You probably have pals that say “you support Celtic? Isn’t that boring? You just win everything.”
This season will have proved them wrong. Annoyingly. Today’s 6-0 shellacking of David Martindale’s Livingston certainly brought back memories, though [BBC]. Memories of the last handful of seasons, or even further. Celtic played with such confidence, such attacking verve and such determination that’s it not hard to wonder where this team have been all season.
This isn’t a ‘sign John Kennedy’ article, far from it. But it’s remarkable, the difference between this match and our previous meetings with Livi. In the build-up to today, I’ve written with genuine concern that we’d be frustrated into a draw or worse against a side who seem determined to annoy us, specifically.
Yet, that wasn’t the case. And some questions emerge:
Is John Kennedy benefitting disproportionately from James Forrest coming back? Are his tactics so radically different from Lennon’s? If so, should the board have put Kennedy in place (on an interim basis) far, far sooner?
Let’s use this opportunity to praise John Kennedy, though. Yes, the circumstances are different; the league has gone. But, if anything, that puts more pressure on JK to inspire performances like today’s. 1-0 or 6-0, it would’ve made no material difference to the league table.
Yet, Celtic played with a swagger that, arguably, we hadn’t seen since opening day. Kennedy has clearly emphasised the importance of width and a mega-high line in defence, to dominate the opposition half, stretch out play and create opportunities from a variety of positions.
The positives for Celtic today were obvious to John Kennedy and supporters alike
You’ll notice Odsonne Edouard didn’t score. Celtic had various different goal-scorers today, and that bodes massively well for the future.
If we can keep Elyounoussi, all the better. But seeing Forrest, Brown (arguably) and Moi on the scoresheet, as well as Christie late-on, is a throwback to our more successful recent seasons. The pressure was off Eddy, in a significant way, leaving him to do the unheralded stuff he does so well. Beyond scoring goals, Edouard can drop deep and help to facilitate build-up play. On more than one occasion, he was the first option for Taylor or Kenny in possession.
From a defensive point of view, it was another clean sheet. Celtic have been so much stronger at the back since Kennedy came in, whether by design or circumstance. In 5 matches, the Bhoys have only conceded once, in the draw against Rangers. But we’ve looked imperious.
That’s down to two things: there’s clearly more confidence in the communication between Scott Bain and the back-4, which have largely picked themselves over recent weeks. Secondly, and perhaps more encouragingly, Celtic have gone back to dominating possession with such incredible efficiency that the opposition just aren’t getting chances on goal.
What does this mean, long-term? It’s hard to say with any certainty. But there are shoots of improvement. No matter the opposition, there’s always room to enjoy a massive win like today’s.