Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’


Over the past weekend (7/8/9th July) (( In case you are reading this in the future!)), I have been taking a self-imposed break from the majority of my social interacting. That me be a slight mistruth, as my wife was the protagonist for the ban – but seeing as it was our first wedding anniversary, I dully done the right thing and gave in to her request.

It may well have been required anyway – human interaction and face to face time is something seldom seen as you wander aimlessly through carbon copy cities where everyone is glued to either their smartphones or earphones, or just sometimes glue sniffing (I stuck a black marker pen up my nose when I was around about ten, half-fainted and tripped over my bike – I also ended up with an ink spot under my right nostril that resembled half a Hitler mustache – not a good look!). And recently, not just due to my phone’s inability to undertake the most routine task without having a vibrating fit & turning itself off for a well-earned kip, I have been shamed with my excessive usage of social networks by people I really should have been having a conversation with at the time.

For many couples, at home or out and about, it is not uncommon at all to see both people tweeting, texting and basically just ignoring one another. And now, especially with the rise of the 140 character generation, it is even more ludicrous that this same couple may well be conversing or bonding over something with a complete stranger. But – therein also lies the beauty of the thing – the ability to find someone on the same wavelength, supporting the same team, reading the same book or having just watched the same film or television show and talking about it. The worrying aspect is that many people lose their own identity for a new online persona, which can mean not only be diluting relationships in real life – but you can end up being a droid from one of these metropolitan base units I was talking about earlier.

So what problems can an unhealthy obsession with constantly checking and refreshing your feeds bring about? Well apart from the aforementioned – studies show that social media is a major distraction during working hours and education classes, and trying to keep a constant handle on your online network well have a detrimental effect on your performance. Try telling me that on transfer deadline day though!

Another thing you need to take into consideration is the real life effect something you say, or show online could have on the person at the other side of the computer screen. Psychological effects on youngsters especially caused by the overuse of this social medium, has been shown to increase rates in anxiety and been linked to cases of depression. So next time you are about to tell a fenian/hun/fat person etc, to die or do something equally ridiculous – take a step back and think about what you will gain, and how you will make that other person feel. It might be a throwaway comment in your book, but these thoughts and words have the ability to lodge themselves deep in the psyche.

So coming back to my weekend, I was able to interact personally with family and friends without discussing or mundanely checking in where I was, and I felt better for it. Having a real conversation not just with your wife, but with neighbours, waiters and other forms of customer-based providers takes us back to a time when the art of conversation of banter was king! The monotonous usage of automated tellers, barriers and self-checkouts is further diluting real-time interaction as well, people feel safer and can relate to a situation more if they are faced with human interface – you can already see attitudes and personas becoming more robotic & bereft of any positive emotion.

In conclusion – take a break, read a book (It was actually the basic interaction methods of the late 80’s/early 90’s featured in Paul Larkin’s recent book “Poles ‘N’ Goals and Hesselink” which helped highlight the recent transformation), go for a walk, talk to someone, use the basket queue – however slow the old biddy is taking in front of you to locate her Clubcard! Don’t overdose online, as you may end up abusing the actual splendour and intricacies within & not reap its many benefits.

 

I now look forward to receiving your comments via post, telegram, or in person. Alternatively you can respond below.

Mark


It is a year since I left Cologne after a long weekend spent, in the main, testing kolsch and integrating into the city and culture with my fellow travellers. A city which has never left me since, and for which my psyche harks at me to return at my earliest convenience. In the month’s leading up to that trip, we took the obvious choice of adopting FC Koln and keeping abreast of their present status – unfortunately, our trip was arranged the week following the final game of season 2010/11 and the Billy Goats had safely navigated their way to tenth place aided by the 30-goal haul of Milivoje Novakovic and Lukas Podolski.

