Celtic 1-0 Aberdeen
It was always going to be Ryan Christie, wasn’t it? It was the key moment of a cagey final, the type of moment which sparks commentators to claim that the script couldn’t have been written. Yet in reality, any script writer worth their salt would write yesterday’s very script before crumpling it up and chucking it because of its predictability.
A seventh straight trophy for Brendan Rodgers against a resolute, strong, disciplined but ultimately toothless Aberdeen side. Settled by the man in the form of his life who, ironically enough, Aberdeen had developed for 18 months of his short career. You could have narrated that very script to any Dons fan pre-match and they wouldn’t have batted an eye lid. Of course it was going to happen.
That early feeling of dread and inevitability was only multiplied when the starting line-ups were released. If it wasn’t for McKenna’s unbelievable rise then the million-pound move rumours would be about Devlin. He’s been a starlet at the back for us but alas, didn’t shake off the injury sustained on Scotland duty. The two names that stood out were Ball, in for May to play a much deeper role, and Cosgrove who started up top.
A defender half as good as Willie Miller once said: “you can’t win anything with kids”. Well, as another wise man pointed out on Twitter on Sunday, you can’t win anything with Sam Cosgrove either.
A ‘creative’ spine of Ball, Ferguson, Shinnie and Cosgrove were never going to produce an array of chances and if they did I can’t say I was confident of them being scored. As it was, the chances barely even arrived. Ball and Ferguson blazed over and Simunovic almost scored a pearler at the wrong end but other than that there was nothing. No spark. No adventure.
McGinn’s been up but mostly down this season and without Gary Mackay-Steven we are scarily ineffective in the final third. Manchester United loanee James Wilson had started every one of the past six matches for the Dons, albeit only scoring once, but was dropped for the big occasion.
The elephant in every press room that McInnes sits in must be the name of a certain Chris Forrester. What’s happened to him? Where is he? This is a 25 year-old creative centre midfielder who we paid £200k for. On the face of it, he was Kenny McLean’s replacement. Yet he hasn’t seen a single minute of first team football since we beat St Mirren on 6th October.
He doesn’t appear to be injured, featuring for the reserves since then, but we’ve had no news on him whatsoever. Stephen Gleeson too. An Irish international from Ipswich Town. These aren’t unknown quantities trying to adjust to life in Aberdeen. They were major summer signings from English teams and earmarked for key starting berths in the team this season.
McInnes said back in July that Forrester could be “the difference”, praising his touch, passing and general quality on the ball. We’d love a bit of that now, please.
Positively though, we played well as a team and showed great spirit. We were compact and determined but when man-marking is being utilised then all it takes is one momentary lapse of concentration. Especially against a team as good as Celtic.
And that’s all it was. Christie outpaced Shinnie and Logan was caught dithering for a second too long. 1-0.
Celtic have the quality and strength to hold out leads while we didn’t have any imagination to unlock them. Fair play to them, they deserve it and you wouldn’t bet against them to go on and win the treble treble. A remarkable achievement when it comes.
They’ve also the advantage of having bullies in their team and referee’s who are brought up with an ingrained mentality of favouring the bigger teams. To give a penalty against Ball’s handball was astounding. Both outside the box and entirely accidental, it’s the sort of handball shout that is mocked by supporters of the opposing team for the next ten minutes.
We’ve got Joe Lewis, though. SUPER Joe Lewis. Appreciate him while we do.
Talking of bullies, a word too for the G4S and Police Scotland teams who felt they needed at least seven pairs of forceful hands to pin down a pitch invader. One or two would have done the job, lads.
McInnes talked about his legacy in the days leading up to the final, stating that he knows it’ll depend on his trophy haul. Hearing him say that the “most important thing is trophies” is encouraging but ultimately futile. That’s four finals now, three defeats, and unfortunately for him history won’t remember the opponent nor the financial gulf.
December could be make or break and it continues tomorrow against Rangers. We’re seventh in the league. Rangers, somehow, are first. I had to look twice at the league table on Sunday to believe that. A win tomorrow though and we’ll only be six points off them. That has to be the target.
We’ll see how we feel when the starting line-ups are released this time. Whatever happens, it certainly won’t be pretty.
Get well soon GMS, haste ye back min.