The commentators called this one correctly, I think, when they said that they “had seen this movie before” at Kilmarnock v Celtic and Livingston v Rangers. For a long time too, I felt that this one as well was going to be a disappointing draw as Celtic for all their possession simply lacked the cutting edge in the last third, and displayed on occasion a woeful lack of imagination.
But our new Swiss star Albian Ajeti popped up near the end and with a remarkable piece of athleticism, (and a little luck) scored the one goal that gave Celtic their reward for their outfield play and the three points that may yet prove so vital at the end of the season.
Dundee United, methodical and well-organised, will cause a lot of problems for other teams as well, and Tannadice Park has always been a difficult place to win at, so it ended up a very good day for Celtic, and gives us a platform for our vital European tie on Wednesday night against Ferencvaros.
Odsonne Edouard has me tearing my hair out on occasion. A very good goal on Wednesday night was followed tonight with a clumsy, slow, blunt performance in which he was always a potential but seldom an actual threat.He did have hard luck, however, when he hit the post however. Elyounoussi as well is a man who came down to earth with a bump tonight after being praised to the skies. Maybe it is a bit too much to ask for brilliance EVERY game, but that basically is what Ten-in-a-Row this year will demand. Fortunately we have a Manager who knows how to handle substitutions, and he certainly got things right tonight.
Three aspects of Celtic’s play frustrated me beyond measure tonight. One was the propensity to shoot over the bar. To borrow from Any Walker, you have to “work the goalkeeper”! Ryan Christie in particular tonight was far too inclined to lean back and fire high, and he kept doing it! It is a shame to criticise such a fine player and a young man with such an excellent attitude, but he really should work on this aspect of his game.
Another was the reluctance to shoot first time then the ball comes in the box. This gives us the element of surprise. The longer we plaster about with the ball in the box, the more organised the defence becomes. I repeat the old maxim of kick the ball once in the penalty box,(whether attacking or defending) and make it a good “once”!
The final frustrating thing about Celtic’s play tonight came in the amount of times a full back or, in the second half, James Forrest got down the flank and crossed only to find no-one there and the ball drifted away harmlessly. This seems to indicate a lack of cohesion and the ability to “read” each other’s intentions. A “good” cross only becomes “good” when there is someone waiting for it! Again something to work on, and hopefully something that will improve as the season progresses.
But three points, so let’s not grumble too much. Ferencvaros on Wednesday night is a game which we can see on our season ticket, I understand. I look forward to it.