A year on, black smoke engulfs the stands and the air of the North Rhine-Westphalia – through the smog “Poldi” attempts a somber farewell to the fans who have never doubted his love and endeavours during his two spells, while we await the white puff which will signal a new dawn.
The Billy Goats are so readily open house for negative press – some of which is brought upon itself – but it seems too easy to stand from afar and take pot shots at the wounded animal. In an attempt to readdress the balance, here is the remnants of the season from the heart of the club – the fans, the loyal inhabitants of the RheinEnergie stadion and the cities brauhaus’.

At times, they admit the responsibility of being a supporter, more akin to a soldier being drafted for war rather than a fruitful experience.  Stormy Cologne – storms in the sky, in the stand and within the squad and boardroom. The atmosphere seemed toxic during some games. A number of fans grew restless and rebelled early on – fighting, behaving unlike followers of the club at away games and attacking opposition buses. What were they trying to achieve or furthermore, prove? They preempted the decline and reacted with an unnatural and uncharacteristic showing of hatred – they were not taking the “decline” well – Andy (45) noted the behaviour as outrageous. Köln need a fresh injection of life and spirit – they are forever being publicly dragged through the mud, the tyre tracks leave behind a debris of self-destruction and bad blood sifting through the very core. “Oda” – the fan who was the inspiration behind the story – doesn’t care about returning straight back to the top league if it’s not going to be progressive for the long-term ambition of the club.
Early November & in a break from my domestic blogging duties from the East End of Glasgow – the strong reverberations of departure surrounding the prodigal son of a German city not long visited, captures my immediate attentions. I dissect the players’ past, present & future and focus on the impact in Cologne and further afield, should this talk become a reality. To my amazement, the article is received well in many corners, including in Germany, where natives, fluent in both their own and English tongue, thankfully and graciously took the time to engage and review. Oda, became a regular crux during the season and her friends, now included, give their version of an eventful and eventually, exasperating campaign.
21.11.2011 Currently with sixteen points from a possible thirty-six – Köln are performing admirably if not inspirationally, as Jörn (41) reflects on a team spirit visible then, but totally defunct in 2012. The club is due to play at home to Mainz – when all other games have kicked off in the afternoon, I check the updates and am dumbstruck to find the match was postponed. The referee, Babak Rafatti, was found in his hotel room prior to the match, alive but in a desperate state due to an earlier suicide attempt. Even though it was such a heartbreaking and horrendous event, it seemed almost coincidental that it would happen to this team – Oda noted Rafatti is one of the more constant and favoured referees of the Köln faithful after the dust had settled.

