CELTIC spent last night at their pre-match hotel in Dunblane, preparing for the the short drive up the A9 at lunchtime for the 3pm Scottish Cup quarter final against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.
This is the fourth an final quarter final of the weekend with Hibs, Hearts and Aberdeen all progressing the the semi-finals at Hampden at the expense of Inverness Caley Thistle, the Rangers and St Mirren.
Celtic will fill three stands today in the third Scottish Cup away tie of the season – the supporters who went to Maryhill, Cumbernauld and Perth should – if we get through – get some kind of priority for the semi-final regarding tickets, surely?
Let’s win today before worrying about that.
Was the television at Dunblane Hydro tuned into the action at Tynecastle last night? If it was it would certainly have been a pick-me-up for the players who will still be kicking themselves after that shock, freak result against Copenhagen on Thursday.
The Rangers fans chanted ‘There’e only one team in Europe’ early in the game against Hearts but by the end they were baying for blood, their frustration at yet another trophy-free year boiling over.
Yes Celtic might collapse in the league and throw away their 12 point advantage, the Rangers might win the Europa League and pigs might fly. The Rangers fans at Tynecastle yesterday knew it was all over and so too did the manager Steven Gerrard who suggested that he’s about to walk away.
So Celtic’s bad week in Europe was escliped by the Rangers collapse in the Scottish Cup and you wonder of old Graeme Murty will be sitting in the Ibrox dug-out when Celtic head over there in a fortnight.
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Neil Lennon was reflecting on the events on Thursday night when he spoke to the Media, as reported by Scottish Sun. “The players were devastated because it was a great opportunity lost after having such a great campaign, he said. “We started the year brilliantly. But I think it will galvanise them.
“Is it now about another cup and another league title? Absolutely. They owe it to themselves. I hope they take it out on the opposition going forward, and we do our jobs and still make it a season to remember.
“The Europa League campaign up until last Thursday had been very good. I didn’t think we deserved to lose against Copenhagen. If you’re going to make mistakes like we did then you’re going to get punished.
“Of course, there will be a mountain of criticism coming their way and probably my way and the backroom staff’s too. It might be a bit unjustified, but that is just the nature of a club as big as this with the expectation levels here.
“I’ve got good players, but they are not robots. We had won every game more or less since we came back in 2020. We had a couple of mad moments in an important game the other night, it happens. The players have got my total backing.
“Picking them up is my job now and I’ll do everything I can to do that. They know they made mistakes in a game they were in total control of. Does it mean added pressure for the St Johnstone game? I don’t know, maybe.
“The team was right on Thursday night. We got a little bit antsy for ten or 15 minutes after their opener, but then we got our goal back.
“Who lifts the manager? My family and my friends. The people who know me. It is a sore one, but I’ve had to dismiss it as quickly as possible. You can analyse it to death, but what you can’t do is legislate for basic individual errors you don’t expect from good players who have been brilliant for me.
“That’s why I’m not here to criticise them. We know we made mistakes. We threw the tie away. We’ve looked at where it went wrong and hopefully we can eradicate that going forwards. But we win as a team and we lose as a team. If any flak comes my way I will take it and take the pressure off the players, because they have been magnificent.
“I’m sitting here, a year in, with three trophies and it is all down to them. People like Jozo Simunovic, Odsonne Edouard, Callum McGregor and Scott Brown. I’m not for one minute going to criticise them. As a team we made basic errors against Copenhagen that you don’t see coming.”
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