Have Spine, Stand Firm

We’ve struggled for success since The Invincibles era. Much of that struggle has been due to do with the team’s spine. You can read that in its traditional football sense – keeper, central defence, ball winner, playmaker, and striker(s) – or, if you wish, in the figurative sense that we haven’t had enough consistency in the side at those positions.

Recent signs have suggested that the spine is healing.

Offensively we can compete against any team on the planet. That has meant little lately because of issues at the back and in midfield. The addition of Vermaelen will certainly make us stronger if he keeps up the form we’ve seen so far, and if Denilson continues to add goals (and assists) to his work rate, we’ll be far better for it. A strong argument can be made however that William Gallas and Alex Song are two players essential to ending the trophy drought.

Gallas has always been a warrior, a winner, even if maligned. That 28 year old Kolo Toure was the one sacrificed instead of 31 year old Gallas is all you really need to know. Of course Kolo could bring a better return financially, but it is clear who is the better player.

I’ve told people more times than I can remember that Alex Song is an extremely under-rated player. He is versatile, has good technique, runs for days, has developed very good tactical awareness, and is as tough as leather. They’ve often looked at me like I have three eyes. It’s not my fault that they haven’t seen what’s been clear to me and at least three other people this side of Yaoundé.

Song is low profile and not the marquee name hard man that the media have suggested we should buy. Mind, I wouldn’t say no to a back up because we could use a bit more depth in that position. Our defensive midfielder (who by the way is also a front sweeper) has been deemed “not good enough.” Trust me, he is. What we’ve seen in this season’s first two matches is no surprise. Alex Song can play.

Is Celtic Park more intimidating than the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium in istanbul? I haven’t been to either stadium but similar things about entering “a cauldron” were said prior to our trip to Istanbul last October. We left with three points that day after putting five past Fenerbahçe. We’ve left Scotland with a two goal cushion despite those warnings – mission accomplished and the job is almost complete.

Games are played for a reason – anything can happen, nothing is won on paper or because some “expert” says A, B, or C. The manner in which we’ve handled our business in Glasgow puts a line under maturity and development. Celtic never threatened us. And although the manager has stated that we got lucky goals, we were where we needed to be when we needed to be there. Plus, we were composed throughout.

It’s nice to see that the media are beginning to highlight the contributions of Gallas and Song to re-strengthening our spine. They were key yesterday.

Long may it last!

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