Succeeding in the face of adversity

Isn’t it funny that in the days leading up to a top of the table clash in the Scottish Premiership, the Scottish media focus the pressure on Ronny Deila and not Derek McInnes? Well not really because this is exactly the kind of bollocks we were used to back in the days when we played the dark side of Glasgow.

Since the painful defeat to Molde, Celtic have bounced back with two domestic wins. They’ve endured the Commons meltdown, a training ground incident and a couple of fresh injuries.

That’s a lot to contend with. So credit where it is due particularly when faced with a such adverse conditions.

In the last few days we’ve heard Alex McLeish and Jimmy Calderwood both give their tuppence worth about what Ronny Deila should be doing at Celtic. It’s easy for the media to enlist the belly rumblings of out of work managers these days but these ex-managers should focus on their own career issues and let the young guys get on with it.

Nobody mentioned how Ronny handled the past few weeks and still remains in four competitions. I guess that positive spin doesn’t sell papers though.

Celtic might be under pressure but Celtic are always under pressure. Supporters expect the team to win and perform well.

Europe is the eternal dream so when it doesn’t quite go to plan, we rightly get upset. We’ve seen our players show discontent as well but in opposition to this there have been plenty of players supporting the manager.

Today Celtic go into a home fixture unbeaten in their last seven domestic matches. That kind of consistency has gone without any praise and when you add the European fixtures to that, Celtic have only lost one of their last ten games.

In that same period Aberdeen have won two, lost four and drawn two. That loss in form wasn’t deemed a crisis though.

Instead Aberdeen are happy going into today’s game as ‘underdogs’. That kind of humbling statement might be true but the media, so taken by the early season form of the Don’s, have chose not to put any pressure upon Derek McInnes.

So I’m pleased Ronny Deila has hit out at his detractors. It doesn’t mean he isn’t thick skinned, but it did highlight the imbalance in Scottish journalism once again.

Once more I’ll nail my colours to the mast and maintain my support of Ronny Deila. I won’t hide my criticism or opinion when something is wrong because that was why I started my blog in the first place and no Celtic manager has had unfair criticism from me in my writings.

If I don’t like what I see, I’ll tell you why. Overall I want Deila to succeed and back him to get through another tough period.

Celtic won’t improve unless the players and coaching staff sticking together. They must also be supported by the board and both points appeae to be the case.

When something isn’t working, then it should be tackled. There has been visible evidence that some things aren’t working.

So change it ir bin it. Don’t persist because it obviously isn’t having the desired effect.

Celtic have every right to go out today and beat Aberdeen. McInnes’s players may have had a slump but they remain Deila’s prime threat though.

Sadly I won’t see today’s match live but I’m putting my faith in our form players and predicting a convincing win. Let’s hope I don’t have to eat those words.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

Hearts broken, Livingston out.

Leigh Griffiths is surging into the scoring charts for Celtic. And it was two pieces of individual brilliance by the Scotland international that was enough to bring down Hearts at Tynecastle.

After a goalless seventy minutes, Celtic took the initiative and the lead. After a loose ball in midfield was played through to Griffiths, he rinsed three defenders before slotting a superb finish past Neil Alexander.

Make no mistake, had this goal been scored by Messi or Müller, it would be getting all kinds of praise. Even if it is the kind of goal you expect to see from top strikers, Griffiths demonstrated some fine footwork and finishing.

Despite being booked for celebrating in front of Hearts fans, it did little to curtail his presence in this match. He popped up ten minutes later with a similar piece of delightful skill to play in Tom Rogić who finished from close range with the deftest of touches.

This was good timing because two minutes into injury time, Hearts pulled one back. It was a free header right in front of the Celtic goal and whilst Craig Gordon was helpless to do much about it, I think the defence had switched off at this point in the game.

Although that goal didn’t effect the overall result, I would still be telling my defence to be focussing to the last second. Even if you think the game is won, it isn’t until that final whistle goes.