Earlier that week, club legend and former West German international, Wolfgang Overath, bewildered the FC Faithful by standing down as club president along with his two vice-chairs. Not only was the scenario described to me as “haywire” – in the aftermath of the board meeting in which Overath had resigned, he described the “close working relationship” of Volker Finke & head coach Stale Solbakken, and his prediction of “future successes with this partnership.” At the time it didn’t add up, and reading the reflections of the fans, many of whom brandished the Norwegian as “stupid”, & “stubborn”, it seems to add weight to the rumours of internal disruptions which were crippling the infrastructure. Next up, Derby time against Gladbach!
25.11.2011 The fans are in mood for revenge – previous meetings do not bode well, and Köln are looking for retribution for last season’s 4-0 & 5-1 nightmares. But there is a strong sense of confidence and excitement in the Cathedral city air – despite the off-field disruptions, the Billy Goats must be due some good luck on it.
25.11.2011 (A few hours later) “Oh my f***ing goodness!” I received this e-mail halfway through watching a film starring Gina Carrano & Michael Fassbender in which the tagline read “They left her no choice” – much akin to what Oda was doing as she watched on in the stands. The title of the film has already been utilised in this article to describe the club’s season – its hard to disagree. The rest of the week was spent licking wounds – old ones not yet healed, but brutally opened again and doused in acidity as Monchengladbach inflicted their rivals to three of their best with little or no resistance.
She later describes “Micha” the goalkeeper, as again, “the poorest Bugger on the pitch” – I take this as double-edged, as he not only deals with the heavy burden when picking the ball from the net on many occasions, but also of playing behind a desperate defence, light on protection for their number one. The keeper himself comes out publicly, in hope of a reaction, to condemn the side and insist they have “no balls for the fight!” – it seems to have an adverse reaction.
From this period on there is a worrying lack of communication, with a heavy calendar in December before the winter break, it seems the virus working its way through the team has hit Oda. She doesn’t have the fight or reserves to maintain an outlook for outsiders never mind her own. The team itself musters up a recovery of sorts fearing an all out backlash from the fans with two score draws sandwiched between an impressive and out of character four nil resounding win at home to Freiburg – although few & far between, for a side with the history and reputation of FC, victories like these against teams newer to this environment should have been a necessity.
One last tie on the 16th of December & it was a seasonal gift come prematurely for Bayern Munich – who also received the crown of winter champion. Even with an early red card for Franck Ribery reducing Der FCB to ten, FC Köln refused to spoil their hosts finery and left the Allianz virtually untouched, keeping their paws away from the silver and leaving their advisories to sign off with a resounding three nil victory. The game never seemed in doubt & the psychological and physical edge an extra pair of legs gives a side seemed lost on a disjointed Köln side. Their fans left in small numbers, deflated and with no sense of pride left for their team. Things would need to change in the rueckrunde, attitudes especially had to be looked at, and the lacklustre performances had to be addressed.
This was the turning point for the article, if there was no further communication between now and the end of the campaign, this would be nothing more than an outsiders perspective on the season. I sent an e-mail with just under a week until the Bundesliga was underway again asking for the fans expectations for the remaining matches. Thankfully a response was forthcoming – the fans are now excited despite the start of the slump in form recently and hopeful of acquiring a mid-table berth come May. The faithful were also looking to next season, the development and introduction of a youthful set-up would be key to the long-term goals of the club. In May, the outlook although bleaker was of a similar belief – the short-term future of the team would be bedding in younger players with the drive and sheer determination to resurrect FC, also to fill in the positional gaps left through the departures of more senior and experienced players.


The narrow loss away to Wolfsburg barely seemed to register as the rumours surrounding the cities’ most famous son resurfaced again – this time from a far more unlikely source than previous stories had emerged. The frictions which remained between Russia & Poland – with Podolski being of Polish decent himself – seemed to suggest a move to the former USSR and the emerging oil wealth country, was a remote one. Poldi stayed in the news that week but unfortunately, Köln’s wall was now ready to crumble.

Despite opening the scoring for the team at the RheinEnergie stadion, the clubs number ten fought through the pain barrier for the majority of the Schalke match which neither aided the side in the short or long-term. The ’04 eased their way into the game & eventually ran out comfortable winners by four goals to one. The ramifications of this match shook the clubs foundations to breaking point as news of Podolski’s injury reverberated around the city – a month without their talisman beckoned.

Oda tried to remain positive, hopeful that the German internationals absence would be an opportunity for others to stake their claim for a start and for the rest of the team to begin taking more responsibility. Andy was fully aware and worried about the lack of responsible aptitude which was displayed throughout the campaign, with none of the players accepting their tasks – which was borne of a culture throughout the team where no punishments were forthcoming no matter the crime.
Again an away win against a truly desperate Kaiserslautern side did little to convince fans or onlookers of Köln’s resolve or ambition to remain in the top-tier. Oda admitted the three points were an almighty struggle to obtain, but she was still hopeful the team were willing to fight – perhaps the confidence which a win brings would carry some momentum.
18.2.2012 Fingers, toes and whatever else can be crossed, are, in the hope of back to back wins for the first time since late September as the Billy Goats travel to Nurnberg. In the cities’ squares, brahaus’ and beer gardens there is a sense of joviality as the carnival is in full swing. The previous evening, pictures circulated with Poldi and Köln native Michael Schumacher enjoying themselves with what seemed like, no troubles in the world. Under the surface, for many like them the festivities added only as a temporary distraction from what was becoming a fairly tumultuous period. On the bench for the Lautern tie was Jong Tae-Se – a Korean forward from Bochum – ,who was brought in not by the coach, but general manager Finke without even a consultation with the man seemingly in charge of footballing affairs. Georg (41 ) summed up Solbakken as a stubborn man, who acted like a child when he did not get his way – the manner in which this transaction was carried out would do little to suppress this.

