Firstly, I had no reason to single out the injured South Korean in the title – I think his work rate, goals & assists can not be dismissed in the games he has played thus far. Therefore it is only sheer coincidence that the balance of the midfield looked somehow more, erm..balanced I suppose last night against Rennes.
The main point is the first word – consistency. It’s not been there all season, the team have ambled from triumph to disaster all season and last weeks’ double header against Hibs was the prime example. In the first League Cup game, the Bhoys turned the game on its head after the break with a James Forrest inspired rout – a few days later in front of their own fans they lacked gusto, purpose and imagination as the Edinburgh side took a comfortable point.
In just three days Celtic make the short trip across Lanarkshire to second placed Motherwell – which in itself is a hard-line to swallow let alone stare at in black & white. Celtic need to show the same togetherness, spirit and fight they displayed to the fans coming off the pitch last night when Neil Lennon went round congratulating every beaming bhoy in a Hooped jersey. No hint of in-fighting, headbutts or general dressing room malaise were on show and even everyone’s favourite painter & decorator, Garry Parker was leaping about like he had just won a Nationwide contract with House of Fraser.
The celebrations last night following the final goal were an indication of the camaraderie that does lie within the squad – as Gary Hooper saluted the fans, most of the team were just behind him in a communal hug – something I have missed in the past month or so. One player that stands out in the handful of games he has started and an integral part in last nights comeback was Victor Wanyama. A collossus in midfield, whenever he has the ball – HE has the ball and don’t dare try to dispossess him, as he stands like an immovable force of ultimate strength and moves with all the majesty of a marauding gazelle. His battling nature also helped the topsy-turvy life of Beram Kayal manifest itself in a combative, positive display like days of yonder (well last year really!). Derek Rae, the ESPN commentator on the night, noted the pride with which Wanyama takes when wearing the Hoops and the tempo and effort he puts in whilst playing for Celtic, is of a level of importance which could turn the season in our favour. He could be our V for Victory akin to the Seville journey! (FK SuduVa, Blackburn RoVers, Celta Vigo, LiVerpool, BoaVista etc).
Lennon also described last night as miraculous due to the injury hoodoo which left him without a handful of regulars before the game, and one less in Glenn Loovens during it. The upside being a few of his influential players will be available on Sunday and with Emillio Izzaguire due back in January – hopefully a swing in favour to the East End of Glasgow can start taking full effect. With Naismith ruled out for the rest of the season and the A-bomb ticking behind Shooter McGavin’s eyes like a pinball, the release of Jelavic in January could be a decision taken out of their hands.
If on Sunday evening or Monday morning I am penning an obituary to this team, I will be at a loss when thinking back to last nights euphoria. I feel the momentum will be with us and see no reason to fear the Steelmen – providing we show our mettle.