Kevin Graham with A Celtic State of Mind – No Stockholm Syndrome as Lenny’s Celtic return in style

I can’t tell you the way I feel,
Because the way I feel is oh so new to me.
This is confusion, am I confusing you?

Rumour and confusion.

We all know the rumour. There has been a change in match preparation. The players are unhappy with instructions. So, rejoice as Twitter shows them arriving on the team bus and not in cars.

What about the confusion? Are we playing like Brendan Rodgers Celtic or Neil Lennon’s Celtic? Against Cluj, Neil blamed our start on Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic and the good bits on Neil Lennon’s Celtic. We also have the confusion of the reward for getting through this tie. We are told it is a consultation. Others are told that it’s a celebration.

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This is confusion, am I confusing you?

Last week, we were told that Christopher Jullien and Boli Bolingoli weren’t up to the task. What’s changed in the space of a week? Managerial hubris is not a good look after managerial errors the previous week and both players started. We have been conditioned to look at their weaknesses and mistakes. It was 40 minutes before Boli lost the ball. It was as if he remembered his own press and reputation instead of concentrating on playing the game. He linked well with Mikey Johnston. Mikey Johnston who was so fleet-footed and slight that the floodlights failed to cast his shadow while the AIK players took turns to kick him.

Christopher Jullien loved the direct play of our opponents. Loved the grapple. Loved the aerial duels. Loved the referee missing him grabbing an attacker by the throat. Loved intercepting counter attacks. He enjoyed tonight. A breakthrough or false dawn? Only time has that answer.

Jozo Simunovic didn’t love tonight. The ball and the physical nature of the game weren’t his friends. Kristoffer Ajer was more than competent at right-back while proving that he is not a right-back.

On the day that we sign Fraser ‘La Gran Muralla’ Forster, Craig Gordon was steady in the sticks. He didn’t have much to do but did you notice it? He kicked the ball long. Long and often. Not seen around these parts since Neil was last here. Craig must have been listening. A good trait when the competition has just been signed.

The midfield purred along like a cat sitting on a window sill. We know what they bring when they bring it. And they brought it – maybe not a nine out of ten performance but a decent seven. McGregor and Brown did the dirty stuff. The stuff that needs to be done and needs to be tidied. Ryan Christie was just an energy bundle. Finding a space where there was none. Winning balls back when he had no right. The high press begins when he says it begins. It began often.

Our scorers are jewels on the crown. A crown that could be shined more often and sometimes looks like one you pick up from a drive-thru, but still, it’s our crown.

James Forrest scored the important opener; an opener that, after wave after wave of attack in the first-half, was becoming a troublesome proposition.  Odsonne Edouard has the serenity of a beautiful garden at dawn but that garden has the bite of triffids and sucks defenders into a maze of flicks and pace and power and into positions they don’t want to be in.

We could pay for not scoring the third. Not ending the tie. AIK was a line of black who showed a few minutes of purpose and danger. They like to make things physical and contest loose balls. They had two half-chances. The Green Brigade produced a banner that saw Peter, Dermot and Neil in a green car. The wording said: “Don’t sleep at the wheel” as the car drives down a road to nowhere.

Whilst we can be happy tonight, the wording rings true for the next week or so.

Kevin Graham

⭐️ Man of the Match with @FansBet
🇸🇪 Celtic 2 AIK Stockholm 0

1️⃣ Odsonne Édouard
2️⃣ Mikey Johnston
3️⃣ Ryan Christie

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