In retrospect Oda and the gang were confident going into this match, the two one defeat although not entirely surprising, dampened the carnival atmosphere in the city. A group of the players perhaps also still in a state of bemusement, choose to unwind at a nightclub at the tail end of the weekends celebrations. The trouble which flared at this juncture was one brought on by underlying tensions not just with the players but the fans as well. At any other time this may have blown over harmlessly, the professionals would have acted in a manner which was apposite – the intoxicated supporter eventually seeing sense through a peacekeeping associate. As Andy (45 ) pointed out – the attitude which ran through the side was one of nonchalant disregard for the consequences – this was now becoming an off-field issue as well as a footballing one.
25.2.2012 The outlook of the regular FC fan for matches was now of the negative variety – there was no hope, no rituals or prayers which could turn things round. Positive thoughts & energies can breed positivity – the flip side, well, that doesn’t instill much confidence let’s say. The e-mail is titled – “In my head – defeated again” as Oda prepared to head to the stands for conscription No 12.
26.2.2012 Another defeat – truly devastated is all that is mustered, further review would only bring to the surface any rage or heartbreak which was locked away. The unrelenting ties which bind you to your football club are as strong as the padlocks which adorn the cities’ main bridge over the Rhein. The only three certain truths in life are your mother, father and football team Frank points out, no matter how bad they feel – they will live or die by their side, the red and white will always run through them.
1.3.2012 One of the first notable anxieties facing a fan worried about the drop, is despairingly waiting and hoping on other results going your way. It is already red alert in Köln before the one all draw in Hoffenheim, as Freiburg and Hertha Berlin record wins and with their extra two points, move FC closer to the lower seats. The subject line prior to the match was amended from “defeat” to “win” and despite the results elsewhere, the avoidance of a loss was good for morale within the fans, if not the team itself.
10.3.2012 The energy coming from the latest mail obviously reverberated to the pitch – the excitement hard to contain, perhaps nerves also played a part in the jovial pre-match notes. Back in front of their own fans, Köln faced their faced real six-pointer of the season against fellow relegation candidates, Hertha Berlin. The one nil victory was succeeded with a quite uncharacteristic outpouring of emotion from Solbakken as he ran onto the pitch, arms raised defiantly, congratulating his players and soaking up the adulation of the vehement support.

What followed that evening was a great surprise to the fans, but perhaps not to the manager as the man who brought him to the club, Volker Finke was sacked as sporting director. At the time I wrote an article in the aftermath of the events which dominated Köln’s weekend, noting the removal of Finke as a message from the board that they had nailed the colours truly to the mast for Germany to see, firmly putting their weight behind the Norwegian boss for the foreseeable future. No love was lost between the two since the normally friendly, calm & collected Stale Solbakken, arrived in the summer – he complained to the board about the amount of influence Finke was trying to have on his decisions, and also his eagerness to openly discuss in-house discussions with the all too involved press hounds. Later on I was commended for my piece with Oda adding about the change in attitude and direction that those recent 90 minutes had positively had on the fate of the club.
17.3.2012 One of the toughest trips of the Bundesliga season came with what would have previously been the not so daunting trip to Hannover 96 – Mirko Slomka and his Reds – up until the end of the campaign, recorded the only unbeaten home record in the German top division. FC kept with their coat tails for the first forty-five but ended up on the end of a four one demolition in the second half. Hopefully the players weren’t beginning to wave the white flag. Next up though, BVB, who were playing like an unstoppable bullet train, only stopping momentarily to discard the remnants of their most recent victim’s – and the next approaching stadium was the RheinEnergie Stadion. Hope you’re sitting comfortably…..

