After the international break

Who’d have thought it eh? Scotland record back to back wins over higher ranking teams.

We know international friendlies are meaningless but it was a bit of a surprise to see 2 wins out of 2 for the Scottish national side. Gordon Strachan remains focussed on the next qualifying campaign and he has a decent team but Scotland still lack that standout player for me.

There are some important individuals but they aren’t always available or on form. In the past there has been at least one player you might look to change your fortunes or influence the team.

Right now I’d say we benefit more from a stronger squad. The door remains open for someone to make a name for themselves on the international scene and there is nothing to suggest one of the current crop make stake that claim.

With no European Championships for Scotland though, we Scots will have to look on as all other “home nations” take part in this summer’s tournament. It is yet another opportunity missed for Scotland.

I’m pretty sure that if Strachan can’t get Scotland to Russia in 2018 he’ll move on. If he succeeds, he might just stay beyond that tournament.

There’s no doubting Strachan’s managerial ability. We saw that with Celtic.

Even though Scotland won’t be in France this summer, it will be a motivator that England, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Wales are. We’re used to not being at tournaments since missing out at Euro 2000 but to be the only country on these isles to be staying on these isles is already a disappointment so god knows what it’s going to be like when the coverage begins.

So with that in mind, I’m glad to be getting back to club football this weekend with Celtic. The internationals have merely been a distraction this week.

On the subject of club v country interest I thought it was interesting to hear Scott Brown defend Liam Bridcutt’s tackle on Celtic team-mate, Erik Sviatchenko.

I realise that Broony is taking a Scotland captain stance and defending his international team-mate. However, the challenge was reckless and in a competitive game Bridcutt would have walked.

Sviatchenko played down the debate which was pretty decent of him. To be honest though, Bridcutt and Brown were both in the wrong.

As long as Brown and Sviatchenko are on the same page this Saturday at Celtic Park, that’s all that matters. Celtic host 3rd placed Hearts who are only 9 points behind 2nd placed Aberdeen.

Both the Hoops and the Jambos have a game at hand over the Dons. There is every chance the pecking order could change in these last 8 games (7 for Aberdeen).

Ronny Deila will be targeting maximum points. The same can be said of Derek McInnes and Robbie Neilson.

You can be sure points will be dropped by all three clubs before the end of the season though. History tells you as much.

So Celtic fans beware. We may draw or lose in these last eight games but it doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll lose the league.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

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What does the future hold?

The current season is far from concluded but the one that follows isn’t far away in terms of time or planning. In fact it is most certainly well in to the latter already, but the question is who will still be involved next season?

Celtic bought in the January transfer window once more. By acquiring certain players it suggests future planning with a central defender, winger and striker added to the ranks.

There will be further movement come the summer and no doubt, some will need to go. Not necessarily to make way for new players, but because the squad is too large and not everyone is performing as they should be.

Craig Gordon – a standout performer in his first season, he has slid in terms of reliability in this current season but has looked better recently. I don’t think his position is in jeopardy for next season though. Verdict: still no.1 in the current set up

Logan Bailly – nothing to suggest he will get the nod ahead of Gordon or that he will be on the move. Will remain no.2 to Gordon. Verdict: must push Gordon for no.1 spot

Leonardo Fasan – the young goalkeeper would have loved to get the no.2 slot but was deemed too inexperienced. At 22 he will want and will need first team experience. Verdict: loan out for a season

Mikael Lustig – close to equalling his best ever season in terms of appearances and goals, the Swede has had his share of injuries at Celtic. This season he has avoided major injury and worn the captain’s armband in the absence of Mulgrew and Brown. I fully expect to see him back in the fold next season as well. Verdict: a key player, particularly in big games

Saidy Janko – unlike his fellow right back, the Swiss youngster has been out for the majority of the season due to injury. He showed early promise and left many Manchester United fans disgruntled at the loss of a good prospect. It will be good to see him back in contention for next season. Verdict: target a place in the team for next season