So Celtic are through to the semi-final of the League Cup. As current holders, the objective is to retain it and make it the first part of a treble.

This should be Ronny Deila’s primary goal. Europe is still salvageable but I think most have conceded being involved beyond Christmas.

I rarely mix football and politics in any debate as they are two different arenas but today signed the petition for the removal of Lord Ian Livingston from the board at Celtic. Having voted for the tax cuts imposed by the government, this guy goes against everything the club are supposed to stand for.

Politics are a personal choice and the club is open to all but his stance undermines the foundations of the club. Celtic can’t sack the guy on political grounds but in my opinion his position is untenable.

Please feel free to sign the petition and shake things up.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

Stick or twist?

Ronny Deila’s job just got that little bit harder. In the wake of this season’s first Europa League defeat he is now under full scrutiny as Celtic manager.

Having weathered last season’s storm he and his players got into rhythm and looked to have turned a corner. This season we haven’t seen an improvement and are being worn down by the team’s own shortcomings.

I’ll nail my colours to the mast, I’m supporter of Ronny Deila and I want his plan to come to fruition. We’re not seeing evidence of it though.

There are many talking points on this. It doesn’t all come down to one person though.

Celtic have brought in and moved on some very good players in the last few years. That is where the club are at these days and I have no problem with that.

The most recent example is Virgil van Dijk. Rumours are not unfamiliar with Celtic but his departure was certified if the Champions League failed to materialise.

So with that eventually being te case and the on-loan Jason Denayer back at parent club Manchester City, Celtic no longer had a central defence. At best, Efe Ambrose was back up and certainly not a player to build your team around.

Mikael Lustig is a player whose skills and abilities have at times been hampered by injury. We’ve seen more of him recently and whilst that has been pleasing, he cannot carry the defence.

On the opposite berth, Emilio Izaguirre has had flashes in his debut season form. He is still often been found out defensively though which is why seeing young Kieran Tierney emerge has been encouraging.

With Adam Matthews departing for Sunderland and Darnell Fisher going out on loan to St Johnstone, Celtic were further weakened defensively. The arrival of Dedryck Boyata appeared to be swift and many would have though we were getting a maturer Denayer but I’ve yet to be convinced.

Celtic’s bold move for Jozo Šimunović at the supposed fee of £5.5M took be by surprise. For a player of his age there is a lot of pressure on him to match the valuation and with injury being his great contribution to the team, we’re still waiting to see what he can do.

Saidy Janko signed a four contract and fellow Manchester United colleague Tyler Blackett signed on loan to bolster the depleted ranks. Neither had a vast amount of first team experience though.

As yet, we have yet to see this current crop of defenders form an understanding. Many factors have played a part in this but it is alarming that Celtic are so vulnerable at the back.

Even the fine first season Craig Gordon had under Ronny Deila is beginning to look like a one off. So far he has escaped criticism from most but he has been as culpable as any Celtic defender this season.

So where do we go from here? Is it it just a failed defence that blights the Celtic cause or is there a bigger issue in play?

Celtic aren’t exactly prolific up front either these days or well endowed and despite the acquisition of Carlton Cole, he can’t play in Europe. That short sightedeness hurt Celtic last season and it appears we haven’t learned from that issue.

Like him or not, Stefan Šćepović should not have left the club without a suitable replacement.Nadir Çiftçi is not an out and out striker and we’ve entered this campaign without sufficient strikers.

The midfield on the other hand has a good supply of players. Even with the dip in form of Stefan Johansen, the performances of Nir Bitton and Tom Rogić have given us hope.

Even still, Kris Commons made his feelings known for all the world to see when he was substituted on Thursday evening. That was followed by a humble apology on Friday in front of the media.

As much as venting his spleen was unprofessional and underminding of the management, it did add weight to the fans argument that Ronny might be losing the fight. Many want him out and have done since last season.

