Anfield envy

After watching last nights highlights of the match at Anfield, I was left feeling somewhat envious this morning. Liverpool’s spectacular comeback brought back some pleasant memories of better times in Europe for Celtic.

I have no personal connection or affinity with Liverpool, even though one exists between our two clubs, but I can appreciate the impact this turnaround would have had on everyone. What a buzz that must have been to be at Anfield to witness this performance.

Jürgen Klopp must have had mixed emotions going up against the club he managed for seven years only ending last season. To go from staring at defeat in the face to dumping your old team out of Europe with virtually the last touch of the ball, it must have been quite a roller coaster for him.

I yearn for those days when I can sit and watch Celtic take me from tension on the edge of my seat to leaping into the air with joy once more. Being in Europe simply isn’t enough, you have to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

That was what Klopp instilled in his players last night. This is what Ronny Deila needs to do to his own players.

Do that and you’re heading in the right direction. It might not last forever and you might not win the prize, but if you can take your players there and inspire them then they’ll have tasted what real victory is.

Celtic have been there before and I know we’ll go there again some day. I’d like to think that’ll be sooner rather than later.

Congratulations Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool for giving the game this rare moment. It’s what football is all about.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

Eyes on the prize

Celtic travel to Motherwell today in their first game since the international break. With the added incentive of reaching top spot a possibility this game will be one to watch.

For last night, Derek McInnes’s Dons slipped like a jobby on ice. Ross County were the benefactors of what is now a fourth straight defeat for Aberdeen, three in the league and one in the League Cup.

Have the sheep been sheared? Is McInnes’s tan fading as autumn approaches?

Well we’ll just need to see how they respond. I though that with the international break, the Dons might enjoy a break from defeat but they’ve picked up where they left off.

So now Celtic need to move in and capitalise today. However, it will be an ex-Celt aiming to halt the progress of Ronny Deila.

Mark McGhee has been installed in his second spell as manager at Motherwell. The Scotland assistant has his work cut out for him with his predcessor having lost six of the opening ten games so far.

McGhee’s previous spell with Motherwell was fairly influential. He faces a similar task this time by trying to take Motherwell from the bottom of the table to nearer the top.

By doing that last time around he earned praise and received good job offers. Having done the rounds managing other clubs, I’d like to see him stick around this time because we need guys of his experience in football especially in the Scottish Premiership where we lack experienced leaders.

I’m all for blooding the new generation of management and coaching but some times you want a bit of old school. McGhee is just that so good luck to him in his renewed venture.

With all the best luck in mind for him, I’d still like Celtic to go out and smash Motherwell today. Lunch time kick-offs are crud at the best of times, particularly when you are working as I am today and won’t get to see the game live!

Ronny Deila is still without Jozo Šimunović and Charlie Mulgrew. Scott Brown is a doubt however there is plenty of cover for the midfield at the moment.

As well as aiming to take top spot today, Ronny Deila will also be looking to calm things down in defence. The absence of our £5.5M wonder kid means that an unsettled defence continues.

Dedryck Boyata remains first pick at centre half but it remains to be seen whether Ronny will reselect Efe Ambrose. He is back in contention after a run in the team which culminated in a series of defensive mishaps.

Whilst these are not unusual for Efe, they did come along like a fleet of buses. Two howlers against Fenerbahçe and a sacrificial sending off against Hearts are probably enough to keep him going for now.

Ronny has the option of Ambrose or loanee Tyler Blackett. Whilst Blackett is seeking more opportunities, putting a Efe back in might just be what he needs.

Whether we agree or disgaree, he is still our player and you have to do the best by them. If he really does wish to atone for his errors then fine, give him that chance.

What Efe needs to start doing though is being honest with himself, the manager and his team mates. His general demeanour on and off the field has created criticism from Kris Commons and Neil Lennon in the past.

Errors will happen, but his tend to be of the amateur kind. At the age of 26 and with nearly 50 caps for your country that isn’t acceptable.

Whoever gets the nod to partner Dedryck today, they need to work as a unit and communicate with their team mates. Motherwell will be looking for a change in fortunes today and have proven to be a tricky team for Celtic in the past so let’s keep the eye on the prize today.

I was pleased to read that Gordon Strachan has agreed to stay on as Scotland manager for another two years. As I said earlier on, Scotland needs experienced managers and that goes for the international set up as well as in club football, particularly to raise the profile of the country, the clubs and keep the fans in two.

Down south Jürgen Klopp will embark upon his first match as Liverpool manager. It’s a tough job with a lot of expectations from the fans however if you aren’t a Liverpool fan then your expectations of them are realistically low.