Efe Ambrose – the Nigerian internationalist is now in his fourth season for the club and on course for his fourth league winners medal. He joined a Celtic side at their peak under Neil Lennon but his errors have exposed him badly, particularly in big matches. Whether he remains a bit part player or is moved on remains to be seen but I personally don’t see him as a key player for Celtic in their bid to make progress. Verdict: time to go I’m afraid

Emilio Izaguirre – the Honduran internationalist made a huge impact when he signed for Celtic nearly 6 years ago. He has endured serious injury, won prizes and is still very much a talented player. This season he has lost his place to an emerging youngster but it remains to be seen if this spells the end for Izzy. With good left backs a rare breed it is both hard to satisfy and retain two good ones at the same time. Verdict: more than happy if he stays but club may cash in this summer if the opportunity arises

Kieran Tierney – nobody expected such positive results from this player when he stepped into the first team but he has now held down the position and made it his own. It is a testimony to his ability and application that he can keep an internationalist of more than 80 caps out of the side whilst he embarks upon his own career for club and country. Verdict: a very long and bright future at Celtic

Charlie Mulgrew – out for most of the season through injury, he has emerged (not for the first time) as a calming influence at the back for Celtic recently. Versatile as he can be, it is hard to know what Mulgrew’s best position is but he does provide options for a manager and that is a valuable tool to retain and utilise. Verdict: worth another contract for sure (and looks like he’s getting one)

Dedryck Boyata – brought in last summer as a replacement from Manchester City who took back Jason Denayer much to our disappointment. I think I am being honest in saying that Boyata isn’t a patch on his fellow Belgian and former City colleague. There is still time for Boyata to prove his worth but to date, I am less than convinced. Verdict: no doubt will remain at the club but as backup to the preferred centre backs

Jozo Šimunović – the young Croatian was drafted in with a hefty price tag but that transpired to be off the mark in terms of accuracy. He was injured early on in his Celtic career and is once more, but hopefully once recovered he can show as much promise as he has in the games he has played in so far this season. The hope is that he makes a full recovery from this season ending injury which required surgery recently. Verdict: hopefully we’ll see him emboss himself in next seasons defence

Erik Sviatchenko – this is the player I’d like to see build that relationship with Šimunović. Sviatchenko has been thrown into the mix and helped settle things down at the back for Celtic during a turbulent and pressurised period. He claims not to be fully fit at the moment and just scooped player of the year in his homeland, suffice to say I think we’ve got a good one. Verdict: looks a like a good acquisition for Delia

Tyler Blackett – Manchester United allowed this young, inexperienced defender to come to Glasgow on loan. He got his chance earlier in the season but was less than impressive. Verdict: return to sender

Eoghan O’Connell – this promising central defender has played a handful of games for Celtic and looked comfortable at senior level even as a teenager. A loan spell at Oldham Athletic this season was used to gain him some first team experience only to be cut short by injury. He has now gone on a further loan spell to home town club Cork City to get the experience he missed out on last year. Verdict: still a good choice for the future

Stuart Findlay – another young talent currently out on loan at Kilmarnock, seeking first team experience and a future at Celtic. The central defender has plenty of international experience for Scotland from under-16 through to under-21 and despite no real opportunity at Celtic just yet, there is nothing to suggest that his future cannot start at the club in the near future. Verdict: still time to stake a claim

Calum Waters – the young full back has also been out loan this season with Dumbarton benefiting from his talent. He has also represented Scotland, at under-16 to under-19 level and will be looking for a chance at Celtic, but with right back an oversubscribed position at the club, he may struggle in getting that chance. Verdict: another loan spell wouldn’t be a disaster

Darnell Fisher – sent out on loan for the season, I think this is one player who deserves to be part of the squad. Nothing fancy but showed enough under Neil Lennon when called upon to do a job at right back and right midfield. His loan spell could prove to be useful should Celtic bring him back and keep him and upon turning 22 next month, the first team should be his priority or the club may move him on. Verdict: time to push for a first team place

Scott Brown – club captain and still a big influence in the first team, he remains a key part of this squad. He is a strong character who has matured well in the Celtic jersey. There is little doubt he could retire at Celtic but he has many years left in him before that happens. Verdict: can’t imagine a Celtic squad without Broony right now