Whist it is difficult to defend such appalling Celtic performances, I don’t wish to see Ronny Deila fail. I like the guy, I like that Celtic opted for a coach like him but this turn of events has made me wonder whether he has his reached limitations or simply requires more time to make things work.

Despite the Commons protest, the players have still come out and backed Deila. If the club are to get through this period it will only be done by standing together.

There needs to be a positive reaction to this bout of negativity. The Europa League is still salvageable and the Scottish Premiership remains on course but the one burning question for many is would Ronny Deila be given another crack at the Champions League?

Neil Lennon had two cracks at Europe before reaching the Champions League and one of those attempts was at the expense of FC Sion. Similarly, Ronny got another crack at Europe at expense of Legia Warsaw, albeit a different competition and different set of circumstance but as someone pointed out to me yesterday, Ronny has had better chances to get into the Champions League.

To ensure a third season happens, everyone at Celtic will have to step up there game. Not just Ronny Deila, but the players, the coaching staff and the scouts.

Today Celtic host Dundee United. With Aberdeen being held to a draw by Motherwell, Celtic have the chance to widen the gap at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

This team needs and enema.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

Getting back to where we belong

After winning “ugly” at the weekend, Celtic are back at the summit of the Scottish Premiership. Aberdeen’s early season form took everyone by storm but straight defeats in their last four matches has brought a wave of reality crashing down on their title challenge.

Considering the Hoops were said to be in crisis not so long ago by our friends in the media, I’d say that the club are doing better than the football we’re actually seeing suggests. After a 1-0 victory over Motherwell at Fir Park, Celtic are back where they belong.

Regardless of how good or bad things appear to fans or the media, Celtic are the best team in Scotland. I’m not getting carried away with myself or even delusional, it’s just a modern day fact.

Even with a reduction in fortunes, Celtic can still bully themselves into a strong position. For Ronny Deila there is still a lot of hard work to be done though and he knows it.

As well as ensuring Celtic stay top of the league, there are four more games in the Europa League group phase. At this point in the season I’d like to see all of the squad players begin to show their worth, even those who find themselves on the periphery of first team matters.

Some players come out of the traps at the beginning of the season whilst others take longer to find their feet or wait their turn. Now though the honeymoon period is over and there are games to be won and won convincingly.

It’s a marathon not a sprint comes to mind when approaching a football season. The idea behind having a squad is to keep momentum throughout.

With some key players missing for the Molde game this evening, Ronny Deila needs those players who are stepping in, to step up. I’m confident things will improve in this squad and there is more than enough capability in the team, but so far this season Deila has yet to find balance and flow.

There’s a mixture of youth and experience in the squad, but there are fewer stand out players than before. I think we’d all agree in saying that Kris Commons is probably the only guy capable of pulling something special off in a match.

His experience is not to be sniffed at but he is also the wrong side of 30 and not always selected. Of the more youthful breed, one has yet to emerge as ‘special’ but James Forrest has given us a few moments in matches recently so it’s a loss to be without his services this evening.

There are other contenders in the team but they must first find some form and maintain it in order to make a significant impact in the team week in week out. Stefan Johansen looked good when he came to the club in January 2014 and last season he was fantastic.

This season though has been a slow start for him and he puts that down to a back problem. Whether that is true or not, he is not alone in failing to hit the ground running so far.

Gary Mackay-Steven looked good pre-season but as the competitive matches came thick and fast he fell out of the picture. Stuart Armstrong, is another who has yet to emboss himself in the team properly, certainly in the way that many have expected he would.

Still, it is still very early in both ex-Dundee United players Celtic careers having only signed in January this year. The pursuit of both players in that transfer window was most likely to settle them for this season so it is time for them to start demonstrating their worth on the park.

I’d still rather have Celtic investing in proven Scottish players such like Zig and Zag than spending £2M+ on garbage like Pukki and co. Guys like him were ill-advised gambles who we have had a history of under several managers.

The money wasted on these players is bad for business. When you’re stuck with these jokers on three or four year contracts the club end up having to loan them out, flog them for cut prices or just cut their losses.

Whatever claims the club has or had of a good scouting network, it has been tarnished by some atrocious purchases. Fair enough, you don’t always get your buys right and there are occasions when you cannot account for certain areas of a player’s characteristics, psyche etc.

However, some of Celtic’s acquisitions over the last few seasons have been so bad that heads should have rolled. I’d much rather see the club spend over £4-5M on one cracking player than buy some misfiring striker or injury prone winger for £2M.

We have youth in abundance, and can fill our squad with players just as good as some of these punts. Is Callum McGregor more effective in a Celtic jersey than Derk Boerrigter?

No question. That’s just one example though.

In fact I’d rather go out and buy a free scoring Scottish Championship striker than pay for a guy like Teemu Pukki. I mean, what would possess you to buy a player who did little up front in any of his previous clubs when we were crying out for a goalscorer to replace Gary Hooper?

Currently, there is a lot of potential in this squad but they need good motivation and solid tactics. Young managers and players deserve time though and I remain, as ever, faithful through and through.

One player who has had a long wait to show his worth is Tom Rogić. The Australian international’s injuries hampered his opportunities to make the first team but now he is emerging as a key player alongside Nir Bitton and Johansen having been given that chance this season.

It’s encouraging to see a player like him take his opportunity with both hands having had to wait so long. That should be an example to others when addressing their own Celtic careers, particularly tonight in Norway.

Molde will be a familiar foe for Ronny Deila and Stefan Johansen but it won’t be an easy game. Celtic need to get off to the right start and more importantly, take their chances.

The Hoops can keep the ball and move it around. The issue at the moment though has been concentration and focus for the entire match and more importantly, taking those chances when they come along.

Leigh Griffiths is doing a grand job up front but he’s doing it alone. I get that most teams play a lone striker these days but I’m old fashioned.

Two up front might not suit every game but there are times when it will and we need to establish that quicker in games. Play the channels by all means but do it effectively or don’t do it at all.

Molde are now under new, yet familiar management in Ole Gunnar Solskjær. He managed the club a for a few years before his brief stint at Cardiff and now he and Deila will go toe-to-toe once more albeit in a different competition.

Fenerbahçe were stunned in Turkey by Molde after being beaten 3-1 on home turf. That wee surprise has been the only victory in Group A so far.

If Molde were to notch up their second win this evening it would put them in a good position at the half way stage. On the other hand, if Celtic were to surprise us and win in Norway, they would be on level points with Molde.

A draw would not be a disaster but a defeat would allow Ajax or Fenerbahçe the chance to leapfrog Celtic. In terms of luck, Celtic have not had much this season so it would be a welcome boost to get that tonight.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

Eyes on the prize

Celtic travel to Motherwell today in their first game since the international break. With the added incentive of reaching top spot a possibility this game will be one to watch.

For last night, Derek McInnes’s Dons slipped like a jobby on ice. Ross County were the benefactors of what is now a fourth straight defeat for Aberdeen, three in the league and one in the League Cup.

Have the sheep been sheared? Is McInnes’s tan fading as autumn approaches?

Well we’ll just need to see how they respond. I though that with the international break, the Dons might enjoy a break from defeat but they’ve picked up where they left off.

So now Celtic need to move in and capitalise today. However, it will be an ex-Celt aiming to halt the progress of Ronny Deila.

Mark McGhee has been installed in his second spell as manager at Motherwell. The Scotland assistant has his work cut out for him with his predcessor having lost six of the opening ten games so far.

McGhee’s previous spell with Motherwell was fairly influential. He faces a similar task this time by trying to take Motherwell from the bottom of the table to nearer the top.

By doing that last time around he earned praise and received good job offers. Having done the rounds managing other clubs, I’d like to see him stick around this time because we need guys of his experience in football especially in the Scottish Premiership where we lack experienced leaders.

I’m all for blooding the new generation of management and coaching but some times you want a bit of old school. McGhee is just that so good luck to him in his renewed venture.

With all the best luck in mind for him, I’d still like Celtic to go out and smash Motherwell today. Lunch time kick-offs are crud at the best of times, particularly when you are working as I am today and won’t get to see the game live!

Ronny Deila is still without Jozo Šimunović and Charlie Mulgrew. Scott Brown is a doubt however there is plenty of cover for the midfield at the moment.

As well as aiming to take top spot today, Ronny Deila will also be looking to calm things down in defence. The absence of our £5.5M wonder kid means that an unsettled defence continues.

Dedryck Boyata remains first pick at centre half but it remains to be seen whether Ronny will reselect Efe Ambrose. He is back in contention after a run in the team which culminated in a series of defensive mishaps.

Whilst these are not unusual for Efe, they did come along like a fleet of buses. Two howlers against Fenerbahçe and a sacrificial sending off against Hearts are probably enough to keep him going for now.

Ronny has the option of Ambrose or loanee Tyler Blackett. Whilst Blackett is seeking more opportunities, putting a Efe back in might just be what he needs.

Whether we agree or disgaree, he is still our player and you have to do the best by them. If he really does wish to atone for his errors then fine, give him that chance.

What Efe needs to start doing though is being honest with himself, the manager and his team mates. His general demeanour on and off the field has created criticism from Kris Commons and Neil Lennon in the past.

Errors will happen, but his tend to be of the amateur kind. At the age of 26 and with nearly 50 caps for your country that isn’t acceptable.

Whoever gets the nod to partner Dedryck today, they need to work as a unit and communicate with their team mates. Motherwell will be looking for a change in fortunes today and have proven to be a tricky team for Celtic in the past so let’s keep the eye on the prize today.

I was pleased to read that Gordon Strachan has agreed to stay on as Scotland manager for another two years. As I said earlier on, Scotland needs experienced managers and that goes for the international set up as well as in club football, particularly to raise the profile of the country, the clubs and keep the fans in two.

Down south Jürgen Klopp will embark upon his first match as Liverpool manager. It’s a tough job with a lot of expectations from the fans however if you aren’t a Liverpool fan then your expectations of them are realistically low.

Klopp is yet another Liverpool manager tasked with trying to do something Liverpool haven’t managed in over 25 years. Winning the league remains an elusive task for the Merseyside club.

Some thought Brendan Rogers might just do it and he endured a lot in a short space of time. However, it is the likeable character of Klopp who now takes on that responsibility now.

He too has his work cut out for him and if he can do anything close to what he did with Dortmund at their peak, then he’ll be doing okay. Ultimately, winning the Premier League is all that Liverpool fans would like to see now.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

Celtic first, Scotland second

As a Scotsman I was totally disappointed with Scotland’s Euro exit last Thursday. Even with my Irish roots, I felt somewhat bitter and jealous toward the Republic of Ireland and their win over World Champions Germany.

Not all Celtic fan’s will be in the same boat, but that’s how it is for me. Celtic first, Scotland second and Ireland…..well if they’re in a competition I’ll back them over any other country but that’s another story for another time.

I’m a big fan of Gordon Strachan. Even before he came to Celtic, I liked the guy.

Despite our failure to reach France 2016 and yet another major competition, I would like Gordon to stay on. The job needs finishing and some progress has been made with these players under his management.

The result away to Georgia was the one that made things difficult for Scotland. Of course there were plenty of unlucky results against Poland and Germany but Georgia was a costly mistake.

I’m not going to hold that against Strachan though. He just has to move on and build for the next qualifying campaign.

And that won’t be an easy task either. In a group with England, Lithuania, Malta, Slovenia and Slovakia, Gordon Strachan has his work cut out already.

A betting man would put England through as group winners meaning Scotland’s best chance is that second spot. Eight of the best runners-up from the nine European qualifying groups will go into a play off with the eventual four winners going through.

That’s a bigger task than the one this most recent of campaigns. The question is will Strachan fancy it?

I don’t think there is a better manager out there right now to do the job. Given the amount of poor managers Scotland have had in place in the past, you need to know when you have a good one.

There’s a new breed of players still trying to get a Scotland cap. Let’s work on that and start a new wave for what will be a tough campaign with more pressure because by the time Moscow 2018 comes around it will have been 20 years since Scotland’s last tournament.

In the aftermath of this campaign, it has been suggested that Scott Brown may retire from international football. Personally I’d like to see him continue until the qualifiers begin and use it as an opportunity to ‘hand over the reigns’ as it were.

By the time the current season is over he will be approaching 31 years old. The other figure I would like to see him reach is 50 caps for Scotland.

I think he has earned it and using those four caps to welcome in the next captain would be fitting. Once he has done that, he can concentrate firmly on his club career at Celtic.

It’s not unusual for players to start hanging up their international boots around this age. The demands of players such as himself as captain of club and country and playing in four domestic competitions a season is quite demanding.

I’d like to see him play for another six years at Celtic. Quitting the international scene might be the only way to achieve that.

As I said before, Celtic first and Scotland second. Unlucky Gordon, but let’s focus on the future.

Fellow blogger, James Forrest, asked recently who was the better Celtic manager out of Martin O’Neill and Gordon Strachan. Like myself in previous articles, I’ve brought to the table all of the factors into my writings.

Personally, I can’t take one over the other for a variety of reasons as they both did equally good work for the club. James makes good points about both managers and there’s no doubt that Martin had a powerful impact that helped change the direction of the club but Gordon was charged with taking that further and he did.

Martin had the better players and spent a lot of money but also benefited from Larsson. Gordon built a team with less money whilst seeing most of Martin’s players disappear.

That was a tough job and he did it without the backing of many fans. Gordon had the tougher circumstances and Martin had greater control.

We ALL wanted Martin. Not everyone wanted Gordon.

They both served Celtic well in their time and put us where we are today. Time for Ronny to make an argument for himself.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

Taking stock at the international break

The weekend marked the current season as ten matches played in the Scottish Premiership. It’s also the beginning of a second international break.

For Celtic, this comes after a spell of played 7, won 3, drawn 3, lost 1 in all competitions. Before the previous international break it was played 12, won 9, drawn 2, lost 1.

So far this season it has been pretty challenging on all fronts. Europe has put Celtic under the microscope and in the league it has been a battle.

Ronny Deila has been under fire once more from fans and scrutinised by the media. The Champions League exit is in the past so it was the league position he was getting lynched for.

Now the wheels are beginning to come off Derek McInnes ‘title challengers’ and Celtic are closing a gap. Whilst the gap now stands at 1 point, I doubt there will be any praise for that because it is far too positive for the Scottish media.

The last three matches have been tough. At Celtic Park a 0-0 with Hearts (all credit to them) and a 2-2 draw with Fenerbahçe (all credit to Efe) was followed by a narrow 2-1 victory away to Hamilton yesterday. It wasn’t pretty but it was an important result none the less.

Two draws at Celtic Park are far from perfect though. Heart frustrated Celtic after they themselves had lost three games on the bounce – they needed to shore up.

Fenerbahçe came to Celtic Park in their own poor form and managed a draw. In truth, that was a game Celtic should have won.

We all know about Efe’s errors in that one. For close to 70 minutes though, Celtic were in control.

Sunday through up a stiff challenge from Hamilton and they even took the lead. Celtic fought back though and held off for the much needed win.

This has been a period of tough challenges on and off the park whilst Deila is under pressure to make his defence solid and provide a potent strike force. Neither of these have been achieved yet.

Injuries to Mulgrew and Šimunović have not helped him settle the central defence, nor has the departure of van Dijk. However, we knew Virgil was going if the Champions League was over.

