Cautious optimism with one weak spot


In days of yore Celtic would rattle nine goals past the Finnish champions on European Cup duty.  That was never going to be on the cards last night but there remains a clear gap in quality between the teams.  HJK Helsinki are no better than Hearts, but were clearly sharper.

The tie remains very much in the balance, a ‘Big Dan moment’, similar to what happened away to Sion last season, and the odds would stack heavily against Celtic progressing, and although HJK didn’t impress much, neither did Utrecht, who lost 2-0 at Celtic Park two years ago before wiping the floor with a disorganised Celtic a week later.

I have a few concerns.

Last season it worried me how dependent we had become on Charlie Mulgrew to create goals.  His delivery from the left back position, not to mention his runs to the back post, were significant in Celtic overcoming the early season deficit.

Today we are a few central defenders lighter, if not any worse off in that department, but without Charlie galloping down the wing we are immeasurably less potent.  Emilio is an able left back, but his performances are several degrees below his Player of the Year form and he is categorically not a goal creator.  A double jeopardy is that when Emilio is behind Georgios Samaras on the left, instead of the more defensively minded Joe Ledley, we seem to have a real weak point.

If we are to start with a lone striker and five in the middle next week we’ll need Charlie on the left.  This will stiffen up our weak spot and give HJK more to worry about.

The video moment for the players to study must surely be Georgios Samaras cross for the first Celtic goal.  In case you missed it, the cross evaded the first defender.  In this respect it was quite stunning and contrasted markedly to what was going on across on the right wing for most of the evening.

Early Player of the Year tip: Adam Matthews.  Usain Bolt must be relieved our man is not a sprinter almost as much as Victor Wanyama is relieved he’s a footballer.

Our three raffles end at 19:10 TONIGHT!  For the sum of only £1 you stand a chance of winning a painting of Henrik Larsson mid goal celebration, Scott Brown inventing the Broony or a print of our manager in his playing days.

It has never been easier or cheaper to contribute to the concept of what our club is all about, go buy a ticket.

Martin Chambers of the Ecuador Trust was in touch this morning.  He said, “If you are able to help, the money will be used to fund the Soup Kitchen that we run each day feeding 150 of the poorest children in the shanty town – kids who would otherwise go hungry.  Hope to hear from you soon” (he means you).

Feeding kids who would otherwise go hungry.  Where have you heard that idea before?

The four beneficiaries are; The Haven, Cancer Respite Centre, Blantyre, Oscar Knox Neuroblastoma Appeal, Martin Chambers Ecuador Trust and Aberdour Primary School Parents Association.

For £1 you can win:

A celebrating Henrik Larsson painting.
A painting of Scott Brown in classic pose.
A Neil Lennon print.

What are you waiting on, do it now, there are only a few hours left! And after you have clicked on ‘buy a ticket’, DON’T FORGET TO PAY, as some people have. Just like social taxes, paying for your raffle ticket is NOT optional!

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  1. Really enjoyed out first competitive match last night.



    My bhoys and me were over in section 119 – was quite impressed with the view….my kids had a laugh listening to the HJK supporters….they were convinced that at one point they were chanting “Vodka…Vodka”



    Great support last night and overall a good performance.



    Started very brightly and I think because we never got an early goal we stuttered a wee bit from 20 mins on.



    Never had any doubt we would win it, it could have been 4 or 5.



    Special mention to a few players…. 2nd half Hooper chased and harried and was a real pest. His team mates seemed to react to this and they all applied pressure. Thought Broonie did very well, covered everywhere and Joe Deadly in the 2nd half was also really good. Big Sami tried his heart out but was just wasn’t his night but as usual the big man never hid. Big Vic did ok but he is a wee bit too hesitant at the back, he should take the Bobo approach……”it’s ma baw so oot the way”…still remember when he clattered De Boer – class!! Confident for the 2nd leg.



    BTW – KevJ & Sydneytim……. First competitive game of the season and you 2 are still spewing a lot of nonsense. Away and purchase a blow up doll and some adult reading material and see if that will put a smile on your face. Because the hoops don’t appear to bring you any happiness.

  2. Dontbrattbakkinanger on

    We need to go there looking to score early- we’re not capable of going there to defend a 2-1 lead for 90 minutes.

  3. Paul67



    Hugely frustrated with last night, as every time we upped the tempo they were on the verge of crumbling.



    Still baffled why 20 minutes in we put Samaras up front and moved Commons wide.



    Izzy needs start having a bit of belief in himself sooner rather than later.

  4. Quietly confident of progress after last night.



    A wee bit ring rust but with the rub o the green we could have been out of sight.



    18 games into their season would suggest we’ve seen what they have in their locker. Nothing to be scared of except ourselves.

  5. The main danger from them came down their right and we’ll need to stiffen that up. I like Charlie at left back but the conundrum is the pairing in the middle of defence. For me Victor is better in the midfield and that leaves Rogne and one other. Lustig or Wilson?

  6. Two weeks later we would hump HJK. By the time final qualifier comes we will be up to speed. Just need a result next Wednesday.




  7. We have enough to get past the Finns so long as we do the things that we are capable of and turn up in the correct frame of mind.

  8. Snake Plissken on 2 August, 2012 at 12:07 said:



    I hope it is third time lucky as well. I just think we will get better the more we play.



    Sure we need some new players – I don’t need to tell anyone what positions they should play in. This squad is good enough to get past the Finns and if we add one or two, good enough for the group stages.

  9. The Battered Bunnet on

    Paul, Charlie at left back? We’ve been over this before. It’s not a good idea. He’s grown unexpectedly into an accomplished central defender, with more to come in that department.



    Izzy needs some careful and considered management to get him back in the right frame of mind. Taking out our best centre half to cover for a recovering Izaguirre merely compounds a problem.



    A central midfield with Ledley and Brown either side of Kayal or Wanyama, with Samaras and Forrest wide creates an umbrella for the defence, one that they are going to need in Helsinki next week.



    I think we’re going to be watching the return leg through the cracks in our fingers from behind the couch.

  10. Philvis,


    I don’t suppose the word INCORRIGIBLE ever creeps into your consciousness.



  11. I see Craigy Bhoy is still ducking and diving…




    The sale of a Bentley driven by former Rangers owner Craig Whyte has been blocked in a court battle.



    A company part-owned by Mr Whyte and under sole directorship of his father Thomas lodged papers with Inverness Sheriff Court earlier this week to stop the sale of the red coupe.



    The car had been scheduled to be sold at British Car Auctions in Robroyston after it was seized to raise funds for his estranged wife Kim.



    On Wednesday a sheriff signed an application by Edinburgh solicitors Gillespie McAndrew on behalf of Liberty Corporate Limited, which is part-owned by Mr Whyte’s British Virgin Islands-based Liberty Capital Limited.



    It is believed the company is claiming ownership of the Bentley and that it cannot be sold to pay Mr Whyte’s wife

  12. Our two full backs play like wing backs most of the time, leaving the two central defenders on their own. If we play Victor as a defensive midfielder he can drop in to make it a three when we are attacking. Either that or only one full back goes at a time.

  13. pedrocaravanachio67 on

    Awe_Naw_No_Annoni_Oan_Anaw_Noo on 2 August, 2012 at 10:53 said:



    Great read……………….One helluva size of carpet for all that sweeping under to be done.


    I know it’s a long shot, but i still have hope that EUFA will get involved and maybe even the BDO findings ( whenever that happens ) will finish them.



    where is der bomber these days? all went a bit quiet.

  14. In late last night so didn’t get a chance to look at the post match comments but it seems like most were fairly sensible and positive, with a few others best left unmentioned.


    Thought the Finns were very lucky to still be in the game at 0-0 after twenty minutes when you consider some of the chances we created- but for the rest of the first half they looked a team that were both physically and more importantly mentally fitter. And yet in the second half when we really upped the tempo and went at them, particularly in the latter stages, they really looked dead on their feet and we looked the fitter of the two teams. On a very positive note: we look much fitter than we did last season, the players stamina last night was phenomenal and we seemed to get stronger the game went on.


    Thought their goal was truly awful to lose, typical Celtic you might say. What was Wanyama doing? Izzy was well out of position for the goal, as he was for much of the match. Izzy looked as sluggish as i’ve seen him and yet he looked decent at times going forward, even if he wasn’t at his brilliant best. Our response to the goal was fantastic and we should really have won by a lot more than we did. HJK will be very relieved and happy they are only a goal behind after they were put through the ringer in the second half onslaught.


    As for Lenny’s lineup, tactics and decision making, I can’t say I agree with all of them, but then that’s football and we are all geniuses in hindsight. Didn’t agree with Big Vic at CB- what kind of message does it send out to two international CB’s like Rogne and Lustig when a midfielder can get a game ahead of them? Rogne needs to be reassured that he can be relied upon as I think confidence is often his downfall. Last night wouldn’t have helped in this respect. Though Big Vic was a bit of a bomb scare at times, he is far too casual at times, as he lost possession numerous times. Couldn’t believe that either him or Kayal were not in centre mid, as the back two need protection- the middle two of the Finns took control of the game at times because there was little bite from us in that area. We really missed Big Vic and Kayal in that space in front of defence.


    As for the substitutes: Lenny brought off Commons just as he was coming into the game. Yeah he didn’t play great and his shooting boots were a tad skewed but he looked dangerous. What about Sammy? He made the goal but he was unbelievably frustrated at times and he looked done in after 70 minutes- instead he left him on with 3 mins to go and then brought on Paddy. What can Paddy do in three minutes…I know they call him the Derry Pele but come on…even the real Pele at his peak couldn’t do anything with only three minutes to go. Thought Hooper, despite his goal, was very poor, and could have been hooked, then maybe Forrest would have scored with that chance he had!


    Personally I would have took Sammy off and Hooper for Paddy and Stokes on 70 mins as both looked largely clueless and jiggered ( despite the first goal) and would have brought on Lustig for Brown ( although he did play better as game went on) and sent Wanyama into CM just to solidify things in that central space.


    Nonetheless we should be too strong for them and with another competitive game against Aberdeen coming up we should be that bit sharper next week- but with us away in Europe and our propensity to shoot ourselves in the foot even ordinary teams seem to have a chance against us despite the gulf in class- still I’m confident we will beat them over there. Another 2-1.

  15. philvisreturns on

    pedrocaravanachio67 – where is der bomber these days? all went a bit quiet.



    Maybe he got a bit tired of hanging about outside Ibrox shouting “where’s ra deeds?”. That’s thirsty work.



    Either that or the JobCentre staff made him go for interviews. (thumbsup)

  16. celticinthesun on

    Charlie and Victor are the type centre back pairing I think we need in europe. Two players that can keep the ball.



    McManusing in europe is no no.

  17. Son of Gabriel on





    Pressing starts from the front, passing starts from the back and possession starts with the keeper.





    Personally I would rather have Charlie at CB, having someone in there who can step the ball out of defence can be invaluable, as much as I liked having him in advanced positions from LB.


    Izzy will continue to improve but to me he was always best with Joe or Commons in front of him. In My Opinion of course.



    Agree with the sentiment we have to attack over there next week. CANNOT setup to defend. 1 goal changes whole complexion of the tie.




  18. Son of Gabriel on

    Also, Kayal will hopefully get game time at Weekend and be in better shape next week, should make a huge difference.

  19. traditionalist88 on

    Lenny has to either give Paddy more game time or sell him. 15/20 mins to give him a chance. Giving him 4 minutes is not fair on anyone. We know he has his limitations but he also has dribbling and passing skills which Scott Brown can only dream of.



    I say give him more game time.




  20. .



    Paul67 Said:



    The video moment for the players to study must surely be Georgios Samaras cross for the first Celtic goal.  In case you missed it, the cross evaded the first defender.  In this respect it was quite stunning and contrasted markedly to what was going on across on the right wing for most of the evening.






    Paul67.. My Bhoy Goergious has been Putting these Crosses in for Celtic since The Moaning Marsupial Days.. Sammi would Cross the Ball Half a Thou.. in front of the Last Defender for Skippy to Connect.. Unfortunately for Celtic Skippy was always Half a Yard Slow or His Gut would be Offside when His Erchie was Still on the Halfway Line..



    And Still He Moaned at Sammi followed by the Sammi Haters in the Crowd..;0(



    Summa of TheMoaningMarsupialMelbournesNo1AntiFanCSC

  21. Awe_Naw_No_Annoni_Oan_Anaw_Noo on

    pedrocaravanachio67 on 2 August, 2012 at 12:34



    Thanks for reading.



    Bomber, King, Whyte, Ogilvie, Young .. have all went to ground



    They all know what is coming apart from Bomber. He just wants his bi weekly dose of sectarian find a friend latent homosexual friend



    A tactic often used in this scam is one of the accomplices criticising the other.



    Dave King threatening to sue David Murray …. then BRTH drops the 2001 bombshell



    Dave King Threatening to sue Craig Whyte ….. but the 2001 Bombshell is still ticking.



    Walter Smith supposedly – I dont believe a word – having to be removed by security from Charles Greens presence. I think Charles Green would slap cardihun all over the shop. This curries favour however with the hun hoardes who are then deliberately lead to believe that cardihuns heart is in the same place as Bomber Browns. Which it isn´t ….. he like eveyone else is protecting Murray and his 25 year deception



    We had it with Johnston and Murray.




    The public fight between Young and Traynor was just two uneducated diddies with a microphone to an international audience.




    I do think that Bryan Kennedy is in it for himself and wants to market the bigot pound.





    Hail Hail

  22. Paul 67,



    Trying to buy a ticket for the Henrik painting but it wont let me…………..keep getting an error message regarding postage………..



    Any advice?

  23. tommytwiststommyturns on

    I would keep Charlie at CB with Lustig partering next week (and Saturday) and look for an improvement from Izzy. Vic into the middle from now on.



    Is there anyone on here who seriously believes that Broonie in the middle works with any other midfielder?! Vic and Joe looked very solid and disciplined on Saturday against high calibre opponents and the side had a nice balance to it, unlike the starting line up last night.


    We could go with a very strong looking four across the middle next week if Kayal is fit, with Broonie and Joe covering the FB’s. KC or Sami playing off Hoops up front.



    There…sorted! :-)




  24. Snake Plissken on

    I have to say they were frightened of Samaras and they put 3 men on him at times and that didn’t give him the space and time he needed.



    He made a brilliant equalizer and they had ear-marked him as the big danger. I think that it is the biggest compliment that can be paid to him.



    We have better players than them but they are sharper and we have the unknown quantity of a plastic pitch and their home form. They are quite good at home like us but I think Celtic will need to simply go for goals. Sitting in does not suit Celtic and we need 2 away goals (I think) to make sure. If we score twice they need 4 goals and I think that might be beyond them but having seen Celtic away you never blooming know.



    Commons, Forrest, Samaras, Hooper, Stokes, Joe Ledley and Charlie are all goal threats and if they click we will score over there. A couple of Commons long range efforts would do nicely.

  25. I think I read somewhere that the turf at Celtic Park is not 100% natural but has some artificial stuff mixed in. Can anyone confirm or dispel?

  26. Another one runs for the hills…



    MAURICE EDU has told Ally McCoist he wants to quit Rangers before the end of the month. The US international confirmed his intentions in a meeting with his Ibrox boss yesterday.

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