Nir Bitton – the Israeli midfielder has blossomed over the last year or so into a key player for this team. At 24 he still has his best years ahead of him and whilst that is good for Celtic, they may find it difficult to hang on to him if his talent continues to grow. A good offer may not come this summer but I wouldn’t rule out one in the near future. Verdict: an essential player who may be tempted by a big money move

Derk Boerrigter – definitely in the top ten of Celtic’ s worst ever signings, this guy should have gone last summer never mind this summer. Verdict: go now please

Stuart Armstrong – looking more assured in a Celtic jersey since he signed just over a year ago, I think he will grow into a key player for Celtic. Verdict: would like to see him in central midfield

Kris Commons – few would argue that he is one if not the most talented players currently plying his trade at Celtic. Age is currently against the gifted player and for many, he hasn’t seen enough game time under Deila. Verdict: Celtic will want to retain his skills for as long as he can still cut it at the top

Gary Mackay-Steven – another Dundee United acquisition from last year, he has made a reasonable contribution to the team albeit, not consistently. This is a player who has put in some fine games but needs to push on if he wants to keep a place in the team. Verdict: still looking for more from the winger

Ryan Christie – after signing in the summer he went back to his previous club on loan but now he is pushing for a place in the Celtic first team. Verdict: a very promising young player who could be very big for this club

Tom Rogic – I for one am glad this guy has made it into the first team. His services have been a rare joy this season and I look forward to seeing more and more from this exciting Australian. Verdict: Celtic should pull out all the stops to keep this guy

Scott Allan – many think a run in this team is long overdue for the former Hibs midfielder but his time will come. As established midfielders begin to age or become subject to transfer speculation I have no doubt he will be among this next wave of talent at Celtic who are the future of the club. Verdict: a key part of the future midfield

Stefan Johansen – even though he has been way off the boil this season he is still a big player for the club. His first season and a half were impressive and whilst this one has been largely forgettable, I think any suggestion of him being sold is utter nonsense unless it is what he wants. Verdict: needs to get back to his best next season

Patrick Roberts – on loan from Manchester City, this player has come highly recommended. With his services available at Celtic until next summer, Deila will be looking for this bedding in period to help the winger establish himself in the first team and play a key role next season particularly in Europe. Verdict: high expectations from his long-term loan

Callum McGregor – he is but one example who has responded to and performed for Deila. He is a big part of the team now and provides the team with a good attacking option. Verdict: has taken his chance at senior level

James Forrest – now at the age of 24 and in his 6th full season in the first team, the often exciting winger is now looking close to leaving the club after turning down a new contract. The contract was said to be a good one but the player obviously sees that differently. As much as I would hate to lose his services, injuries are a problem for Forrest and it could well be that was factored into the deal he was offered by the club. Verdict: likely to depart in the summer

Joe Thomson – a young player who still has age on his side, he has made just one sub appearance for the club. Like many other Celtic hopefuls, he has a lot of international experience with Scotland at across the youth teams from under-15 up to under-19 but lacks the first team experience to push past the current list of midfielders-in-waiting. Verdict: a loan move will be essential for his development

Liam Henderson – this is one player who has shown to be a promising talent both in the Celtic first team and out on loan. He burst onto the scene under Neil Lennon and continued that under Ronny Deila but in a congested midfield, he was sent out on loan to Rosenborg and now with Hibs where he has played more than 30 games this season. He has made a significant impact with both clubs in the space of a year. Verdict : undoubtedly a player I look forward to coming back and wearing the Hoops for many years to come

Leigh Griffiths – Celtic’s top player right now and prime candidate for player of the year. His goals are the statistical difference between first and second place in the league but his skill and touch are equally as impressive. Some strikers possess pace, some with a powerful shot but when on his game the touch displayed by Griffiths can be spectacular. Verdict: unplayable but needs more support at times from his midfield or a second striker

Colin Kazim-Richards – the “Coca-Cola Kid” hasn’t had the success he may have liked in football but he has certainly has had the clubs. The London born Turkish international has been around English and Turkish clubs with pit-stops in France, Greece, Holland and now Scotland. At 29 years old, he comes with experience but the real hard work will be done next season when he will be expected to provide more to this team. Verdict: only time will tell

Carlton Cole – the former England international penned a two-year deal with Celtic last year but has been a seldom seen figure. With the greatest of respect to the big fella, he is little more than a squad player who might provide a ‘presence’ up front at a key stage in a match. In all honesty his best years are behind him at West Ham United. Verdict: a curious signing but he’s all ours for another year!

