There are plenty of exciting developments in prospect as we discover whether the all-out attack of ‘Angeball’, a philosophy clearly based around carpet-bombing rather than considered build-up, is really enough to start bringing trophies to Parkhead.
One of the most appealing subplots will be just how midfielder David Turnbull matures as a Celtic player.
After a low-key start to last term, generally kept in reserve as the most important season in the club’s modern history crumbled to dust, he was one of the few players to escape criticism in the latter stages of the campaign as the failed quest for ‘The Ten’ staggered its way to a merciful halt.
One of the most exciting subplots at Celtic is how David Turnbull (right) matures as a player
Match Facts: Celtic v St Mirren at Celtic Park
Celtic (4-3-3): Hart; Ralston, Welsh, Starfelt, Taylor; Turnbull, McGregor (Soro 67), Christie; Abada, Edouard (Ajeti 83), Furuhashi (Rogic 67).
Subs not used: Bain, Bitton, Urhoghide, Montgomery.
St Mirren (4-4-1-1): Alnwick; Fraser, McCarthy, Shaughnessy, Tanser; Flynn (Brophy 46), Power, McGrath, Erhahon; Kiltie (MacPherson 46); Main (McAllister 70).
Subs not used: Lyness, Tait, Finlayson, Erwin.
Booked: Main, McGrath.
Referee: Willie Collum.
To see him now in a side that has discovered some real swagger under new manager Ange Postecoglou is so pleasing, a side that is built to make the very most of his abilities and strengths.
Of course, the main headline is that Turnbull scored the first hat-trick of his career against St Mirren – adding to two earlier goals from Liel Abada and an effort from Odsonne Edouard – but there was way more to his performance than that.
Strong with both feet, a clinical finisher and so gifted in terms of understanding the game – and the space – around him, he is such a central figure in this side’s commitment to going forward.
In addition to his goals, he hit the post yesterday, had several shots just wide from distance and was always looking to give-and-go, link up with team-mates and make things happen.
Technical and clever, he has the abilities to really become the beating heart of this team, its primary driving force as he seems so suited to the fast, quick football Postecoglou is demanding. What this team, as a whole, will become, though, is still open to question.
There is no doubt, as previously discussed, their rollercoaster ride will be thrilling to watch. Celtic have now scored 24 goals in a run of six straight wins. Against Saints, they had a whopping 37 shots at goal with 12 on target.
Yes, they will give away chances at the other end of the park with this cavalier approach, but heaven knows how many goals you are going to have to score to beat them.
Saints couldn’t manage any to make it a contest, but they did have at least two clear opportunities and it looked like it may have been harsh on Curtis Main that he had an effort disallowed for offside in the opening period with the scoreline at 2-0.
The visitors, robbed of manager Jim Goodwin in the dugout following his positive test for Covid-19, didn’t do anything to help themselves either.
The midfielder scored a superb hat-trick in an emphatic 6-0 win against St Mirren on Saturday
St. Mirren were up against it when they had midfielder Alan Power sent off in the 19th minute
Alan Power got himself ordered off on 19 minutes for a dreadful tackle on Turnbull and goalkeeper Jak Alnwick, surely paying his own tribute to Celtic’s charitable foundations, was at fault for three of the first four goals.
In Thursday’s trip to AZ Alkmaar and next Sunday’s Old Firm derby at Ibrox, Postecoglou’s men will receive far tougher tests that ought to provide more detailed answers on exactly how well their manager’s ambitious plans are coming together.
But there is certainly no reason for them not to approach those fixtures with a confidence that seemed impossible to build amid the chaos of the reconstruction project he had undertaken just a matter of weeks ago.
Turnbull started as he meant to go on by smacking the post on just six minutes and the all-out assault on the visitors’ goal really didn’t relent from there. By the time the opener came 11 minutes later, Celtic had already carved out a number of chances.
In a running theme of the afternoon, Tony Ralston picked out the onrushing Abada on the flank with a slide-rule pass to leave St Mirren exposed. The Israeli international cut inside, released a shot and saw it slip straight through Alnwick’s hands before nestling in the far top corner of the net.
Israeli winger Liel Abada (second right) scored the opener after good work from Tony Ralston
It was the start of a truly horrid afternoon for the Buddies’ No1. The only guy who can take any heat off him at all is Power, who gave referee Willie Collum little option but to send him packing for a stupid, studs-up bone-rattler on Turnbull in the corner.
From that point onwards, we were always looking at a cricket score. Mind you, given the relentlessness and one-touch passing of Postecoglou’s side, it is unlikely Power would have altered flow of the game had he stayed on.
The second goal came from Abada again after some clever play on the left. Kyogo Furuhashi played in Greg Taylor and his cross just invited the winger to make contact with a downward header that bounced high into the net to Alnwick’s right.
That Celtic are hugely entertaining is hard to argue with. Yet, the widely held view that they are vulnerable at the back was confirmed, to some degree, as well.
St Mirren didn’t get up the park often. And, yet, just before the half-hour, they were prevented from halving the deficit through that harsh offside call on Main.
Striker Odsonne Edouard (second left) scored the fifth and final goal of the game for the hosts
Scott Tanser made progress up the left before slinging in a cross to the back post, Greg Kiltie got a head to it and the ball might well have gone in before Main stuck out a foot to make sure.
Linesman Graeme Leslie, however, raised his flag to the visitors’ horror – and it looks like he got it wrong with Ralston appearing to play the ex-Aberdeen striker onside.
As if to rub salt into the wound, Turnbull made it 3-0 within a minute, receiving a ball from Stephen Welsh 22 yards out and releasing a shot that, although swerving, was allowed to hit the net after going straight through Alnwick’s glove.
Goal number four came in the final minute of the first half after Furuhashi had missed a sitter at point-blank range and Edouard, back at centre-forward, had hit the bar.
Abada put a ball in from the right that was too close to the keeper, but Alnwick palmed it straight to Turnbull and he reacted cleverly to volley it home.
New Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou (centre) masterminded a wonderful attacking performance
Again, St Mirren were handed a great chance at the start of the second half when substitute Cammy MacPherson had a clear shot at goal from a Jamie McGrath cutback – but sclaffed the ball wide.
Celtic duly switched back on and, after Alnwick had delivered a fantastic save with his feet from Furuhashi, Edouard got on the scoresheet.
Furuhashi made inroads up the left, put in a low ball and Edouard converted at the second attempt after an initial block. Saints claimed for a handball, but Collum just wasn’t in the mood to give them anything.
Chances continued to come at pace and the only real surprise is that it took until the 84th minute for Celtic to take one.
Substitute Albian Ajeti won the ball on the left, played it to Tom Rogic, on for Furuhashi, and his pass forward was poked home from eight yards or so by Turnbull.