Midfielder Matt O’Riley believes it is incumbent on Brendan Rodgers’ team to experience, and provide, enjoyment as they return to their home arena for a face off with St Johnstone on Saturday. When there will be an onus on make amends with their faithful for a desperate display at Rugby Park that has brought intense blowback for the Northern Irishman and his injury-hampered, reshaped squad.
Indeed, there are no fewer than 60,000 reasons why they must immediately deal with that. As early as last week the sold-out signs were posted for both the imminent meeting with the Perth club and indeed the encounter that won’t bring Dundee to the east end of Glasgow until mid-September. O’Riley believes no-one in the Celtic squad should ever become blaise over such backing. Not when so few clubs in the footballing firament can command it for what would be considered relatively low-key fixtures.
“It’s amazing, very unique in that sense,” he said. “I think we should all feel pretty lucky as players to be a part of that environment. For most of the players in this team, in their career, they are not going to be involved in anything like that ever again. [The fact against] so-called smaller teams in the league like St Johnstone and Dundee we are getting 60,000, just shows how big the club really is.
“I don’t think people understand the magnitude of the club until they are really up here. You hear things about Celtic and Rangers being really big clubs, but until you are actually here in the city and really feel it I don’t think you can get the same sense of that. I know where I am. I think I am mature enough to recognise that playing in front of 60,000 every week is something you can’t take for granted. There are people who will never be lucky enough to do that at all, so I think you have to make the most of it every week and the more people you play in front of the more enjoyable it is. There is more energy in there and, yes, it’s the most fun I have.’