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Strachan tips Crosas to provide Celtic´s imagination

SoccerNews in Scottish Premier League 11 Aug 2008

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Gordon Strachan admitted Celtic lacked imagination after their opening day 1-0 victory at home to St Mirren – but he believes new signing Marc Crosas could be the man to provide it.

The Parkhead club got their Scottish Premier League title defence off to Sunday's low key win – courtesy of a Barry Robson penalty in the second half.

Strachan was disappointed with his side's performance and confessed he would be looking for a big improvement.

However, the Celtic manager believes his team's chances of winning four titles in a row have been boosted by the arrival of Spanish holding midfielder Crosas.

The 20-year-old was paraded in front of the 57,441 crowd before Sunday's game, after completing his 400,000 pound transfer from Barcelona to pen a four year deal with the Glasgow giants.

And Strachan believes Crosas could provide the imaginative spark his side were missing against St Mirren – once he breaks into the first team.

The Celtic manager said: “We were not very effective against St Mirren. You have to congratulate them for the way they played but we didn't have the imagination to break them down and we have to look at ourselves.

“I would have thought raising the league flag before the game and the party atmosphere would have inspired the players but that didn't happen.

“It could be a good result by the end of the season but as a coach you look at the performance and we will have to work to improve.

“I'm happy to see Marc signing as he can pass the ball 15-yards and we couldn't do that very well on Sunday.

“He brings passing ability, imagination and a bit of zest, but we have good players here so he will have to work hard before he gets a game.”

Before Sunday's game the Celtic supporters had celebrated the unfurling of the league flag, with the duty performed by Rosemary Burns, widow of Celtic legend Tommy, who had lost his battle against skin cancer towards the end of the last season.

Unfortunately the raising of the flag, along with Crosas' appearance to take a bow, was the highlight of the afternoon's entertainment for the home support.

St Mirren almost took the lead in the second minute.

Garry Brady cut in from the right to unleash a powerful left-foot effort which required Celtic's Polish goalkeeper Artur Boruc to save low to his left.

Although Celtic soon took command, their lethargic display meant they rarely troubled St Mirren goalkeeper Mark Howard.

Indeed it was the visitors who again came closest to opening the scoring at the start of the second half.

Billy Mehmet's first time shot from 18-yards looked destined for the corner of the net until Boruc threw himself to his left to tip the ball onto the post.

But in the 62nd minute Celtic scored their first goal of the new season after being awarded a penalty.

St Mirren's central defender Will Haining had allowed Lee Naylor's hopeful ball forward to run through to Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and just as the Dutch striker prepared to shoot the Saints defender pulled him back.

Referee Eddie Smith pointed to the spot and showed Haining a straight red card.

Robson duly converted from 12-yards, despite Howard managing to get a hand to the ball, to secure all three points for the champions.

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