Today was quite incredible. Rangers took the lead through a great strike, but within 20/25 minutes I was reminded of the recent Celtic v Hearts game. We were so much in control, every Celtic player knew that they and their team mates were better than the 11 individuals matched up against them. The comfortable nature with which Celtic players dealt with matters when pressured on the ball illustrated a level of confidence I’ve not seen in a Celtic team since the O’Neil years. Despite us having the considerably more youthful side, it really did seem like men against boys.
We live in a different financial world than the O’Neil years, and the signing of players must now be self generating. That means buying young or developing youths and hoping to unearth a gem. It might not always work (Adam Virgo) and it might take time (Ki), but if selling an “Aiden” once in a while gives you the funds to buy Izaguirre, Hooper, Kayal & Commons and still have cash in hand I’m all for it. What we also have seen in the past few weeks since the New Year game is a manager who also seems confident in his abilities.
I thought it was very telling when, in post match interviews, Lennon glibly stated “we know how they play, trying to catch us on the break, so we dealt with that.” Compare that with McCoist’s comment that “we had no idea how they would line up until we saw the team sheet.” Over the past 20 years Smith has had the upper hand with his tactics – stack the team full of “big guys”, play physical and play on the break. Lennon knows we have the better team and tried one game (the first of the season at Celtic Park) to pick a team that could play Rangers off the pitch. It failed. He has now twice come up against Walter on Walter’s own patch and matched up his system and come out on top. We might not have won today, but to have 10 men for most of a game at Ibrox and still finish with almost 70% possession tells its own story and even faced with losing his keeper, Lennon made “brave decisions.”
I would have taken off Ki or Ledley and kept on Commons. When brining on Sammy, I would have kept on Kayal. But before the game Lennon identified that Walter likes fielding a team of “big guys.” He kept our height with his changes, and watching the game again illustrates that their pen came from Commons losing the ball, then 10 secs later Commons not tracking back with Naismith. Like I say, I’d have kept Commons on. Lenny didn’t and we bossed the game.
Whilst the press praised Walter for keeping a tight team together and buying “quality rather than quantity”, our plan was to have a young team who improved through the season, ready to be formidable by the end of the season. A bit of a gamble but it now looks like the right one.
It’s easy to be full of the joys following performances like today and those already this year, and things may go wrong later, but at this stage things are looking good.
To the guy in the Broomloan Rear, Row S seat 128 (I think), I believe you’re wrong. I believe Lennon does know what he’s doing. I don’t think he’s a useless @rsehole and I think he and his team are developing quite nicely.
With a record of 2-1-1 against Walter, and some unexpected team changes putting us on top, maybe there’s a change of the guard coming at the wily old fox brigade.