At first it wasn’t clear if Gordon Strachan was responding. Guess one cannot believe every thing one reads about Keano. Celtic slipped up during all the fuss. And what a horrible slip up it was the team that is against was then bottom of the league.
The faithful were shocked. Nonetheless we expected to see a Strachan team roller coast in this manner. It was the same at Southampton. Even Coventry further back in his career was indeed far more inconsistent. Strachan teams, though, improve as he moves along in his career.
When his teams lose, the wrath of Strachan is immediate. His teams usually gets things right and go on an unbeaten streak of 5 or 6 games. At Celtic it has happened right from the get go. A horrendous European start was followed by a very good run, and this time they were all wins. Good news for the faithful, not so good for the SPL teams.
Then just when you think the Bhoys are on the up and up down they plunge again to that ugly defeat by Dunfermline. Perhaps all the fuss about the Keane buy is only an excuse. It did seem to have distracted the Hoops.
While taking a sigh of relief upon reaching the top of the table Celtic also let their guard down. They probably thought the job was done. And with the luxury of having a few points ahead of the rest complacency set in.
One thing is for sure, Strachan will not put too much stock in this short-term lead, after such a dreadful loss. But it has come at the right time for Celtic. Right before the Christmas season. By now Strachan has shown everybody at the club yet another side of his competitive edge. The fiery Scot is at his most lethal after defeats as we have already seen this season.
Things are settling down once again and now the Bhoys and the boss will take an inventory. They now know they must keep on winning. And Strachan demands for clean sheets will now have more weight in game preparation. The work rate will pick up in the team and the Hoops could go on a roll. A forward roll that other teams may not be able to stop.
It spells danger for Rangers who are way too many points behind their archrivals. Based on form, it’s very possible that Celtic could further open the gap on the Blues. It’s a gap that Strachan has in the back of his mind. How could a Celt not enjoy the tough times they are having at Ibrox? The chips are really down for Alex McLeish and his Gers. At the weekend they could only manage a 2-2 tie with Falkirk. Rangers are now in 5th place with Kilmarnock now in 4th, Hibs 3rd, Hearts 2nd and Celtic on top.
At the weekend Strachan’s Bhoys did the roller coaster thing yet again. Just when it seemed like the Hoops were sinking Aiden McGeady pulled the brakes. Aberdeen shot into the lead when Jamie Winter scored in the 53rd minute. Celtic was having none of it and McGeady responded within 3 minutes. The Hoops were back on track 2 minutes later when Stilian Petrov put the Bhoys 2-1 up. It was only a matter of 11 minutes when Paul Telfer made it 3-1 for Celtic, game over.
Aberdeen were stunned. The home crowd was silenced. Celtic pounced out of nowhere in such a short time. The response was immediate and it frightened Aberdeen, and it must have warned the rest of the league, especially Rangers. Now that run of wins is more likely than ever before. All the signs are there. Strachan seems to be coming through and so does everything else around him. After holding talks the club also expects to hear from Keane this week if he will come join Celtic.
Strachan talked about regaining confidence after the win over Aberdeen. The Celtic boss put the win down to character throughout the team. He also contributed the win to Celtic’s improvement in their play. The coach was very pleased with technical execution in the final third. Finishing at the end of the day was the key difference between Celtic on the weekend compared to last week’s loss to Dunfermline.
The Scottish Premier League has been warned. Celtic at the minute is very dangerous under Strachan. And if the Hoops go with form wins over the right teams are up for grabs over the Holiday Season. Up first is a home game with Hibs. Both teams will treat this game whether they like it or not as a 6-pointer. It’s simply that time of year; the race for the title has begun. The Bhoys will be up for this one make no mistake but it’s the following road game against Inverness CT where they must remain on their toes. It’s the same in their next game when they are at home to Livingston. It’s the so-called weaker teams that Celtic must destroy and not take for granted. A lesson they are learning and must not forget.
They are capable — Strachan will make sure of that. Buying Keano would help that cause. The remainder of the year could be Celtic’s time to open a gap between the table toppers and the rest of the league. If the Hoops go on a roll they could easily set the tone on Jan. 1 2006 when they are away to Hearts. A win here for the Bhoys and all bets will be called off on an Old Firm run in.
In fact bets are leaning towards McLeish’s future at Rangers. While many fellow professionals have stated how good a manager he is, McLeish is in trouble. We did expect his trying period to go all the way to yesterday against Inter Milan in the Champions League. Anything can happen in football. However CL success will have to continue if McLeish is to stay on because domestically right now it’s disastrous for Rangers and their boss. They must win all their games over the Christmas to at least stay in touch with Celtic. Furthermore it looks like Strachan is going to strengthen the team. If that strength is a Roy Keane purchase, Celtic will win the league.