As the Rangers ease into top place in the league again it seems there is a crisis at Celtic. At least that’s how it will look on some social media and emerging as a headline on a Rangers media outlet somewhere.
Let’s do the simple facts first. When the Boli Bolingoli affair broke and Celtic had 2 matches postponed after dropping points away to Kilmarnock the first phase of a crisis broke. All the talk was about how many points the Rangers would be winning the league by over the next few weeks.
Of course it’s not worked out that way at all. Celtic have kept on winning, maybe not as well as everyone would like, but 3 point wins all the same. And after grinding out a 3-2 win over Livingston the Hoops went into top slot ahead of the Rangers game on Sunday.
Over that period the Rangers have dropped points, the latest being their 2-2 draw away to Hibs. That draw did allow them to leapfrog over Celtic by only 1 point rather than potentially 3 points ahead. No doubt we’ll see it described as Rangers going top, pulling away, opening a one point gap. That’s not unusual for the media in Scotland. The BBC are already in pole position with a technically correct headline.
Celtic fans should be delighted then. And they will always rejoice in seeing the Rangers drop points. But there’s still lots of talk about a crisis at Celtic and we’ll likely see and hear more about the Hoops’ problems to deflect from the struggling light blues and their injury issues.
What’s the crisis then? Well the recent Celtic performances haven’t been that overwhelming. Even an emphatic 5 goal win over Ross County wasn’t as good as it appears.
Celtic fans and the media have struggled to understand some starting line ups and formations. They’ve wondered about the lack of strikers up frontline, about Odsonne Edouard missing the Livingston match. Over recent weeks everyone wants to know why Turnbull isn’t playing, why N’tcham wasn’t starting more games, where is Soro, what about Klimala.
Concerns about the lack of a decent left back get aired often and of late the whispers about whether captain fantastic, Scott Brown, remains up for the challenge have turned into louder conversations. To be fair, that is an honest question mark to some extent and we are likely to see more rotation and differences across central midfield over the coming weeks.
And then when the squad is rotated and some players get a chance, all the talk is why not play a settled side? Does Neil Lennon know what he is doing? Our title winning, experienced manager very probably is better informed on the squads abilities than most of our armchair fans or reporters. The start of a season is often a little erratic as new players settle in and formations and relationships get established. This seasons early form compares very well to previous starts.
If there has to be a crisis every time Celtic keep winning and getting back to the top of the table, keep on playing new players and letting others develop their game time more slowly, then we’ll all have to live with that. If fans have to get worried because our new striker is easing himself in with a goal in most league games, or our new centre half keeps scoring at corners, so be it.
Very realistically, if the club can come through a difficult period with the chance to go clear at the top and still be settling in new signings then the real question is surely what crisis? Things to learn from and improve, yes, for sure. But crisis may be an exaggeration at Thai stage.