This is the third season in a row Celtic have lost a league game, a situation unimaginable as recently as May 2017. How will we cope? We could always console ourselves with a _vincible treble, or maybe a late run in the Europa League. What I can assure you of is that yesterday’s abject performance will be inconsequential to our season.
Celtic recorded a narrow win on Hamilton’s plastic surface last month, when their natural quick-passing game looked ineffective. I suspect that informed Neil Lennon’s tactical choice ahead of yesterday’s game on the Livingston plastic. In the 26 minutes before Ryan Christie’s red card, the champions threw the ball forward as we did in the pre-Martin O’Neill era.
This was no more effective than our natural passing game at Hamilton. Ball retention was dreadful and we were unable to construct coherent attacks.
The Christie incident was as clear-cut a red card as you can imagine. Ryan has a bit of bite about him and I generally like the way he throws himself into challenges. It is not clear what went through his mind as he launched himself, studs up, but at that moment, we all knew we were in trouble.
The goals were defensively poor. The central two stepped forward while the two full backs stayed back at the opening goal, allowing a team who had lost their previous four games to pass through the defensive line to great effect. A clearance from the league-debutant goalkeeper, Sarkic, was not defended and bounced at the edge of the box, leaving Fraser Forster stranded and beaten by a delicious lob. Sarkic enjoyed as stress-free an afternoon as is possible for a goalkeeper.
Christopher Jullien was dragged into a game of attrition by Dykes, it did not do the Celtic defender’s concentration any good. It will be a long two weeks before the next outing, against Ross County. In the meantime we will have to suck it up and live like the others for a while.