Thursday, 6 April 2006

Hail to Gordon!

I was among the group of Celtic supporters who welcomed Gordon Strachan as coach - but I had my doubts during the early months. Last night's victory over Hearts sealed a tremendous achievement by Strachan - 20 point lead over our nearest rivals with six games to go. It's even better than Martin O'Neill's achievements (in the SPL).

Strachan came into a team in turmoil. His job was made more difficult by the experienced players who (it appeared) did not welcome him. When Dennis said after we won the Cup last season that he would get rid of them all, I disagreed, feeling we needed some continuity. He might have been right. I don't think many (any?) of MON's XI will appear next season. And he's achieved this with limited funds - and some pretty poor players.

I've been most impressed with his tactical changes and substitutions during games. He seems to sense (along with most supporters) when things need changed and (unlike MON) he makes the changes that most fans would make. Last night was a prime example - Nakamura was doing nothing and was replaced by Stephen Pearson (who didn't do much either but at least he put his foot in) - an obvious substitution that MON would have obstinately refused to make.

So, well done Gordon. Now, give him some money to sort out that defence!


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  2. I didn't want Gordon Strachan because I thought we wouldn't do anything in Europe. I wanted him out after Artmedia and Motherwell.

    I realise now that I was wrong. The task he took on was a big one. MON's team needed to be disbanded and WGS has just about achieved that and won the league and league cup. I also think the football this year has been better than last year (that wouldn't be hard) but it is still too slow and ponderous. I can't see us doing anything in Europe next season (hope I'm wrong again) but I'll take the league again please. We also need to be in the Champions League groups to get the experience, even if we don't do well.
    Back in July/August last year I would never have believed we could be in our current position.

  3. It was a strange season with humiliating defeats but in the end with as much success as you could hope for. I think the removal of Burley from Hearts certainly helped us.

    I agree it doesn't look like we will do much in Europe (but look at Rangers). I wasn't sure about Keane but when I saw him I was really impressed. He hardly made a bad pass and taking Diggy's point stood out as not being ponderous. I thought his passing was quick and more often than not forward. I think we need him in Europe next year. But he seems to be a bit injury prone now. (Has Celtic got a thing with hamstring injuries?) Maloney also has shown at times a willingness to speed the game up and go at people.

    From the MON era though I think Lennon, Petrov and Hartson still did well. Without Hartson Balde nor Mcmanus has an out ball. And although I would prefer a person who could bring the ball out and play it we really missed Balde when he was in the African Cup.

    We need experience for Europe and if Hartson goes we need another goal scorer. I'm not sure that is Miller. I'm really looking forward to at least 6 games in Europe. Although this year was difficult I think with Europe, Le Guen and a new Hearts manager next year will be even harder. And with the emphasis on the wage bill will there be big signings? Incidentally I read that Keane was picking up £90k per week from Man Utd as part of his severance until the end of the season and I wonder if that's true.

  4. I agree with the sentiment that after the first few games, we could never have forseen the team winning the league never mind winning it by such a margin. However,I am puzzled by the feeling of anticlimax I felt on Wednesday night.

    I dont go to the games so have only been watching the live televised games. I watched it in the pub surrounded by Hearts supporters (just me and a couple of other Celtic supporters) and felt we were abysmal. The goal was a great goal but apart from that, I thought Hearts deserved a draw. I know the result was all important but I wanted to see Celtic overpower Hearts and put then in their place but what I got was them grinding out a result.

    Best game of the season was on New Years Day when we started to play football in the second half and got those two late goals, what a start to the year.

    You chaps who go to the games will have a better idea than me on what needs to be done next year. However, the bottom line is that SKY TV money will continue to distort the game allowing teams like Reading to have ten times as much money from TV revenue as Celtic. Untilthat is addresssed,we will be on the fringes of signing the really good players.

  5. Gerry, you are right about Keane. He does release the ball early and I hope he is available next season.

    Billy, I think Celtic deliberately went into defence against Hearts because they felt they could hold out against them. It made Hearts look good but they still couldn't score against a defence that let's just about every team in the league score against them. The defensive record against the likes of Hearts, Rangers and Hibs has been impressive.

    I think we did put Hearts in their place. They cannot really think they are better than Celtic. They can't beat us.

    I think it will be different tactics at Tynecastle now that the league is won.