Can Celtic carry their domestic form into Europe?

 

It’s been a week since I published anything and during that time a number of things have happened on planet Celtic. Last Wednesday, Celtic wiped the floor with Dundee at Dens Park.

The Hoops destroyed the bottom club 0-5 in a rare full midweek domestic card. Five different scorers provided the goals in that game to continue Celtic’s blistering form including the rise of Ryan Christie and a more positive looking Scott Sinclair.

The sad news from that game came in the form of another injury. Having waited two-and-a-half months to make his first team debut, the player came on as substitute.

He was lively and making his presence known until he got his studs stuck in the grass and twisted his knee. The Australian international will take no further part in this season.

Whilst Celtic were humping Dundee at Dens Park, Hearts were struggling to score against Hibs at Tynecastle. The Edinburgh derby remained a stalemate, even with Hibs down to ten men for a third of the match.

That game was not without incident though. As Hibs manager, Neil Lennon, found out to his own personal cost.

Once again he was the victim of abuse by a Hearts fan. Once again, he was attacked by Scottish football.

The ugliness of our game north of the border appears to be alarmingly comfortable with its hatred toward the ex-Celtic player and manager. It served as a sad reminder of how troubled Scottish football still is.

It also served as a reminder to what sort of club Hearts are. Their fans are vile.

Even when sitting atop the League for as long as they have, they can’t conduct themselves in a decent manner. They contain a proportion of subhuman scum of the highest order.

Last Saturday Celtic hosted the table-toppers at Celtic Park. It was only the previous weekend that Brendan Rodgers’ Hoops put Craig Levein’s Jambos to the sword in the League Cup Semi Final with a 0-3 victory at Murrayfield.

The upturn in performances by Celtic continued at Celtic Park with a 5-0 slaughtering of the visitors. To say the scoreline flattered Hearts would be an understatement.

Celtic were emphatic. It could have been more.

The tide is turning in the league. Hearts are losing momentum and Celtic are gaining some.

To see the Edinburgh club stumble three times in three games gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. “Natural order”, as Craig Levein likes to put it, will soon be restored when Celtic take their place at the top of the Scottish Premiership again.

The way in which Celtic are performing in domestic football right now has not been seen for some time. Perhaps not since Brendan Rodgers’ first season in charge.

Celtic progressed through last season with some very unconvincing performances. They still won a treble of course, though it was anything but pretty.

This season was looking like a good advert for Scottish football with the top six slugging it out. It is difficult to back that up when one man continues to be abused left, right and centre.

Even the social media reaction to him being hit by a coin at Tynecastle was disgusting. You even had pundits like Gary Caldwell saying “he doesn’t help himself.”

An outrageous statement to make by an ex-Celt. Not the first time we’ve heard that from a pundit.

It seems to be the default stance by many. What a despicable crowd we serve.

For those that say “he brings it on himself”, is that really a valid argument? Are you saying that he deserves to be coined or verbally and physically abused?

This is old ground we’re covering. The football authorities do nothing about it.

The failed Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 is evidence of that. This was a law so flawed it failed to prevent or protect anyone and was repealed.

So concerning is this latest attack on Lennon that I find myself talking about it in the midst of a great period for Celtic. When will Scottish football grow a pair of balls and hammer the culprits?

Having scored 13 goals now without reply, Celtic have now come full circle. They last conceded against RB Leipzig, losing in Germany 2-0.

Two weeks on, Celtic have the chance to carry their domestic form into Europe. Leipzig will be in Glasgow tomorrow night for a crucial tie with Celtic.

Are they a better team than Celtic? You would have to say that they are because they are ranked higher by UEFA, play in a superior domestic league and have gone further in Europe as recently as last season.

That doesn’t mean Celtic cannot beat them though. Celtic lost sloppy goals in Germany and not for the first time.

Winning over there has never been achieved. Celtic can take the game to them in Glasgow and get a result though.

The emphasis on this fixture is one of make-or-break. Celtic have 3 points from 3 games and are 3 points behind Leipzig.

Salzburg are expected to win the group, so it will be between the Scottish Champions and last season 6th placed team from the Bundesliga.

It’s a remarkable rise for Leipzig who have come from the lower leagues. Of course, that has not been without the financial backing and business acumen of several faces at Red Bull.

There has already been a separate debate about Red Bull’s interest with more than one club and the amendments made for them to continue in German football. That isn’t a matter I want to get into though as Celtic only have one goal here – to win.

Leipzig are no unbeatable. Celtic on the other hand will have to be at their best to get a win.

European performances so far this season have been poor. A narrow home win over Rosenborg back in September was followed by a second half capitulation in Austria when Celtic threw away a 0-1 lead over Salzburg to lose 3-1.

Whilst we were no better in Germany, Celtic can make amends in Glasgow. A win puts us on level pegging with one away game to Rosenborg and a final home game against Salzburg who by that time should have secured the winners spot.

To make the last 32 would be a great boost for everyone. Especially after such an awful transfer summer.

The players are working hard and getting results. We are seeing the team in their best form in a long time.

I hope to continue writing positive things after tomorrow nights match.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

 

Today Celtic released a statement on the further conviction of Jim Torbett, who founded the Celtic Boys Club in the 1960’s. Whilst justice has been served on this deviant for the acts that he committed, many still wish to bombard Celtic Football Club for their association and relative inaction.

From time-to-time you hear the chatter from across the city accusing key figures at the Celtic for not taking action or falling silent on the matter. It is entirely possible that those who were running the club back then and in the years that followed did not handle the matter appropriately.

Indeed it is also possible that some were asked or told to remain silent on the incidents that took place. You could even argue that the magnitude of the matter may not even have been known to those at the club.

However, that does not disregard the fact that it was a despicable and horrific series of acts carried out by this man. The victims and their families are the ones who have suffered here.

I hope that the justice served provides some form of closure to the victims. As mentioned in the club’s statement, this type of historical act has plagued society in many of our sports, social and working groups for too long.

Sadly, this type of thing still happens today. To utilise this, as many have across the city, to bait the Celtic community as a form of banter or rivalry is equally as sick as the crime itself.

This does not help the victims. It only disrespects them.

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