Celtic reaction: Near faultless - but record still looks out of reach; Furuhashi makes every minute count; McGregor brings out best in Green Brigade
Near faultless - but record still looks out of reach
The benchmark season for Celtic in the modern era is Brendan Rodgers’ invincible treble-winning campaign campaign of 2016-17. In league terms, Ange Postecoglou’s men are reaching supreme standards through currently running them mighty close. Yet, even beyond the fact they have suffered a top flight loss as Rodgers’ vintage then avoided, continuing to keep pace would require an extraordinary effort.
Postecoglou has not discounted a record points haul for a top flight campaign and that remains within his team’s grasp thanks to the harvesting of 67 points from the 72 points available. Yet to eclipse the 106 points haul from 2016-17, they would require a further 40 points from their remaining 14 league encounters. In other words, they could afford no less than 13 wins and a draw from that sequence to set a new best. That is possible - they are on a 17 game run that has produced 16 wins and a draw - but hardly probable.
Kyogo Furuhashi makes every minute count
His clinical finish against the West Lothian men brought Kyogo Furuhashi an 11th league goal in only 13 such outings. In total, he has notched 18 to lead the top flight scoring charts, from a campaign that has yielded 21 in total. Over the past 15 years, only one player has made it past the magic 30-goal mark in Scotland’s upper tier. That was Leigh Griffiths in 2015-16, the maverick marksman netting 31 times in the league as he plundered 40 goals overall.
Furuhashi is unlikely to plunder 30. Unlike Griffiths, he is not on penalties or free-kicks. Moreover, though, the game has changed - or certainly the way the squad is utlised at Celtic Park. The Japanese front man has completed only two 90 minutes in the cinch Premiership this season, as Ange Postecoglou consistently makes use of the five substitutes rule to freshen up his frontline for the closing stages of games. As a result, Furuhashi is making his league minutes count in a manner presently surpassing Griffiths’ exploits eight seasons ago through averaging a goal every 82 minutes, as opposed to Griffiths’ 88 minute ratio in 2015-16.
Callum McGregor brings out the best in the Green Brigade
The special status of Celtic captain Callum McGregor was evident across the opening stages of his latest outing. The Livingston game took on added significance subsequent to the midfielder passing the 400 mark for club appearances, which he did at Tannadice the previous weekend. The home support’s first opportunity to offer acclaim over the feat, the Green Brigade certainly did not sell McGregor short. It can often be long into matches before they bother turning their attentions to their football team, so obsessive are they over past conflicts in Ireland. Not so last night. The ear-wormy McGregor chant, derived from the hymn Abba Father (You Are The Potter), was belted out by them for a full 10 minutes solid following the first whistle. It must have made the 28-year-old feel invincible - as Postecoglou has claimed such backing can make his players feel. Shortly before an accidental collision with Bruce Anderson proved his maker’s way of reminding him of human frailty, McGregor sustaining a bloody nose then but thereafter remaining, as always, unbowed.
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