Sandman’s Definitive Ratings – Celtic v The Martindale Cartel

SANDMAN’S DEFINITIVE RATINGS: CELTIC v THE MARTINDALE CARTEL…

“Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible.”

– Frank Herbert. “Dune” ‘Book Three: Scottish Referees’.

ROXIE – 7/10 – Big Joe and his big toe – that’s why we’re still in the cup and your cat took off its crash helmet after the final whistle. Thank Ghod for the Man With The Retirement Plan – big character, bigger saves. If anyone deserves a Hampden silverware finale to his glittering career it’s this legend.

GREGGS THE BAKER – 5/10 – Perhaps one of his most inconspicuous performances of the season. Nary a run or involvement of note from a player cut out for a game of this level where he can get down and dirty with the type of limited footballing gangsters he crawled his way up and out of.

WAYNE GRETZKY – 7/10 – Battled his way through a terrific 90; just put the head down and went at it whistle to whistle. Was probably the most troubling thorn in their flank until Jamesy appeared like retro GI Joe Jesus to torment. Would have been a glorious strike for most likely the winner had he not been foiled by fine ‘keeping.

OF JUSTICE – 5.5/10 – We need to talk about Liam – Mr.Consistent for months, now a player screaming for a rest as staleness begins to infest his game. Rolled, shaky, undecisive. Reboot the ginger rebel Baresi!

RAQUEL – 5.5/10 – Such a lovely baller, is/was Raquel… But at times not switched on enough nor robust enough to command a defence. Strength and pace fazed him today; never looked at ease, lucky to be on the winning side.

: Stephen Welsh of Celtic looks dejected after Tete Yengi of Livingston (not pictured) scores his team’s second goal during the Scottish Cup Quarter Final match between Celtic and Livingston at Celtic Park on March 10, 2024. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

TONIO IWATAO – 6.5/10 – Solid, thankfully, as problems ahead and particularly behind had him scrambling over more ground than normal. He’s the perfect foil for the absent leader with his DM awareness, and showed a more confident, inventive side with a crucial role laying on Daizen’s third.

SAINT BERNARDO – 5.5/10 – Struggling too, but not entirely of his making. Being asked to fulfil the exact Corpus Christie role Buck Rodgers had the posh bhoy play 7 or 8 years ago. Yes folks, the tactics are that old…So the Benfica zombie-buster has to float between sometimes non-existent lines searching for an opening. A difficult mission; to his credit he perseveres.

THE BUILDER – 6/10 – Still awaiting the moment. Still awaiting the hero inside to step up and dominate lesser opposition. Again, he roved about but again he faded in and out of a match made for his guile. We saw plenty of class in bursts but he’s capable of bursting them at will.

TAKINTE – 6.5/10 – “Somebody wake up the flaming German!” And the shout reverberated around Lennoxtown and, well, wide awake Khun we got. Off-the-cuff performances by hitherto under-rated players often pop up in cup games such as these. Today was Nick’s moment to crane the necks of the support with some startling sparky play which induced murmurings of approval and a nascent buzz of excitement about the chilly stadium. Almost written off as a dud, this was an encouraging exhibition of ability in moments that mattered. Damn the hamstring curse of this be-devilled season.

DUNCAN IDAHO – 4/10 – Dune Part 2 is spectacular. Probably the finest cinematic experience of this century. He’s not in it. He was slain in the first one. Spoilers there, sorry…And our own swordmaster appeared to not be in today’s Parkheid production either. Stifled and swamped and tangled up by their Middle-Earth Ents in central defence, he had more trouble making contact with other hooped shirts than Jodie Foster and intra-dimensional civilisations pretending to be her Da… (See what I did there,  three times in one player rating, sci-fi and fantasy movie fans?). Anyway, the big ghuy has maybe run out of games to hold that number 9 position. Last week and today offer no more than a big English Championship unit, with a known, proven Eastern assassin waiting patiently in the shadows.

LORD KATSUMOTO – 7.5/10 MOTM – Daizen is happy. Daizen has hair now. From cueball to fuzzball and he’s never smiled so much. Staring in that dressing room mirror for an hour before the game firing himself up – ‘Yes, follicles grow! Yes, I believe! Yes, I can be Chewbacca in Hanami Cherry Blossom Festival parade next month!” And that invigoration translated into a stunning hat-trick before he reminded us all again that Daizen is still Daizen by smashing the crossbar into pieces from 3 yards out.

SUBS –

KILLER MUSHROOM – 7/10 – He’s deadly. He’s a natural born killer. He’s the Lisan al-Gaib (As it is written).And he’s far too humble. I’m not. This flaming nonsense has gone far enough. Play him, Rodgers, ya flamiing fraud. Suck up some sushi and kowtow to quality. Insist on servicing him at every opportunity and don’t let him wander out of opponents’ penalty areas upon pain of hari-kari. Jesus, the TITLE is right there in his boots! For HEAVEN’S SAKE.

Was I clear about that?

NED KELLY – 6/10 – Ooft, the kid nearly made another outlaw impact. Showed for the ball, demanded it, got so close to planting in a killer goal. The fact he was raging at himself augurs well.

JAMESY – 7/10 – He’s back! In a flash! The screams from around the dugout signalled his imminent arrival as Jamesy ‘changed’ into his strip. Jockstrap on last, girls…Then he was on, and how! Instantly livened up proceedings; here there and everywhere at pace and with intent, showing the world exactly why there’s wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling mirrors installed in every ladies’ public bathrooms in Prestwick. Livi didn’t have the luxury of reflection to warn of a Jamesy rampage incoming – before they knew it he was in behind them, and penetrating.

Yes, yes, I know…This was vintage Jamesy in his swansong season. Great impact : pace and nous that rattled a disciplined and stoic backline; a nightmare for them to handle – as always, ladies… – late in proceedings and a major factor in us digging out the win.

THE SHNAKE – 6/10 – Saved by the Japanese. Ah, the irony. The same men he’s marginalised at times until given no option, do the honourable thing and the only thing they could do – a hat-trick, a ruthless finish and a match-winning assist. It won’t change anything because The Ego won’t let it.

Despite the data, despite every bailout, we won’t get these Eastern exotic weapons utilised the way we know they can be. And you know why. So on we go persevering with Brendanball and every opponent in the country has it sussed and have lost their fear of the Celtic fireball that scorched their earth the past two years.

Be careful what you wish(ed) for…

MIBBERY – 5/10 – Well, another week, another gnashing of teeth as the MIBs have us on the VAR hook every 5 minutes or so. Why Gollum doesn’t explain they don’t neeed it due to the eyes in the back of his heid, I don’t know, but as the dubiety fell our way this afternoon and the voice in his ear intoned, ‘Ach, nah – it’s fur the Sellic…” his twisted grimaces were almost pleasurable to watch. Even if it also made me a little sick in my mouth.

Daizen Maeda of Celtic celebrates scoring his team’s first goal with teammates Paulo Bernardo and Nicolas-Gerrit Kuehn during the Scottish Cup Quarter Final match between Celtic and Livingston at Celtic Park on March 10, 2024 (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

OVERALL – 5.5/10 – “What an entertaining game of soccer,” agreed the cheery fans. A splendid way to spend Mother’s Day in the Glasgow drizzle, while over in Edinburgh it was Zombie Day. Thing is, nobody was saying that until the final whistle. With 5 minutes to go it was damn grim. Comfort had turned to struggle in that creepingly
inevitable way this season has plummeted from previous highs.

As Narco Davey brought the cartel to town for one last throw of the hand grenades, we expected… Well, an stress-free passage to Hampden. But nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, and what transpired was a lesson in competitive dedication from a bunch of jobbers doomed to relegation, bossed by an indefatigable fella who dug himself out of a hole and turned his life around, but who are all facing the end of a great run lasting years. Like, they were going down easy…

Disturbingly, without Calmac’s on-field guidance and motivation the psychological side of our game slips too; not to mention the tempo and structure of passages of play. We don’t blend and there’s nobody, it seems, ready to step into the bridge or into the breach when the skipper’s absent.

A similar story at the back as we appear as flimsy a as a Zombie transfer exclusive in the Scottish media; missing CCV means doors left open, confusion and inadequate physical presence. My preferred option is CCV and Rocky to take it to the season’s end. But today’s already being glossed over, despite yet another pretty narrow escape from disgrace. We’re through to the semis, but nobody was getting one after witnessing that struggle.

Ladies, a full explanation of above quip will be included below.*

So as the end of the year’s first quarter approaches there’s been no post-festive trophy winning surges to speak of. Sure, a stellar half or two, but that only served to remind us what’s achievable with a certain style of play we’ve disregarded this season…Shut up, Brendanistas; you know you want to chirp in there, but you know I’m dishing out truth soup. You taking?

There’s no doubt that to win anything this campaign Celtic are going to need quite a shift in approach to galvanise this squad and focus minds and boots on relentless winning attacking football, rather than the fractured and vulnerable tactical mess that has taken too much of a grip. Now clap your happy hands if you must, but this run-in isn’t going to be a cruise; more like trying to hitch a Dune sandworm ride.

*No it won’t.

Go Away Now

Sandman

All Photos by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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