The treble dream came a sudden halt yesterday as Celtic were derailed by Ross County in another cup semi-final at Hampden. It first happened almost six years ago in the Scottish Cup under our then caretaker manager, Neil Lennon, but the circumstances were somewhat different.
Celtic ripped into Sunday’s match with real positivity. Gary Mackay-Steven scored in under 30 seconds and from that point on Celtic chased the second.
However, it was in the unlucky 13th minute that the game would turn the tide. Efe Ambrose, so often the culprit of Celtic’s woes, made contact with Alex Schalk who took to the ground.
It was the slightest of touches but enough for the Ross County forward to go to ground with the ball already out of his reach. That resulted in a red card for Ambrose and a penalty for Ross County which was tucked away by Martin Woods.
Up until that incident Celtic were running riot and probably should have been a few goals up by that stage. Who knows what 11 v 11 for 90 minutes would have looked like?
As a Celtic fan you would do well to keep that in mind when judging Ronny Deila’s achievements at the end of the season. However, we’ve already seen the backlash begin once more.
This moment in the match was a game changer. On a really good day perhaps 10 Celtic players could have beaten 11 Ross County players.
For decent portions of he game Celtic were good but County had the extra man. Leigh Griffiths wasn’t exactly at the races despite his recent form.
Throughout the game he struggled with the ball and as time wore on saw less and less of it. The soft penalty that was awarded to Celtic, about as soft as Ross County’s right enough, was not converted by Griffiths.
It appeared to be that type of game since going down to 10 men. This was an uphill struggle because Celtic weren’t able to play with the same energy and verve.
You can’t blame Ronny Deila for that. Ambrose has been in decent form lately and was the best choice as Erik Sviatchenko had yet to settle in despite being called upon as his replacement.
The one thing I would question was taking off Callum McGregor and not Stefan Johansen. If ever there was a player badly off the boil it is Johansen.
McGregor on the other hand is exactly the kind of energetic player we needed on the field with a man down. Johansen may be more experienced but as the game wore on, his own lack of form developed into frustration and petulance.
It was the wrong choice but not necessarily one that would have guaranteed a better result. When you are playing with a one man deficit for 75 of the regulation 90 minutes it is always going to be a big ask no matter who you are playing.
On a separate note there was the referee. Craig Thomson, always a thorn in the side of Celtic fans, had a poor game.
For an official with a tendency to act like he’s in charge, and with forthright in his approach, he seldom officiates a game well. I’m not suggesting that he (or any other official for that matter) has it in for Celtic, but for a semi final let’s face it, he was pretty inconsistent to both teams.
What now for Ronny Deila though? With the treble now gone would the possibility a domestic double be enough to keep him in a job?
Firstly, I don’t think Ronny is at risk of losing his job. If he wasn’t capable of winning he league then yes, I think he would find himself out of work but that hasn’t been the case.
Europe has been the obvious disappointment. More this season than last to be honest.
Personally I think he’ll still get another crack at it next season and if no progess has been made then maybe that’ll be the end of it. However, we are in the current season sitting top of the league and still in with a chance of a double.
I’ve never been a huge fan of the League Cup and Celtic have a 50% success rate in all the finals they’ve reached. Obviously if you’re on a treble you want it but I’d rather have the Scottish Cup and a sunny day in May.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m gutted that the treble gone and the boo Bhoys are back in voice, but as far as I am concerned what happened at Hampden yesterday was out of our control. I’m not even going to weigh into Efe because I think we all know that he should move on before he becomes a permanent target for abuse.
I started the month of January hoping that Celtic would win 6 out of 6 only for them to lose out at the final hurdle. A hurdle which would have kept the treble on course.
We were unlucky and must now pick ourselves up as a fan base and football team to take on Aberdeen this Wednesday. The visit to Pittodrie will be tough for Celtic and the Dons will be looking to feast upon raw wounds.
This is yet another huge game for both teams. A win for Celtic would give them a nice 9 point cushion but a defeat would close the gap to 3 points.
Before then Celtic could be involved in further transfer activity. With Sviatchenko and Patrick Roberts on board this window, Colin Kazim-Richards and Kristofer Ajer are said to be two players earmarked for this window as well.
Those two remain unconfirmed either way. The same goes for any potential moves of Celtic players going out on loan or on permanent deals so I’ll be tuning into watch that fanny Jim White for the rest of the day now I expect.