Central defence was crucial to Celtic win


What’s not in dispute about Sunday was Celtic’s overwhelming superiority in every aspect of the game. One Newco fan suggested to me that on that showing, only Nir Bitton wouldn’t have got into the Newco (not his word) team. What worked so well for us, despite an array of unenforced errors and poor finishing, was the passing and positional play from our two central defenders.

The jury has been out on Jozo Simunovic since his arrival in the summer of 2015 as we’ve seen so little of him in that time, but he and Erik Sviatchenko were fundamental to our dominance. With both full backs playing high up-field, Jozo and Erik were asked to cover the back line, often taking possession under pressure, but there were no Big Bobo moments.

They were comfortable enough to hold possession while being closed down and play a short passing game. Erik was regularly in the left back position against the touchline, but stuck to task. This meant Celtic could continue to play through periods where passing higher up the park wasn’t as accurate as it could have been.

As a consequence, Mikael Lustig and Kieran Tierney were able to overload wide midfield positions.  Whenever possession was lost we were in place to press quickly.

Jozo got a good block on the only genuine chance Newco created all game (caused through an unenforced error in midfield) but apart from that it was difficult to judge any of the defenders on their defensive display, as we weren’t asked to defend for large parts of the day.

Brendan made the decision to let Jozo go to Torino in August, for the deal to fall through. One of his objectives this season will be to go into next summer’s Champions League qualifiers with three central defenders he can rely on (there is less doubt we’ll be in the qualifiers now than at this stage during the last three seasons).

Caveat on Wednesday aside, Kolo Toure has proven to be a great signing (he’s four years older than Philippe Senderos, as a guide), but it will be a while before he or Brendan will discuss next season. If Jozo and Erik remain fit, and with Eoghan O’Connell looking the part, this area of the team is well sorted.


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  1. Canamalar it looks like OCD obsession on

    What’s not to like, apart from our board knowing the five year time bar was coming and not keeping us in the loop.

  2. Repost.



    My friends and I, a group of 8, are booked up for Lisbon leaving Glasgow with Ryan Air on the 25th returning on the 29th. Plan is to make the pilgrimage on the 26th so no doubt I’ll see many of you there!!

  3. Centre of defence has went from being our weakest position at the start of the season to probably our strongest, which is remarkable and somewhat surprising as I certainly never felt like that when Kolo first came in. However it was hard to anticipate that Simunovic was going to come back so strong and alongside Erik and Kolo we would be so well served. Also O’Connell’s great performances at the start of the season have meant he is extremely unlucky not to be getting more game time and he looks an able back up. It’s a remarkable turn around and you almost forget we have the likes of Boyata and Efe still in the background taking a wage. Hopefully can get either or ideally both of them off the payroll in January and put the money to good use on a central midfielder.

  4. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    Just smacked the huns , but who cares ?



    Certainly not the boringly predictable promoters of division amongst Tims.



    Just what IS their agenda ?

  5. O’Connell isn’t close to being good enough to be a regular or even as a backup to Jozo & Erik.


    He should be punted asap along with Ambrose and Boyata

  6. Ernie Lynch, KLV: the mibbery and cheating in the Scottish game has been going on since before I went to watch Celtic for the first time over 50 years ago. The desire by the SMSM and footballing establishment for them to come out on top has always been there.



    It’s the same flies debate again. Whether they are RIFC, The Rangers, Rangers 2012, Sevco or the huns, their support will always be the same; as such the underlying bias towards them will always be the same.



    IMHO, football has and will always be tribal. We buy into that; for many reasons (mainly historical) they will always be our main rivals as long as they have the second biggest support and budget in the Scottish game. To suggest otherwise is, again IMHO, naïve and pointless.



    You can debate and argue over the semantics or titular references to The Comedy Club, but in footballing terms, they are a draw for us and we are a draw for them. Without rivalry in sport, it becomes pretty meaningless unless you watch/participate purely for aesthetics. I don’t.



    They are not the second best side in Scotland just now, but will, by hook or by crook (sic), get there soon.



    You can beat the Board and your fellow fans up about this incessantly; I doubt it will make any difference.



    Me? I support my Club against any opposition they play; I support them against the mibbery and cheating from the footballing establishment; I support them against the SMSM. It’s been this way for Celtic supports for around 130 years; I don’t see it changing in my lifetime. So in the meantime, I will enjoy Celtic dominating all-comers domestically and striving to become a force in Europe once again.



    If I ever refrain from doing that, I will not have Kept the Faith.



    That, my friends, is never an option for me!




  7. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    BARRYBHOY on 25TH OCTOBER 2016 12:24 PM



    Great positive assessment of the current state of play.


    We`re looking good in every department .


    Craig Gordon has reverted to his old reliable self . Perhaps with the psychological pressure of a new competitor for his spot.


    BTW thanks for reminding me of O` Connell .


    Hopefully he will slot in when the time is opportune.

  8. The Green Man says SACK THE Board on

    Afternoon Celts



    Big Clint Hill has me worried.


    Sevco Real are just as good as us.




    They are not right in the head:)


    Funny though




  9. Asking for a mate, in hope more than in expectation – looking for one ticket for the Borussia away game? He’s got a flight but no ticket. There are scalpers online offering tickets between £150 and £300.

  10. Paul67, good assessment. The pairing of Simunovic and Sviatchenko looks very solid. Both are footballing defenders which means that the Manager will have confidence in them. It feeds into his whole footballing philosophy.



    I disagree with Gary67; I think O’Connel is raw but can be a player. I also happen to think there is a player in Boyata that Rodgers may bring out. we also have the likes of McCart ready to come through. So as things stand, we look good in the centre of defence now!





  11. Oh! Oh! It has begun……



    Hun monkey (and boy is he handsome) going round the work…”Anyone want to buy a poppy?”



    Sick of it already!!!!

  12. Paul67.



    Not tested by the newly promoted club with a veteran 36 year old leading the line, it was always just a stroll in the park.



    Jozo could be expected to make easy passes and make two good blocks in a game where the new tandem wasn’t put under any pressure and will get a much harder game tomorrow night against a much more established SPL side.



    Abyss CSC

  13. Greetings from a damp Munich. Looking forward to tomorrow night’s game which I will be able to see this time. Great night last night at The Cure gig. Robert Smith excelled as usual, a product of kafflik education.


    Off to the theatre tonight, I can’t believe it myself, to see Tanz Der Vampire. Seemingly it is about some undead dudes who may or may not reside out Govan way.



    It seems Fanny Craddock has also visited Munich



    Hail! Hail! PMTYH

  14. The Green Man says SACK THE Board on

    As much as i enjoyed beating sevco.


    I wish they would hurry up and die….Hell awaits.


    They bore me to tears.


    Every time we play them, its like jumping into Marty McFlys car, and zooming back to 1978.


    I wish they would just go away, and never return.




  15. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on




    My historian friend



    Forgive me , but I am enjoying their SLOW demise.

  16. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    only Nir Bitton wouldn’t have got into the Newco (not his word) team




    What was his word, Paul? “Sevco”?

  17. The Green Man says SACK THE Board on




    Hows it going comrade:)


    I did notice, that the game is losing the hype.


    Its not the same thing anymore since the original and worst died.


    Its tame in comparison.


    Give it a few years….it will be like playing Clyde:)



    Hope you are well…HH

  18. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on







    ” it will be like playing Clyde:) ”



    Precisely how I would like things to pan out.



    Huns non competitive.



    Howzit going yourself ?

  19. I think its a bit early to be writing O’Connell off, he certainly showed enough at the start of this season to suggest that he can be a useful squad player. Looks quite composed and has an eye for a pass.

  20. VFR800A8 on 25TH OCTOBER 2016 12:34 PM



    Or, in other words, The Old Firm is back up and running but it’s OK because we don’t call it The Old Firm anymore.

  21. The Green Man says SACK THE Board on




    Im good….doing some work with…er, political scientists( no laughing at the back).


    I thought i did well to hide my anarchist tendencies in relation to work…..ive changed my mind now, having heard their mumbo jumbo for a few weeks.


    I may need to school them, now that they have annoyed me:)




  22. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    VFR800A8 on 25TH OCTOBER 2016 1:15 PM






    We should never downplay the import of the issues you raise.


    Or the need to articulate them.

  23. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on






    Good lad.



    Get stuck right in there.



    The very least you`ll get is a good laugh.

  24. The Green Man says SACK THE Board on




    Ive already noticed, that if you say the word ‘Chomsky’ to ‘political scientists’….they get agitated:)


    Like to keep them on their toes.


    I like to remind that…that they are human:)




  25. Dallas Dallas where the heck is Dallas on

    Art of War, the person you mentioned in your earlier post is an Uber Hun and looks like one.



    If youdont buy a poppy from him you get a right dirty look from him.



    He is most definitely a rule Brittannia guy who is a for Queen and country unionist.

  26. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on







    The current political situation in U.S. is alarming.


    No matter which candidate you prefer.

  27. The Green Man says SACK THE Board on




    Got to fly.


    In the words of Douglas MacArthur…’I shall return’


    Im off to teach the principles of Insurrection, and ‘Socialism with a Human Face….and a baseball bat’:)




  28. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on






    ‘Socialism with a Human Face….and a baseball bat’:)











    Catch you ramorra.

  29. An Teach Solais on

    See that JohnJames is planning to produce an article on the Law Financial debacle which Canamalar brought to our attention earlier this morning.


    Whatever we may think of his blog “revelations” the more light shone on the shenanigans over Ibrox way the better. It will be interesting to see whether he can unearth any relevant facts. HH

  30. Afternoon all…. Can we expect a few changes for tomorrow? Give a rest to legs like Lustig, Kieran, Biton, Sinclair, maybe even Dembele, and give a run out to guys usually on the bench? Bigger fish to fry from the weekend onwards.

  31. Thanks to everyone who participated in the Q&A with Andy Lynch last night. Andy found it to be a remarkable and thoroughly enjoyable experience.



    If you missed it then it is well worth a wee read back.



    We’ve now had Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell, John Hughes, Davie Hay, Bertie Auld, Charlie Gallagher and Andy Lynch coming on to CQN to chat to those on this wonderful site.



    Not bad!

  32. AN TEACH SOLAIS on 25TH OCTOBER 2016 1:50 PM


    “See that JohnJames is planning to produce an article on the Law Financial debacle which Canamalar brought to our attention earlier this morning”.



    …but surely that stuff is a year old. Has something changed? Whyte “moved on” his claim.

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