Nadir Çiftçi – for a player we were all pretty much universal in our condemnation of, he has done little to appeal even to the most passive of Celtic fans. He got plenty of game time at the beginning of the season but it proved to be largely uninspiring despite scoring 4 goals in 11 league appearances. This loan spell Eskişehirspor has yielded 1 goal in 4 appearances but what has been more notable was that he subbed in his first game, then sent off in the second. It could happen to anyone but he never seems far from on-the-field controversy. Verdict: can Celtic afford another striker failure?

Stefan Šćepović – yet another striker who failed to hit the mark for the club. The Serb came with a reasonable scoring record from his previous club like fellow Celtic loanee, Çiftçi but struggled to make headway in the first team. All his 6 goals in 25 appearances last season earned him was a loan move to Getafe. Verdict: doubtful to return

Anthony Stokes – unlike the previous two loanees, Stokes has actually done a job for Celtic since he joining in 2010. Under Deila though, he has been frozen out. Off the field, Stokes has not helped himself and the club have frowned upon that. Verdict: Despite his skill and success he will be gone in the summer.

Aidan Nesbitt – of all the strikers out on loan, only this kid is a certainty to return t the fold. He has been hailed as one for the future and could well go out on loan again next season but if the current backup to Griffiths fail to deliver, you could be seeing this kid sooner rather than later. Verdict: great expectations

So, there you have it. My take on the current squad is that from front to back Celtic could or should be parting with Blackett, Ambrose, Boerrigter, Forrest, Stokes and Šćepović permanently but that list is by no means final.

The only player confirmed for this coming summer is Kristoffer Ajer who is yet another midfielder. At 17 he is much younger than anyone else in the Celtic team but a player which Deila has pursued with intent.

Next season this team could look very different in terms of regular appearances. Until then, there is work to be done and places being fought for to secure a league and cup double.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

A touch of Rogic

I spoke recently on this blog about ‘title credentials’. A demonstration of winning under any circumstances being at the heart of everything you do.

In terms of football quality, Celtic haven’t been at their best this season. At the same time last year we were looking and playing much better after a slow start to the season.

Saturday produced the kind of result that teams need to win titles. Tom Rogic produced a contender for goal of the season in the 90th minute to win the match.

This was as good as any goal you will ever see. After penalty claims being waved off and near misses by both teams, one player stepped up at the death to give his team the edge in the title fight.

To be fair to Rogic, he has been great to watch this season and he came up with the goods against Kilmarnock when it mattered most. More of that from some of his team mates wouldn’t go a miss either.

Even though Aberdeen had yet to play that day, who would have known that they would succumb to defeat at Motherwell? Well, I had them on my coupon to lose so I suppose I did!

Despite that result coming later in the day, Celtic pulled off a vital win which now has them 4 points ahead and with 1 game at hand. There are still 8 league games left for the Hoops though and this title battle continues.

We don’t know for certain why it hasn’t come together for Celtic this season. Injuries aside we’ve lost our central defence from last season, made no progress in Europe and have been awful to watch at the best of times.

Stefan Johansen is one particular player who since he joined in January 2014 had been impressive. Last season he scooped the PFA Scotland Players’ Player of the Year award and netted 13 goals in 56 appearances.

This season though it has gone horribly wrong for him. He has looked a shadow of the player we saw last season and even the lively new Bhoy that started his Celtic career under Neil Lennon.

Earlier this season he cited a back problem as the reason for his poor form. If that was the case then he shouldn’t have been playing at all.

Johansen has played more games than I would have picked him for this season if I’m being honest. Sticking by him has not yielded any rewards, just a reminder that he should have sat out more games until he got over his ‘back problems’ or rediscovered his form.

Similarly Craig Gordon has also suffered a dip in form. Last season he made a remarkable return to the game with performances reminiscent of his earlier years and enough to win him plaudits from all areas of the game.

He earned a call up to the national team, kept 28 clean sheets throughout last season and won the Scottish Football Writers Award for Player of the Year. This season his performances have been less than convincing between the sticks.

Unlike Johansen, there has been no claim of injury hindering him. Not even the mention of an unsettled defence has been used as an excuse, though to be fair I do think that has had some bearing on matters.

Some of Gordon’s decision making though has been questionable. Poor choices have been close to calamitous but few have criticised him this season, Chris Sutton being one of the few that has.

Gordon has started to play with a bit more confidence lately but overall it will be tricky for him to match last seasons stats. He is already 10 clean sheets short of last seasons tally with 9 games (potentially 10) remaining and it would need to be mean defence to achieve that at this point of the year.

Celtic’s form is not confined to Gordon or Johansen though. These are just two of the best examples of a change in fortune from last season to the current one.

So what exactly has changed then? Was it the exit from the Champions League and subsequent dismal performances in the Europa League?

The strengthening of the squad has produced more flops than I care to mention and not just under Deila. It goes back further than that so should we be concerned with the scouting and transfer policy at the club?

Are there divisions behind the scenes which are affecting team matters? Something has upset Celtic’s progress this season and my reading of matters tells me that it isn’t solely on Ronny Deila.

Being the head coach, he is responsible for Celtic’s performances. Yet there is still plenty to suggest he will be here next season.

And why not? Deila is still on course for a second successive domestic double so why would you want to replace a winning manager?

Europe is what supporters are concerned about. Were a third failed attempt at the Champions League to occur, a large portion of the fan base would be vindicated in their opinion that Deila should never have been allowed another shot at the competition.

Yet there is nothing to say it won’t happen this time around. It took Lennon three years.

Like Deila, he had ups and downs in his first two seasons. Then look what happened.

These can be considered learning curves as long as people are learning and not just enduring. I’ve heard a couple of people use the phrase “turning point” after Saturday’s win and not for the first time this season.

I don’t know if I’ve used the phrase myself but I will openly admit to using similar words throughout the season. There have been umpteen turning points or at least opportunities to turn things around and then the reset button gets pressed and it’s back to the drawing board.

If Rogic’s wonder strike on Saturday is to be the turning point in this title race then the players must take everything they can from that and go all out for the fans and coaching team to win this double. That means everyone investing their heart and soul for every minute of the remaining 9 or 10 games of this season.

Then and only then can you consider yourself champions.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

Get behind him

Rumours play a huge part of what we read in the sports news. Sometimes it is pure speculation or a fabrication of the facts, thrown together to produce a ‘story’.

Occasionally something sticks. Most of the time it’s self-serving though and purely to do a bit of headline grabbing, but there’s no real journalism in there.

That’s the media for you but I have to say that these very recent stories circulating about Ronny Deila’s replacement are nothing short of appalling. I can blame the media for writing the stories, but our own fan base have contributed to this trash as well.

At a time where trophies remain up for grabs there should be universal backing for the Celtic manager. I don’t expect it from the media, just from our own fans.

I’m not going to start rhyming off the names that are getting banded about. You can read that wherever you look right now.

What I find disrespectful is that Ronny Deila, who is still fighting for two trophies, is being ejected from Celtic Park already. Yes, it hasn’t been the smoothest of tenures but this season isn’t over and there hasn’t been any mention of him leaving the club.

If there was nothing to compete for this season and he’d blown it then yes, I would get the speculation. Now in his second season at the club he could potentially grab another double.

And yet he’s already got the media and the fans lining up potential successors without a hint of a departure from him or the club. What chance do you stand of winning when you’re already being shown the door by your ‘supporters’ and a preying media?

If Ronny chalks up another double he can quite proudly present the double-fingered salute to everyone. Quite frankly, I look forward to seeing that.

There are shades of him being unwanted that bear a similarity to Gordon Strachan. The current Scottish national coach left after his 4th season in charge to the applause of many.

What followed was hailed as fantastic but turned out to be drastic. It’s worth valuing what you have before moving on and I don’t think many valued the success Strachan achieved until he left.

Whilst Ronny has yet to make inroads in Europe its worth remembering that it’s only his second season. In the long-term we may well get that, but patience doesn’t appear to exist among our more fickle supporters.

I’m keen to see out this season and hopefully a league and cup double. If Ronny can achieve that, I think he deserves another crack at the Champions League.

Then and only then will I be satisfied that we have exhausted that avenue. Right now there is still a lot to play for so for the good of the club, back the guy, not the media.

Tomorrow it’s onto Kilmarnock. Your support is greatly needed.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

Credit for Callum

You could be forgiven as a Celtic supporter for thinking Callum McGregor’s appearances last season were a flash in the pan. Although it must also be said, there are some of the support who don’t rate the midfielder either.

In his near two seasons playing in the Celtic first team, McGregor has kept himself in Ronny Deila’s plans. As a matter of fact, it was Deila who handed him his first team debut against KR Reykjavík in 2014.

Not just his senior debut at the club, but a European debut. Into the bargain he scored the only goal of that game in Iceland.

He stayed in the team but later suffered a dip in form and found himself out of contention in Deila’s first season. It’s fair to say that indifferent form aside, a lot of changes were being made in that first year so to find himself out of the picture was not all of his own doing.

Before that first season was over, he broke his ankle in training and was sidelined over the spring and summer months. This season, he has got himself back in the frame.

So far he has weighed in with 6 goals in 26 appearances in all competitions. For a player who hasn’t held down a position for an entire season and in a packed midfield that’s not bad at all.

Despite some fans not truly believing in his abilities, McGregor has the stats to back up his inclusion in this team. Before he made his debut for Celtic under Ronny Deila he spent a year away on loan.

For some Celtic players that can mean the end of your career at the club. Not for McGregor though because he found his way back.

After playing at Notts County in season 2013-2014, he racked up 40 appearances. He also scored 14 goals to go with it, including 1 in the League Cup which isn’t bad for a 20-year-old (as he was during that loan spell).

League One may not be every boys dream but playing first team football on a regular basis is. There can be no doubt, McGregor used that season well, came back to home base and was given a chance based upon that loan spell.

Having suffered a dip in form, a serious injury and an untimely driving ban in the last 12 or so months, it is fair to say he has done well to get back in the game and reapply himself. At that age, you might expect him to go off the rails but Ronny Deila has kept him in the picture and the player has responded.

There is no doubt that Deila likes McGregor and I have to admit, he has kept at it. Has he won over all of the support yet?

Not sure about that, but he does have his fans, myself included. And let’s face it, we all love a home-grown player in the team.

What McGregor now needs to do is keep applying himself. Competition for places is tight but come the summer there will be a cull.

He will be on the right side of that I am sure. Others will not be so lucky but that shouldn’t be a signal for complacency either.

The Scottish midfielder has already surpassed last seasons stats and there are more games still to be played. With the future of players like James Forrest hanging in the balance, Ronny Deila will be happy to have a player with McGregor’s dedication, fitness, impact and youth available to him.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

Steady as she goes…

For the second time in a week, Partick Thistle were turned over 2-1 at Firhill. This was good news for Ronny Deila even if it wasn’t for Alan Archibald.

It was an important win for Celtic which had a nervy ending. With Aberdeen inflicting the other 2-1 win over the Jags, the title race is being maintained for now.

The Dons also won on Saturday to close the gap to 1 point again. Though Celtic still have a game at hand to play with.

A slender gap keeps everyone on their toes and right now, that is a good thing. Yesterday’s performance at Firhill didn’t ooze class but it was solid enough once more from back to front.

Craig Gordon seems to have rediscovered his form recently which is good because he has kept us in the game with some of those performances. A bit earlier in the season and we may not have been so lucky.

Since Charlie Mulgrew has stepped into the back four he has looked good. We found out by accident under Neil Lennon just how useful he was as a centre back but he has rarely played there in recent times.

