Celtic reaction: Weirdly missing from top of one table; absence makes fans fonder towards Turnbull; Green Brigade navel-gazing with who they choose to honour
Goals are flowing for Celtic again, with 10 in their past three games. But one position remains elusive even with those returns.
Weirdly missing from top of one table
It seemed all about the goals as Celtic extended their league lead to six points with a 4-0 thumping of Ross County - the club’s biggest home league win since August. Giorgos Giakoumakis bagged his second hat-trick in as many appearances at the club’s home to take his tally to nine goals in only seven games, and 11 since the turn of the year. Daizen Maeda’s goal means he has six in 14 outings. Celtic are the highest scorers in the cinch Premiership, with a 69 total from their 31 games.
All of which makes one anomaly unprecedented. In the list of top league scorers, Celtic do not have a player in the leading five. Four of Giakoumakis’ goals of late have come in the Scottish Cup, giving him eight in the league. The sixth-placed player and best-placed from Celtic is winger Liel Abada on nine. Now, that situation might change in the closing two months of the season with current top of the pile, Ross County’s Regan Charles-Cook, only five ahead on the 13 mark. But never so late into a top flight campaign wherein Celtic are excelling - they are now 25 league games unbeaten in a 31-match domestic run with loss - have they been missing from the leading contenders for the golden boot.
The fact could be considered merely a quirk of fate. Kyogo Furuhashi was up there across the first half of the season with eight league goals from 14 appearances, only to be sidelined for the past three months with a hamstring issue. And Giakoumakis surely would have been but for the first half of the campaign largely proving a write-off for him through injury problems. Notably, in terms of league minutes per goal, Giakoumakis and Furuhashi are no.1 and no.2 among the 24 highest Premiership scorers, with the Greek boasting a goal every 90 minutes and his frontline team-mate netting every 118 minutes.
Absence makes fans fonder towards Turnbull
The ear-piercing roars that greeted David Turnbull’s introduction as a late substitute against County, an appearance which marked his comeback following three months out with a hamstring tear, would have greatly warmed the attacker. There were growing grumbles about Ange Postecoglou consistently selecting the 22-year-old over the first half of the season…when he didn’t have options such as January acquisitions Reo Hatate and Matt O’Riley.
Both have been excellent, but in his absence maybe the club followers have recognised that Turnbull still offers different attributes to any other central performers in the Celtic squad. A point made by Postecoglou in his pre-match for the County meeting. With nine goals and seven assists, the Scotland international’s input to goals is bettered only by Furuhashi at the club. And ranged against blanket defences, his willingness to shoot from long range - while by no means consistently earning dividends - on important occasions has been the means to puncture holes not being opened up through any other means.
Green Brigade navel-gazing on who they choose to honour
How special would it have been if the North Curve, or whatever is the favoured appellation, had unfurled a banner celebrating Frank Connor on afternoon when the life of this great servant of the club was celebrated, following his death at 86 a fortnight ago. Connor, the only man in the modern age to hold six different positions at Celtic, signed on for his beloved club on four separate occasions…two of these after he had earlier been discarded. The wonderful character, who simply ate and breathed Celtic, is the only man to take the helm for at least four games - as he did as caretaker manager in 1993 - and remain undefeated.
But, no, it was Michael Davitt who earned the banner treatment from the ultras at the weekend, presumably for the belief that he laid the first sod - imported from Donegal - at the current Celtic Park exactly 130 years earlier, on March 19, 1892…though it is contended by some historians that this took place in August, 1892. For the obsessively-Irish nationalist wing of the Celtic support, the attraction of Mayo-born Davitt, not understood to have any great love of football, is transparent. He became first patron of the early Celtic as a result of his dedication both to the nationalist cause in Ireland, and for his efforts, which extended to the Scottish Highlands, of taking on the land owners in both countries then involved in egregious exploitation of those on the lowest rung of the social ladder. There is no doubting he was a great champion for human rights and laudable causes then. Yet, what really sells Davitt to the Green Brigade acolytes is revealed by this extract from an excellent profile of him in The Celtic Star blogsite: “Michael Davitt was the founder of the Irish National Land League and… served 15 years in a Dartmoor prison for ‘Irish Republican agitation’ and ‘gun running’.” Of course he did.
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