Reasons to be cheerful: actual excitement for Celtic v Aberdeen

By Euan Davidson

February 26, 2021

It’s Celtic v Aberdeen tomorrow, and there’s reason to be excited.

Yes, the season has rumbled on chaotically. Sure, 10IAR is beyond us. But with new, albeit temporary management, there’s a reason for anticipation. A Celtic game will carry a great deal of intrigue. It’s been a while.

In John Kennedy’s first game as a manager, there will be an incalculable number of sub-plots. For the first time, we’re going to see what a JK team plays like. The likes of Vasilis Barkas and Mikey Johnston are actually in contention. Players who were poor under Neil Lennon could be given an entirely new lease of life at Celtic.

On the 18th of February, against an under-pressure Derek McInnes, Celtic scraped a 1-0 win [BBC]. It was hardly convincing, and a howitzer from David Turnbull made the difference in the end. Just before Neil Lennon’s Celtic departure was announced, we suggested his team had become incredibly stale to watch. The Aberdeen game was an example.

You see, under Neil Lennon, the side had no real tactical identity. When Lenny took over the second time, he gave players immense freedom. The latter stages of Rodgers’ tenure at Celtic were successful, sure, but the side had become rather robotic. Lennon gave the players license to express themselves, but was and is tactically naïve. Both approaches have their limitations; as we’ve seen over recent months.

Turnbull after scoring against Aberdeen / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

If only fans were in for Celtic v Aberdeen

It’s such a shame this’ll be behind closed doors.

In normal circumstances, Celtic v Aberdeen matches have an excellent atmosphere. There’s some extra spice in beating Aberdeen, whose fans revel in taking Glasgow scalps. “We hate Rangers more than you”, they’ll sing.

But the added drama of John Kennedy’s dugout debut as interim boss creates a subtext. It would’ve been fascinating to hear how supporters reacted to Kennedy. Someone who’s been at the club on and off since a very early age, logic dictates he’d get a positive reception. However, as part of the Neil Lennon regime, erroneously described as the “defensive coach”, Kennedy has taken a great deal of flak on social media.

To us, it seems unwarranted, but it is understandable to a point. There’s legitimate concern about Kennedy taking the job full-time, no matter how well he does.

When Neil Lennon took over after Tony Mowbray’s dismal Celtic spell, he was greeted with a hero’s welcome. He had 8 games until the end of the season, and promised to bring the thunder back.

John Kennedy has 8 games as Celtic boss, but has been met with a mixed reception, even without supporters in attendance.

The parallels are fascinating.

READ MORE: BBC pundits differ in quality, but this guy gets it.