What is it with Celtic supporters and conspiracies?
The past week has been full of them spouting off about how their
1-0 win over Blackburn in the UEFA Cup first
leg hasn't been given the merit it deserves in the Scottish media.
Regular readers of this column will know that we take great pleasure
in giving the media a good roasting when they deserve it. The
last four words in the previous sentence are crucial though. In
the case of Celtic v Blackburn, what do the press and TV
stand accused of? Only of administering a verdict on Celtic's
performance that was shared by almost everyone who watched the
Celtic were outplayed, outthought, outfought and outwitted.
A typically sneaky poacher's strike from Henrik Larsson gave them
a precious advantage for the second leg that few would claim they
That's not being anti-Celtic. It's not being part of some
English/Orange/Masonic conspiracy. It's simply telling
the truth. Celtic's midfield was diabolical. Lennon, Lambert,
Thompson and Petrov were anonymous. Up front, Agathe
saw plenty of the ball but did little other than to hump hopeful
punts into the box. Ex-Rover Chris Sutton was right at
home with his old team-mates. Virtually every time he passed
the ball he found a Blackburn player.
Not every Celtic player had a poor game. Balde and Valgaeren
were impressive in defence - they had to be. And Rab Douglas
put in a fine shift when it was needed. John Hartson's
arrival off the bench put some steel into the Celtic attack. Larsson
was hardly in the game but in the end he got the only goal - one
that could prove crucial come the return in Lancashire.
Let's get our position clear. This website wants Celtic to win.
Scottish football NEEDS Celtic to win. For our champion side
to be eliminated over two legs by a mid-ranking Premiership side
would be a terrible result. Yes, the Parkhead team were lucky
in Glasgow but if they can score at Ewood Park that should
be enough to take them into the next round. In eight home games
this season, Blackburn have won just twice. That said, they've
only failed to score in two of these matches.
Since the two opponents who kept Souness's side from hitting
the target are Sunderland and Aston Villa, surely
its not asking too much of Celtic that they do at least as well
as these Premiership strugglers?
And those Parkhead moaners would do well to reflect on this:
Do they really think that scraping a lucky win over a team like
Blackburn merits shouting from the rafters? Is that how low their
sights are? If so, then God help them if they ever fulfil their
ambition to play in the Premiership.
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For the League Cup from 1946 click here
Nice to see the Sunday Mail continues to live
down to its reputation. They did a big double-page spread prior
to Celtic v Blackburn outlining every game between Scottish
clubs and other UK teams in European competition. Except that they
missed out Rangers against Leeds in the old Fairs
Cup and Hibs v Liverpool in the UEFA Cup. And
that's just the ones that leapt straight to mind. Who knows how
many others they forgot?
Maybe it was because they were all excited about their "exclusive"
with Graeme Souness in the same issue. Call us old-fashioned
if you will but in our book an exclusive means just that - a story
exclusive to that paper. Not one that comes from a press conference
attended by all and sundry. And certainly not one that the Observer
covered in rather better detail the same day.
No one should have been surprised to see Hibs
concede two goals to Hearts inside the last four minutes,
thus losing the Edinburgh derby and bringing a five-match winning
run to an end. Any Kilmarnock supporter could have told the
Hi-bees that for all his undoubted managerial talent, Bobby Williamson
is cursed when it comes to local derbies.
Going by Ayr's results against Killie during Williamson's
spell at Rugby Park, Hibs supporters should prepare themselves for
a sustained period of Jambo supremacy. Of course Williamson
also brought the Scottish Cup to Ayrshire as well. Now there's a
dilemma for Hibs fans. Would constant derby humiliation be worth
it if they could land the old trophy after more than 100 years
We said before taking our mid-season break that we
hoped to come back to find Scotland off the mark in Euro
2004, a new manager in place at Tannadice and that Darryl
Broadfoot would start writing about football in The Herald.
We also said that we'd settle for just one of these provided it
was the first. And lo and behold it came to pass. Scotland not only
got all three points against Iceland but turned in a decent
performance against Canada as well. Of course Dundee United
still haven't got a boss and the last we saw in print of Darryl
he was getting his jollies watching checkout girls getting dressed
up for Halloween. But you can't have everything.
Celtic's tie is finely-balanced