There haven’t been too many occasions where an international break has ended and I’ve been happy. In fact this one has been the most joyful one I have experienced since the 90’s.
As any Scotland fan is aware, we’ve been starved of happiness for way too long. If you’re a not a Scotland fan and are reading this then I won’t keep you too much longer.
First though, credit must go the Steve Clarke and his team of coaching and playing staff. Everybody played their part in this campaign and in true national side tradition, did it the hard way too!
Having watched Scotland come up short year after year, qualifying for Euro 2020 was like winning a trophy. I’ve waited over twenty years for this and it was quite an evening.
Penalty shoot-outs are nerve wracking enough, but when you’ve been waiting almost half your life to get back to a tournament ,you’ll forgive me for shedding a tear. In the aftermath I reminisced with an old friend about past Scotland games we’d both attended and watched together so it was quite an emotional night.
Ryan Christie’s tearful post match interview demonstrated just how much it meant to him. Mind you, he was only 3 years old when Scotland faced Brazil, Norway and Morocco, but I was a young adult!
The real hero was of course David Marhsall aka Marshalona. The veteran keeper had the final say in this match and I’m pleased to say he’s from my old neighbourhood and primary school.
It isn’t often I get to say that about any player so I’ll keep saying it until someone tells me otherwise. Can you imagine if he had come back to Celtic in the summer?
Folk would have been beaming. About what a great move it had been to bring him back.
There didn’t seem to be much support for that though, but given his heroics in Serbia, many might be thinking otherwise. Speaking of Celtic’s goalkeeping position have you heard the one about Barkas and Forster?
No? Well I have seen the Celtic Christmas advert and one of them is in that and one isn’t.
The link between Celtic and the English keeper simply won’t go away. With another transfer window in January we’ll find out if theres actually anything in that or just further conjecture.
Until then it’s either Bain or Barkas. Bain has been in goal for the last five Celtic matches, but we may see the Barkas back between the sticks against Hibs today.
The Greek international played in the 2-1 friendly win over Cyprus last week and sat on the bench for the other Greece matches. After a five game absence from the a Celtic starting eleven, it may be time for him to have another go.
It’s difficult to assess just how good your keeper is when your team has been pish for most of the season so far. Barkas hasn’t quite found his feet yet and I’ve not been impresed, but Bain is not the answer either.
If Barkas doesn’t begin to show his worth before the end of the year then the Forster rumours definitely won’t go away. I’m really pleased that Celtic are back today though.
There are no more international distractions until late March next year. With so many internationalist in our team, that allows Celtic to concentrate on their own matches uninterrupted for the next four months.
This is a crucial stage in the season. We’ve suffered from Covid-19 set backs, injuries, bad results and a lack of consistency, but now is the time to knuckle down.
It’s not official, but Europe is a dead rubber for us. If I were Neil Lennon I’d preserve as many players as possible for the domestic campaign.
We have six Premiership games before the end of the year and should be aiming for maximum points. Our first game of the new year is of course at Ibrox on January 2nd, by which point I’ll be hoping our form is better and we can close the gap on our rivals if it hasn’t been achieved already.
Many things have not gone right for us this season. I’ve always maintained that the only thing that can stop us is us.
You could argue that across the city, fortune has favoured them more. Maybe it has, maybe it hasn’t, but our destiny is in our own hands.
If we’ve messed up in anyway then we only have ourselves to blame because we’ve been at the top for so long. Perhaps now that the chips are down for Celtic and there’s a bit of a buzz from the international scene, that can filter into our squad.
Aside from the Scottish lads, Odsonne Edouard was back on the goal trail with the French under-21 side. He’s now equalled the record of Florian Maurice as top scorer at that level.
Like myself, I’m sure you’re hoping that Eddy can come back into the fold and start producing the goods. I don’t expect him to be here next season so for all parties concerned I’d love to see him go out with a bang and help us win 10IAR.
It’s a priority for us to make history by winning the league this season. This is what our club is about and Eddy has been a huge part of that.
We need the club as a whole to come together and get back to winning. Whatever happens this season it will be a new chapter for the club next season.
Some will leave, some will stay. It’ll most likely be a new era for the club.
Before then, we must make some more history. It’s what we’ve done most of this century.
Today at Easter Road must be the start of an unbeaten run. From hereon in, the player’s must apply themselves.
It’s one thing for the fans to demand it, but the players should be demanding it of themselves. They owe it to the Neil Lennon as much as the supporters.