Aug 21 2009 by Gordon Bannerman, Perthshire Advertiser Friday
OWEN Coyle posted a timely reminder that David can slay Goliath by inspiring Burnley to a shock 1-0 Premiership win over champions Manchester United in midweek.
His former club makes for Celtic Park tomorrow with the bookies writing off Perth prospects of repeating a rare victory secured 11 years ago by a Nick Dasovic strike.
That memorable St Johnstone win marked their first triumph in Glasgow’s East End for 27 years.
The sole survivor of that night is keeper Alan Main but while history may be stacked against the SPL newcomers, manager Derek McInnes knows the Burnley result hasn’t gone unnoticed in the Saints dressing room.
The Saints boss said: “No one was expecting Burnley to win that one outwith Coylie’s dressing room. But nothing is a total surprise in football. These things do happen.
“Like us, Burnley have earned the right to compete at the top level. Coylie instilled belief in his players that they could get a result.
“We go into this game as massive underdogs and I can understand why. We all know it will take a massive effort to get any sort of result from Celtic Park. But we have a point to prove. There are always upsets over the course of a season and hopefully we can produce one in Glasgow.”
McInnes assessed Celtic in their midweek European defeat from Arsenal but his preparations are influenced more by the Hoops’ impressive domestic performance against Aberdeen last week.
“Tony Mowbray has a strong squad and can freshen things up if he wants. But we have to prepare ourselves properly. We will have to defend soundly, work hard against the ball, pose them problems and take chances when they come along.”
McInnes could tweak his line-up for the first away game of the campaign but he stressed: “We won’t be going there just to defend. We have given the Old Firm tough games in cup competitions.
“I would be disappointed if any of my players were overawed by the occasion. This is the stage we all want to play and manage on. You want to test yourself at this level. I have players with experience and ability. I also have young players. But regardless of their age they have to be brave, confident and go out to effect the game.
“There should be a sense of excitement about any game but this is our first league game at Parkhead for seven years. My players will relish experiencing this environment. Our fans have been denied this for years so they will be thrilled by the prospect.
“We can take heart form the performance against Motherwell and changes in personnel and system aren’t always down to results and performances.”
Chris Millar returned to training yesterday after a calf injury but Graeme Smith, Peter MacDonald, Kevin Rutkiewicz, Andy Jackson and Kevin Moon are still out.
Full-back Gary Irvine underwent tidy-up ankle surgery over the summer and spent opening day on the bench. But his heart is set on playing tomorrow, at a club where he grew up.
Irvine said: “It was tough missing out on a special day against Motherwell, especially after playing every game last season. But I had a couple of injections on the ankle after it flared-up.
“I’ve been looking forward to playing at Parkhead all summer. I’ve still got friends in the team and on the coaching staff.”
Irvine will be charged with halting close pal Shaun Maloney and he said: “Both our full-backs will have their work cut out holding Shaun and Aiden McGeady. They are class wingers.
“They were hard enough to handle in training when I was at Celtic. But I’ve been away for two years and they have kept improving.
“Celtic will be desperate to bounce back from the defeat from Arsenal. They will be fired-up for Tony Mowbray’s first home league game in charge. But it was always going to be a tough challenge for us. Nothing has changed and we have to be 100% in everything we do.”
*PERTH fans making for Celtic Park tomorrow should leave in plenty time with major roadworks between the Big County and Glasgow.
*SAINTS are inviting fans to trawl through their attics and basement to turn-up artefacts from the club’s 125-year history.
The club is producing a DVD to mark the milestone anniversary. They are keen to unearth old film footage and souvenirs.
And older supporters are being invited to record memories of the Recreation Ground or Muirton Park.