St Mirren 0—0 Celtic.

We thought it might happen. Tony Ralston pulled us out of a hole against Ross County. But we can’t score without Kyogo. We can’t score without Jota. And so it proved.  Our game against Ranger put back later in the football calendar. Playing without 60 000 Celtic fans helps only one team. That was a positive. But here’s where it gets tricky. Keep winning is what we prayed for. Six changes to the Celtic team that triumphed at Hampden on Sunday.

No David Turnbull. Liel Abada took many of the nine corners in the first-half and his crossing tended to be poor. Josip Juranovic came on for the last thirty minutes. His crossing was better. He even had a shot on goal from a free kick that whizzed past the post.  But on the bright side, the accident that’s already happened, the humble Swede, isn’t in the squad as he’s suspended. But this game would have suited Starfelt. St Mirren offered next to nothing in attack. Scott Bain in goal (don’t know where Joe Hart was). The Celtic keeper had little to do.

Curtis Main bundled him into the net early, then had a decent chance in the box in the second-half. Carter-Vickers almost scored an own-goal.

St Mirren also had their problems to seek. They played with a trio of teenagers in their midfield. Sat in and looked to score from the rare breakaways and from corners and free kicks. Celtic, with around eighty-percent possession, even more in the second half, but still managed to look suspect in defence. Early in the game, Cameron Carter-Vickers, for example, having to make a last ditch tackle on a ball he had in his possession.

But a big night, for the rise of the little men. Owen Moffat broke away near half time and fashioned half a chance, with Rogic and Abada unable to get on his cross ball. But most attacks came down the left (this is a pattern, even without injuries) with Mikey Johnston looked to be our main threat, and have the beating of the Australian full backs, but then faded. In the first five minutes he cut inside, and the St Mirren goalkeeper, Dean Lyness pulled off a terrific save. Liam Scales had two shots on goal, one deflected, neither of which troubled the keeper. Bitton had a free-kick after twelve minutes, which was well saved. Rogic had a pop at goal after twenty-five minutes. Abada scampered around and didn’t get on the end of much.

Five minutes added time after the ninety, but we didn’t score as we did at Ross County. Over thirty shots on the St Mirren goal. We pick up a point from our game in hand, but drop two.  A great night for Rangers. They stay six points clear.  

Sheffield Wednesday 1—3 Celtic. (friendly).

First pre-season game and we play Sheffield Wednesday on a Wednesday. And Stephen Welsh plays in Wales, although he’s not Welsh. It’s a ninety minute game, but split into three thirty minutes segments. Over the fence of Dragon Park guys in white playing glorified rounders are oblivious that the next European Champions are playing on their turf, after they achieve one-in-a-row. Yeh, one of those games when it wouldn’t have surprised you if Johnny Depp was playing on the wing with his hat on.

Ange Postecolgou’s first call is to make Albian Ajeti captain. I’m not sure the thinking over that one. I didn’t recognise many of the players that started the first of three periods. Barkas was in goals. That’s the Celtic goalie that didn’t make a save in his first season. But it’s a new start. And Barkas was the Celtic player who got the most touches in the opening ten minutes as the ball was played backwards and backwards and backwards.  He didn’t make a save here either, but we were 1—0 down as Sheffield United dominated. Barkas was not at fault. And for a change we didn’t lose a goal from a corner of free kick, as we did for most games last season. But we were still the easy touch of last season. Bannan, Palmer and a through ball to ex-Rangers’ player Josh Windass gave Wednesday the lead. And that’s the way it stayed, until the beginning of the second half.

Finally, I get to say Ajeti put the ball in the nettie. We’ve been that focussed on what’s happening with Leigh Griffiths that Ajeti has been largely overlooked. Ajeti, when he’s not falling over looking for fouls, is also a predator with a good strike rate in the Swiss league. Last season he was dreadful. This season he’s got a new start. And he’s only 24. He’s a wait- and-see player. Like Griffiths he’s a point to prove.

Red-haired winger, Owen Moffat was one of our better players in the first half. And he capped off a stand-out performance with a brilliantly taken goal. Ex-Sheffield player Liam Shaw also looked impressive, both physically and the way he used the ball in midfield as Celtic began to dominate. Soro, in the holding role, looks as if he’s going to be a regular starter.

Scott Bain came on for Barkas after 45 minutes, but wholesale changes to both teams were made. Odsonne Edouard came on and scored the third goal, near the end of the ninety minutes.

Difficult one, he’s still a Celtic player, but the quicker he goes the better, with Ajer and Christie and whoever else wants to leave. We need a whole new defence, starting with the goalie. Left back, right back and centre half. The former Heart’s player Aaron Hickey is one of a number of players touted. He played against Celtic in the Scottish Cup final and was a standout. We could have got him for a million, now its £4.5 million. Stupidity costs money, and cost us the league with a raft of sub-standard players being brought to the club. Anything that could have went wrong last season did go wrong. It’s actually quite nice to hear Rangers are so far ahead Celtic could be out of the running for the league in the first month. That’s a repeat of what was said about Rangers last year—forget it, one-in-a-row, Hallo, Hallo.

Things could be worse. Need to watch England playing with the sound down. My partner told our neighbour that I said I might hate England more than Rangers. Not even near.  But c’mon the Italy. The Pope’s eleven.