Always start with the positive.
I enjoy this Europa League lark, but don’t let the PLC hear me say that. Winning games in Europe is fun. This season we have defeated Bosnian, Estonian and Swedish champions. We should have beaten the Romanian champions also. But, let’s not talk about that.
So, we can look forward to the draw tomorrow and prepare for WhatsApp groups pinging like hamstrings at Lennoxtown. Air prices, hotel prices, Google Maps and the idea that 12 hours in Frankfurt Airport is not that bad.
The bean counters? They’ll be happy at an unbudgeted windfall. Will they loosen up some purse strings now? If they looked at that bench and thought it was fine, then we are in trouble. If they looked at the bench and justified the treatment of Scott Sinclair, then we are also in trouble.
I’m getting negative now. So, I will continue. We can’t keep weans out a close. We don’t seem to have a defensive shape. We struggle with cross balls. But, we are patchwork. A centre-back at right-back, a centre-midfielder at centre-half, a goalkeeper that knows he is no longer first choice and a left-back whose confidence is rock bottom.
There is no jury in the land that wouldn’t find us guilty of mismanagement this window when looking at our team and bench tonight.
But, positive. If we can sort out the defence, get it settled, we are going to have a right good old exciting team, as our front four are fantastic. Odsonne Edouard is becoming a Jackson Pollock all of his own. The name Moussa Dembele no longer needs to be whispered in reverent tones. Edouard has developed into an all-rounder. AIK’s backline will have nightmares about him.
His ball for James Forrest is worthy of a GIF. James Forrest is surely worthy of a song now? An important goal, set up with a perfect change in body-shape then finished calmly. Ryan Christie is the ringleader of the tormentors – a Scott Brown of the front-line. The defenders win the ball, think the danger is cleared, then Christie just presses and wins it back. Getting the ball from Mikey Johnston is like trying to put an eel in a tote bag. The moment of the night was when he bamboozled Seb Larsson after the player dived for their penalty kick. Karma.
The champions of Sweden had moments. They rightly had moments. They were at home. They were two goals down. They had nothing to lose. In 16 minutes they showed more attacking intent than in 90 last week. We should have predicted their opening as we have seen that movie many times before. What if they hadn’t hit the post? Well, they did.
Our defence was cobbled together then changed after Ajer’s injury. I feel wrong criticising them due to this. We handled it and the players were honest. I’m pleased that Jullien got his goal. What was more pleasing was the player’s reaction to it. He seems to be a well-liked big fellow. Hopefully, he settles and that breeds confidence. Bolingoli? He’s going to have moments, but they were less frequent tonight as we took control of the second-half and ended up streets ahead on aggregate.
Again, if we can sort the defence, get it settled we should buckle-in, as it could be a great ride.
🍀 A CELTIC STATE OF MIND
⭐️ Man of the Match with @FansBet
🇸🇪 AIK Stockholm 1 Celtic 4
1️⃣ James Forrest
2️⃣ Odsonne Édouard
3️⃣ Bolingoli / Jullien