Celtic Drop Points For The Third League Match In A Row
Having just returned from a cold afternoon at Celtic Park, I can’t say I’m overly annoyed with the result. Celtic took the lead early in the second half of a fairly lacklustre encounter through Tony Watt, before Nigel Hasselbaink equalised for the Saints with around fifteen minutes to go. The game finished in a 1-1 draw and, whilst I’d hardly describe myself as delighted, I’m not too bothered with the draw. And yet, perhaps this is part of the problem?
Celtic have only taken two points from a potential nine in our last three matches in the Scottish Premier League, and we have, in fact, only won half of our games during the league campaign thus far. Whilst our form both away from home and at Celtic Park is identical (three wins, two draws, one loss each), it is worth noting that we have scored more than twice as many goals away from home than we have at Celtic Park, and yet only conceded two more away.
Having already dropped fourteen points (from a possible thirty six), I can’t help but think that, in any previous season, we’d all have been a tad concerned by now to say the least. Of course, this season is unlike any of those in the past, with no obvious rival to any title challenge.
Now, I’m not about to sit here and say Scottish Football is suffering without Rangers, because I don’t believe it is. Attendances are up at most Scottish Premier League grounds this season, and undoubtedly the other league sides now have more to play for, with second place bringing a place in a Champions League qualifier.
I hate to sound like I’m moaning, because I’m really not. Celtic’s result midweek is one of the greatest victories I have ever witnessed as a Celtic supporter, and it will live long in the memory. Every member of the team and the supporters gave their all on Wednesday night, and I felt it showed today.
Many of the players seemed lethargic, with one of the few exceptions being the ever energetic Tony Watt. Having previously hammered St Johnstone 5-0 in the League Cup less than a fortnight ago, perhaps it isn’t a surprise that many people, including myself, believed there would be a similar outcome today. However, after another mediocre performance, we have only managed to take a single point from a potential six against St Johnstone this season.
Do I think we will win the league? Yes, but I’ve never been an individual who believed we would win it by twenty or thirty points this season. Without some inevitable defeats to Rangers, the other teams in the league will pick up more points this season, and we must guard against complacency. Whether the players were tired, complacent, or a mixture of both is largely irrelevant. Our league form has been inconsistent to say the least.
Whilst European Football is our most glamorous endeavour, we must, as a Club and as a support, be wary of becoming preoccupied with it. On the grand scheme of things, I’m not too worried as yet domestically. However, if we were to end up in a position in say, February or March, where Hibs or any other side had a points advantage over us, I could foresee a scenario where we collectively all awoke and thought “hang on a minute here, we really need to start winning!”
All in all, I can only congratulate Neil and his team for their epic display on Wednesday night. It really was something special, but European hangovers must be something we all aim to avoid.
Neil Lennon will have put out his side today and expected them to be capable of winning, in the same way he did when we played Kilmarnock and Dundee United, but on all three occasions, the team have failed in this regard. Is this a huge problem? No, not yet, but we must aim to make sure it doesn’t become one.