Random thoughts, cheap shots, bon mots

After Saturday’s win at Hamilton — the pitch where one end is painted with fans sitting behind advertising (and, as I understand it, behind that facade is a practice ground) — I thought it would be good to take a moment to just reflect on a few observations at the outset of this season, which incidentally appears to be starting well.

Like . . .

We’ll win the Europa League, according to Christopher Jullien: You’ve got to love the big guy, even when he’s not goofing off with teammate Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo. He’s settled in to a defense that has been stellar in the past few games, and now he makes what can arguably be described as a huge boast.

Can the Bhoys bring home the Europa hardware? “We will take it game by game and see what it is but if you were to go into our locker room now and ask each of them what their goal was they would tell you it is to bring that trophy home – and I’m just following them,” Jullien has been quoted as saying in the mainstream press.

Whether he is serious or if it’s just a ploy to get his teammates psyched up for the game against French Cup holders Stade Rennes on Thursday, it’s good to see a confident mindset as the default mode for the club.

Odsonne Edouard scores yet again.

I Wanna, I Wanna, I Wanna Be Ladbrokes Premiership Player of the Month for August: A tip of the chapeau to Odsonne Edouard and congratulations to the Celtic forward for winning the Labrokes Premiership Player of the Month for his play last month. On top of an outstanding display as a sub for France’s U21 team scoring four goals during the international break, Eddy has been phenomenal for the Hoops in the start of the 2019/20 season.

Edouard’s press conference, posted on YouTube and it helps immensely if you speak French (despite the presence of a translator, who does an excellent job), Eddy says at around the 9:30 mark that he’s happy to be a Celt and he doesn’t foresee going anywhere, contrary to rumors that have been floating around. Which is good, because we’d like to have you around as long as possible, Eddy!

Lights, Camera, Action: Remember photo day at school? Well, the bhoys went through that exercise recently and had their annual team photoshoot. Of course, as shown here, getting the lads all on the same page and not photobombing each other was no small feat. Watch to the end to see a typical Broony move (and I mean that in the best possible way).

Jozo out, Wizard in: Unfortunately, one of my favorite Celts — and expert Kenny Miller launcher — Jozo Simunovic goes in for arthroscopic surgery on his knee, and it looks like he’s out for about two months. But while he’s healing up, on Saturday we saw the return of the Wizard of Oz, Tom Rogic. While Rogic wasn’t a factor in the game on Saturday, it’s great to see him taking to the pitch and I hope we will see more of him. As for Jozo, get well soon, big guy!

‘Hamburg is Brown and White’ as FC St. Pauli wins the Hamburg Derby 2-0 over Hamburger SV.

Meanwhile, in Hamburg: Yesterday, in the Hamburg Derby at the Millerntor between home club FC St. Pauli and Hamburger SV, the Boys in Brown played a phenomenal game and came away with a 2-0 win. Judging by some of the tweets by Celtic fans I follow, the derby there rivals the one in Glasgow. The Diamond — Dimitrios Diamantakos — scored one for the Boys in Brown and an own goal sealed it. Sankt Pauli looked very sharp yesterday, and hopefully they can carry this momentum forward to upcoming games.

Going out on a limb: There seems to be some trepidation about the game on Thursday against Stade Rennes, especially with some on one of my favorite online hangouts, Celtic Noise. Well, I have absolutely nothing to base this on other than faith in the club, but I think we come away from France with a 2-1 win before returning to Paradise to meet the squirrels of Kilmarnock on Saturday.

[69 degrees. Wildfire threat level today in rural Santa Cruz County: Moderate]

A window closes, a door opens

The bewitching hour for the so-called transfer window came and went, and with a flurry of activity — as Cinderella ran from the ball, leaving behind her glass slipper — Celtic roped in a few more players before the window slammed shut, opening the door to 9 and 10 in a row.

Rest easy, Celtic supporters — especially those of you who only functioned in full-panic mode over the last several weeks (and you know who you are).

We did well.

Arguably Celtic had done well over the course of the window prior to the 24 hours before its closing. Though scouting may be an Achilles’ Heel to be remedied (and quickly), the club didn’t panic and, in retrospect, went about its transfer window business in calculating style.

New bhoys on the block — From left to right, top to bottom: Christopher Jullien, Luca Connell, Boli Bolongoli-Mbombo, Hatem Abd Elhamed, Jonathan Afolabi, Fraser Forster, Moritz Bauer, Mohamed Elyounoussi, Greg Taylor, Jeremie Frimpong, and Lee O’Connor.

Early signings Christopher Jullien, Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo, and Hatem Abd Elhamed have fit into the club nicely and have been contributing over the last several games, and it bodes well for latecomers like Moritz Bauer, who was baptized into the Hoops at Ibrox and showed his massive throw-in talent while proving to be Sevco kryptonite against a now out-for-the-season Jordan Jones.

Additionally wearing the Hoops this season are Fraser Forster — returning to Celtic from Southampton and putting in a solid game between the sticks for a clean sheet against Sevco — Luca Connell, Jonathan Afolabi, Mohamed Elyounoussi, Lee O’Connor, Jeremie Frimpong, and former Killie defender Greg Taylor — bet he’s thankful he doesn’t have to play half his games this season on the rug at Rugby Park any longer — bringing his Scottish League experience to the Celtic backfield.

