You begin to wonder if Ange Postecoglou has a pocket watch on a chain he swings rhythmically back-in-forth in front of the watchful eyes of new Celtic signings, so hypnotically do such individuals regularly set about slipping into the style of play demanded by the Australian. Matt O’Riley became the latest debutant to get with the programme right away, his darting runs, incisive passing and give-and-gos in the final third allowing the £1.5m capture from MK Dons to walk off with Sky’s man of the match accolade.
The question now is whether the 21-year-old Londoner can take his inititial form into his first Celtic Park appearance as Postecoglou’s men host Dundee United on Saturday and find the net to continue a historical run this season from such performers. For, in a quirk for the modern age, already four Postecoglou purchases have scored when they have made such a bow. It is a devilishly difficult stat to check, but Liel Abada, Kyogo Furuhashi, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Daizen Maeda claiming a goal in such circumstances appears to set this campaign apart for the club.
VAR for art thou technophobes?
Surely those previously implacably opposed to the introduction of a video assistant referee system on the grounds of it stealing the game’s soul can start to recognise how black-hearted this can make them seem? It is torture that close calls such as those involved in Celtic’s second goal and Hearts’ strike in sides’ latest Tynecastle tussle have no VAR fall-back. Both Giorgos Giakoumakis and Liam Boyce appeared offside when played-in to score, but little blame can be apportioned to referee John Beaton and far-side assistant Dougie Potter for the failure to adjudicate correctly on these incidents. The so-tight margins placed these two goals in the grey area that doesn’t allow for definitive responses from those with the flags - ensuring, in good conscience, they cannot be raised. Indeed, they are precisely the sort of moments that only VAR replays can provide real clarity on. As many have acknowledged, VAR cannot come quickly enough into Scottish football.
Tynecastle can be no place for the faint-hearted on such evenings, when the bile flying from the supports of both teams can create an air of malevolence. This was punctured by the humanity shown in the 13th-minute applause for the 13-year-old supporter Devin Gordon, who tragically died last week. Both teams warmed up in FC United To Prevent Suicide top and the manner the game essentially was paused spontaneously for the players to offer a humbling tribute along with all four stands was genuinely affecting.