Motherwell v Celtic: ‘The Battle of Fir Park’ – Celtic must call on spirit of 2016 to emerge victorious

As our Editor, David alluded to earlier this week, Celtic has a chance to put a real run of wins together during the upcoming weeks. Our schedule looks reasonably smoother after we have visited Tyncastle, Ibrox, Pittodrie and of course, the Toni Macaroni Stadium. After a grinding result against the Dons, our attention is now solely focused on Fir Park. And here is the starting eleven…

Ange’s away results have cetainly been a mixed bag. In all the games we lost away from home it could be argued we should have won, but instead returned to Paradise potless. Whilst the opposite could be said of our match up at Pittodrie. A match in which we played like a losing team in large parts, but nonetheless emerged victorious; snatching victory from the jaws of defeat as the saying goes. This will be an invaluable learning curve for both Ange and the players, helping them understand the unique demands required to succeed in the SPFL.

The most aggravating facet to the game in this country, is that you can dominate teams from start to finish but walk away with nothing. Of course, this is hardly new. Teams always set-up against Celtic to stifle their play and engage in a physical battle, in order to put our talented players off their game. Frustrate and bully is the Modus Operandi on most accounts away from home – scratch that, at Celtic Park too!

:Boli Bolingoli of Celtic during the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Livingston FC and Celtic FC at The Toni Macaroni Arena on 18 September, 2021.. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Today though will provide a slightly different sort of challenge to a couple of weeks ago against Aberdeen. Motherwell will no doubt be highly physical and motivated to deny Celtic any breathing space in North Lanarkshire. However, they are full of confidence and belief at this moment in time after a decent run of form. Their boss Graham Alexander, all but revealed this yesterday, when he said his team go into the game with “more than hope”. Celtic must be very careful not to underestimate this Well side today.

An extremely hard-working side – as evidenced with their comeback at Ibrox – Motherwell have a steely determination (pardon the pun), especially at Fir Park against the Glasgow sides. Previous years have saw some tasty encounters at this ground, and the one that springs to mind most is the game in Brendan Rodgers first season as Celtic boss. A breathtaking game of football, Motherwell gave their all that day in December 2016. Celtic, as we all know, went on to win the game 4-3 with a delightful curling effort from our very own Wizard of Oz, Tom Rogic.

Photo: Andrew Milligan

Celtic, on the face of it, won the game with a piece of individual brilliance and talent. However, Brendan Rodgers understood this talent had to be offset by grit and solidarity in the battle of the field. For Celtic to begin to play our open, expansive, football away from home under Ange, we must first win the war – always. Rodgers never wavered in this philosophy that hard work must be at the heart of everything Celtic do to become Champions. These games aren’t easy. But winning Championships never is. We must be prepared to go to war in these games.

Today I feel that Cameron Carter-Vickers will be key to victory at a tough venue. He will have the job of trying to combat Motherwell’s directness and physicality up top. Ex-Celtic prodigy, Tony Watt and Kevin van Veen will be a handful for the Hoops defence today. With crosses into the box likey to be a the focus of Well’s attacking play, Carter-Vickers – and Starfelt for that matter – must be vigilant attacking the ball in the air. Up at Aberdeen we conceded again from a corner. Nothing spectacular, just a yard stolen and then in off a shoulder. These are the types of mundane goals that ruin title bids. It’s time we cut them out for good; both individually and collectively.

Tony Watt of Motherwell celebrates after scoring . (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

From middle-to-front, the team must press in formation with one-another. We should come out of the traps flying and try to get that early goal to settle nerves and provoke Graham Alexander’s team to open the game up. If we do succeed in this objective, we MUST find a way to get that second goal and try to kill them off. For too long, Ange’s teams have not put opposition to the sword. That ruthless streak is still missing from this Celtic team and was on show in both the Betis and Bayer games. For all our good play, we did not convert this into goals. There has to be a seachange in this mentality. Be unforgiving and remind the SPFL the reason why we won 9 Championships on the bounce.

The surprise could be sprung in midfield and the forward areas. I had a feeling Ange might stick with big Nir Bitton in the centre of the park, despite his mistake at Pittodrie for the goal, but that would of course negate Ange’s attacking instincts so Bitton in on the bench. Irrespective of what is continually fired at Bitton, he brings a wealth of experience and calmess to the team in his actual position. His passing and physicality are suited to the type of game that could unfold today at Fir Park so expect to see him on at some  stage. The same applies to Giorgos Giakoumakis who is getting closer to a starting spot but that’s not happening today. With Ange probably bearing in mind the fatigue that could easily creep into Kyogo Furuhashi after being away on duty for Japan, expect a change after an hour or so.

Regardless of who starts, Celtic are in no position to carry passengers. We have fell into an early hole and now every game is like a cup final – at the risk of sounding cliché. We need that fire back that all the great Celtic teams had. Last-gasp winners away from home which tilt the title in your favour come May. Last week at Pittodrie there was signs in this side that it was within this group of players to find a way to win. Let’s see them repeat the feat and call on the spirit of 2016 to keep us in the hunt.


Meanwhile, watch the game from 2016 at Fir Park on the Celtic website to whet the appetite…

SALE NOW ON! 50% OFF INVINCIBLE & ICICLE while stocks last! Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys has sold out. Harry Hood – Twice as Good is published end October, pre-order now!

About Author

I'm a Garngad Bhoy through and through. My first ever Celtic game was a friendly against Italian side Parma at Celtic Park, in 2002. Currently a student of English Literature and Education at the University of Strathclyde for my sins. Favourite game would be a toss up between beating Manchester United with that Naka freekick, or the game against the Oldco when Hesselink scored in the dying seconds. I'm still convinced Cal Mac is wasted playing that far back.

Comments are closed.