Total football

It was a game to match the occasion. A meeting of two old foes from the old days of the European Cup.

Many years have passed since Lisbon, but the sentiment around that historic encounter had not. Both teams came out of the traps with intent and the fans roared from the stands.

It was anyone’s guess how this was all going to pan out. Mistakes and lapses of concentration would play a big part but how would it all end?

Celtic showed will early on, but Inter would draw blood first….and second. Then Celtic would come back….twice.

Watching from home as I was, the lounge carpet was worn out. Not to mention a lot of man hugging – strictly platonic, you understand.

The noise from the fans, one of the greatest gifts from the Celtic faithful, was heard once more. They did the players proud and those of us who could not make the trip or fortunate enough to get a ticket.

As for the men in the studio, it may as well have been a World War II propaganda film. Chris Sutton, once a fans favourite, now a media moron, took another swipe at the club he once donned the Hoops of.

In tandemn, you had Steve McManaman following his lead into negativity. There was no mention of the financial gap, difference in managerial experience or standard of player personnel at each club within their analysis of the match.

Not only did they fail to highlight these facts. They ignored that this Celtic team are a progressive one, advancing in the league and trying to build a reputation in Europe under new management.

Sutton’s view on Celtic these days baffles me. The only assumption I can make is that his stance is purely career driven.

McManaman, I have no opinion on really. It was clear he only had an interest in the mighty Liverpool’s blistering 1-0 home victory over Beskitas and Spurs’ fantastic 0-0 draw, both home matches I might add.

Let’s talk about some of those errors though. Craig Gordon gifted two opportunities to prowling Inter players and they were out of character for him.

To be fair to the keeper, the first error began with Denayer playing an awful ball to Matthews who was unable to deal with it. That led to a passage of play forcing a save out of Gordon.

With the initial shot already going wide it was frustrating to see him parry it to Shaqiri who didn’t waste the opportunity. The second error was typical of a “heads down/just your luck” moment.

Izaguirre’s attempted clearance smacked off van Dijk and Palacio pounced. Cruel, unlucky and somewhat deflating.

Then Celtic got a break and two quick goals. Armstrong latched onto a Matthews cutback, tucking it into the Inter goal and the second came courtesy of Armstrong’s pressure, forcing Campagnaro to bundle the ball into his own net.

The game was all square and Celtic were back in the tie. Justified I would say.

However, Palacio would have a further say and Gordon would make another error. What looked to be a good take or a palm off to the side turned out to be something in between.

That resulted in Inter taking the lead once more and Celtic receiving the sucker punch before half time. By which time I had already endured several bouts of emotional trauma.

As tame as the second half was, it produced the moment of the game. Having never been in front the entire match, the draw was the best we could hope for given our luck on the night.

Step forward John Guidetti. A player without a goal since November 30th.

More recently he has been noted for stalling on a permanent deal with Celtic than making the net bulge. He picked his moment to return to form and did so with a sublime finish.

Credit must also go to the pass played by fellow substitute Liam Henderson. The young player’s touch picked out the Swede perfectly and it was all square in the third minute of the six minutes that were added on.

It was almost as though it was written for Guidetti. And a goal to send Celtic supporters into delirium.

When you consider Inter went with the mandatory five man defence manoeuvre to protect their lead, you have to applaud Celtic for picking the lock. Mancini was within his rights to deploy his team this way but Deila’s players took up the challenge.

We often talk about clean sheets and not allowing the opposition an away goal. In reality, I’m pleased we got a draw though.

On last nights evidence, it won’t be impossible to win at the San Siro. Not because Inter are a poor side but because Celtic were unlucky to have lost the goals in such a manor.

Most importantly, Celtic scored goals of high quality. Credit is due to the craft and determination that helped Deila’s players carve out three goals.

If someone had said to me before the match that we were going to be 0-2 down after 15 minutes and 2-2 after 25 munutes I wouldn’t have believed a word of it. This was a game of real football played at maximum pace and I accept 3-3 as a good graft from the team.

