SO far, so good and from now it’s going to be better. A lot better.
That’s Craig Gordon’s reassuring message to the Celtic supporters at what is more or less the halfway stage of the Scottish domestic season.
The Premiership is tight and yet Celtic, who have not been close to their best, sit top. The Champions League was a disappointment; however, next month comes an exciting Europa League tie with Valencia and with three new players signed – all attackers – and a decent run of fixtures waiting for the team when the season begins again, the big goalie has a point.
Celtic fans of a certain age are spoiled. They panic when another team has the gall to do well and every dropped point is a mini-crisis to those brought up in nothing but success.
True, the champions would have liked to be, and should be, further ahead but as Gordon points out, things could be worse.
He said: “We are top of the league, we won the League Cup, we’re still in Europe. If you were looking at three things at the start off the season to have happened by now then it’s those three. We have done the job we set out to do but we can always improve and that’s what we were doing in Dubai.
“We are trying to improve on what we’ve done, we have laid good foundations by starting well enough. Sure, we would like to be further ahead but in terms of what we’ve achieved so far, it’s job done.
“Now we need to focus on having a good end to the season, pressing home the good we’ve done, and it could be another special year.
“You could go down to Hibs in eighth are in this [situation]. With a good run, they could get right up there. There’s a lot of teams involved, but that will bring its pressure to those teams because they are not used to being in this position.
“It will be an interesting second half of the season. We will see who can come and have a go. From our point of view, we’re happy with the position we are in, we are used to the pressure that brings and I’m looking forward to pressing home our advantage and getting away from the rest of the teams.
“We can take confidence from the fact we know what it takes to get the job done. And, really, nobody else does over recent times because we’ve won it the last seven years. It is something that’s new to those teams and a lot of the players who will need to step up and deal with it.
“That will come on in the second half of the season. It’s something we’ve enjoyed when the big games have come along and more often than not we’ve stepped up and performed. We can rely on each other when that comes.”
Gordon’s last game for Celtic was one of his best and worst.
He made six superb Rangers at Ibrox on a day when the 1-0 defeat would have been a lot worse, in terms of being a Celtic player, had their keeper not has a superb day at the office with his hands.
Goalkeepers like making saves, that is their job after all, but to this ultimate team player it counted for little because his side walked off the pitch well defeated in the end.
Gordon said: “I had a few saves in the game, which is always nice as a goalkeeper. It means more if you get something out of the game; it was a bit of a reversal from the game at Celtic Park when Allan [McGregor] made a number of saves and we won 1-0.
“I was happy with the way I performed and if Broony hadn’t tried to shut his legs I probably would have saved that one as well. One the day I felt good and on top of my game.
“But I was as disappointed as anyone going back into the dressing room knowing that we missed the chance to go six points ahead with a game in hand. That would have been an excellent position, albeit we’re in a good one at the moment.”
Gordon turned 36 on Hogmanay, which even for a goalkeeper is cracking on a bit. Not that the old guy in the dressing room has any plans to hang up the gloves.
Asked when he aims to play for, he said: “As long as I possibly can. Hopefully I’m not slowing down. If I can keep on top of injuries and make sure my body is in a fit state to go out there and perform then I’ll want to keep playing.
“It’s a while since I’ve had to play like I did at Ibrox and make as many saves because that doesn’t happen at Celtic, apart from the occasional European game.
“I just have to train well, keep improving and prove that I’m the one who should play. If I can do that then I have a chance.”
Gordon is still Brendan Rodgers’ No 1, at least in the league and Europe. Scott Bain, who has done little wrong, played in the Betfred Cup games and it’s going to be interesting to see if the manager changes his keepers for the Scottish Cup, which begins at home to Airdrie on the 19th of this month.
Gordon said: “I don’t know what will happen. I’d like to play, I want to play in every game. That’s probably because I missed a chunk in the middle of my career. I am fit, I am able to play, so want to be involved all the time.
“I want to be selected for the Scottish Cup. That will be the manager’s call. If I don’t then I’ll do the best for the team and Scott if he’s playing. We will both deal with it when it comes.
“The manager may speak to me about it. He might not. It depends on how he is thinking. He didn’t say anything regarding the League Cup. He told me Scott was playing in the first round and then after that he just picked the team.
“I have no problem with that whatsoever. I was rather I was playing but if he does speak to me and tells me Scott will play for the whole of the cup, or it’s left round to round, then it really doesn’t matter.”
What matters to Gordon is Celtic finish the season on top again.