Sunday 17 December 2017

City are in for a tough Auld game

Celtic legend Bertie Auld has backed manager Brendan Rodgers and the Bhoys' strikeforce
Celtic legend Bertie Auld has backed manager Brendan Rodgers and the Bhoys' strikeforce

Bertie Auld admits Celtic might not strike fear into Manchester City the way Jimmy Johnstone affected English teams in his era, but the Lisbon Lion is encouraged by the attacking options Brendan Rodgers has ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash.

Auld recalls seeing Leeds full-back Terry Cooper crumbling at the mere mention of the acclaimed Celtic winger after Don Revie's side had been beaten in the 1970 European Cup semi-finals.

And, while Celtic may never have a talent like Johnstone in their ranks again, Rodgers has utilised wide players Scott Sinclair, James Forrest and Patrick Roberts to good effect in his first few months in charge at Parkhead.


Former City winger Sinclair has scored in each of his first six league games while a rejuvenated Forrest hit his fifth goal of the season in Celtic's 6-1 win over Kilmarnock.

Auld played in the Jock Stein-managed Celtic side which won their first European Cup meeting with an English team, beating Leeds home and away.

Johnstone terrorised Cooper as Celtic won 2-1 at Hampden in front of 136,505 fans.

The 1967 European Cup winner later bumped into Cooper on holiday in Majorca and witnessed the effect Johnstone had on the England international.

"We were sitting at a golf club and having a bottle of San Miguel and I promise you, Terry Cooper was coming down one of the holes towards the bar," the 78-year-old said.

"And I shouts: 'Terry, there's Jinky!' And I'm not kidding, he dived to the ground and said: 'See you, you're trying to spoil my holiday'. Jimmy was the type that could have done it each and every time. He had everything in his locker.

"You need width and one thing about Jock, the first thing he did was get width and played with Jimmy and Yogi (John Hughes) and Bobby Lennox at times, he switched it about. And Jock had options.

"I still feel we need a couple of players, but I like Sinclair and I like the big centre-forward (Moussa Dembele), he is starting to look the part.

"Sinclair is the type of player that Celtic supporters love, someone who is going to take it from defence to attack and get by players. Brendan has got a bit of life about Forrest, he has brought him back and he is starting to believe in himself."

With Dembele and Leigh Griffiths scoring 18 goals between them, Celtic have two serious contenders for the central striker's role too.


Auld added: "Even the right-back, (Mikael) Lustig, he is scoring goals from set-pieces. We have options and that's what football is all about, scoring goals."

Meanwhile, City's Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho has warned his side to beware a Celtic backlash.

He said: "Of course they (Celtic) had a painful defeat for themselves and their fans, but maybe that's one of the reasons they will step on the pitch with a lot more concentration, motivated to win this game.

"So we will have to be very careful and stay very focused to not allow that to happen."

City and Barcelona have inevitably been installed as strong favourites to progress from Group C but Fernandinho believes the outcome of the four-team league is far from certain.

He added: "I think sometimes people say that City and Barcelona are the favourites, but I don't agree because Borussia are an excellent team and Celtic are an excellent team as well, especially when they play at home.

"The Champions League is always special, you always have to be careful."

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