26.3.2012 Oda is living in a nightmare, which is being played out horribly by a cast of amateur actors – the last act was a train wreck, Dortmund weren’t in any mood to stay behind and clear up. They had done irreparable damage. She was lost, and still is, lost for words – a royal horror show, where we know who ends up with the crown and who is living off precious little scraps. Again, frustratingly, Köln make a more than decent showing for the first half – holding the league leaders a goal apiece going into the break. Now is the time for manager’s to make their impact – the half-time team-talk – forcing their displeasures, rules, admiration, crockery, and whatever else on their troops who are soaking up the instructions, gearing up and focusing on the 2nd part of the battle. The rearguard held out for not very long at all, as holes behind the defence were probed and prodded with little resistance as five Borrusia attacks were comfortably converted to leave the home fans dumbfounded and dejected.

In the last six home matchdays, the Billy Goats had went into the break either in an advantageous position or held the other side and only taken four points from a possible eighteen – nowhere near good enough for a side looking to maintain their Bundesliga status. As Andy described the season as a rollercoaster – the unpredictability and ups and downs the fans were even experiencing during matches themselves must have left them feeling like they were going through an emotional wringer.

Things on the home front in Paradise were not making my German friend feel much better – she wishes she had my worries, which were at the time coming to terms with a domestic treble dream ending in a League Cup final defeat to Kilmarnock, and losing out on the chance to clinch the league title on your greatest rivals backyard – not the greatest week in my own 2011-12 diary, but certainly not as desperate as facing possible impending demotion. Next Saturday she now bills as the most important of the whole season – to watch or stay below cover?

31.3.2012 FC Augsburg were not mathematically safe, but they had put themselves on a good footing with a series of impressive outings since their promotion last season. Would the pressure of a surely fired-up and desperate Köln eleven, be a bridge too far for the new recruits of the Bundesliga? Unfortunately for our FC faithful, Augsburg again performed admirably and without fear, winning two one and sending Koln to a third straight defeat. Our group of fans sit in disbelief – as they nurse their Kölsch’s – the thick air of despondency is broken with a rallying call, – “A New Game means New Luck!” – hopefully they were not running on empty.

07.4.2012 The fighting spirit which had been evident in the earlier part of the season, showed some resurgence at home to Werder Bremen. This was one of the things Jörn was proud of then, and a break from the listlessness he had endured in the rueckrunde was a nice change in this one all draw. The business end of the season is not referred to as such for no reason, the players need to roll their sleeves up and buckle down to ensure every blade of grass is disturbed and the paying public are assured the determination they put in is reciprocated.

10.4.2012 Pathetic. Lost for words. Sick. Disgusted. Disarray. Lack of discipline. Do these players want to stay here? Playing the big matches, paid handsomely, and enjoy life? Mainz – the carnival club – make a mockery of their visitors racing into a three goal lead before taking it easy in the second period and inflicting only one more dagger to the heart of this side – then again, perhaps that organ was not beating through the team? The fans have had their share and want out, but there is no early escape clause – we can’t fast forward to the summer and find out the result. As I said to Oda, whatever performances are produced, in these final stages of the season the next four games are vital – and the fans have to stay strong.
15.4.2012 The illness is spreading, we are in a critical state and Borussia Monchengladbach turn up to play, Marco Reus dazzling the tired and weary FC players with some succulent skills. Solbakken is gone – too little, too late? A new coach is brought in, but he is an old head and had been in charge before. I feel like saying that perhaps this decision should have already been taken, or left till the end of May – but what use is this, like teaching a fish how to swim.

21.4.2012 The new man in charge issues a defiant and strong call to arms – the club, the fans and the players need to stick together – a siege mentality has to be implemented. Oda admits her responsibility and heads to her seat for the penultimate home fixture of a tumultuous season. She would rather stay in bed, hear and see nothing. My fingers are crossed – Regards from – in every respect – stormy Cologne….

