“I was expecting a better welcome from Glasgow - I came and we got Storm Ciara, Storm Dennis and COVID-19, so that was a great welcome to Scotland!” manager Fran Alonso laughed.
While much has passed in the world since the Spaniard’s appointment in January, not much has on a pitch.
It was a dream start to his time at the helm topping his League Cup group and recording a dramatic and famous win over this weekend’s opponents Glasgow City, but just as Alonso was becoming accustomed to Scotland, lock down was imposed and football ceased.
But despite the bumby beginnings, the manager still believes it was the right time to move from the English Championship and join the Hoops and insists his enthusiasm for the club has only strengthened since.
“I probably picked a time that wasn’t the easiest, but that was when the team became professional for the first time in history, so for me that was the right time to join Celtic. I love the city, the country and the club, and I know it hasn’t been easy for anyone but I am even more enthusiastic now than when I was when I signed,” he told.
The long road to football’s return finally ends this Sunday as the Celts travel to face Glasgow City in the new 2020/2021 season, with February’s victory over the Champions declared void and the slate wiped clean.
“We can’t wait for the competition and we believe this group can reach good highs this season. We don’t want to put numbers on it and we will fight against super teams and it will obviously be difficult for us, but we can’t wait.
“It hasn’t been easy for any club or anyone, it’s been a tough time for everyone, but at least we are lucky enough that we have football. Some people have lost more important things so we have to realise how lucky we are.
“If I could choose, I’d rather we carried on from where we left it, because we beat a team that isn’t beaten very often and we did so in a great way, so it’s a little bit of a shame but I understand.
“We will try to repeat that amazing day, but we know it will be tough,” he said.
Despite the months passing without work being allowed to commence on the grass, Alonso has found the silver linings in the copious time left on his hands. While the four games completed before shutdown gave him a better insight to the Scottish game than what he arrived with, he spent his time in isolation well, swatting up on the league and giving himself the knowledge he didn’t have upon his arrival.
He said: “It helped massively and it taught me a lot. The time off also gave me time to research so I now know almost every player from every team, and my staff have been outstanding in research and they already know the game. Every team will have new things now we are back, but it definitely helped me to learn the Scottish game, because it is very different to Spain or England.”
And with take two for the boss about to get underway, he’s hoping for a more settled outing this time round, even in today’s ‘new normal’.
Image/Source: Celtic FC Women