What’s the goalie daein?
Okay, two questions. That, and will Neil McCann be in the dugout for tonight’s match?
The pressure of being a poor manager currently trying to avoid Dundee getting relegated is clearly getting to poor Neil. Not even his EBT enhanced bank account can really give him comfort, and the pressure got to him in a recent 4-0 defeat to St Johnstone.
McCann’s unprovoked attack of St Johnstone goalkeeper Zander Clark, as well as several other members of St Johnstone’s bench, somehow resulted in both McCann and Clark being punished by the SFA. That’s probably up there with the time I got punished at school for some other kid punching me, so I’ve some sympathy for Clark and none for McCann.
Of course, McCann has appealed the decision while Clark has just bizarrely accepted it. So McCann was in the dugout at the weekend, and if the appeal isn’t heard before tonight’s match then he’ll be in the dugout at Celtic Park too.
Let’s hope so.
The man was out of his depth as a pundit, and has been shown up to be a poor manager in his time at Dundee as well. However, it looks like he might do just enough to keep Dundee in the Premiership as Ross County and Partick Thistle are still four points behind Dundee in their attempts to escape relegation and the relegation playoff.
We shall see in the remaining games of the season how things at the bottom play out, but right now McCann’s Dundee visit Celtic Park as we are now within ten points of the title.
Only three teams can actually stop Celtic winning the title now. With Celtic on 71 points ahead of tonight’s match, Hibernian can still reach 76, our neighbours across the city can get to 77, and Aberdeen can reach 80. With goal differences of +14, +25 and +16 respectively, our +42 would seem to indicate that we only need to get to 80 ourselves but officially it’s 81 to be sure.
Three more points tonight would be a big step towards that now, and keep the momentum going from Saturday’s 3-0 win over Ross County and hopefully into the game at Hamilton at the weekend.
Our results against Dundee this season so far have been three wins out of three without conceding a goal. In September it was a 4-0 win at Dens Park in the League Cup quarter final with two goals in each half – Scott Sinclair and James Forrest in the first half, then Callum McGregor and Forrest again in the second half.
A month later in the league it was a 1-0 win at Celtic Park thanks to a goal from Olivier Ntcham, while the league win at Dens Park in December saw Forrest and Leigh Griffiths ensure a 2-0 win during the festive period.
Of course, tonight’s game was due to take place several weeks ago, in between our wins at Pittodrie and Ibrox. But thanks to the wonderful “Beast from the East” – no, I don’t mean McCann – the game was snowed off and I got away with not writing the blog for the game that day.
Dundee’s heavy defeat to St Johnstone came just after that postponement, and since then they’ve lost 1-0 at Pittodrie and drew 1-1 on Sunday at home to Hearts. As one Hibernian wag suggested, 32 years too late for Hearts to get that draw at Dens.
God bless Albert Kidd.
Anyway, Dundee have only won two league games out of a possible nine in 2018, but those came against Hamilton and Partick Thistle so that’s why they’re in a reasonable position to avoid relegation. Mind you, they also lost 4-1 last month to Ross County, and took a replay to narrowly defeat Inverness in the Scottish Cup before going out to Motherwell the following round.
But it’s worth noting that Dundee are probably disappointed they didn’t take more from their game against Hearts. Although they lost a very early goal, they came back well to equalise midway through the first half and were the better team throughout the game. Craig Levein was glad to come away with a point, which is a far cry from the Hearts that ended Celtic’s unbeaten run at the end of last year.
Dundee’s defeat to Aberdeen before that was a one-sided affair, but they still did enough to keep Aberdeen to a single goal victory.
But what about our camp? Well, let’s go back to the question earlier…
Scott Bain is daein nothing tonight as we’re up against his parent club and he is therefore ineligible. However, Craig Gordon is reportedly back fit and may play tonight, which can only be good news for us as long as he’s not rushed back. Failing that, Dorus de Vries would return.
Unfortunately Kieran Tierney is still out and may even miss out at the weekend, so his next game might come at Hampden. In better news, Leigh Griffiths reckons his calf muscle injury problems are behind him, and he’ll be looking to take another step towards his Celtic century of goals against his former club. He’s on 97 now, so go on Leigh, grab a hat trick tonight and do it in style!
That’s assuming you get to play ahead of Moussa Dembele of course! That’s not a guarantee.
Another one returning from injury is Stuart Armstrong. After coming off the bench in a couple of games, he started against Ross County and seemed back to his best once more. His goal at the start of the second half certainly helped banish any concerns that Ross County might benefit from their boost of being down to ten men (copyright Captain Trackie).
Some have suggested that Andrew Davies disgraceful assault of Scott Brown should see him receive more than just a two game ban, but the SFA have all but suggested that’s all he’ll get and that Brown can continue to be the target of Scottish Football’s thugs.
So that draw at the weekend won’t be the only thing that Craig Levein is happy about then.
What matters tonight is that Celtic get another three points on the board and move to within seven points of seven in a row. If doing that is another nail in the coffin of Neil McCann’s managerial career, well that would be a nice cherry on top.
Krys (Twitter @krys1888)