The Celtic crisis only existed in the heads of their more famous fans and former players, and was a reaction of the Old Testament to the performance of a few ropes in the nearly nine-year race of almost the old dominance.
Now that Neil Lennon has brought the club to another final and is on the verge of a triple round, panicked businessmen in support of Celtic, the minority who traded in gossip and conspiracy theories and called for Lennon’s removal to save the Holy 10, must sit back.
The Celtics had some problems in this past, of course. These problems have not been fully resolved as they deserve Victory against Aberdeen In the semifinals in Hampden on Sunday, however, they could clearly settle ol they always were.
There’s been a lot of talk about the system and structure, about three behind and four, about the weakness in the middle and under the space and the lack of punches in the midfield. Celtic’s problems were partly with the team’s defensive set-up, but only partly.
In recent times they have won big games and lost big games with the same structure. Three or four in the back. There is nothing absurd with these things.
It’s arguable that last season’s best Celtic result, and several seasons before that, was a 2–1 Europa League win against Lazio in Rome in October, a win-win for the club to remember in more detail about what’s going on.
Celtic started with three central defenders. Their nightly Fraser Foster has made big savings. Their first goal was scored by James Forrest and in-form Odson Edward scored the second. Christopher Julien had to kick off his own line at a crucial moment and they were lucky to see another post coming back and slapping him.
If you’re going to double up against a team that doubles its own than Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus in a few months, you need a piece of the road to luck.
‘Celtic regains some confidence’
Celtic lacks staff and good luck this season. They don’t have foster and it’s a void that can go on for months which can cause them some annoyance. The decision not to spend the money on Foster and then let Craig Gordon go and spend £ 4 million for Vasilis Barkas seems like they could do the opposite if they could. The first day, though. Barkas could still come out well.
Lennon was without Julian for a spell. He’s missing Forrest’s speed and wit and wide range of goals. He waited for Edward to return to his enthusiastic and terrifying best. He doesn’t have the very good stuff of Ryan Christie. And luck? His team was killed during Old Farm Week because of the Covid-19, at a time when Malcolm’s trousers were really starting to catch fire.
It’s not the whole story of their incredible performance, but it’s an element. Confidence was low for a while, but for 45 minutes against Lily on Thursday and most of the time against Aberdeen on Sunday we saw a champion side start from the pile they came out of.
The goal Christie scored was that he delivered regularly last season. The little creative influences of Tom Rozic were handling his stylish ass from the past. Edward is not back to his old level, but playing under the belt is a step in the right direction.
With a 2-0 win – the clean sheet is a crucial factor – Celtic regained some of their confidence. They could openly say they never lost it – all parties say the same – but the evidence grew. It was never a crisis. Never. The Rangers, however, have to show signs of improvement in light of their continuity, and these signs were quite evident in Hampden.
Lennon probably did not hear the last of the investigative. Spontaneous combustion will continue. There is a fine line between fair concern and rank hysteria but not everyone in Celtic support knows where the line is, especially when history shows the possibility of winning a tenth league title in a row. Lennon is more aware than anyone that this thing comes with the region.
The title of the Rangers built on a solid foundation
The place to stay in Hampden was not good enough, but in the parallel universe they cleared Kilmarn nine points at the top of the Scottish Premiership with their hard-fought victory. Celtic have two games on hand, but he will have to age before playing them.
Steven Gerrard’s team fielded it. It was the eleventh clean sheet and the eleventh win in 13 league games. It was further proof that without the goals of their two main scorers Alfredo Morelos and Jermaine Defoe last season, they are still getting the job done through their defensive excellence. The Rangers have become lively not only to beat, but even to score against it.
During this time last year, Morlos had already won nine leagues while Defoe was in the top ten. This time they have managed three and one. If you had told Gerard at the start of the season that there would be only four league goals between his two main strikers on the first day of November, he probably felt the urge to reach for a paper bag to do a hyperventilation.
And yet improvements in defense and midfield have made their crew more resilient than they were a year ago. Celtic fans could have become fairly confident that there was no Ibras persuasion last season but they would be less likely to believe it would happen again.
In fact, it is the phone war division of the season. It’s only at the beginning of the year and towards spring when we find out if the Rangers have it to cover the distances. That’s something we keep saying, but it’s true because that’s it. We can’t look at the psychology of these Ebrox players and determine if they’re going to be strong enough once the heat really comes on. Only when we get there will we know.
Of course, their foundation looks strong and their confidence ends. Outside of the rotten nonprofit professionalism of Jordan Jones and George Edmundson they have no forgettable weaknesses in terms of premiership, yet they have an edge, unity, depth of squad and still do.
The pair, already fighting for game-time, have now become self-separated for a fortnight after breaking official rules at social gatherings. Smart work, boys. The Rangers management is angry but as a club they could easily weather the loss of two fringe players. Their pairing could find it a long way to go back to first team football.
The ranges have built a fort around their own goalposts. If the Covid-19 allows, the title race could go a long way. If you were on your last end in any endeavor, you would have to weigh it before sinking. Previously, you’d lumped on a heartbeat green.
This is why Lennon will make his team at Hampden feel comfortable to find something of their old soul. You tell him to stick to the word for the next six months, but honestly, none of us can tell him anything about life in Scottish football that he hasn’t known for many years already. Lennon continues to fight, Gerard continues to win. They go to the front.