Smoking the Plastic Grass

I sometimes look at Scottish football and wonder what people have been smoking.

While international football was taking centre stage for the final time in 2018, and is now gone until March save for the Euro 2020 qualification draw on League Cup final day, Scottish football was getting all excited about very little.

£32 million worth of very little. This is the supposed value of all our TV deals in total from 2020. Neil Doncaster was delighted to announce that we had these new deals and completely unwilling to tell us the value because I suspect even he knew it was dreadful compared with other countries of our size and of our stature.

But we brought back control over kick off times and which games will be broadcast. Aye, right, and I’ve magic beans you’ll want to buy. 48 live games a season, you can pretty much guarantee what 38 of those will be – our away games and the away games of those across the city. Four Edinburgh derbies will probably be in there too, leaving just six games for the rest of the league to pick from. And most of these will be at lunch time to keep us out of the good slots that Sky will keep for their flagship English Premier League coverage.

In terms of taking back control, this deal may as well be called Brexit for all the good it will do.

The armchair Scottish fan isn’t happy though. With European games on BT Sport, League games on Sky and now Premier Sports picking up both cup competitions, you’d almost be cheaper to actually go to the games now than to try and stay at home and watch them.

All of this seems pretty ridiculous when you have the 25th biggest name in world football in your midst.

Yes, Celtic released the findings of an independent review and the figures were stunning. Celtic bring into Scotland every nine months the same as the commonwealth games managed. We’re that valuable.

If you ignore the fact the commonwealth games figures were wildly inaccurate in this study that is. I’m all in favour of highlighting the importance football has in this country in terms of what it brings in, but you don’t half devalue your point when a quick Google shows you up to be misleading.

Still, the action on the park is back again. Now we get into the dizzy period at the end of the calendar year where we pack in as many games as we can in the time that’s left. Eleven games lie between us and the new year, that’s a hefty schedule for the third year running.

I don’t know about you, but when I heard the European super league wouldn’t happen because there were plans for more European games and less domestic games I was quite delighted by that. As much as I like having lots of Celtic to watch, there’s a lot of other priorities at this time of year. Can we not play these games when it’s warm and sunny?!

First up of our rush go the finish of the year is a trip to the ironically named Hope CBD Stadium. I asked what people are smoking? Well somehow we ended up with a cannabis oil sponsor of a stadium that doesn’t have grass. That’s outstanding.

The plastic pitch of Hamilton is our third league game on an artificial surface. So far we lost at Kilmarnock and drew at Livingston, so hopefully it’s third time lucky. That draw last time out took us top of the league, but it’s so tight this year that we could very quickly be knocked off again if we don’t get back to winning ways.

Will Brendan Rodgers risk Kieran Tierney in this match? Tierney pulled out of Scotland’s double header with tightness in his legs and that was blamed by the national coach, Alex ‘Goldmember’ McLeish, on the artificial pitch at Livingston. If he’s right, can we afford go be without Tierney for the crucial games to come? Same could be said for Craig Gordon who is also being carefully taken care of recently.

There was good news this week when Leigh Griffiths and Scott Brown were back in training, along with the almost forgotten Nir Bitton. It’s unlikely we’ll see any of them today, but I’m sure they’ll all feature at some point very soon now in this busy schedule.

Our opponents probably welcomed the international break. In their last seven games they’ve won only once, but that was a 1-0 win at home to Livingston. In the other six games they failed to score in four of them, only scoring a single goal in the other two. They tend not to score much against Celtic in these games either, while we’ve won eight and drawn two of our last ten trips here.

That all suggest this should be another Celtic win. Perhaps it will be if were in the right mood. Certainly with the like of James Forrest in the team we’ll have a player with bags of confidence.

James became the first Celtic player in 110 years to score a hat trick for Scotland on Tuesday against Israel, Jimmy Quinn being his predecessor in that department. Indeed, adding that to the two he got against Albania meant he replicated Denis Law from 1963 in scoring two or more goals in consecutive games for Scotland.

Add those five goals to his recent Celtic form, which remember included four goals in the first half away to St Johnstone, and he’s now scored twelve goals in his last eleven games. That’s phenomenal consistency for a winger.

Someone might want to teach Kris Commons the meaning of that word given the nonsense he came out with this week. Or maybe just teach the latest former Celt now media turncoat some respect.

There should be no doubting the ability of James Forrest now. He’s doing it consistently at every level he plays at for both club and country. I’ve often had my doubts about him myself, but Brendan Rodgers has clearly found the secret to tapping into his potential. Long may we continue to see the benefits of that.

Krys (Twitter @krys1888)

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