up of many a football supporter on the airwaves, in print and on TV. Now he has left it all behind, passed through Checkpoint Charlie and joined the circus.

Jim Traynor ‘journalist’ and now ‘ex-journalist’ has crossed the media divide. He’s finally taken an official role down Edmiston Drive.

Traynor going to Sevco is like Prince Charles marrying Camilla. Finally, confirmation of our suspicions has been sealed…or would that be our paranoia?

There was never any doubt of Traynor’s allegiance, having been in the back pocket of Murray for so long. The worst kept secret in Scottish football.

Davie Provan even showed his distaste of Jabba’s former role in his column:

“Fondest retirement to Sir David Murray’s best-trained media poodle who has closed his laptop after years of sterling service. When it came to loyalty, this hack’s devotion to Sir David would have put Greyfriars  Bobby to shame. One grovelling piece with the fawning description of a dinner shared with the steel tycoon, is the stuff of legend. No surprise then that Charles Green has tempted him out of retirement.”

Nice to hear from the ex-Celt, but a little too late. Parting shots are ineffective, you need to say it when it counts.

Talking of parting shots, Jabba didn’t exactly go quietly. By now most of you will have come across his excretion last week.

He declared his disgust of the modern day blogger. Of their inaccuracies of the facts.

Well Jabba, you’ve been doing for years. In fact, I even pulled you up for it.

After writing an article about Celtic’s title chances in 2003, I challenged the Daily Record about it. Yeah I know I shouldn’t have read it but it was ten years ago man!

My email was passed straight to Traynor shortly followed by an outburst of defensiveness from him. I stood firm, reiterated my point and mellowed his mood by taking the morale high ground.

This was the last time I read any of his or the Daily Record’s guff for myself. In fact, in opposition to Traynor, I really enjoy people who blog.

I enjoy the personal touch of the every day man or woman who is driven by their passion. People are tired of tabloid drivel.

Reading the opinions of real people is better than listening to a lapdog. There’s no looking back for me.

If anything, it is guy’s like him who have misrepresented Scottish football whilst being fed by Murray at the same time. Pouring out his own bile whilst turning a blind eye to the deceased 1872 club.

How ironic that the part he played for the former club during those years of deceit and shame see him take up a role at Sevco. Green’s madness no knows bounds.

Traynor has written his own ticket for years of loyalty to Murray and his crumbled empire. I don’t imagine his role will be any more impressive than his columns were.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An enviable position

Two-and-a-half years after his full-time appointment at the Celtic, the going is good for Neil Lennon. Match day six of the Champions League Group Stage turned out to be a special occasion for the Celtic Manager and his players and the fans a grateful.

In the days of Martin O’Neill the last sixteen was just-out-of-touch for the man the supporters idolised. And that was despite making the dreams of many a Celtic supporter come true.

Gordon Strachan carried on that dream by taking the club to two last sixteen places. Sadly, it was there that the dream ended but like his predecessor, Strachan kept up the pursuit of European progression.

The fly in the ointment was Tony Mowbray. A foolhardy appointment if ever there was one.

Every cloud has a silver lining though. Enter Neil Lennon.

Troubled times require fast action. This was witnessed in the dying days of Lennon’s predecessor with the Robbie Keane coup.

No matter, what followed was a slow and steady learning curve. The board had made an error in judgement back in 2009 and now their choice to remedy their mistake was an inexperienced coach.

Was this risky? Fast forward to 2012 and you have your answer.

This season Neil Lennon and his crop of foot soldiers have taken Celtic on a journey. A voyage to foreign shores.

The bright lights of the Champions League have shone on Celtic Park once more and they have not disappointed. The outlook may have promised nothing more another step forward for this team and their coaching staff but they have surpassed that expectation.

Once more Celtic have found themselves in the last sixteen of the Champions Cup and on merit. Against all odds this team of hopefuls have made their own luck.

Away wins both in qualifying and in the group stage put the team on a solid footing. There was a minor stumble at home to Benfica, but the beating of Spartak Moscow in Russia and Barcelona at Paradise has been the crowning glory for this unit of fighters.

The players have grown in stature since Lennon assembled them. He has found balance and creativity as well as a sense of discipline both in his players and within himself.

It has been an engaging and encouraging development down Parkhead way. This metamorphosis has been fascinating.

Wednesday night at Celtic Park was a demonstration of just how far things can go. Neil Lennon knows that and the fans are bursting with pride.

As Neil said in his press conference “no one gave us a prayer”. Well, he has given them something else to chew on now.

What comes next is a mouth-watering tie with a group stage winner. At this point Neil Lennon will take anyone that comes his way.

Win or lose it is a dream come true just to be there. For the fans…for the players…for Neil.

He’s come a long way.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac