Celtic players could be motivated by Howe talk, but tonight matters for much more pressing reasons

By Euan Davidson

April 3, 2021

It’s a good day to be a Celtic supporter.

Nothing’s cast in stone yet, but there’s some light at the end of the tunnel. Insert your own cliché here. For once, we’ve seen the board actually show some long-term, exciting planning. A superstar Premier League boss once touted for the England job [Daily Mail] may await us.

However, we have to deal in absolutes. We have a potential banana-skin (Cliché 3, if you’re counting) against Falkirk, in a rare Saturday night clash.

Given that there’s nothing else at stake this season from a team perspective, tonight is huge. For the players themselves, it could be a heavily-rotated squad. If that’s the case, there’ll be plenty out to impress Eddie Howe (provided he joins, as reported). If John Kennedy sticks to his tried-and-tested (that’s 4), then there’ll be a number with eyes on moves elsewhere.

Throughout the season, several of the players haven’t looked themselves. These aren’t normal times, so bear in mind that a bunch of Celtic stars have been hundreds, even thousands of miles from their families. A few have caught Covid, or picked up long-term injuries. The extenuating circumstances haven’t seemed to affect our rivals, but they have obliterated a squad that looked imperious for much of 19-20.

Falkirk, of League One, will be motivated for their own ends, of course. Given the financial implications of their relegation last season, a Scottish Cup run would be fantastic for them. From a “narrative” point of view, they might also be encouraged by the opportunity to put the icing on a very bitter Celtic cake (5).

Scott Brown with the Scottish Cup / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Celtic stars will need to ignore the noise and get the job done

Cliché 6 and 7, there.

Look, this should by all means be a walkover tonight. That’s what makes it even scarier. The worst results of our season have largely been unexpected. Two shellackings off an average Sparta Prague side, being knocked out the Betfred Cup by Ross County, etc, etc.

It’d be easy to just write the season off and say “Well, Howe’s coming in, this campaign doesn’t matter”. But it does. Just a week ago, everyone seemed to be motivated to win the Scottish Cup for, if no other reason, to cap Scott Brown’s Celtic legacy. Yet, there’s little to no excitement about tonight.

If it hadn’t been for last night’s Eddie Howe news [Sun], and Kolo Touré being an absolute legend, Celtic news might be scarce just now.

That shouldn’t be. We ought to be talking more about a James Forrest comeback. About what a good run of results could mean for John Kennedy. Our chances in the Scottish Cup. Seeing some less-heralded names prospering on the Paradise turf.

All of these things matter. As a purveyor of Eddie Howe content, I’m not saying ignore the talk. It’s exciting as all hell, and it means so much. Just, let’s bear in mind that there’s a massive game tonight.

We don’t want to be victims of the “Magic of the Cup”. There’s 8.

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