Fringe Benefits Leave Mowbray With Plenty to Choose From
Wembley Cup, Sunday 26 July
Tottenham Hotspur 0 Celtic 2
Celtic starting line up: Zaluska; Caddis, Loovens, O'Dea and Fox; McCourt, Crosas, Flood and Mizuno; Samaras and Killen.
Pre-season results should be taken with a pinch of salt, but when you're a Celtic supporter, it's a nice change to see your team not only go out and win, but win convincingly.
In recent years, we've watched our side travel to the ends of the earth with mixed results, the result that sticks out in my mind the most the 4-0 hammering we took at the hands of DC United a couple of years back.
It was satisfying, then, to watch Celtic lift the inaugural Wembley Cup yesterday with a comfortable 2-0 victory over a fairly strong Spurs side.
The fact that we managed this with effectively our reserve team was the icing on the cake. Tony Mowbray made ten—yes, ten—changes from the side that hammered Al-Ahly 5-0 on Friday, and it was pleasing to see some of our fringe players perform so well.
No doubt the new boss had Wednesday's crucial Champions League qualifier against Dinamo Moscow in mind, and we can expect a similar line up to the one that routed Al- Ahly to take the field at Celtic Park next week, but the players who performed so well against Spurs certainly did their chances no harm.
One performance that deserves particular mention was that of Willo Flood. The Irishman has been a tad maligned since his arrival from Dundee United in January. Yesterday, however, Flood displayed all of his best attributes as he stormed around the pitch, harrying, tackling, passing, and showing why he was such an important part of Craig Levein's resurgent Tannadice side.
I must say I felt Paddy McCourt's disappointment after his quite superb mazy run through the heart of the Spurs defence ended with him screwing the ball wide when it looked easier, having done all the hard work already, to score and put Celtic 3-0 up. All Celtic fans want Paddy to succeed. We have all heard the reports from the reserve side, and seen the youTube highlights, including an astonishing solo goal scored against Aberdeen reserves.
If that one had gone in yesterday, the Celtic fans would have been talking about the day Paddy put one away like Maradona at Wembley, but alas it was not to be. If the run was reminiscent of Maradona, the finish reminded us of Harald Brattbak.
I'm sure Paddy's day will come, though. He may be used sparingly, but his skill is unquestionable and there is no doubt he could be vital in unlocking stuffy defences.
It looks as if it will be another player felt surplus to requirements that will get the nod to partner new signing Landry N'Guemo in central midfield against Dinamo Moscow however.
With Scott Brown out injured, Massimo Donati looks really to have grasped the opportunity afforded to him by Tony Mowbray if his performances against Cardiff City an Al-Ahly are anything to go by. Donati took no part in proceedings yesterday, which is as clear an indication as any that Mowbray plans to start the Italian against Dinamo.
It's worthy of note that both Chris Killen and Georgios Samaras got on the scoresheet yesterday. Killen bagged his fourth of this pre-season campaign, whilst Samaras lashed the ball into the roof of the net for Celtic's second of the afternoon after a brilliant turn, breakaway, and run took him away from the Spurs defence.
After just four games, Mowbray has players looking hungry and competing for positions all over the park.
Things are looking good.
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