I’m in mourning. Celtic’s season is finished. Sure we can go on to win the Scottish treble. Sure we’ve got the Europa league to look forward to, which at least gives us European football until Christmas and that much needed income stream. But it’s bland and boring as chewing cardboard. Success is measured by zadoc the priest and the sound of Champions League music. For the second year in a row all we will hear is grumbling, discontent and the same old shit excuses. Legia Warsaw beat us easily over two legs a year ago, only for us to be reprieved by the miracle of a technicality. Maribor scored at Parkhead to put us out and drop us into the nether land of Europa league. A level we were more suited to.
This time it was supposed to be different. The management were ready. The team were ready. Malmo finished bottom of their Champions’ League group. They were third or fourth in the Swedish league. We laughed. They even had Berget, a kind of Cat Weasel, whom for some reason Ronny Delia brought on loan to Celtic, but supporters were just as glad to say adieu, without having paid any fee. Try before you buy. If we could do the same with Boyata Celtic would be a richer club. The catnip is Berget scored two goals, his first a beauty; his second in the 95th minute at Parkhead, the result of a mix up, in which the Celtic defence thought they could defend corners. It put Malmo in the driving seat.
We consoled ourselves that they were not Barcelona, or Bayern, but from what we had seen, a not particularly good Swedish team. A team we could and should expect to beat, even on their home ground. But Malmo bullied Celtic from corners, a team filled with players taller than their opponents and conceded three goals in two games from the simplest of free kicks. Sure Nir Bitton got a ‘goal’ chopped off, just before half time that should have stood. The Serbian referee, like Celtic can now expect to ply his trade in the lesser leagues after missing both a handball from a Malmo player and the follow up of a perfectly legitimate strike from a Celtic player. But that’s to make excuses. All over the park Celtic, with the exception of Craig Gordon in goal and the excellent Janko at right back (see you later the injury-prone Lustig) we had a team of frustrating failures. It was a gamble playing Mulgrew instead of the more attack minded Izaguire, at left back based on the logical reason Izaguirre is prone to gift forwards space and make more mistakes than Boyata or even Ambrose. Mulgrew played like a man with his two feet tied together. Scot Brown did a bit of snarling and little else. Nir Bitton had one of his poorer games and should have been off before half time. James Forest at least tried to attack their defence. As did Stuart Armstrong, but for such an intelligent boy he kept running into the opposition players, highlighted by a slide tackle he was forced to make after trying to run past one of their players. Leigh Griffiths had no great service. You couldn’t really fault him, except for you can. He could and perhaps should have been sent off for stupidity, shoving a player away from a free kick. Johansen ran about a lot. That’s all.
Commons came on at half time. He should start. He’s Celtic most intelligent player and he scores goals. Perhaps I’m just biased. I like attackers that can pass the ball and score goals and not the ones that can shuttle from one opposition player to another in the shortest possible time. I like defenders that can defend. I like midfielders that are creative. We’ve come a long way since this time last year, but we’re in the same place. Let’s get up for a big game against St Johnstone on Saturday at Celtic Park. Fuck off!