Right now, I think he is a good choice next to Erik Sviatchenko who, aside from handing Partick a late penalty, has been an imposing presence. With a more settled defence, it has probably aided Gordon with his goal keeping, knowing what his defence are going to do.

Mikael Lustig has had a long run of games and dealt well with his injuries this season so far. On the opposite berth Kieran Tierney hasn’t just ousted Emilio Izaguirre, he has established himself as one of this seasons best players and is without a doubt a fans favourite certain to pick up at least one award at the end of the year if not two.

In the midfield it has been chop and change throughout. Too many players to choose from has been a hindrance in my opinion.

Yesterday it was a good display from the quintet of Scott Brown, Nir Bitton, Kris Commons, Callum McGregor and Gary Mackay-Steven. They all worked hard and kept things moving though only Commons looked a little off the pace at times.

McGregor grabbed a beauty of a goal as did the man in front of him, Leigh Griffiths. Both players demonstrated good footwork and finishing and despite losing a goal towards the end of the game it was enough to take all three points.

So job done and onto the next match which is away to Aberdeen’s latest challengers, Kilmarnock. In fact including yesterday’s game at Firhill, Celtic will have played 4 of their final 5 Scottish Premiership matches before the split away from home.

Call me Paranoid Patrick, but isn’t that just a tad ridiculous for any club? Sure we get the live TV coverage, albeit 4 of those 5 games have now all been scheduled for lunchtime kick-offs, but does that really serve the travelling fans well?

No, not really. Celtic fans should get a medal just for coming in their droves at stupid o’clock just because the club are at the mercy of BT Sport and Sky.

There isn’t much you can do about it without it. As a Scottish football club you are lucky to get a game televised and the available slots aren’t any better.

The best we can hope for TV coverage are evening slots during the week or on Friday nights. Our next match though is yet another Saturday lunchtime kick in the baws…..as is the next one…..and then the match two after the next…..

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

Title credentials

Today Celtic must demonstrate their title credentials by showing the character of title winners. Aberdeen edged closer to them after beating today’s opponents Partick Thistle in a midweek encounter at Firhill.

Now it is the turn of Celtic to pay the Maryhill club a visit and demonstrate to our supporters that they are up for this fight. To quote captain Scott Brown, this team need to “grow a set”, himself included it should be said.

Leadership has been severely lacking on the field at times. Even though Brown has spent a portion of the last two seasons out through injury, he is just as guilty as the rest of the team when not performing.

On his game Brown can be great but he hasn’t been a stand out performer this season. In fact very few have with two or three being the exception.

If that figure of two or three was five or six it would have made a difference to Celtic’s progress. Instead it has been a season where the team have taken a step backwards.

So with ten games left to play it is time to step forward. Not just the two or three key performers or the desired five or six, the entire squad.

Aberdeen have made a case for themselves this season. If they did win the league, then without sounding disrespectful, you would have to say that it was Celtic that handed it to them.

It has been a genuine challenge from the Dons but like Celtic they have faltered. Neither side has stood out as the outstanding performers to be quite frank.

Celtic are favourites for several reasons, one of them being that they are by far the biggest club in Scotland. Even with their chequered form though they remain the benchmark for ALL of Scottish football.

There is also the small matter of 21 years since a club other than Celtic or their deceased rivals have won the league. That dominance rests solely with Celtic, now that Rangers exist only as a reformed club.

Aberdeen were the last team outside of Glasgow’s former “big two” to win the league. That was of course under Alex Ferguson in the 1984-1985 season which was the second of two successive league titles for the Don’s but only their 4th in total.

The sheer dominance by Celtic and their former rivals hasn’t exactly been healthy for Scottish football. There have only ever been 11 teams to have won the top prize which has changed name and shape since it began back in 1890.

2 of those 11 winners no longer exist of course but the titles still stand, even if some of those are tainted. Whichever way the Scottish game goes, Celtic will remain the dominant team for a long time.

To win their 5th consecutive and 47th title over all, they will need to focus on their next 10 games starting with a win at Firhill today. With Aberdeen hot on Celtic’s heels, it is too close to call right now.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac