Relentless Celtic Retain the League Cup to Burst Beale’s Bubble

Heading into today’s final we all got a sense of how important a win would be. Not only would it be another cup safely tucked away in the already packed trophy cabinet at Celtic Park but today perhaps meant even more than that. Today was about proving our superiority over our city rivals once more. Since Michael Beale turned up at Ibrox, their fans have rediscovered their bravado lost under previous manager Giovanni van Bronkhorst.

He has reminded them of the heady days under Steven Gerrard when the club won its first trophy, the glory days when their team played in empty stadiums with no fans in sight. Their current captain has even been inducted into the Hall of Fame due to all his success in those days. Since that day things haven’t gone so well. Yes, van Bronkhorst got them to a Europa League final and delivered a Scottish Cup win. That wasn’t enough however. They want to be better than Celtic and who better to deliver this than the man they think was the brains behind Gerrard’s league win.

Since Beale has arrived their confidence has grown. They have pumped him up to be some sort of messiah, ready to lead a group of serial underachievers to great success and send Ange running off to England at the first opportunity. Although any of us normal folk who have watched them recently fail to see what the big fuss is about, they are quick to point to the run they have been on since Beale took over. Performances don’t matter, they are winners again and are ready to knock Celtic off their perch.

Except they weren’t.

In fact they weren’t even close.

This Celtic squad yet again followed their managers mantra and proved once more that they never stop. Yet another relentless performance that should have been a lot less hassle than we eventually made it. At 2-0 we were absolutely cruising. We were the better team throughout the game then a soft goal provided them an opportunity back into the tie. But you know what? This time I didn’t fear their comeback.Yes, for a small spell we seemed to lose our concentration but we recovered quickly and to be honest the final score flattered them. We had two clear cut chances to finish the game off near the end and squandered both (and ruined my correct score 3-1 bet!)

Photo Angus Johnston, at Hampden today for The Celtic Star

This Celtic team can be a joy to watch sometimes. They are a team who aren’t afraid of having the ball at their feet and are constantly looking to create chances. Their fitness is also something to behold and theRangers players were chasing shadows at certain points in the match, especially in the first half. The players all showed up today with all of them doing themselves a credit.

Photo Angus Johnston, at Hampden today for The Celtic Star

In my pre match prediction I said I thought Alastair Johnston would make a name for himself in this game and I thought he was tremendous today. In fact I thought the whole of the defence was solid. I’m not Carl Starfelt’s biggest fan and although i have been slightly critical of him in the past, I am always willing him to prove me wrong however as he seems a top fella, and today felt like it was the day. I thought he was excellent throughout but again couldn’t last the 90 minutes without a wobble. Thankfully nothing came from it and he and his colleagues at the back deserve all the praise coming their way.

Photo Angus Johnston, at Hampden today for The Celtic Star

Our midfield was dominant today. So much so in fact that Beale had to change his whole midfield at one point as they couldn’t get near us! Hatate is an absolute joy to watch and seems to just keep getting better and better. The sky is the limit for the young Japanese star. I also thought Mooy was excellent and for me Ange definitely made the right call starting him ahead of O’Riley. Calmac must be a managers dream as he never lets you down in these games and his performances seem to raise those of the players around him.

Photo Angus Johnston, at Hampden today for The Celtic Star

It seems like we are constantly talking about Daizen Maeda’s workrate but honestly I can’t think of a player I have saw for us who brings that much energy onto the pitch week after week. It’s absolutely incredible the amount of work he gets through both in an attacking sense and in defence. Unfortunately his end product wasn’t quite there today but he was still one of our most important players. Jota on the other wing had a quiet enough day although still looked dangerous at times. And Kyogo? What can you say. Another double in a cup final. ‘A special player’ said his captain afterwards. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Photo Angus Johnston, at Hampden today for The Celtic Star

Only slight frustration I had today was Joe Hart’s performance in goal. At least three times there were moments when he punched the ball when it would have been just as easy to catch, at least one which lead to a corner. Set pieces are probably one of our weaknesses so I don’t think giving them away cheaply helps the cause. Back to the basics of goalkeeping I think Joe. His post match interview was very poignant however so I’ll forgive and forget.

Photo Angus Johnston, at Hampden today for The Celtic Star

This seasons first piece of silverware once again resides in Celtic Park. We have a nice 9 point lead in the league and are still in the Scottish Cup. You just know Ange will be desperate to add his name to the roll of honour of Celtic managers to win the treble (although he wisely wont talk about it to the press). With the wind out of Beales sails across the city it is there for the taking. Let’s get it done.

We Never Stop

Conall McGinty

About Author

Hailing from Cushendall in the North of Ireland my formative years were spent watching Celtic during our barren spell through the 90's which meant I have appreciated our recent trophy-laden spell even more. Favourite matches home and away I've attended has to be beating Man Utd 1-0 at Celtic Park and being with my 2 brothers watching us beat Lazio 2-1 in Rome. Best away day experience? Has to be Munich with friends from Coatbridge...what a few days!

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