Stranraer omen

The toughest period in Ronny Deila’s Celtic career (so far) has coincided with a dry month. I’m not talking weather though, I’m talking bevy.

Throughout January I am on the wagon. There’s a big birthday for me at the end of the month so that’s where my sober period will cease as I ‘celebrate’ one of life’s milestones.

So whilst that sense of impending doom awaits a booze-free-me, Celtic have as tough a job as I do – winning all their games in January. It started last week with a last gasp winner against Partick Thistle in the dreariest of New Year encounters.

That was Ronny Deila’s first win of 2016. It also marked the 200th goal scored by Celtic under his management.

However, it was also Celtic’s first home win in two months. The last one being a 3-1 win over Aberdeen on 31st October 2015.

That victory needs to be an anchor point for the remainder of this season. The treble is the remaining target for Ronny Deila, his players and his backroom staff.

There are five more scheduled games for Celtic this month. Five more wins would see the Hoops remain at the top of the Scottish Premiership, reach the League Cup Final and the fifth round of the Scottish Cup.

In the latter if those targets, Celtic travel to Stranraer on Sunday for the first time since the 2000/2001 season. That game was won 4-1 by Martin O’Neill’s Celtic side at Stair Park.

Fifteen years is a long time. A lot has changed in that period.

You look at the Celtic team back then on 28th January 2001: Douglas, Boyd, Petta, McNamara, Valgaeren, Vega, Lennon, Agathe, Larsson, Thompson, Sutton. On the bench: Gould, Mjallby, Lambert, Moravcik, Smith – the beginning of the O’Neill era.

The playing field isn’t the same level of course, but Celtic should be more than capable of disposing of the Scottish League One club. It’s funny that these two teams should face each other at the same stage, competition, ground and month from fifteen years ago in a season which would be our last treble winning campaign.

Is that an omen? Well I dunno, but if Celtic don’t win this one I think the fans might chase Ronny on a boat to Cairnryan!

There is a lot riding on this game. The supporters expect.

Squeezing out a last minute winner over Partick Thistle was 99% dire. That remaining 1% was huge for Celtic in terms of how bland things have been for us recently.

If the players realise the value of that and invest some belief in themselves then they can salvage something for themselves. The squad in general have been a let down this season but it’s not too late.

Of the the few shining lights who have performed this season, full credit to them. It’s not enough though, not for this club and this fan base – this is a team game.

I do believe the players when they say they back Ronny, I really do. That isn’t winning us matches though and I’d like to see how this mutal relationship is benefiting the club long term.

If Ronny wants to see his vision come to fruition I think we are all in agreement that we’ll need to see some evidence very soon. There is too much at stake to be throwing it away.

Throughout this month I fully expect some personnel changes. Not so many going out as coming in, but changes are required.

Will they be loans or purchases – who knows? I think whoever these acquisitions turn out to be and on what terms will show the intentions of the board.

Something needs to change in this squad. Be it tactics, coaching or luck, fresh blood might provide this side with some motivation.

The performance of the current squad though has not been good enough. Whether you love him or loathe him, Ronny Deila must know that it has not been pleasant to watch the team this season at all.

He still has an opportunity to make this season a success. The season that follows is another matter entirely.

Long live the treble.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

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