It ended Celtic 2-0 Cluj on the night, but there was more than one point proved at Celtic Park tonight.
Revenge was on the cards from the get-go. Cluj’s previous 4-3 win at Parkhead was the overbearing shadow heading into this one. When the Romanians stepped out onto the pitch, you could’ve been forgiven for having some haunting flashbacks to that cruel night in August.
But more than one Celt had a big point to prove tonight. Whilst there was the collective goal of revenge in the air, Callum McGregor had a major accusation being labeled at him coming into this match.
Many believe that his dip in form over the last few weeks has been down to tiredness. His passing and ball-control has been inconsistent over the past several matches. However, against Rennes in particular, he seemed to be a bit more like himself.
But you could tell he was determined to stamp his autchority on the game tonight. McGregor was sharp from the first whistle. He was snapping into challenges and winning every single second-ball that came his way.
Perhaps most impressively, however, was how he managed to keep it up for the full 90 minutes. In stoppage time, there was a moment where McGregor was under pressure deep inside his own half with two Cluj attackers charging at him. Incredibly, he showed real strength and pace to dart around them all and win himself a throw-in.
Whatever was wrong with McGregor – tiredness wasn’t the issue
McGregor has, himself, already stated in the Celtic View (Volume 55, Issue 13, Page 12) that he doesn’t feel tired. And Celtic’s fitness department will have been making sure that was the case.
He’s shown far too much energy tonight and at Easter Road for him to be tired in any way. After all, he was also pretty sharp at Hibernian too, despite lacking a final-ball when in good areas.
McGregor answered his critics tonight. And, for now at least, he puts to bed the idea that he’s too fatigued. Neil Lennon also deserves praise for sticking by his guns with CalMac.
No doubt his next poor performance will be followed by appeals to give him a rest. But he doesn’t look like he needs one despite playing all but one of Celtic’s games this season.
It’s been something labeled at him for a prolonged period of time. But finally, for now, we don’t need to bring it up for some time.