Celtic’s season so far: 2022-23

Celtic wore black armbands in remembrance of the late and great John ‘Yogi’ Hughes born in the coalmining community of Coatbridge. Lisbon Lion.

We’ve played two, won two. It wasn’t so long ago that we had Tony Ralston to thank for a win in Dingwall. We beat Aberdeen comfortably. And we beat Ross County uncomfortably. We scored early against the Dons. Three minutes in, a Stephen Welsh goal. He was out injured today or he’d probably have started. I’m glad he didn’t.

Kyogo scored in three minutes into the second-half. We’d missed countless first-half chances. In the game against Aberdeen, ex-Celt Johnny Hayes should have scored. An equaliser before half-time. Alex Iacovitti rose above the Celtic defence to get a header away at the end of the first-half at Dingwall. Almost on the hour mark, he scored. A lesson not learned.

We know Celtic will dominate. We also know they are vulnerable to goals scored from free kicks and corners. Our defence at the moment looks like Hart, Taylor, Juranovich, Carter-Vickers and one other.

Taylor has grown on me. He’d a great match against Aberdeen last week. A great season before that. But I’ve a sneaking suspicion Siegrist will take his position and become our established left back. Juranovic will not be switching over as he did at Ibrox last year.

Starfelt was on the bench. I don’t rate him. It’s that simple. But he helped us go on an unbeaten run and win the league.

Moritz Jenz, Postecoglou explained, was match ready. He’s a big boy, but lost a couple of early headers. Good passer of the ball, which you need to be in this team. He came up with the all-important second goal six minutes from the end of the ninety minutes. I hope that’s him in the team in front of Starfelt and Walsh. Big is better. Both Walsh and Jenz have scored from headers, something Startfelt doesn’t do.

Our captain, Callum McGregor has lost the face mask. But he’s so important in the way we play. Guchi, had a good pre-season, before getting injured again. There’s nobody that can do the job as well as McGregor. James McCarthy was on the bench. There were media reports of him leaving. Postecoglou shot them down. But I don’t think many of us would be that bothered. Certainly, I wouldn’t be.

O’Riley missed a header today, glanced it straight at the keeper, Laidlaw. Linked with Leicester. He also had a free-kick attempt that wouldn’t have troubled my granny, and she’s been dead for fifty years. But he’s become a certain starter. He’s so good on the ball. Big and rangy. And he’s scoring goals. Perhaps not today, but he’ll hit about fifteen to twenty this season.

David Turnbull,  recently young Scottish player of the year, he got his chance with Reo Hatate’s injury. Turnbull is class. He was a mainstay of the team up until Christmas last year and he offers goals and assists.

Reo Hatate is ahead of him because (fill in your own reason). Mine is Hatate was the shining light of pre-season. He also had a good shout for being man of the match against Aberdeen. Hatate looks to have that second or two on the ball which other players don’t have. His linkage with fellow Japanese internationals, Maeda and Kyogo is a joy. But the way Celtic play now is joyful. It truly is beautiful to watch.

We know Joe Hart is going to get chipped and lose a stupid goal at some stage in the season. We also know we’ll lose most of our goals from defensive failures. But going forward, one and two touch football is as good as anybody. We’ll find out soon enough.

No qualifiers for the Champions League gives such a feeling of bliss. Compounded by Rangers losing in Belgium (no it wasn’t a penalty). Here’s hoping they go out of the tournament on Tuesday.  

Jota scored a cracker against Aberdeen. I know Postecoglou criticised him (and the Celtic team) for slackness at the end of the first-half against the Dons, but the Portugese winger is a steal at double the price. He provided three assists today. He’s another first pick.

Maeda picked up a knock at the end of the first half at Dingwall, and he was unlucky with his effort. Postecoglou has taken him to whatever team he manages. With Maeda you get tracking back and pace. Part of the bigger picture. It pushes Jota onto the right wing, but they switch flanks.

But it means there is no place on the right wing for Abada. The Israeli curled in an exquisite third goal in injury time. He scored a respectable number of goals last season (can remember the exact number, I’d guess 17) and one was against Rangers. They count treble.

James Forrest is back-up to the back-up. Neil Lennon’s favourite son signed a new deal. He doesn’t blab on social media, or say much. He just gets on with it. He’ll get game time. He’ll score goals. He might muscle in front of Abada, but he’ll not replace Jota when he’s fit or Maeda.

Kyogo scored today, a cutback from Jota. The Japanese international hit it first time. I was hoping that would be game over. It wasn’t. Kyogo gives energy and those endless runs in behind. With high winds at Dingwall, it proved difficult to pick him out with the dinked pass. But sometimes Celtic look stronger with Giakoumakis on the pitch.

The Greek striker pulled us out of a hole last year. Won top scorer with a handful of game, playing catch-up with Kyogo’s injury. He’s a star, but he did miss a sitter in the closing minutes against Aberdeen. Whether he’s in front or behind Kyogo, I’m not sure. Postecoglou favours the Japanese forward, but inevitably he brings on Giakoumakis. With two games or more a week coming up we need two strikers. I don’t include Maeda in that bracket, although, at a push, he can do that job.

When Kyogo got injured with a few minutes remaining, Postcoglou brought on not McCarthy or Forrest, but Mooy. Our manager rates him and his judgement has been great. I’ll wait and see.

Next week we’ve got Kilmarnock. The first eleven has got a fluid feel. But I guess our strongest team is the one that started against Aberdeen, except for goal scorer Moritz Jenz for fellow goal scorer Stephen Welsh. We’ve strength in depth, but we’ll need it for the games ahead.

Rangers bullied up last year in two matches. Here’s hoping we grow as a team and blow them and everyone else away. We’ll score big in some domestic matches. Lose stupid goals domestically, but much more likely in the European matches. This time last year I was worried we’d be so far behind Rangers I’d need to stay drunk for a year. A sober analysis suggests we’re better prepared and better in every way. Us against them are the matches which will count. It always did. Yogi could have told us that in a heartbeat, when the Glasgow Cup final was played like the European Cup final.


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