Mulgrew would not be my long-term choice for centre half though he has done well in the past. Šimunović I have not seen enough of or even know much about but at the price paid for him, he will need to be the real deal.

With Efe probably close to suicide right now, the international break is has come at a good time. I don’t like to see players singled out for blame but his tendencies for costly errors are well known.

He was selected for defensive duties against Fenerbahçe because he was the most senior player available for that role. And as someone said to me after the match, you cannot account for individual errors.

Yes, Efe does make them and even Ronny said he has improved. Unfortunately just not enough.

Fenerbahçe made a tactical switch in that game last Thursday and it had the desired effect. The same error could have been made by Tyler Blackett had he been given the nod but we’ll never know.

I don’t have any issue with Ambrose being picked when we have little to choose from. You cannot consider him as a regular though because he doesn’t provide the decision making, focus and capability that is required despite being an international for Nigeria.

The other area struggling is attack. With only two strikers in the squad, one of which has still to settle in, Celtic are lightweight.

You can’t ask for much more than Leigh Griffiths is doing right now and he is on course to be even better than last season. Nadir Çiftçi on the other hand will need to start pushing himself because there is nobody else to step in when called upon and the Turk hasn’t exactly made an impact when used.

Ronny has had Carlton Cole training with the team and having a look at the former West Ham striker but any potential move is on hold for the free agent due to injury. Whether Cole is the answer I don’t know but the fact is even with a lack of form last season at Celtic Stefan Šćepović should not have been loaned out without securing a replacement.

Sure, Celtic may have been trying but we should not be embarking on European competition without sufficient players. It is short-sighted and unacceptable and that goes for the defence as much as the attack.

Any procurements made now are ineligible for Europe until the next phase. Even then, we would need to make that stage in the Europa League first.

Last season we obtained the services of John Guidetti who, before turning out to be a total knob, was on fire. He was signed too late for European deadline and so Celtic struggled up front in the Europa League.

This season we’ve got a similar issue. We’ve immediately put ourselves under pressure.

I don’t know if you blame the scouts, the board or the coaching staff. It appears nothing has been learned though.

That said, I am as ever 100% behind Ronny Deila. Yes, we can list selection or tactical errors but it is time to focus on the positives.

Celtic have played 19 competitive matches in 15 week spell. It’s more compact than that when you consider the international break in early September.

Starting in mid-July is gruelling but something are beginning to prepare for better. It is still a long road though when you consider players are still being recruited during this period.

They then have to be integrated and you might even lose some players during this spell. Then you have to face the reality of which European competition you actually made, if at all.

So when the domestic season starts, everyone else comes out of the blocks like greyhounds after the hare. Whilst Celtic are treading carefully with injuries and trying to survive in four competitions.

Consider ourselves lucky that we aren’t an English club with a multi-million pound budget and under-performing. Celtic may be more financially wealthy than all Scottish clubs but they are a lone force in Europe and against stronger teams at the best of times.

Managerial casualties south of the border are racking up. Brendan Rogers’s was long coming whilst Dick Advocaat’s was a case of jumping before pushed and Steve McLaren could be next but I don’t think Ronny is anywhere near those scenarios.

This international break, let’s take stock of the tough schedule we’ve had, the movement of players, the disappointments we’ve had and the ongoing negative press we’ve received. Then look at what is ahead and see that we’re in all three domestic competitions and still competing in Europe.

The season is only really just started. Keep the green flag flying high this international break.

As a foot note, I’d like to wish Gordon Strachan and the Scotland squad all the best this Thursday. I’ll be watching the game in an English pub which 24 hours later will be hoaching with England fans.

Once more Scotland find themselves in a difficult situation when trying to qualify for a major tournament. In all honesty Strachan should have been in a slightly better position but there is still a chance of making a play-off spot.

Part lies in Scotland’s hands, whilst other results play also play a factor. The bottom line for Scotland is to be aiming for maximum points and hoping that Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland falter.

We’ve been here before. I think we deserve a bit of luck.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac