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Celtic victory energises Scottish game

Chick Young | 23:30 UK time, Wednesday, 5 August 2009

A standing ovation for Celtic. They have replaced stagger with swagger.

Falkirk's dismal attempt at gagging the Lichtenstein mouse that roared, coupled with the night Sigma Olomouc punched the Northern Lights out in Aberdeen left me ashen-faced with worry about the season ahead.

At least, whatever happens now, Scottish football is guaranteed European football until Christmas, courtesy of - as usual - the Old Firm.

Georgios Samaras wheels away after firing Celtic to victory over Dinamo MoscowIt has not been a good summer for our game. The shenanigans at Livingston, the car boot sale of players at Ibrox, a transfer market which has done less business than Arkwright's shop in Open All Hours.

And it could get worse before it gets better.

If Scotland don't secure at least a point - and we probably need three - in next Wednesday's World Cup qualifier in Norway, then Scottish footballers can make next summer's plans; and they won't include South Africa.

Instead, they will involve the purchase of an HD television and stocking the fridge with some nice white wine from Stellenbosch.

Livingston are squealing like pigs about being parachuted into the Third Division.

I say parachuting, but they were booted out the aircraft without instructions about how to pull the ripcord.

But what did they expect? They have run their affairs with all the efficiency of say, a major bank, and you can understand the complaints of others who have tried to keep their financial affairs just so.

Now they want to hi-jack the big Scottish Football League kick-off; which smells to me of spoilt brat mentality.

There needs to be a little porridge-supping in West Lothian.

Meanwhile, Falkirk were bowing out of Europe against a team from a country the size of Castlemilk.

And the Dons weren't just Dandy: they were Beano, Beezer and every other comic you ever read too.

I watched Motherwell stumble to beat a team of chubby lads from Wales and then dismantle a side from Albania.

But in all honesty our charity team Dukla Pumpherston - a drinking team with a football problem - could have given them a game.

So, by the time I donned the working clothes again I was tormented about the whole state of affairs.

Then along came Celtic. And they made me believe again.

Tony Mowbray's tactics in Moscow were just what the doctor ordered, and he's already making his imprint on the squad Gordon Strachan left behind.

Danny Fox looks like a full-back who knows his trade and the manager caught midfielder Massimo Donati just in time.

The removal van was already on the road back to Italy.

There is still a gap which will take a bit of bridging yet between Celts and the Champions League - there are a few cracking teams who await them in the final qualifying round.

But hope springs eternal and at least there is the salvation of the Europa League.

Meanwhile, we have other prayers that need answering.

I had a 'something-in-the-air' feeling about Celtic in Moscow, but I fear there may not be an easterly wind strong enough to blow it onwards to Oslo on Wednesday.

A World Cup tie of this importance before a domestic ball has been kicked in the divisions where our players ply their trade is not good.

The absence of Craig Gordon is hardly a reason to be cheerful either.

And for the Tartan Army, only lottery winners and Fred Goodwin-esque earners will be able to afford the Norwegian price of alcoholic solace.

To be honest I would have hoped to have been cheerier in my first offering of the new term, and that may come next week as I ponder the forthcoming SPL title race.

But everywhere I look I hear alarm bells ringing and see doom hanging thick in the air.

Policing bills to rise and television contracts torn to confetti. How does that translate to reasons for a knees-up?

It's being so cheerful that keeps me going, you know...


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