22.4.12 Home to Stuttgart – the team, the fans fought back positively. Gave place a lift and looked as though performance could kick-start a revival scene – the point was well deserved and the energies from the stands and players were relentless from the first whistle – the excitement is building for the trip to Freiburg with Köln sitting out of the bottom two but in the play-off position. A draw, I feel would be good as SC have a good record in front of their own fans – with Gladbach playing Augsburg, it is not impossible that FC could drag themselves out from the desperate situation they have played themselves into.

28.4.2012 The final whistle has just gone – all I get in my inbox : I AM FED UP! (There were more exclamations than that but it looked untidy.) It was a tough one to take, Podolski dragged his team back into the match in the second half but again, the defence was unable to absorb any penetration and they capitulated again. A win next week and FC avoid immediate relegation and have the saving grace of two matches against the third placed side from Bundesliga.2 who will be foaming at the mouth for the wins. As the carrot dangles for them, Köln have their own next week, at home to the runners-up in the league – FC Bayern Munich. They are due to star in the Champions League final and DFB Pokal showpiece finale after this last league game and have already been resting.some star players. These preparations stand Köln in good stead, but already on numerous occasions this season – the team have been guilty of shooting themselves in the foot.

05.5.2012 Not since matchday three, have Köln been occupying either of the automatic relegation spots – even now, in the thirty-fourth and final week, they are still in sixteenth position and two points ahead of Hertha. It’s them or FC, Kaiserslautern are long gone and awaiting their companion to ease the journey into the tough world of 2.Bundesliga. Wishing the day away, Oda has been contemplating life out of the top-tier all through the night – the many connotations and permutations causing her brain to not even allow the contemplation of sleep. The weather is in the home teams favour, Rain – which will make for an unpredictable surface and hopefully curtail the more gifted Bayern players and assist in evening out the playing field. But could the extra weight drown the already weary souls in white & red who have not at all points looked worthy of wearing the prestigious jersey?

A week later 11.5.2012 “……deeply upset. Devastated.”

As the fans dejectedly sift through the rubble, looking for any hope or salvation, they can be satisfied that they will still be in the stands however long it takes to return to the Bundesliga. Although a banner unveiled at the Bayern Munich game read – “Bye Poldi! We would leave too – if only we could!” – Oda, Jorn, Andy, Georg, Henrik, Frank and the thousands of other fans will all return next season and beyond, and travel to cities that previously they may never have heard of or knew existed. The reconstruction of Koln from board room level all the way through to the pitch, was already underway by the time I had begun this commentary, but hopefully the recovery is tread on a less treacherous path for all involved.


Young James Forrest takes the plaudits from the sensational Hoops faithful

“I’d like to shoot you all” is the follow-up line from that song and during the first forty-five in Leith last night, a few Celtic fans would have been uttering similar sentiments at their own players. Another dire start to a game in which you would feel highly confident going into, led you too wonder what mindset these players were in.

The Celtic gaffer promised a mauling was to be served up to the next team who showed vulnerability, and in the second half Celtic could smell blood – in the away dressing room at half time they would’ve been licking their wounds (or switching to your match-turning boots in James Forrest’s’ case). In the top left corner, it certainly looked like a lesson was dished out – but Neil Lennon will again be scratching his head at how poorly and disorganised the Bhoys appeared in the first half. Only a Fraser Forster block before the whistle stopped Celtic going in two nil behind, and especially in a cup tie, you have to wonder what effect that would have on the players psyche and if they would have regrouped as well.

My good friend @daviep83, labelled it the worst 45 in a cast list as long as Lurch’s arm, and its hard to fathom what the problem is with the players and motivation at kick off – perhaps Lennon should give his half time team talk pre-match. The polar opposite was a major theme running through Martin O’Neill’s Celtic side, and the lift an early goal gave the crowd and players was usually enough to have depleted the oppositions’ resolve aswell. I would love for once for Celtic take the second half thunder, and pressurise the opponents from the first whistle – this would in essence relieve some of the pressure on the boss and his backroom staff as the Bhoys in attack and midfield have shown their potential firepower.

