In the last two seasons we’ve been the proud recipients of trebles. Tonight’s encounter with St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park in the League Cup is the second test for Celtic this season as to whether they will remain in the hunt for a third treble in a row.
My thoughts on this are simple. I can’t see another treble on the cards this season, even if we do win tonight.
Every team in Scotland is keen to have a bite of Celtic’s flesh right now. With our fortunes on the park experiencing a difficult period I find it’s hard to envision a domestic clean sweep.
Last season, the cracks were already showing with certain players and we managed to pull off a double treble. This season will be hugely difficult in my eyes.
Scott Sinclair was so far off the pace last season he was eventually and rightfully dropped. He seems to have continued in that vein into the current campaign though the season is still young.
There were numerous injuries to our strikers, barely allowing us to have all three available at any one time. Of course, that number has dropped to two since we sold one on deadline day.
However, there are other factors at play. Such as our very unsettled defence.
Injuries and inexperience appear to be the top issues for Brendan’s current crop of defenders. Kris Ajer has demonstrated himself as a good work in progress.
Dedryck Boyata has helped settle things in defence again after a fall out over the summer. Though the recent defeat to Kilmarnock may change opinions on that.
Many have levelled abuse at Jack Hendry. I feel the guy has been a bit unlucky and has time on his side to improve.
Cristian Gamboa looked to be getting a look in earlier in the season only to dropped for Mikael Lustig. The former showed promise earlier in the summer, but the latter has taken back his slot much to the disappointment of many in our fan base.
Filip Benkovic has so far looked good. Having pulled up in the warm up against Killie, he finds himself on the sidelines for now.
Further down the pecking order is Jozo Simunovic. The injury prone player once looked to be better than Boyata, but now it seems he is well out of the picture.
Not as far out of the picture as Marvin Compper though. Will we even see him play again?
I’m glad that the one area we do look sorted for in defence is on the left hand side. Kieran Tierney is our number one left-sided defender and it pleases me to know that Emilio Izaguirre is also there to supply some back up.
Overall we are nowhere near secure or settled. We must establish a solid back line by personnel changes or tactics (or both).
The midfield also has a responsiblity to protect the back three or four, but they have not done so particularly effective way of late. Though some might argue that the defence should be able to hold its own.
Well, it certainly isn’t the only role the midfield have. They are also responsible for retention and progression up the park – the engine room.
If that fails then their role becomes a key problem in the overall game plan. Many have criticised the midfield for playing the square ball on match days recently and not being quick or intuitive enough to unlock the opposition.
And who could argue? However, this has been evident going way back.
Most of Celtic’s domestic opponents will sit in, home or away so more often than not they do find themselves passing the ball from side to side. We can’t use this as an excuse though.
It is up to the team and the manager to find a way past that. We will only do so whilst we are in the right frame of mind and have that killer instinct.
The job at hand is to alter the mindset that currently seems to be affecting those performances. And Brendan is beginning to sound more positive in the last 24 hours which is good news.
Among some of the more concerning quotes chosen by Brendan of late, he has come out in the last couple of days with some more positive stuff. One such comment was to deal with the mutterings from Kris Boyd.
The Kilmarnock player had suggested there was a dressing room divide at Celtic. I was in the middle of typing a blog yesterday based on Boyd’s comments (as well as Peter Grant’s media comments about jealousy within Celtic) when Brendan came out and addressed it himself.
So I shelved that blog and enjoyed the words of our manager instead. He said, “Kris is probably best suited trying to get himself into the Kilmarnock team and get back playing and we will concentrate on our own job in here.”
Smashing. Just the right balance of a put down and professional reply.
Boyd was way off the mark. As I was beginning to write myself at that time, I got no impression at all there was a divide in the dressing room.
A cloud, yes. Not a divide.
We’ve had them before and we know what they look like. This isn’t one of them.
And as Brendan also mentioned, the challenge is to overcome this bad start. The fact that he is talking about that whilst still enjoying the challenges at the club shows he is already on the case.
Enough people have been having their say in the media. Most of it baloney.
Brendan appears focussed on the task. Everyone will be watching tonight with great interest.