Football: Macari's luck holds

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The Independent Online
Celtic. . . . . . 3

Partick Thistle. .0

JUST when Celtic's beleaguered directors thought it was safe to raise their heads above the parapet, their ears were assaulted again by calls for their dismissal. It seems the appointment of Lou Macari as manager is not enough to appease those supporters who still believe the club is heading in the wrong direction.

Many are anxious to see the demise of the current board, and the main car-park at the front of Celtic Park was yesterday used as a rallying point for the disgruntled, who began gathering more than an hour and a half before the start of the game against Partick Thistle.

Their message was clear: we back the players but not the directors. The directors' hold on the club will be tested severely at the end of the month when an influential group of shareholders, who have devised a scheme which would provide Celtic with pounds 18m, will attempt to win control. In the meantime, Macari and his players can do no more than play their part on and off the pitch.

Already one player, Mike Galloway, who was holding out for an improved contract, has been satisfied, but the defender was unable to celebrate by playing against Thistle because of injury. Also missing were John Collins and Gary Gillespie. Naturally, Thistle arrived in Glasgow's East End believing that they could derive some benefit from Celtic's various problems.

Thistle carried some early menace, but were unable to breach Celtic's defences. One of their strikers, Gerry Britton, a former Celtic player, was the main offender, missing three good opportunities, and Thistle were made to pay a heavy price. As soon as Celtic moved into forward gear it became clear that their opponents would suffer.

Pat McGinlay scored either side of half-time, in the 35th and 72nd minutes, and the irrepressible Charlie Nicholas also found the net with a diving header in the 54th. In fact, if Celtic had taken a reasonable proportion of the chances they created, the afternoon would have been a humiliation for Thistle, who had managed to escape with a point on each of their previous three trips to Celtic Park.

A goal down at the break, they were left behind in the second half, when they were reduced to chasing shadows as Celtic's confidence and momentum increased. There were spells when Macari's side cut through the opposition with an ease which can only have been encouraging for the new Celtic manager.