The tie is alive and the second leg awaits us next week. There’s everything to play for.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie

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Sky Sports Boos

It seems Andy Walker is upping the stakes in the “ex-player hatred for Celtic” game. Chris Sutton has been leading recent attacks but its his striking predecessor who is making a bid to be the most hated ex-Celt now.

Despite dominating Kilmarnock for the entire match and winning 0-2 at Rugby Park, Celtic came in for a panel of negativity from Sky Sports. Presenter David Tanner announced that Andy Walker wasn’t a fan of Ronny Deila’s post match celebrations.

As far as presenting goes its pretty unprofessional of Tanner to stir things. But perhaps he was trying to raise the profile of Sky Sports pundit Andy Walker in direct opposition to BT Sport’s Chris Sutton.

I’m all for airing opinions and god knows we all have our own. Are Ronny Deila’s celebrations with fans worth moaning about though?

Deila has lacked media support and when results have been crucial, such as tonights, he’s shared his jubilation with the travelling support. If Walker isn’t a fan of this then it just goes to show how out of touch he really is with Celtic.

He is part of an ongoing line of turncoat tims. I don’t expect ex-players to lie about Celtic’s progress but I’m not sure the negativity had been totally warranted.

When you consider the many shades of excrement hitting the proverbial, across the city of Glasgow, the commentary on that matter has been mild. Here you have a phoenix club imploding in broad daylight, but you rarely here a peep of negativity from the sports media in Scotland about it.

I have more time for Ronny Deila than any of these bitter Ex-Celtic players. I only listen to them because they perch upon the very channels I use to watch the Hoops.

Well done to Ronny and the Bhoys for getting back on track.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie

The problem with ex-Celts

When the chips are down at the club you love, you can always rely on an extensive list of ex-players to provide support. Well, not at Celtic you can’t.

You see as much as we love our ex-players, some tend to put the boot in once they have departed Celtic Park. Be it an act of desperation to raise their own profile or just a good old chip on the shoulder about their time with the club, they come along one after one.

For years we’ve been treated to the grammatically incorrect delights of Charlie Nicholas and his ramblings with Jim White on Sky. I was a huge fan of Charlie Nicholas fan when he played for the club but his continual bashing of the club live on TV confined him to the Celtic sin bin a long time ago.

Nicholas did have an issue with the club but he took it too far but Celtic had an issue with him first because he should never have left for Arsenal. It’s bad enough that he chooses to slate Celtic time after time on Sky, but he can’t even do it coherently.

Then there is Craig Burley, another ex-Celtic player who I had much admiration for. His goals from midfield and partnership with Paul Lambert are memorable but once a paid up member of the media, he got stuck in.

Add to that Andy Walker, not one of my favourites, but certainly one player who scored vital goals at Celtic. I actually find him more nauseating than Nicholas and he’s getting more air time than I can handle.

The biggest surprise in recent times is of course Celtic legends John Hartson and Chris Sutton. In modern times, only Henrik Larsson can top them in terms of popularity but they were superb players in their own way.

When Hartson became ill, he received the huge support from the Celtic community. This isn’t unusual in the Celtic family but his illness sparked many a campaign in his honour.

Chris Sutton, a key player in the Martin O’Neill era, was the perfect partner for Larsson in attack. They complimented each other but Sutton won the hearts of every Celtic fan even if he didn’t really have a song of his own (that I can recall).

So why on earth have two of Celtic’s biggest heroes of the modern day decided to slate the club that served them so well? I’m all for honest opinions, but public bashing is something I expect from the media.

Across the city, we’ve observed years of obedience by ex-players and the media when our old rivals were the topic of debate. Only in their eventual downfall did we witness any dissension and even that needed some pressure.

If guys like Nicholas, Walker, Burley, Hartson, Sutton and now Frank McAvennie have an historic issue with the club, they should talk or write about that. I don’t expect ex-Celts to cover up real matters or protect Celtic unnecessarily, but sometimes it just appears that these guys are opening their mouths and letting their bellies rumble, to quote my old school teacher.

In whole or as part, our fans will always challenge the club and their practices, especially when it contravenes what we are supposed to stand for. To our ex-Celt’s hell bent on slamming the club, wind your necks in and take a leaf out of Tom Boyd’s book.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie