Celtic irresistible as Hearts capitulate, Levein reverts to form


You get to know those sitting near you at Celtic Park, even if only on nodding terms, but yesterday at Murrayfield, we were mostly sitting among new faces, but despite no previous camaraderie, we found a common bond when we considered Craig Levein’s likely response to his teams heavy defeat.

Hearts were poor, very poor.  While Celtic were well below par for half the game, Hearts failed to lay a glove on the champions.  Then when Celtic took the lead, the league leaders (for now) could neither muster an attack nor hold a defensive line.  Any self-respecting manager would hold his hands up and admit as much, but not our Craig.

“A penalty that never was and we had a good goal chopped off”, was the consensus of how Levein would react, which, turned out to be only partially accurate.  How that team are top of the league defies explanation.  They were only good at getting in the way of Celtic players and occasionally assaulting them off the ball (pun intended).

Celtic’s indifferent start to the season, and potential for a third consecutive treble, were both on display at Murrayfield.  The first half was notable only for its lack of penetrative play.  Scott Sinclair, who replaced injured Eboue Kouassi on 26 minutes, produced the only serious attempt at goal during that period.  Celtic had lots of the ball but were inhibited going forward.

When Callum McGregor (not best in a wide role) moved to the deep lying playmaker position he is most effective at, in the departure of Eboue Kouassi, Celtic improved.  But the real improvement came when Ryan Christie replaced Olivier Ntcham at halftime.

Celtic then had a midfield anchored by McGregor, with Christie, Tom Rogic, James Forrest and Sinclair ahead.  Lots of tidy ball-players but without an enforcer.  It was a risk, but it worked superbly.  We have looked ponderous so often this season.  Not every game will be suitable for such an attacking formation, but Celtic were a joy to watch.

Despite playing only 45 minutes, Christie was clear Man of the Match.  His dart inside the box 8 minutes after the break won the penalty, then his shot was fumbled by Hearts ‘keeper, Zlamal, to allow James Forrest to make sure, but the third goal, a side foot shot to the top left corner of the goal from 22 yards by Christie, was the highlight of the game.

Celtic could easily have had a penalty in the opening period, when Kieran Tierney was scythed down inside the box after crossing, then Hearts tactic of throwing everything in the way of the ball should have seen another spot kick, when one defender blocked with both arms, but these details were irrelevant as Celtic cut Hearts open at will late in the game.  This, despite Craig Levein detecting heavy legs in his opponents.

Well, Craig, we can only wonder what a well-rested Celtic team would do to you.

And it’s Aberdeen in the final again.  This is the fifth season they have been the last team to make a contest of leagues and cups against Celtic.  They have lost their way this year and the league is weaker as a consequence, but we can take nothing for granted.

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  1. I must to admit to not being overly impressed with Ryan Christie before this week but have to say he could be a very valuable addition to our front line players for the rest of the season.



    He seems to have strengthened up a wee bit and he’s got skills that’s for sure:))



    Brendan has eased him into the team step by step so I guess it’s back to In Brendan We Trust!!



    Thanks for the Bday wishes Bhoys makes the auld heart glad to be among good Celtic men and women!



    Bring on the Dundee!




  2. A wee repost





    Happy HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPY birthday mo chara :)))))



    You may be living the single life but you will never walk alone.



    Have a great day Starry.



    Melbourne Mick



    Be proud of yourself and all the selfless Celtic efforts you put in.

  3. Paul67 et al



    And all in front of over 60,000 in Edinburgh. And hopefully the end of all cup semi-finals being held at Hampden, SFA take note. Well done the Celts though, especially in that second half, some great attacking football played. But the games keep on coming, trip to Dundee up next, still at least it’s not on Boxing Day!

  4. Recycled from before …



    TFOD2.1 yesterday — they looked a good U20 team but they lacked a winning instinct.




    Lots of good play when they got the luck and the break of the ball.





    However when things evened out they started to go into the shell.







    The sheep were good defensively — soaked up quite a bit of pressure at times — but they lack a level / quality finishing when going forward.







    SMcK — Interesting player with a big future.





    Interesting counterpoint to our two young CBs — make that 3 as JH is still in the hunt.





    Looks a better player than JS at Hertz.

  5. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Yet another final for the crisis club, while StevenGerrardsRangers remain unbeaten at home against European opposition without a Z in their name.


    Good to see Sinclair back to form and Ajer just back, but particularly pleased for Christie. The least he deserved after going out on loan was a season at the club who signed him to see if he could make the breakthrough. Might be the Armstrong type goalscoring midfielder we need.


    Well done to everyone yesterday.


    excellent performance.

  6. RC is one to grow this season.



    He seems to be a blue collar version of SA but with more — much needed — intensity.


    He wants to play no matter the opposition or the attitudes of others.


    Consequently we need to give him the game time and the responsibility to grow.



    Overall the team still has a lot of improvement to find.


    The talent is there in spades but the attitude and confidence levels need work.


    When we started to believe in the last quarter we were just toying with them.


    If we had managed another 3 goals it would not have flattered us.

  7. mullet and co 2 on

    I was most pleased with Scott Bains performance. Unlike Gordon his play from the back was full of purpose and belief unlike Gordon who seems to play the ball to team mates feet because he has been told to…it’s as though Craig Gordon doesn’t really think a pass to a full back should be the best option so he makes a half assed go at it and the ball lands somewhere near his target. If it misses or goes over his team mates head Gordon doesn’t seem bothered. Bain on the other hand was crisp with passing and the players seemed to come closer to help him out knowing they would get the ball. Bain may not be the better of the two at shot stopping but Gordon’s lacadazical approach leaves us without the ball.


    Christie showed that we are missing an aggressive player who will run ahead of the ball and make space. The first half was dominated by players being asked to beat two men on the wing or players not helping a tea mate when their space was closed.


    The movement from French Eddy in the second half pulled Hearts all over the shop. The big man could do with hitting a first time shot now and then though.




    Two off their line plus their goalie’s two or three great saves, it could have been a real mauling no matter what Mr Happy their manager says:))



    Levine makes Jim Jeffries look like a happy go lucky type!




  9. boondock saint on

    What a wonderful day yesterday. The Bhoys in another cup final, The Huns lose another at Hampden and Stevie Gee says blame me and then throws his players under the bus. Big Sadiq makes Amido Balde look like a world beater. And then the Red Sox win the World Series.


    Whit a day.


    Hail Hail



  10. mullet and co 2 on

    Madmitch – Scott McKenna? Really? I’m not seeing it and we could pay over £5m for him


    If we get money for Boyata in January.

  11. mullet and co 2 on

    I must say I enjoyed the beer and travel yesterday but that beautiful Sunday song is just a dirge. Train carriage I was on had Indian, Chinese and Japanese tourists. They listened to a number of chants from the other version of that song bemused. Crap song before the IRA bit was added even more crass and crap after it.


    Some folk are obsessed with chanting IRA in a random and regular fashion. It’s like a sentence punctuated with every second word being a swear word. It makes the chanter look uneducated and uninformed if all they do is chant IRA over and over and over again. I’m not entirely sure that a tune that you can slosh to is entirely appropriate to let an international and captive audience buy into a few hundred years of struggle?


    I then boarded the second train home and was treated to we hate catholic’s and a song alleging Scott Brown to be a paedophile then reference to Tommy Burns and pile of ash.

  12. M+C @ 1.29



    The Sheep defense coped with a lot of pressure in the second half when the TFOD2.1 got up a head of steam and luck favoured them. The Sheep defence kept their concentration when their MF and attack looked like a bunch of quislings.



    I thought he played well — I think he is a good data point to measure our CBs against.


    Given the flux that we have in that area with a lot of people looking as if they are going to move on we need to plan now regarding replacements.



    He is not worth £5mill at the moment but depending on how things work out for him with the NT he may be a good acquisition for us in the near future.



    July 2019 — What would be our best defensive line up?


    Back 4 = New Bloke / FB / DB / KT?



    New RB: it is hole that desperately needs filled — ML plays with the fear unless we are 3-0 up.


    FB is unfortunately on loan but he is the standard of player we need to aim for.


    DB is a 95% plus real quality player — I would keep him and work on his confidence and focus.


    KT needs help and it might be that we cannot afford a £30 / 35mill asset at LB next season.



    DB vs the current wage structure?


    FB vs KA — Interesting debate?


    JH vs JS vs AN Other — Needs answered.



    In this context of this level of CB uncertainty next season — SMcK to me is in the mix.


    Then there is the question of who is next season’s EUR 10mill best buy at CB — the answer is not currently SMcK



    Please note FB only cost EUR 15mill because of the EPL bonus.

  13. Happy belated Birthday Starry, hope you enjoyed your day.



    Christie can go on to give us much needed support for big Tom and James.



    Great to see the real Sinky pop up yesterday.



    Let’s kick on.







  14. Heard a few rumours (and PHil MacG’s blog piece) of a swap deal with Leicester – Boyata plus a fee for Benkovic. That would be a terrific piece of business. Leicester get a rising Belgian star with more experience than Benkovic and we get a youngster needing to gain 3 years experience. Leicester could be given first refusal on a future move away from us.

  15. The Slosh song really shows up the singers for what they are — Clearasil revolutionaries / Burtons Commandos / Zulu warrior wallopers. Horrific that the song is given credibility in any CFC situation.



    The whole retro republican physical force lifestyle / songbook is the unthinking dancing to an establishment tune. They set it up and then we dive straight in and shame only ourselves. The spectre of the Green Hun looms large at the moment.

  16. Paul67



    Despite the gloom mongers Hearts proved no match on the big pitch, Celtic are the benchmark and the Celtic support were magnificent, as ever.



    Good to see fringe players step up and January will be the testing ground with the ‘Dembele money’ where we need more ‘class’ to bring us closer to the next Red Bulls, whom we are perfectly capable of beating at home as predicted by Brendan Rodgers.



    Seethen Gerrard’s Rainjurz started the semi final with ‘five on loan players’ already going nowhere, but there used to be limits on how many you could get in on loan, no mention of rules? with clubs like Liverpool helping the lost cause.




  17. Here’s a wee stat that you might want to throw into any conversations over the next few days….


    In their last 5 visits to Hampden (the last 5 domestic semi finals) Sevco have yet to score a single goal! Season 2016-17 we won both cup semi finals 2-0 and 1-0. In 2017-18 Motherwell beat them 2-0 in the League Cup before we trounced them 4-0 in the Scottish Cup. The yesterday Aberdeen won 1-0.


    6 visits ago in May 2016 they did manage to score twice. But Hibs scored three times ;-)

  18. BSR @ 2.04



    We have the talent and the resources to compete with the two RB teams.


    What we don’t have is the attitude, the heart or the confidence to deal with the unknown or the different.



    We do have gaps in our squad at the moment



    Starting RB.


    Third striker.


    Young defensive CM.



    However we also have too much under motivated deadwood.


    The bigger issue at the moment is improving the U20 squad.

  19. The manager was our best player at the weekend made the correct changes at the right time. Those who question Brendan need to ask themselves who would we get who is better. Performances away in Europe have been dreadful since MON…certainly need to look at attitude and belief. What did Jim McGuinness do?


    Great result yesterday and the next two games should see up starting to ease up the gears and hopefully be top by next weekend.


    Great Tim times





  20. McKenna is a carthorse, must be better out there.I would put Ajer in midfield to beef it up if necessary, his natural position.

  21. Kiki @ 2.17



    The EU away situation …



    At the start I think we were “unlucky” with the MIB playing a specific role.


    After that I thing the MON squad got a bit lazy and a bit disengaged with trips across the channel.



    We had our chances to improve but we just didn’t seem to be able to rouse ourselves at times.


    Currently we are playing the part of flat track SPL bullies who cannot engage with the unknown.



    Even at home we play with the fear / support with the fear until we are 2-0 up.


    Some of our attitude and swagger does not seem to extend any further east than Leith Walk.



    The NT seems to have similar problems but they have nowhere near our level of talent.

  22. Paul67 et al



    Judging from Fulham’s current predicament, ten games in 28 goals lost, Brendan did Dedryck a big favour, (though it would not looked like that at the time) by refusing to let him go to West London on the Thames. Since then of course he hasn’t buckled but buckled down, playing to a level that has kept him in a Belgium squad that is now ranked No.1 in the World. Not often you can say that about a Celtic player. Pity we didn’t manage to extend his contract even by a season, backdated to June, but there you go. Will probably have to let him go January which would be a pity. In the meantime we have him,Kris, Filip and Jack all fit, playing well domestically, and for now at least still in Europe. Will worry about that next week. Meanwhile onwards and upwards as they say in Dundee, and then back to that dear green place called Paradise.


    Allons Y

  23. I’m just a Celtic supporter who gains little pleasure from witnessing the crumbling of the empire of dignity over Edmiston Drive. However sometimes the creative imagination of our fellow fans leave me in with no option but to share their creativity….






    Hail Hail




  24. Go tell the Spartim on




    Nail on head, carthorses would be appalled at the comparison mind you



    id rather give £5m to help PL’s heated lawns than pay that for him

  25. Tim- to be honest, we have played well in midfield without having a Broonie type, but would be interesting to see Kris in MF

  26. Whisper it quietly, but the most fluid we have been in an attacking sense in ages – against St Johnstone, two thirds of the game against Hibs, the second half yesterday – had Callum McGregor and Tom Rogic creating, and no Broonie…just mentioning it in passing.

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