What’s also notable about this transfer window is seeing who stayed, most notably Olivier Ntcham. At one point, Ntcham seemed to be on the way out, but for now he may be putting on a showcase for potential clubs in the event he wants to move on. I sincerely hope he doesn’t, but if that’s his wish and he wants to play top-notch football to attract suitors, who am I to stop him?

And that glass slipper left at the ball? We’ll have to see whether it fits a championship-caliber player when the next window opens. As of now, after a great start to the season, Celtic looks like it’s in great shape for the season.

[69 degrees. Wildfire threat level today in rural Santa Cruz County: Moderate]

Goodbye, Kieran Tierney

I read the news today, oh boy.
About a lucky man who made the grade …

For all intents and purposes, I honestly thought that Kieran Tierney would stay at Celtic. I would have bet a large sums on him staying, under the possibly now old-fashioned and noble notion that some things are bigger than a hefty payday.

Things like dedication and devotion to a club, for starters. Getting the club past the historic milestone of 10 in a row — and maybe beyond — before seeking fame and fortune elsewhere.

Things like that.

Besides, to channel Celtic legend James McGrory for a moment, I think “Tierney of Arsenal just never sounded as good as Tierney of Celtic.”

And I still do.

But I was wrong. And so Kieran leaves the only club he has known since he was 7 and heads south to ply his trade with Arsenal. Yes, that Arsenal; a team which has supporters as diverse as Jeremy Corbyn and Piers Morgan (and, in my opinion, there’s no better reason to completely hate Arsenal than Piers Morgan), and a team with a blog — Arseblog — with quite possibly the world’s biggest laughingstock as a name.

Perspective, though, has a healing quality about it that cannot be understated. Thankfully, here in Felton, I have a redwood forest within walking distance, where a stroll among the majestic trees — some of which predate the Magna Carta — can be good for the soul. Especially a soul gutted by the departure of a beloved player.

So I entered the forest with a heavy heart for a Celtic legend-in-the-making who sadly will never see his place in the pantheon of Hoops greats, and after considerable reflection, came out with a better understanding of the situation as a whole. As much as I hate to see him go, and as much as I hate to think any semblance of dedication and devotion to one club goes with him, I understand his decision and I wish him well.

This is a player who has given his all for Celtic, for essentially two-thirds of his life. He has left the field to have emergency dental surgery before returning for the same game and, as of late, he had played with a hernia part of last season before being forced off for a double hernia operation; an operation from which he is still recovering.

Let’s say that the reality is these injuries, borne of abuse at the hands of far lesser Scottish players and gratuitously dealt to him as referees consistently turned a blind eye, are severely limiting the time of his playing career. It would be foolish of him not to take the king’s ransom offered by Arsenal.

No matter where he plays, to me Tierney will always be a Celt. While I hope he makes Arsenal a much better team and that his skills are recognized on a larger stage, he will always be the goofy kid with the megaphone, the left back sliding up the sidelines to make things happen, and the player who scored that goal against Aberdeen and raced the length of the pitch to celebrate with Celtic fans.

So long, Kieran Tierney, and thanks. YNWA.

Though he’s wearing another kit, Kieran Tierney still can’t see the Rangers coming . . . .

[78 degrees. Wildfire threat level today in rural Santa Cruz County: Very High]

Magnificent 7

Talk about announcing your presence with authority . . .

Celtic took to the pitch on Saturday to start the season and showed no mercy to St. Johnstone, taking a 7-0 victory from the Saints and establishing the tone for the season. The Celtic scoring tells only part of the story:

Mikey Johnston 9; Ryan Christie 26, 30, 68; Olivier Ntcham 73; Odsonne Edouard 80; Leigh Griffiths 87.

By now, no doubt, you’ve all read the reports about the game. I won’t repeat that here. But I did want to put out a few observations about the game.

Crisp passing contributed greatly to the Celts phenomenal 75 percent possession rate during the course of the game. Ball-handling during the last several games has been nearly flawless, and Saturday you had essentially a clinic on possession.

It looks like the new guys — Boli Bolingoli and Hatem Abd Elhamed, specifically — are getting in sync with the rest of the club, though Elhamed’s injury may be cause for concern. Johnston especially is playing his way into a starting position, and should be utilized in tandem with Edouard and Griffiths as a new trio of scoring threats.

Griffiths is back. Nitcham is back, and looks like he has something to prove, if he only wants to make Celtic a stop on his way to another club (and who are we to stop him if he wants to play out-of-this-world football?).

But the man of the match, and the player announcing his presence with authority so far over the last few weeks, is Christie. After a season-ending injury against Aberdeen toward the end of last season, Christie’s play so far this season, in the UEFA qualifiers and now in the first game of the regular season, has been flawless. If anyone were to tell you last year that Christie would come out of the starting blocks with feet blazing, you might have doubled over in laughter.

No one is laughing now. But you can definitely see the smiles returning to the faces of the Celtic faithful.

Finally, as we head into the new season, with 37 games to go in the Premier League schedule, clearly Neil Lennon has brought back the thunder. As we head to 9 in a row, it looks like we’re in for a great ride.

Buckle up.

[73 degrees. Wildfire threat level today in rural Santa Cruz County: High]