Victory over St. Johnstone at Celtic Park yesterday afternoon was the kind of response Neil Lennon would have been happy to see. Having witnessed his team cruelly defeated midweek to a very fortunate AC Milan side, a positive domestic result demonstrates good character from his players.
In the past Celtic have suffered domestically following midweek European matches. In the media this is known as a “European hangover” – great journalism.
Win, lose or draw (De Tha Seo? for any Alba viewers) there were often signs of fatigue or negativity. A home win over St. Johnstone may not seem like a tough ask for Celtic, but in the past some of those sides have faltered.
If anything it just shows how far the club have come since Martin O’Neill reignited Celtic’s European presence. To walk away from the San Siro feeling hard done by may seem like a “we’ve been here before” scenario, but Celtic’s performance was credible.
As supporters we’ve seen Celtic pipped to the post on many an occasion but this deafeat felt different. Given the class of opposition in Group H and the budget available to Neil Lennon I’d say there is much to be positive about.
However, don’t rely on the media to tell you this. They’re in a league of their own when it comes to truth and you’ll get no favours either.
Last season Celtic played well throughout the qualifying and group stages of the Champions League. They may have underestimated Juventus in the last sixteen having beaten Barcelona at Celtic Park, but this team continues to progress.
The season before last I said that it was crucial to maintain the same squad. Lennon did that and it was crucial to alst seasons European campaign alone.
Two of those key players from last season have now gone but it was important to retain them at the time. We are where we are now because of what happened back then.
There were some gruelling close season qualifiers to endure. Yet, Celtic still fly the flag for Scottish football.
Group H opposition are no pushovers but Celtic can inflict as much damage at Celtic Park as they can receive on the road. That is an encouraging factor.
Don’t get me wrong, my head was down on Thursday morning. I couldn’t stomach the headlines until Saturday!
I didn’t expect a victory at the San Siro. Having seen the evidence though, Celtic were good enough for a draw at the very least.
Factor that into Neil Lennon’s campaign and there is everything to play for. Don’t expect the media to back up that claim right enough.
I look forward to Lennon proving them wrong.