Whatever Happened to Paddy Roberts?

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A wee cameo, Hampden in the sun, this time last year. Celtic win the treble. Unbeatable. Kieran Tierney comes back from the hospital in crutches to pick up his medal. Paddy Roberts is waiting for him. The Likely Lads. It was a glorious sight to see wee Paddy in full flow and we were sad to see him go. Many of us thought he might even be good enough to play for his parent club Manchester City.

Not that I cared the only team that interests me is Celtic. Rodgers brought in Aberdeen’s best player that day and most other days, Johnny Hayes. Shame about his injury, but he doesn’t look good enough for Celtic.

Paddy does. He doesn’t. Simple. So when we hear the Paddy and Kieran bromance is back on over the summer. And it turns out to be true. Well, overjoyed, whoopee.

I just hope Paddy makes it back from injury. It’ll not be at Celtic. His season-long loan almost done.  He got the last 20 minutes in the 3—0 victory at Parkhead over Ross County. Midweek, when most commentators were salivating over the Manchester City-Liverpool European clash, us Bhoys were watching real fitba. Celtic v Dundee.

Gordon was back in goals for his 200th appearance. Great to see him. Tierney is injured. Calum McGregor playing left back. McGregor quite simply has proved he can play anywhere. Rodgers says he doesn’t give the ball away.

Let’s talk Boyata. He does give the ball away. Remember that game against Bayern, ball straight down the middle. Same again against Dundee. Boyata and ex-Dundee player Jack Hendry get into a kerfuffle. Just before half-time a Boyata tackle hits the inside of the Celtic goalpost, but doesn’t go in. It rolls along the line. Boyata makes more mistakes the Effe Ambrose and it’s nothing to do with skin colour, just ability. Neither is good enough. It needs to be asked, where is Marvin Compper?

We know where Paddy is, on the bench. A lightweight like Charly Musonda. Their place in the Celtic pecking order was shown after sixty turgid minutes against Dundee. Off goes Dembele, off goes Sinclair and off goes Armstrong. Rodgers makes three substitutions, throws the dice, but doesn’t call Paddy’s number.

That’s where Paddy is. The Celtic team regressing from the highs of last year. The league is won. The league cup is won. Only the Scottish Cup remains for back to back trebles. But for the first time in two years I think Rangers have a chance at Hampden on Sunday. Our big player, our best players, just haven’t turned up this season and the ones brought in to replace them are sub-Celtic standard. Paddy, Paddy, prove me wrong.

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Celtic 0—0 Rangers

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The last Old Firm game of the year and Rangers take a point and could have taken more, but from some crucial saves from Craig Gordon. Ranger’s keeper Wes Foderingham also blocked well, early on, from Moussa Dembele. His save from James Forest was superb. And Scott Sinclair hit him with the ball twice and contrived to miss, just before half time from six yards. A first half that Celtic dominated, after a shaky start, in which Rangers had the upper hand. Much of that had to do with Michael Lustig. His first four passes went to Ranger’s players and his one-two with Scott Brown played Morelos in on goal.

The Ranger’s striker had a number of chances, particularly in the second half. A header in particular was a poor miss. Celtic bringing on Nicham brought some stability to the team and as he was able to pass the ball and retain possession. All over the park Celtic players failed this basic test. Keep the ball, pass the ball. In the final third they were shoddy. Craig Gordon’s save from Tavernier’s acrobatic effort was world class and the save of the match. Dembele was slow to leave the field when subbed after sixty minutes, but it was another game in which he hasn’t scored. Not good enough. Griffith’s arrival didn’t have the same impact of  Nicham’s for Sinclair. The Celtic onslaught in the last ten minutes didn’t arrive. Some half chances, but with the caveat that Rangers could at any minute have went up the other end and scored – as they nearly did so many times.

I need to grit my teeth and say a draw was a fair result. Celtic aren’t as good as they were last year when Rangers came here and drew 1-1. Not a backward step for the Bhoys, but certainly a sideways step. We need to come back fitter and stronger after the break and if it’s Dembelie-less so be it. Rangers best chances today came from simple passes, mainly from defenders going astray, but Stuart Armstrong is perhaps most culpable of late in midfield.

