The Tender Bar (2021) Amazon, screenplay by William Monahan based on a memoir by J.H.Moehringer (J.R.Moehringer) and directed by George Clooney.

A lot of big hitters in this movie. I wasn’t sure about it, but I gave it five minutes and watched to the end. It jumps between 1973 and 1986. Daniel Raneri (with very long eyelashes) plays J.R. Maguire, a kid returning to his grandad’s house in Long Island. Tye Sheridan plays an older J.R.

His mum, Dorothy Maguire (Lily Rabe) has a mattress attached to the roof of their car and all her worldly belongings. She’s going home, but carries with her a sense of failure. Her marriage to ‘The Voice’ (Max Martini) has broken down and he refuses to pay child support. Grandad (Christopher Lloyd) is grumpy and put out, his house is already filled to overflowing with his children and grandchildren. J.R’s mum is upset, but the young J.R. admits to love living in grandad’s house. It’s full of fun, mostly, in the figure of his Uncle Charlie (Ben Affleck).

Uncle Charlie Maguire gives him the sit-down talk most fathers baulk at. He tells him he should always have a car and a job and a girlfriend—and you never hit a woman—and a stash in your wallet where you put a little something away in case of emergencies. Uncle Charlie knows about these things, he runs a bar, The Dickens. Anyone that has watched Cheers will know that kind of bar, filled with interesting characters that offer monosyllabic advice that you could take or leave and where everybody is your friend.

Uncle Charlie also tells J.R. he’s been watching him, and he’ll never be much good at baseball or sport, in general. Perhaps he should think of being something else when he grows up. He asks if he has any ideas. At that age, my ideal job was being a bin man or playing for Celtic. People were always telling me I was shit at sport, but I never listened. I tried to prove them wrong until my knees got arthritic. J.R. has a singular vision. He wants to be a writer.

J.R. begins straight away. Uncle Charlie has a look at his work and tells him he has got talent. But he needs to read. Uncle Charlie has a cupboard filled with a stash of books for him to dig into. J.R. also needs to get lucky.  Not the kind of geek luck that got him into college at Harvard, or even the job at The New York Times. Writers are supernatural being.

There’s a story-book romance with Sidney (Brianna Middleton). She continually dumps him. And there’s a kind of in-joke that fiction sells, but there’s a market for memoirs. And here we all are with J.R.Moehringer becoming an international bestselling author, with a film being made of his words.

For those of us that write (millions of book published, ironically, on Amazon every year) it would be nice to bask in this nostalgic afterglow of God-given success. Hopefully, my next novel, Beast, sells more than ten copies. Enough to buy a can of Coke. I’m a fan of fellow American writer, John Steinbeck (1902–1968) and he tells us two truths that make more sense to any aspiring writer:

 ‘You know how advice is. You only want it if it agrees with what you wanted to do anyway.’

Most importantly of all:

‘The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.’

I watched the film. Now I’m going to do things in the wrong order (it should always be book first) and read the book, The Tender Bar (2005). Read on.

Celtic 6—0 Motherwell

Celtic win the double. Kyogo Furuhashi scores a first-half double as does our Greek striker, Giorgos Giakoumakis, but in the second-half. David Turnbull and Jota add to a six-goal rout. But all eyes were on Tom Rogic and Nir Bitton. They’ve decided to move on. But there was none of the baggage that left us with a squad full of outcasts who didn’t want to play for the club at the beginning of the season. We wish them well, but the Wizard of Oz, in particular, will be a big miss. But we’ve got Matt O’Riley to step in. We’ve got depth and strength we didn’t have at the start of the season—and we’ve got a £40 million Champions League windfall. We’ll be playing with the big boys next season—thanks to Ange—and I absolutely love it.

A long summer of recuperation and recruitment. No more qualifying rounds. Just straight into defending our tenth title in eleven years and straight into the Champions League. Bigger and better. We’re going to take some batterings, but we’ll get better. Let’s make it two-in-a-row under Ange and back up to the ten. Let’s build a dynasty. We all know that managers have a shelf life that’s shortening year on year. Look at Brendan Rodgers. He wanted out. And if he’d done the honourable thing—like Rogic and Bitton—and waited until the end of the season most of us (well me) wouldn’t have begrudged him his move. History now.

