BT Sport Nine-in-a-Row Tribute to Celtic.

Celtic’s number 9.

Bit of a damp squid. Hosted by Darrell Currie, with Johan Mjallby, Chris Sutton and Celtic manager, Neil Lennon, on split screen, it was three-quarter hours of not very much. Adverts took about 15 minutes. So there was around a half-hour of chat. Neil Lennon being congratulated (and so he should be) and fielding some not very difficult question.

Sutton for example, asking Lennon if he thought he’d still be in a job if he hadn’t won a trophy in two years?

Lennon, pondering, emmm, I wonder why he was asking me that particular question, before answering honestly, he didn’t think so.

Listen, anybody that knows anything, understands Lennon had to win the treble after Judas, Brendan Rodgers, walked away. Anything less than treble-treble, which seemed inconceivable all those years ago when Ronnie Delia was manager, would have led to Lennon being seen as a failure. He’s smart enough to know that.  

I can remember a Ranger’s pundit all those years ago remarking that Lennon and Celtic with their financial muscles should have won more trebles. This was in Lennon’s first outing as manager. I’m sure Derek Ferguson will be now delighted that he was proved right. Celtic did keep winning treble trebles and under Lennon they were in line for a quadruple treble.

I’m sure that Lennon, like most Celtic supporters, wanted to see the season out. Rangers supporters, yes, they do exist, seem to live in some parallel universe in which they could have turned the 13 point deficit around. It could have happened. But let’s not forget Hearts the team that was relegated beat them twice, once in the Scottish Cup and in the league. Hamilton who seem to beat the Old Firm once every decade managed it at Fortress Ibrox. Morelos, their top scorer and icon had scored around one goal since Christmas. In a word, they were rotten. Miracles do happen, Leicester City did win the English Premier League a few years ago, but the odds were 1500/1. If any Rangers fan wanted to place a bet, I’d punt my house against their house, put the keys in a bowl. I’m sure there’d be few, if any takers. They can keep their money for another share issue, when they burn money for free.  The Scottish League did the sensible thing. Celtic were awarded the league and that’s that. Not luck—merit.

Next year, is this season, and it’s ten-in-a-row. We can argue over semantics, but who really gives a fuck? If we win we’ll party. If Rangers step up to the challenge and Lennon admitted they had got closer, then I’ll not wish them well.

Here we had guest spots from wind-up merchants Moussa Dembele, hammer of the Huns; Mikael Lustig without his police hat and Leigh Griffiths with a hat on, obviously a home- haircut weave and split roots during lockdown.

If you’re a die-hard Celtic fan this is a programme you’ll watch. If not, don’t bother.

Celtic 1—0 Rangers

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When the talking was over there was only one winner. Celtic dominated the match from start to finish. Hit the bar three time, the post once. Odsonne Edward from a Calum McGregor cross, just before half-time, missed an absolute sitter from five yards out and hit the Ranger’s keeper, Allan McGregor. The Ranger’s keeper proved by far to be Ranger’s man of the match. There’s nothing new in this.  In the last thirteen Old Firm games, in which Rangers have lost all  but two, which they’ve drawn, the Ranger’s keeper has been the Ibrox team’s man of the match. Hamilton came to Celtic Park last weekend and got beaten 1—0, but had more shots on goals than Rangers, more corners and more of the ball than Rangers. The gap between Celtic and Hamilton remains what it was.

Ironically, the Celtic goal when it did come was from a rare Ranger’s breakaway. Tom Rogic, who is not renowned for his work as a midfield enforcer, won a fifty-fifty with Ranger’s midfield enforcer, Ryan Jack, motored up the park, the Aussie passed the ball to Edward who shuttled the ball right to Forrest. The ball was squared to man of the match Olivier Nitcham. Easy-peasy.

Rangers best kick of the match was the boot Alan McGregor gave to Ayer. With the technology used in the world cup this would have easily have been a red card and penalty awarded. Rangers got off lightly. A 1—0 defeat flattered them in the way it didn’t Hamilton the week before.

Celtic 0 – 5 Paris Saint-Germain

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Hamilton manager Martin Canning after Friday night’s defeat to Celtic admitted his team had stood off Celtic in the first-half, given them too much room to play, they’d done better in second half, but they were outclassed. Ditto here. Celtic were outclassed. The odds for both teams were roughly the same. Hamilton to win around 12/1. Celtic to win 12/1. The bookies are rarely wrong. It was all so easy for PSG at Parkhead last night. Barcelona have been here before with a triumvirate of Messi, Suarez and Neymar. The latter always seems to bring out the worst in the Celtic support. Not that it bothers the world’s most expensive player. He just gets on with it. He was up against rookie right-back Ralston who was the wrong side of him and Neymar finished cooly. Edison Cavani already had the ball in the net only to be ruled off for a marginal offside decision. And five minutes before Neymar’s finish Cavani had inexplicably passed to a Celtic player when twelve yards out and should have scored. He made up for it scoring a penalty just before half time. Jozu Simunovic tugging him back and giving away a needless foul and was lucky to stay on the pitch. Cavani’ best goal, and the best goal of the night was the fourth, finding himself at the back post he somehow looped and bent the ball with a header up and over Gordon and into the net. Fabulous goal. By that time, of course, the game was over. Kylian Mbabbe, scored the second,  joining Neymar in the most expensive strike-force in world football, and found it all too easy to finish unmarked from ten yards, after Cavani had fluffed his lines and missed the ball. Celtic could easily have been 5-0, or more, down at half time.

Before the game there was some debate whether Rogic or Armstrong would start. Both did. Armstrong got the first half, Rogic the second, with no notable difference. With seven minutes in the game to go Lustig added an own-goal to the PSG tally, after another forty-odd million pound substitute for the French team, German international Julian Draxler walked past Sinclair and whipped the ball into the box. It was all so easy for the French, but I’m sure the German Bayern team will not be so keen to step aside and there’s no guarantee that this PSG team will go all the way and win it. Last night’s game was little more than a training match for them. They’ve still to play the big boys. We need to go away from home in the next match to think again. A straight shootout between Celtic and Anderlecht for third spot and a Europa league place is the best Celtic can hope for, which would be more our level. Personally, I’d bite your hand off for that now.

L’Equipe’s player ratings makes interesting reading. Spot on with Stuart Armstrong, a bit harsh on young Ralston who was on par with Simuovich and just about everyone else in the Celtic team. PSG players got double the scores of Celtic players. Twice and three times as good and that’s about right.

L’Equipe player ratings

Celtic

Craig Gordon – 3

Tony Ralston – 2

Jozo Simunovic – 3

Mikael Lustig – 3

Kieran Tierney – 3

Scott Brown – 3

Olivier Ntcham – 3

Stuart Armstrong – 2

Scott Sinclair – 4

Patrick Roberts – 4

Leigh Griffiths – 3

Brendan Rodgers – 3

Average – 3.2

PSG

Alphonse Areola – 7

Dani Alves – 7

Marquinhos – 6

Thiago Silva – 6

Layvin Kurzawa – 6

Thiago Motta – 7

Marco Verratti – 7

Adrien Rabiot – 8

Kylian Mbappe – 7

Edinson Cavani – 7

Neymar – 7

Unai Emery – 8

Average – 6.8