Celtic’s best player, Craig Gordon. Pass marks to Brown for being Brownie and bossing the first half. Nicham for his cameo as substitute. James Forrest, good start, but faded. That apart substandard Celtic. But still on track.

Celtic 5—Rangers 1.

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gloat

ɡləʊt/

verb

gerund or present participle: gloating

  1. dwell on one’s own success or another’s misfortune with smugness or malignant pleasure.

“his enemies gloated over the Huns death”

synonyms: delight in, relish, take great pleasure in, enjoy greatly, revel in, rejoice in, glory in, exult in, triumph over, crow over;

 

It was a long time coming, a few phoney wars and some people might even have watched Scotland playing Malta, but then the media campaign ramped up, with special Old Firm pull-outs and countdowns to the big game. A bombardment of World War 1 proportions to soften us up. Joey Barton’s Twitters were raided for back-page news, and his media pal Robbie Savage reminded us he’d be the best player in Scottish football be some distance. I must admit I was a bit scared, he might be something special, and he did nearly score in this game with a back pass to his own goalkeeper, Wes Fotheringham that had the Ranger’s keeper scrambling to save it. Yes, it was confirmed, after Tom Rogic spun away and left him and his midfield partner Niko Kranjcar on their arses so often, the Ger’s duo were indeed something worth watching.  They were part of that great Ranger’s tradition of giving people money for nothing. I’m not even going to mention Philippe Senderos, because that would be too cruel. Like all great players he did his talking on the pitch, but left early having been given the run-around all afternoon to get his head together and catch the mobility bus home.

Barcelona rested seven of their first-team regulars against a newly promoted La Liga team, Celtic didn’t, but they did bring on Stuart Armstrong, who can’t be considered a first pick, but did score the fifth goal. The notable omission was Leigh Griffiths, the one player from the Ronnie Delia era that could hold his head up and who carried us to the league title last year and who has started in such fine form this year. I must admit his stand in Moussa Dembele did alright, setting up a goal for Scott Sinclair (who’s actually English) and scoring a hat trick in an Old Firm game isn’t easy. The last Celt to do so wasn’t Larsson, as you’d expect, but two generations before that with Stevie Chalmers when anyone that wore shin guards was considered a bit of a poof and even after that when Danny McGrain didn’t even have a beard and Dixie Deans was regularly knocking in six against a good Hib’s team, he couldn’t score a measly three again the Ibrox money men. Dembele kept his trap shut when not in the first eleven and unlike some Ranger’s regulars, waited for his moment. Here he pounced. Header, left foot, right foot. Early promise is beginning to pay off. He’s in line for a start against Barcelona. And even this early I’d say it wouldn’t be unreasonable to suggest after two years at Parkhead, you’re looking at Celitc’s first £20 million -plus- transfer. And between him and Leigh Griffiths you’re looking at finishing first and second in the goal-scoring charts. The league is won, even this early, I can say that. We’ve played the best of the rest and scored five against them.

But there’s something in the Old Firm game that brings out the kid in us all. I was thinking about Fat Robbie’s son, who is eight and was at his first Old Firm fixture. That’s probably the first time he’s seen adults who scarcely scratch a smile all week, laughing and greeting, kissing each other and dancing in their seats. Aye, it’s a belter, not to be forgotten, unless you’re a Hun.

Ranger’s supporters will be waiting and hoping that Barcelona take five off our Bhoys because the Catalans are five times better than us. That’s a possibility. A real possibility, we know that because we’ve been there before. Hearts do rule old heads, but there’ll be no shame in it. The phony war against Rangers is over. Talk about Magic Hats and Joey Barton (insert your own version of events here). Celtic have proved themselves. And they need to prove themselves again in the big league, in the Champions League, where the real money is, and there they’ll be found wanting, but they’re the best in Scotland, by a fair distance and deserve to be there.  I think we can safely say that Ibrox will be a  Priest-free zone for quite a while and when Zadok and the Champions League music starts they can turn it over and watch oops Joey in the Cartoon Network.