It was good to see the Scottish young player of the year, David Turnbull, back in the team and scoring. He’s got a habit of scoring against his old club and did so again, in between Kyogo’s double. Tom Rogic almost had the goal we all wanted him to score, but hit the post.

Kyogo’s double were wonderfully inventive. The first swivelling and somehow getting a shot away through a ruck of players and in off the post, in the twenty-first minute. His second, just before half-time was wonderful. He took a chipped pass from Tony Ralston, which came over the top of the Motherwell defence, and hit it first time into the net.

Giakoumakis came on a substitute, he helps create a debate whether Kyogo is better, whether he should be starting by continually scoring goals. One of them was his trademark overhead kick.

But Jota had already put us four up on fifty-nine minutes. He’s been a bit cagey about whether he’s staying or going. But the on-loan Portuguese player has scored and created opportunities all season. His last-minute goal at Pittodrie got us all three points and helped create a run of games in which we didn’t lose. I’d like to see him stay. But it’s really up to him. We just keep going as the post-match printed T-shirts said (smell the glove, remember that one?)

Celtic romped it against Motherwell, playing incisive one-touch football. Callum McGregor picked up the trophy. And I think this is his best season in a Celtic jersey. He helped carry the team. At the start of the season we were in a vicious cycle. Celtic are in a virtuous circle now, when everything that can go right does and the money flows in. In November of last year I was talking about a dog’s chance in the league. Comparisons have been made with Wim Jensen’s minor miracle and double-winning team. Ange’s team might just have topped that. He’s brought in players and they’ve made a difference. A real team effort.

And no, we don’t wish our Glasgow rivals all the best in their cup finals. We might have been turning Japanese this year, but we’re turning Germanese midweek and Edinburghese on Saturday. Small minded and bigoted. All the words you’d associate with your typical Orange Order. Just holding up a mirror.        

Dundee United 1—1 Celtic.

The league won. Tidying up time and with two games to give some lads a runabout. James Forrest, for example, and Liel Abada. Kyogo on the bench, gets a few minutes of injury time. Giakoumakis comes in. The Greek strike got his goal at the end of the Hearts game to keep his strike rate up—to a very impressive level—and scored again to officially win the title. Great leap from Giakoumakis top power home the header, but the donkeywork was done by Tony Ralston hanging the ball in the air from out in the touchline.

Tony Ralston is a bit like Anton Rogan used to be. He gives his all, but I’m thinking we need better. He was wasteful with the ball in the first half in which Dundee United had one shot on goal. Archie Meekison with fast feet finding space just outside the box and getting a shot away. But Ralston set up a goal and with a tackle saved an almost second Dundee United winner.

We had three-quarters of possession, but didn’t look that deadly. Hatate, for example, skying two half-decent chances.  It was looking like one of those pre-season knockabouts in the first-half.

David Turnbull drops out of the team and Hatate comes back in.  The ever impressive O’Riley keeps his place and Rogic out of the team. We know they’ll all come on for a runabout. After sixty minutes, and the opening goal, Ange brings new legs on. It’s worked fine in the past. Jota come on for James Forrest.

The game opened up after Celtic scored and we looked for a second goal to clinch it. But we almost conceded immediately. Rory MacLeod hit the post. Nicky Clark bundles the ball into the net only for the linesman to flag offside. A close call.

Forrest was tidy, but never a threat. Jota with his first touch, a nutmeg and waltz into the box, with a snapshot forced Benji Siegrist into a save at his near post. Potential candidate for goal of the season if it had went in.

Abada got injured and was taken off to be replaced by Daizen Maeda. Another injection of pace. But it’s substitute Charlie Mulgrew that helps set up the United equaliser. His first touch was a free kick, which he hit into Joe Hart’s arms. But later he simply lays the ball off, a simple pass. Dylan Levitt (on loan from Manchester United) takes the shot on from over 25-yards. He beats Joe Hart with a bit of a wonder goal and with ten minutes to go it’s a nervous finish.

A Tony Watt header has Joe Hart flapping. Jota makes space inside the United box but hits the side-netting. Maeda creates space for himself inside the box, but his finish is well over the bar. Celtic get a corner in the last minute of extra time. But we play the ball back the way, go back the way, in a season where we have been going forward.

Building the team, player by player. A Double in his first season, a minor miracle I prayed for, but just couldn’t see happening.  Ange could:

‘It’s been a hell of a season. Our starting point was a fair way back and the way this group of players and staff has risen to the challenge – I couldn’t be more proud.

It’s fairly overwhelming. It’s taken every ounce of me to get us where we are and when you get to the finish line, you just want to collapse.

We’ve been focused all season, not getting distracted by anything. The players were really good at dealing with what was in front of them – and that’s not easy to do.’

Celtic 4—1 Hearts.

Manager of the year. Player of the year. Young player of the year. One change from the team that drew with Rangers (and we don’t need to ask if we wish our Glasgow rivals well in Seville, but we do wish our rivals, Hearts, all the best in their final). Best for Hearts today, Craig Gordon which tells its own story.

 Our generosity extended to giving them the opening goal in three minutes. A shy, a Boyce touch and Ellis Simms lashed it into the corner of the net.

David Turnbull in for Hatate. The Japanese midfielder has looked jaded in recent games. And it wasn’t that long ago that the Scottish young player of the year was a first pick for Celtic. His first start since December. He looked sharp and had our first chance to equalise, chesting the ball down and shooting from just inside the box, but an easy enough save from Craig Gordon.

 Competition for places has made us stronger. Matt O’Riley starts ahead of Rogic. But we all know the Australian will come on. Just as we know that Giakomoukis will come on for Kyogo. Abada, perhaps even Forrest or Bitton, will get a run out. It was our on loan Portuguese winger who created both goals in the first-half.

Half-hour in and he played a ball for Kyogo, who was coming back from an offside position. Jota picked it up himself and squared the ball to Daizen Maeda. His shot went between Gordon’s legs.

Seven minutes later Kyogo got his goal. O’Riley out wide created space and whipped in a cross. Jota’s headed cut back and Kyogo’s header was over the line, despite Gordon palming it out. We were in front for the first time and dominating possession. McGregor, in particular, looked to be everywhere.

Kyogo had an earlier chance saved and O’Riley had a header easily saved by Gordon. There might even have been a penalty, just on half-time with Taylor going down in the box after a flailing arm from Ginnelly. But the Japanese duo helped put us ahead after a strong Heart’s opening.  

Matt O’Riley gets my vote for man of the match. At the start of the second-half he got away from Moore in the box, but rather than shoot he squared the ball and it was cut out, but that apart, flawless.

Gordon almost scored an own goal. Palming a ball off Kingsley from a Maeda cross. Then O’Riley found some space in the box, hit it with his left foot which was blocked, and hit the inside of the post, with the rebounded right-footed shot.

Hatate, Abada and Giakoumakis come on for Turnbull, Maeda and Kyogo.

Hearts began to dominate possession and had several crossed and corners. O’Riley’s size and strength allowed him to defend and clear from Boyce and other attackers. When it was getting a bit nervy, O’Riley effectively finished the game for us. With around 15 minutes of the 90 remaining, he picked up the ball at the back post and guided a shot into the corner of the net—Champions.

O’Riley found space from a Greg Taylor cross to the back post to almost grab a second and a third goal for Celtic. Gordon saved. Tom Rogic came on for O’Riley.

Jota, who was also man of the match (since we’re Champions, I can nominate two man of the matches), thought he’d scored, taking the ball through and dinking it past Gordon. He went away to celebrate, but realised he was offside. He was replaced for a James Forrest cameo. He set up, fellow substitute, Hatate who had a couple of near misses from the edge of the box.  Forrest also had a couple of strikes on goal, before helping set up our poacher supreme, Giakoumakis. He got the goal he craved on the 90th minute. We got the victory we deserved. Celtic do the huddle after a 25 point swing from last season and a poor opening spell. Celtic do the double. Ange Postecoglou takes us to where we want to be. Guarantees us £40 million Champions League money. Alleluia.   

Abada had time for another effort on goal, but missed. He picked up an injury in the dying seconds.

Celtic 1—1 Rangers.

Rangers bullied us at Hampden, and our dreams of the treble ended. Probably our best wins this season have been against our rivals. The emphatic win at Parkhead earlier in the season, and after going a goal behind, the satisfaction of picking them apart and quieting Ibrox. We didn’t play well, but still managed a draw that keeps up in line for the double and the glory of the Champions League. I missed it, even when we were getting hammered. It also puts £40 million between the two Glasgow teams. 29 league matches unbeaten, but it was close here.

Fashion Sakala having equalised, ironically, on 67 minutes, and he was through on goal with only Joe Hart to beat in the last few minutes—he hit the post.

At home we usually dominate possession. Here it was around fifty-fifty. Rangers did what they did at Hampden, pushed up, scrapped for loose balls and sometimes went long. Near the end of the game, they had four corners in succession. Rangers player was first to every ball. Joe Hart having to look smartish to save from Scott Arfield, Sakala (not the biggest) heading a ball against the bar and also heading over the bar. Not good enough, but we got away with it.

Jota’s goal in the twenty-first minute was almost identical to Ryan Kent’s miss in the opening five minutes.  Daizen Maeda whipped in a cross and Jota got in front of Borna Barisic and steered the ball in with his thigh. Kent’s effort went past the post.

Maeda had a chance to put us 2—0 up before half-time. In front of goal his header brought about an instinctive save from McGregor. Our Japanese trio weren’t at their best. Celtic weren’t at their best. Early in the season headlines were about Postecoglou needing to work a miracle to deny Rangers another title. The miracle is here. We just need to wait a bit longer. And invest in players with the money we have coming in.  

Great Scottish Writers, James Robertson (2010) And the Land Lay Still.

My pet theory is that authors write the same book again and again, until they get it right (write). James Robertson writes about Scotland. No headline there. He always writes about Scotland. He can mix it up a bit with Saints, God and the Devil, but you know where you are with him.

Here we have an ensemble cast that takes us from Scotland in the 1950s to the mongrel breed of Scottish Devolution nobody much wanted, but we settled for. The book kicks off with Michael (Mike). He’s gay and a photographer, but not half the man his father, Angus, was. He was also a photographer, but better. It takes a lifetime to admit it, but Mike’s got there in the end. His dad seemed to have married his mum for spite. That, and she was beautiful. The conceit is Mike is arranging an exhibition of his father’s best memorial photographs.

His da’s lost love (one of many) Jean Barbour, keeps a room for Mike in her Edinburgh home. Everybody that is anybody goes to Jean Barbour’s, including Dufflecoat Dick. Jimmy Bond, who changed his name to Peter Bond, after another spy, Ian Fleming, brought a book about with its eponymous hero, James Bond.

Jimmy Bond is testing the waters for MI5. The London establishment can’t quite decide if Scotland is full of windbags or real revolutionaries. Oil in vast quantities, off the shores of Scotland, to a bankrupt Britain makes that a pressing question. Bond is good at snooping, lying low in the background, but Jean Barbour susses him out. He’s an alcoholic that has long and detailed conversations with himself. It’s in the same manner as some of Robertson’s other narrators had conversation with Saints or, in Gideon Mack’s case, the Devil. The demon drink, even if kept in check, answers back more than it should. Scotland might have flushed its heavy industries down the toilet, but there’s still something worth saving even in fictional towns like Drumkirk and Borlanslogie that are just over the hill, near Lothian.  There’s a nod to The Great Disruption when members of the Kirk revolted about interference from their so-called betters about appointing ministers—which was surely—God’s work.

Don Lennie was thirty when he met Jack Gordon. In 1950, most able-bodied men had been in the armed services. Jack Gordon was a Japanese prisoner of war. That left a mark on him and he went walkabouts. Don stayed put, kept his job fixing lorries, and largely kept his mouth shut, about working conditions. He married his childhood sweetheart. They have two sons, but his youngest is nothing but trouble. His eldest boy is one he can be proud of. He hooks up with Jack Gordon’s daughter. The two of them school teachers and ban the bombers. Ticking in the background, the youngest son.

Then we have the aristocracy, washed up to be sure, but Michael Eddelstane has his father’s club in London and his father’s contacts, when Unionist meant not Union, but menial workers doing as you were told, while waving a flag for country and Queen. He’s got a sister, Lucy. She doesn’t understand how things work, and can easily be disinherited. And he’s got another brother, much like himself, but not as handsome and not as lucky. He doesn’t get to marry an heiress and inherit his father’s seat in the House of Commons. Michael has it all, but also that fatal flaw, and it’s not even booze or homosexuality (well, a bit of public school jiggery-pokery) or licking a woman’s toes as an Honourable MP for John Major’s government was found out by The Sun.  

It’s not James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner.  Nor is it Nicola Sturgeon’s The Public Memoirs of SNP, but somewhere in between that heaven and hell. Scotland, aye.

Nadifa Mohamed (2021) The Fortune Men.

Around seventy years ago, Mahmood Mattan was hanged for the murder of Lily Volpert, a shopkeeper, who happened to be Jewish and under five-foot tall. His conviction was found to be unsafe by the three Appeal Court judges in 1998 and he was exonerated. In the Epilogue, Mahmood’s son Omar was found dead on a beach in Caithness, Scotland. He’d said in an interview:

‘Until I was eight, I was told my father had died at sea. Then one day the Salvation Army band was playing near our house and I went out to sing with them. One of the leaders said, “We don’t need the sons of hanged men”’.

Laura Mattan was white. She was guilty of a different kind of crime. She married a black man, and had three children to him. They were part of the Tiger Bay’s Somali community that lived and worked around the docks in Tiger Bay, Cardiff.

Nadifa Mohamed offers a factional account of Mahmood Mattan’s life and death. He was guilty of being a black man. Shirley Bassey is namechecked by Berlin, Mahmood’s friend, in Tiger Bay in February 1952, as a notable reference point.

‘The King is dead. Long live the Queen,’ The announcer’s voice crackles from the wireless and winds around the rapt patrons of Berlin’s Milk Bar.

Milk Bars were, as the name suggests, places that served milk. I laugh when I read about the kind of cafes my mum and dad went into that served portions of peas in vinegar. And I remember my mum screwing up her face and saying she would never eat that foreign muck—curry. The punchline for many jokes was I turned around and there was a big black man behind me. My cousin came away with that one, not so long ago, ironically, on the way to my mum’s sister’s funeral.  

Nadifa Mohamed walks in Mahmood Mattan’s supposedly blood-specked shoes. At his trial, his appointed defence lawyer described his twenty-nine-year old client as ‘this half child of nature, a semi-civilised savage’. Mahmood could speak five languages. Nadifa Mohamed gives her factional character an addiction to gambling. He notes that white women are told to scream when they see a black man, but their eyes say differently.

Lily Volpert, the murder victim, is a spinster. She lives above the shop with her family in Tiger Bay. Her sister and her niece Grace were in another room when her throat was slashed and she was murdered. Neither of them testified that the man they’d briefly seen was Mahmood Mattan.

Nadifa Mohamed inhabits the Volpert family’s life. She gives Lily Volpert an unrequited love interest, her sister’s husband. Fills in the backstory of Jewish guilt about the Holocaust and how Lily had done her bit. How another sister had went off to war. These are the least convincing parts of her narrative—and I’m not really sure they’re necessary.

The offer of a £200 reward from the Volpert family for evidence leading to the conviction of the killer certainly was.   

A witness at the trial, a neighbour of Laura Matta’s mum, for example, button-holed her and offered to go halvers on the reward money. Circumstantial evidence put the noose around Mahmood Mattan’s head. The police had their black man and they built their case around it. In the Epilogue, Harold Cover, a Jamaican who at the police’s bidding, had went a witness against Mattan, was jailed in 1969 for slashing his daughter’s throat with a razor. He only came forward as a witness when the reward was announced. Other suspects, from within the Somali community, such as Dawir Awalah, confessed to the police that he was the man they were looking for in the case, before fleeing to Brazil in 1952.  

Nadifa Mohamed writing, and inhabiting the body of Mahmood Mattan, asks herself/himself a simple question. Would I have been convicted of this killing if I was a white man? You don’t need to read a book to tell you the answer to that one, but read on.

Ross County 0— 2 Celtic

Celtic get the job done. That’s all we ask after a poor week. Rangers bullied us at Hampden. A must win to keep the six-point lead. The story of two strikers. Kyogo Furuhashi’s early goal looked to be enough, but it was a nervy second half.  Giakoumakis on the bench, came on for Kyogo. He got in front of the defender to put a shot against the bar. Jota followed in to finish and knock it over the line. 87 minutes. We could finally breathe.  

We started well with Kyogo having a shot at goal after a minute. Ross Callachan was booked for a late tackle on Ralston, but he could have been booked for two similar challenges in a frantic opening spell. A long range shot from Hatate sailed over the bar. Six corners in the first ten minutes, but after twelve minutes Kyogo opened the scoring.

O’Riley, in for Rogic, knocked the ball to Jota who cut inside. He picked out Kyogo, who leaped into the air and finished as if he’d never been away. But the Japanese forward missed a sitter close to half-time.

O’Riley finding some space outside the box had a shot at goal. Laidlaw should have dealt with it, but it came off the County keeper. Kyogo from six yards hit him with the ball.

A more speculative effort from Kyogo, in which he mishit a Jota cross, hit the bar. Celtic with their one-touch passing look too good for Ross County. The home team, reliant on long throws and crosses are most dangerous from free kicks. Joe Hart had one speculative shot to save, but played most of the first-half as sweeper-keeper.

County went long and won most of the first and second balls (like our Glasgow rivals) without getting a shot on goal. Postecoglou brought on Georgios Giakoumakis, Liel Abada and Tom Rogic (for Kyogo, Abada and O’Riley) to freshen the team up. And it did help.

Greg Taylor, after his goal at Hampden, tried a 40 yarder, but it sailed over the bar.

Rogic got a shot away, but it was blocked. Abada connected with the rebound, but it went well wide.

Another David Turnbull cameo. On for Hatate, for the fifth game running. The Japanese playmaker was terrible at Hampden, but pretty good today in the first half. Then he wilted. It was good to see Turnbull on, but after hooking a shot wide, looked strangely reluctant to shoot. When Turnbull was flying that was an important feature of his game.

The second goal killed the game (thank God). But there was enough time for James Forrest to replace Jota. The Portuguese winger was better today. Last week, he too was awful.

O’Riley was better than Rogic when he came on last week. Not sure who will start against Rangers. My guess is the team that started today will start next Sunday. Lightweight, but slick in spells. Ralston puts in an early ball, but he showed today he can get caught with his second touch likely to be a slide-tackle. Starfelt and Carter-Vickers didn’t win any aerial duals today, but they didn’t lose any goals either. The Swede, in particular, needs to be stronger. Old news. We know this. Just win at Parkhead and the league is done—otherwise we’ll need to take the long and scenic route to the title. None of us want that, but we’d have taken in with the clichéd both hands at the beginning of the season.  Like today, just get the job done.

Celtic 1—2 Rangers (after extra-time).

In sport, as in life, the difference between a disaster and catastrophe is the former can be marked down as a one-off, marked in the past-tense. We move on. Like most Celtic fans I was hoping Braga would take care of Rangers in Europe. They’d be leggy on Sunday. We’d defeat them and move onto the Treble. Sunday was a disaster because Rangers won duels all over the park. And then they won the game…  

The rolling catastrophe, in waiting, is that they come to Parkhead and beat us in the same way. You’d get long odds on Celtic losing the league. But many of us remember Helicopter Sunday. I’m also old enough to have been at Love Street when Danny McGrain was still playing (and what a player) and our front two were Brian McClair and Mo Johnson. That day we had to score five and we did. We won the league. Now it’s ours to lose. And it’s not about the glory, but the money. £40 million Champion League cash puts us on easy street. It puts us well above Rangers. It allows us to invest in the squad. Anyone that’s been paying attention knows Rangers don’t even have enough cash and Ibrox stadium is falling down. It’s that simple.

Simple answers here. Did these players win their duals. Yes/No?

Joe Hart—Yes.

Josip Juranovic—No.

Cameron Carter-Vickers—Yes. Ironically, Cameron Carter-Vickers hit the bar from six-yards when we were 1—0 ahead. An easier chance than he scored at Ibrox.

Carl Starfelt—No. I often argue with friends that although Starfelt can’t defend, he’s not a bad player when we’ve got ninety-percent of the ball. Kemar Roofe beat him in the air almost every time. Roofe was booked and should have been sent off (add Joe Aribo, Ryan Jack and Calvin Bassey, who kicked more players than he did the ball, even after he’d been booked). Sakala claimed to have the last touch of the winning goal in the second half of after extra time.  But it was Starfelt. Substitute Arfield got in front of Keemer Roofe to equalise. That just about sums up our Danish defender. I’d Starfelt on for first-goal scorer at 66/1. I’m a dreamer.  Pisses me off big time when we take short corner after short corner and the ball ends up back in the half-way line.  

Greg Taylor—No. Don’t often say Greg Taylor, goal scorer. After no doing very much, the former Kilmarnock defender in the 64th minute, with a deflected shot from the edge of the box, put us ahead.

Tom Rogic—No. Shackled by Calvin Bassey. Missing in action.

Matt-O’Riley—Yes. Replaced Rogic in the 58th minute and had a good case for being Celtic’s best player, as he was in a substitute performance against St Johnstone that seems so long ago as to be in the stone-age.

 Callum McGregor—Yes. Picked up a booking and tried to drive the team forward. Didn’t get much help from those around him. Could have been sent off after he’d been booked for a silly pull back. Let me put that into context. Five Rangers players were booked. John Lundstrum wasn’t booked, but could equally have been sent off. Rangers were nastier than us, and it worked a treat for them. They easily won the midfield war. Physically bullied.  

Reo Hatate—No. Curled a shot just wide in the fiftieth minute, after we’d broke the shackles of Rangers midfield dominance  A slack pass in the opening two minutes and Ryan Kent was through on goal. He knocked it over the bar. We were riding our luck. Kemar Roofe flashed a shot wide. Joe Aribo came through two defenders to get his head on a ball into the box, but headed straight at Joe Hart. John Lundstram hit the post from just outside the Celtic box.

 Liel Abada—No. With no Greek striker and no Kyogo, the young Israeli had a point to prove. Anonymous.

  Daizen Maeda—No. Few can fault the work he does closing down the opposition. He was at it again here. Jon McLaughlin, the Rangers keeper was almost caught, by him a few times with pass backs. Connor Goldson was panicked into a few mistakes. But the Japanese forward had an improvised mishit as his best effort on goal, and that was well wide of the post. A header at the back post.

 Joao Pedro Jota—No. He started his Celtic career with a bang. A goal-a-game against some of the second-best in Europe. Now he’s down to a slow whimper. James Tavernier had an easy afternoon. Rangers’ captain spent most of his time in the Celtic half, which tells you everything you need to know. In our first chance of a breakaway in the first-half, Jota got in behind the defence, but instead of cutting into the box and in on goal, went wide and came back inside again, to lose the ball. It happens, but it’s happened too often lately.

 Kyogo Furuhashi—No. On after an hour, for Maeda, he’d an hour to influence the game. Great player, of that we’ve not doubt, but didn’t do it. Simple.

Anthony Ralston—No. Ralston’s Celtic through and through, but just not good enough. Showed well at the start of the season, but awkward of late. See Jota.

Stephen Welsh—No. The Scotland under-21 captain found himself played out of positon after both Taylor and Juranovic ran out of steam (so much for Rangers being tired after their extra-time exertions against Braga). Welsh looked as if he’d his boots on the wrong feet.

David Turnbull—No. Anonymous. Can’t remember him touching the ball, but wasn’t on the park long. McGregor is first pick. Rogic versus O’Riley for the next pick. Currently, Rogic is winning it, but O’Riley has shaded it for me, especially on yesterday’s performance. Hatate, running out of legs. Turnbull versus Hatate? It’s not that long ago Turnbull was a certain starter.

Only two of our ten outfield players got pass marks. Substitute, O’Riley, also contributed. Our next game is against Ross County. Must win. Rangers, must win. And that’s the league over. But if Celtic play like they did yesterday, Rangers will win at Parkhead, then it’s game on. Celtic disaster or catastrophe?

Celtic 7—0 St Johnstone

Not surprisingly, Celtic start with the same team that beat Rangers. Ange Postecoglou, and captain Callum McGregor both snarl at ideas of complacency, say there’ll be not letting up. They proved to be right. Kyogo on the bench, comes on for the last twenty minutes, replacing Jota.

The only downside of a seven-nil hammering was the injury of goal scorer Giorgos Giakoumakis. His thirteenth of the season, with two hat-tricks back-to-back before the Rangers game. He’d slotted home the second, from an acute angle after anticipating a pass back. Effectively, game over after twenty-five minutes and just a matter of how many, even as early as the seventh minute.

Substitute Liel Abada missed a good chance in 89 minutes to make it eight, but the little winger had already scored the seventh. Kyogo playing a ball over the top. Man of the match, Daizen Maeda chesting down the ball and running in on goal. The young Israeli stepping in and putting it in the top corner. I wasn’t convinced by Maeda when he first came. I am now.

Left wing, right wing, through the middle, his work rate is phenomenal. He scored the third, picked out from a Jota cross. And putting it away with his bald head. C’mon the baldies. His perpetual motion led to the Greek striker’s goal, the defender passing it back to the keeper blind.  

Jota missed out on the goal scoring spree, but he had two or three cracks at goal, and contributed throughout. But he’s no longer a goal a game as he was earlier in the season. Others are picking up the slack.  

Reo Hatate had already put Celtic ahead after seven minutes. He’d had a shot saved before that and only a great save from Zander Clark stopped his snap shot making it two for him.

But St Johnstone had the first shot on goal, breaking upfield, but Melker Hallberg didn’t trouble Joe Hart. It was a stroll in the sunshine for Hart.

Just before a quarter hour, coasting at one up, Rogic beat the whole St Johnstone defence single-handedly on the edge of the box. His toe-poke was saved from close range was almost goal of the game.

O’Riley his replacement at half-time showed that anything the Aussie can do he can do better (well, maybe not, but who cares?). He hit a double and helped create another.

A ball through to Hatate, he’s brought down in the box. Penalty-taker Josip Juranovic scored from the spot, into the right-hand corner, despite the keeper going the right way.

Mat O’Riley first was an outstanding finish, but a team goal. His second, minutes later, to make it six, smashing it into the top corner, had him hunting for his first Celtic hat-trick. He was unlucky not to add to his double.  

David Turnbull, on early in the second-half for Reo Hatate, looked sharp and back to his best, but he took two heavy knocks and limped off before the end.   

We’re in a good place, with 27 players completing for 11 jerseys. Only one injury doubt before the game, James Forrest. Glakoumakis can be added to that list. And perhaps, David Turnbull. Next up, Rangers.

Five games to go in the league. Scottish Cup semi-final. We’re on a high. No slacking. Rangers at Love Street. Let’s hope they don’t find any. Or mid-week, or next week, or ever.