Cynical look at coupon busters

Astra started their season on a historical high, eliminating Lyon from European competition, but their 8 games since August have brought five defeats, two draws and a solitary win against opponents currently 14th place in the Romanian league.

On paper this sounds as straightforward as previous European ties did against teams from Karagandy or Maribor but as we found out on those occasions, European ties are seldom straightforward.

The cynic in me suggests there is more going on at Astra than meets the eye.  Any team who can win in Lyon would be heavy odds against shipping three goals in the cup to lower league opponents a few weeks later, which Astra did.  They then turned up away to league leaders Steaua Bucharest to keep their only clean sheet since August.  Another coupon buster.

Astra, it would seem, are a gift to those who bet outsiders.  They are long odds tomorrow, so I’d caution against backing Celtic for a comfortable win.  The visitors will apply themselves, just as they did earlier this month against Salzburg, who won by a single goal.

The Celtic books we have published in recent years have been a real labour of love.  After a biography of Willie Wallace and a football journey from Tommy Gemmell, we published your story of Seville, a record of its impact on the Celtic Movement.

Today we launch Caesar & the Assassin, the accounts of Billy McNeill and Davie Hay as Celtic managers, told in their own words.  It documents the period of our history from when Billy took over from Jock Stein in 1978, through to the end of his era 13 years later, including Davie Hay’s four years in charge.

Most of us lived experienced that period first-hand but it has been an absolute education to read about the games and events which we watched as spectators from the managers in charge.  It’s the best CQN book yet.

The first batch of orders will receive a copy signed by Billy and Davie, more here.

If you fancy watching Sunday’s game against Kilmarnock in comfort…….. We have secured another pair of Premium Seat tickets for the Jock Stein Stand from Celtic sponsor Magners. To win the tickets answer the following question:

Which country do Thursday’s opponents FC Astra come from?

Optionally, if you have £1 available, please donate it to Mary’s Meals at this MyDonate page, which will send your £1 straight to Mary’s Meals, then send me your contact details (with or without donation confirmation) to

Competition closes tonight (Wednesday) at 10pm, so get your entries in now and watch your inbox Thursday morning. You can donate more than £1 if you like, of course. Terms and conditions are available here.

Zaluska assault

I didn’t realise until this morning that the assault on Lukasz Zaluska’s assault by two premiership footballers was so serious as to have the player lying unconscious on the ground for several minutes.  The Celtic player was out in Glasgow with his wife Sunday night before the incident. Lukasz was singled-out for online abuse by [...]

Johansen takes control, bullying Ashley and Easdales

Since Ronny Deila became manager I’ve met a Norwegian journo a few times who has been keen to discuss our manager’s progress.  One of the points he’s continually made is about Stefan Johansen, who he insists is known as a creative midfielder in Norway, someone who regularly makes defence-splitting passes. Until recently, we’ve not seen [...]

Ross County 0-5 Celtic

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  • Guidetti (11), McGregor (14), Stokes (29, 56) Denayer (35)

And then by magic, it all clicked.  Celtic took a few minutes to find their rhythm in Dingwall this afternoon but when John Guidetti opened the scoring on 11 minutes the normally tricky away fixture against Ross County turned into an exhibition. Guidetti’s goal came after Anthony Stokes send a free kick into the box [...]