Hooper

A beaming Gary Hooper - a sight I want to see much more of!

The one defining positive from the night was Gary Hooper getting on the score sheet – a mere statue in the first half, the Englishman gave the ball away with almost every touch and also managed to miss a glaring opportunity from within the six yard box from a Beram Kayal cross. The majority of Hoopers performances this season have given cause for concern and it wasn’t long before a question mark over his happiness and loyalty to the Celtic cause were brought up. The free scoring, lively frontman has cut a forlorn figure in attack and only a handful of strikes against SPL teams is not good enough for a forward at Celtic – last night another glimmer of his undoubted ability will hopefully have his confidence reignited.

James Forrest, the young wide player has shown his more experienced counterparts up with his sheer grit & determination and last night he got his reward. The first a great strike from the angle of the box, and the second, my favourite of the two, a clinical finish following a neat run and one two with Tony Stokes. The goals from the midfield could well be telling when the silverware is handed out in May – Ki, Ledley and the clubs current top scorer wearing no 49 have contributed the most to the cause so far this campaign.  Inconsistency in defence, due to injury and poor form has cost us dearly at the back – I hope young Thomas Rogne can continue his solid showing last night against Hibs again at the weekend. The Norwegian centre back did one thing in the first half which I have been looking for nearly all season – he came out of defence and attacked a high ball with gusto and purpose midway in his own half which immediately took the ball right back deep into Hibernian territory.

Our opponents last night, have only won five competitive games since July -Colin Calderwood is probably the most under pressure manager in Scotland besides Neil Lennon. They also love conceding goals, so last nights second half capitulation wasn’t a surprise to many regulars at Easter Road. The team directly above them, only with better goal difference, were three nil up on us a week and a half ago – Celtic have taken over a month to get back to winning ways, a slog and a battle it has been but hopefully our newly found fighting qualities can lead us to a sustained run of victories.


Celtic will need to take opportunities like this come Thursday evening

Celtic go into their 2nd Europa League group fixture on Thursday with a depleted back line due to injury and ineligibility and also a severe lack of confidence . Johan Mjallby has come out and publicly criticised goalkeeper and back four following Saturday’s game against Caley, hoping to get a reaction perhaps and musing that mistakes like that will be punished in Europe.

Even though they have taken the decision to rest Di Natale http://www.celticnewsnow.com/news/Udinese-to-travel-without-Antonio-Di-Natale/29329?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=TwitterFeed , Udinese have plenty in reserve to take advantage of the Bhoys weak and slow defence. Majstorivic was again at the heart of many of the lapses at the weekend and his partnership with experienced Dutchman Glenn Loovens was nothing short of a comedy double act at times. No matter how many European, International or Glasgow derbies these guys encounter – a lot of the time you could be forgiven for thinking they had just met in the tunnel and forgot the essential qualities a defender has to possess.

With that in mind, Celtic, as Gary Hooper rightly pointed out, need to treat this match like an SPL game and take the bull by the horns and the middle & final thirds of the pitch. A player who would relish this opportunity to take the game to the Italians is Kris Commons who Mjallby has also revealed is suffering from a bug and will sit out the tie – the Scotland international has missed the last three games with a “groin injury” even though he advised his fans via twitter he was fit to play against Rangers. Hopefully the player to step up the mantle will be free scoring youngster James Forrest who added to his double at Motherwell at the beginning of the month with another good strike in Saturday’s win – my Lennoxtown mole is an avid admirer of Forrest and has noted on several occasions his striking is in his opinion the most powerful at the club and could be his secret weapon for continually making it at this level.

Whether Celtic can get their noses in front is another question – Udinese have only conceded two goals in all competitions so far this season & one of them came against free scoring Rennes in then first round of games in Europa League Group I.  The old adage regarding Italian teams being hard to break down seems to bear some fruit here and the fact that following their scouting trip on Saturday, Udinese have left out a couple of their top stars shows that Celtic being able to compete with the best at home in Europe is no longer a danger which opponents fear. I feel an early goal and  prolonged period of pressure will need to be put into effect on Thursday, this will get the crowd behind the bhoys and also ease the pressure on the defence which has been hamstrung by early goals in Europe in recent years.


I am sitting on a Sunday morning agreeing with Joey Barton – not just regarding the running of Newcastle Football club but also of his own interpretation of footballer’s on Twitter. “It’s quite worrying that a man who use to run casino’s is now making footballing decisions”. The world of Social media now controls the interaction between club and fan & journalist and reader, so it wasn’t long before the professionals got in on the act.  The QPR midfielder’s justification for starting his account, was to clarify stories in the press from journo’s about his life off and on the pitch, and perhaps deny or comment on them so his supporters could see the real Barton.  You wouldn’t be a fool for thinking that the relationship between the two may have mirrored his previous idiocracy on nights out & training pitches, but Joey Barton has reinvented himself on the site.  He has shown more depth, intelligence and level-headedness than any of us have witnessed from him on a Saturday afternoon – and as well as football issues, he has tackled “The Big Society”, backed a petition campaign for the Hillsborough disaster and tried to analyze the psyche of the rioters in England just a month or so back. Which is all good and well…..but when can footballers and tweets go awry? As well as Barton putting the death knell in his Newcastle career by questioning the whereabouts of the Andy Caroll bullion there is also this example….

“Was fit and available for selection. Don’t know why I wasn’t picked but gotta work hard to get back in!!!”

This was Kris Commons following the weekend’s defeat at Ibrox. There are some good points from this message, mainly that he feels fit and also that he will work hard to try to regain his place – but the ins and outs of his non selection are in the managers head until he, and only he feels the need to air them. Neil Lennon has now went on record on a few occasions after Sunday to explain certain decisions and the tweet was not omitted from questioning  “He is obviously frustrated he was left out of the squad and I accept that but won’t make a massive issue of that,I’d have preferred it to be kept in-house, but this is the modern way of it – social networking seems to be the way forward.”  So even @NeilLennon sees the benefits!! I don’t think the issue would have plagued me as much if the midfielder had started the season the way he had played since joining – and major concerns over his fitness and derriere haven’t been helped by drinking copious amounts of lager on a boys golfing holiday. So hopefully talk of fall outs with management and dietary issues are going to be put to one side in the coming weeks when Kris can back up his tweet with some performances on the pitch.

There are now twenty-eight youth, former and current Celtic players on Twitter  (http://twitter.com/#!/walshybhoy/celtic-players/members) all bringing their own aspects of life to the online community. The type of interaction can range from their feelings or arrangements before a match, family occasions, and interests and hobbies out with the beautiful game.  This instant interaction is like e-manna for mere mortals like us who idolize players, a glimpse or even a re-tweet can make someones day just like an autograph or picture outside the training ground. Just yesterday I was left amazed when John Hartson read my cousin’s blog – and then to add to it, he also replied as he had gone through a similar experience – this kind of relationship would previously be a one in a million shot and cannot be undervalued.  Thankfully this group of online Celts’ has not muddied the waters with the fans and everything so far has been extremely good-natured – this good nature can also extend to their involvement with charity ventures, and their retweets and endorsements can add so much to not only affiliated club charities, but ones close to their own and supporters hearts.

It’s hard to imagine what the reaction of past stars’ antics would have with their followers – Paolo Di Canio’s “leetle problem”,  Eyal Berkovic’s hand gesture to the Jock Stein Stand or even the intellectual musings of Eric Cantona after his kung-fu attack at Selhurst Park. Many managers and owners have questioned players involvement on the site, but in a day & age when the gap between the working class fan and board level hierarchy is ever-widening its refreshing for the fan to still be within tweeting distance.