Klopp is yet another Liverpool manager tasked with trying to do something Liverpool haven’t managed in over 25 years. Winning the league remains an elusive task for the Merseyside club.

Some thought Brendan Rogers might just do it and he endured a lot in a short space of time. However, it is the likeable character of Klopp who now takes on that responsibility now.

He too has his work cut out for him and if he can do anything close to what he did with Dortmund at their peak, then he’ll be doing okay. Ultimately, winning the Premier League is all that Liverpool fans would like to see now.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

Once more unto the breach…

Forget about the origin of this blog’s title. This is quote is all about Celtic.

Last night Celtic were drafted into todays draw for the Champions League Group Stage. It is the second sucessive time Neil Lennon has achieved this during his management at the club.

I never got to see the first leg in Kazakhstan due to being in the Canadian wilderness for two weeks, but it was a shock to discover the score a day later in a local newspaper. I don’t think for one minute that Karagandy were underestimated but the defensive pairing from that match appeared to have supporters asking questions.

The job would have to be done at Celtic Park instead and whilst it was never a foregone conclusion that Celtic would overturn the deficit last night, they were dominant in their approach to do just that. If any Celtic supporter was like me, there would be a fair amount of prematch anxiety about the biggest game of the season to date.

The set up seemed just about right though initially I felt Mulgrew may have been better placed in the middle of defence. That opinion was proved wrong as his personal performance, as well as the whole of the defence, stood firm.

The only issue that had our hearts in our mouths was that Karagandy throw which nobody dealt with and crashed off the bar when the tie was level. From what I hear, long throws were an issue in the first leg for Celtic.

The team selection was pretty much spot on last night. The only two below par performances were those of James Forrest and Joe Ledley in the first half.

Forrest was getting no joy on the left, mainly down to his first touch. Late on in the first half, Lennon moved him to the opposite wing.

That proved fortuitous as he gave the Karagandy defence a tough time. For Ledley, it was merely a case of ‘get your act together’ which he eventually did.

He’s usually Mr Reliable for Celtic but it took him 45 minutes to wake up. I’m more than happy as supporter that he did because right now Lennon lacks midfield steel.

A goal minutes before half time and a minutes after were timely, something which Pat Bonner accurately highlighted on SSN last night. Its always good to end the first half on a high and start the second with the same reward.

It has to be said though, I had more lager in the fridge for extra time. Thankfully, my jet lag was saved in the minutes before the final whistle.

After a stunning goal by Kris Commons and a deserved goal by Georgios Samaras, time was ticking. The timing of the winning goal could not have been better.

James Forrest, whose first half performance was now a distant memory, got the goal which sealed the deal. It was a finish that had the support going mental but it was the footwork of Anthony Stokes that was mesmerising.

The match may not have been over at that point but the celebrations were reminiscent of those in 2007 when Celtic beat Spartak Moscow in penalties to qualify for the same stage of the Champions League. A spine tingling celebration memorable for the late Tommy Burns’ aerial dive onto the pile of Celtic players on the turf.

Regardless of how this tie was viewed beforehand, it has to be said that Karagandy set themselves up well enough to cause an upset. They were tight at the back and good on the break but I will save my main assement for their goalkeeper.

Some of Aleksandr Mokin’s saves were frustrating for the support. The most notable of his characteristics were the acrobatics involved.

Its been some time since I’ve seen a flamboyant goalkeeper perform over the top saves. These are usually confined to goalkeepers in previous decades (or if you’re an Italian keeper).

Despite all that, he kept Karagandy in the match based on those saves. He did his job, albeit with a desire for the flair.

In a couple of hours from now, Celtic will be drawn against three teams all seeded above them. It will be a tough ask whoever they get.

Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund are potentisl opponentd currently on the lips of the Celtic supporters. Other than these clubs, I would love to see one of the English clubs in there as well.

Neil Lennon is rebuilding his squad and will be looking to secure a couple of players ahead of the transfer deadline. Celtic will need to be better equipped for this phase, especially if they aim to make it to the last sixteen or even parachute into the Europa Cup.

An influential midfielder and a dedicated hitman are important. Since the departure of Hooper and Wanyama, their positions have more often than not, been referred to by their names and not by the position.

That just goes to show how important those roles are for Lennon. Despite the income from those transfers, Celtic will remain prudent in their approach to sign replacements.

One player awaits a medical and another still top of the list. If these guys are the men to fill the spaces vacated the. We can only hope their signatures are secured before the transfer deadline.

Well done Bhoys for giving us another memorbale night. Passports at the ready.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie