de Boer reads script on predictable Celtic


It’s probably easier to start with what went right last night, than what went wrong.  Efe Ambrose was the epitome of composure, trying to retain possession whenever possible, his transformation since Juventus has been remarkable.  van Dijk, Lustig and Izaguirre each did well.  Fraser Forster had a few saves to make, but this was one Champions League game he didn’t need to pull off a wonder-save.  He was totally exposed for the goal but otherwise Ajax didn’t really stress the Celtic goalkeeper, a clue, perhaps, to the solid performance of those immediately in front of him.

Our top two Champions League performers, Georgios Samaras and Kris Commons, both put in their least effective game at this level.  Samaras’ normally-reliable touch and ability to hold the ball deserted him, while Kris looked like a guy returning from injury. Slowly.

The minutia of these games are analysed by each team and after last month’s game, Frank de Boer clearly identified that Georgios was the major cog in Celtic’s machine. The striker was triangulated by opponents each time the ball came near him.

Neil Lennon was left with few choices in the middle of the park.  Mulgrew and Kayal would not have been his first choice partnership, given a free hand, but the only practical change there would have been to introduce Joe Ledley.  It’s far from clear what difference this would have made.

Celtic persisted in playing down the left long after it was evident this strategy was unproductive. Late in the first half one wag text me to say, “Time to bring Forrest on”, which told the whole story. Anthony Stokes was adrift, largely unconnected to the ankle clipping going on behind him. In short, our play was predictable and correctly predicted by do Boer. We didn’t have a Plan B, which even the best of teams need to avoid defeat occasionally in the Champions League.
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  1. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on

    No plan B


    No strength in depth.


    No chance of winning away in CL.

  2. The Battered Bunnet on

    Slow old day on the blog when you can read the article, have a smoke, and still get on the podium.

  3. Sydneytim and other sydney based tims


    I will be in sydney on saturday night and would not mind catching up with you guys for the game


    I beleive Cheers bar is the venue on George street …can someone confirm this is still the case


    Will also have a spare few hours on saturday afternoon to kill if you have any recomended watering holes


    I usually frequent the mercantile and the oriet when I am there..


    anyway…looking forward to meeting celtic family members at cheers no matter what


    hail hail



  4. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on



    Added to fb page of Kano..


    Enjoy your break mate. You deserve it..

  5. Those who suggest that we can never really compete at CL level do the bidding of our PLC board. These posters suggest that people like me who are critical of last nights performance (sic) are being overly ambitious in our expectations.



    Nonsense. Nonsense. Not a single poster as far as I can tell has suggested we could win the CL. Nor do I. What we want, however, includes the following;



    1. Being able to compete with/beat teams like Ajax (incidentally, they are 6th in their league, cannot score regularly and couldn’t keep a clean sheet in CL before last night);



    2. Any selling policy by the PLC to be counterbalanced by genuine squad improvements. Lennon signed Balde, Pukki and Derk- yet he doesn’t rate them better than existing squad??!!



    3. An effort, once in a while, to get a proven player (as opposed to projects like the aforementioned);



    4. Basic tactical acumen from the manager and coaching team; last night KC and Forrest were absolutely and utterly woeful. Any viewer or Internet bampot could see what the Manager appeared blind to; NL at one stage switched these two- he put an unfit, slower player on the wing and moved a small non-combative winger inside to a midfield area where we were being totally overrun; the substitutions were baffling as well as too late- at one stage we had no striker on the pitch, Balde is only player who looked like scoring recently and he remained benched, Forrest inexplicably stayed on whilst Stokes was hooked- NL truly has a blind spot for James.



    A win last night over a poor Ajax side would have meant a victory at Celtic Park against an eminently beatable Milan put us into the last 16. The lack of verve and tempo last night was really disappointing. Look back and see Ajax press us in our own half. We wete forced into losing possession again and again. Stokes, Forrest, KC and Samaras all appeared under orders to retreat to halfway when Ajax had the ball in their own half. This was tactical madness.



    5. Last but not least, effort from the team on the pitch. I’ve loved Sammi this year but his performance (sic) last night was back to the Sammi-lite of old. He didn’t want to know. Unforgivable in my eyes.



    Anyone who excuses last night’s performance and tactics or the strategic direction of our club only serves to exacerbate the malaise which appears to permeate Celtic Park.

  6. A very kind report, Paul.



    But you’re right….why kick everyone when they’re down after what was a dreadful performance from midfield and the front two.



    Mr Reliable, CM, had his worst game for us since his return from Aberdeen. We badly missed Broonie’s drive and energy….

  7. Hamiltontim is praying for Oscar on




    Sorry but genuinely unsure of the point that you were making in your post to me.



    Yes there are faults at Celtic, from top to near the bottom, and yes we’ve not replicated our performances or results from our last European campaign. However, we have already beaten Ajax, we should have taken a point in Milan and we held one of the best teams ever to grace the planet to a single goal at Parkhead.



    Things ain’t all bad.

  8. Kris Commons’ first, first touch in the opening seconds of the game last night was a prelude to what was going to happen. Bad night at tha office.



    Hail! Hail!

  9. Hi Paul67,



    Agree with you for the most part on the defence, they excelled. Although I did watch the match with a few English “nuetrals” about who thought big Fraser was outstanding, got to agree with them.



    It shows you how far FF has come when a performance of that quality is – another day in the office.



    Neil Lennon was left with few choices in the middle of the park Mulgrew and Kayal would not have been his first choice partnership, given a free hand, but the only practical change there would have been to introduce Joe Ledley.  It’s far from clear what difference this would have made…



    Thought we should have started with Joe, said we should bring him on early doors when it was obvious we were being overran in midfield ~ thought we played much better when he eventually came on ~ just saying like.



    Hail Hail

  10. thebhoydaveJAPAN on

    Neil’s assessment post match is pretty spot on.


    However, that doesn’t excuse his inability to see what was happening in real time.


    Yes, too many players under performed.


    I also believe the manager under performed.


    If Kayal is the answer the question can only be – who likes to watch the game more than play in it.


    If, as a defensive midfielder, he cannot take his eyes from the ball to see a player run off a CB, and move in to curtail his involvement, then his position in the team should vanish. Yes the Ajax move was well worked, but I could have been prevented.



    I’d hoped Neil would have been bold at half time… he wasn’t. He was weak.


    Kris, Sammi, Stokes & Kayal were leaving us in poor shape.


    That’s too much for the others to make up.



    Let’s end on a positive eh?



    Lustig was immense.


    If there was a better RB playing CL football this week, he’s gotta be worth 15M+




  11. It has become glaringly obvious to anyone watching Celtic in the last 2 years that we have become something of a long ball team. Form the kick off we pass back to the rb and then he launches a big diagonal, whenever Forster has the ball he aims a big kick aimed at the left side of midfield. Now, our team is full of international players who I suppose must be able to play football at some level so why are we punting the ball over their heads. Last night while chasing the game we were punting high balls, we hadn’t won a single one all night so why bother now.



    We are not good enough to just give the ball away to these teams and expect to beat them because they all have the ability to KEEP the ball while we seem intent of throwing high balls into the box even though we don’t have a 6ft+ striker in there. I wonder how much we actually work on ball retention in training or is NL just trying to go down the MON route with big players…problem is the ones he has aren’t of the same standard as Martins team.



    We have been crying out for some creativity but what would be the point if the ball is just going to disappear over their heads. All the good teams play the ball out form the back, have faith in their defenders and midfield players to be able to control the ball and not give it away needlessly, doesn’t look like we have that faith.



    We are becoming known a s a team who work hard, are physical and a threat at set pieces, is that really what we have come down to……

  12. Samii and KC were indeed awful. But I disagree with those who say that James F. was poor. In the first half our main attacking ploy (!) was a pass back to FF who then hoofed the ball up the park, usually in the direction of Sammi. In the second half James came into the game more. He put in one great cross, for which there were no takers, and he made one great run into the penalty area. Not a lot, perhaps, but there was no other attacking threat.



    Our inability to retain possession in the midfield was depressing. This has got to improve if we are to be anything other than a backs-to-the-wall team in the CL. I would guess that there is a greater financial disparity between us and Dundee Utd than between us and Ajax. Compare Dundee Utd’s performance at Celtic Park last week with ours in Amsterdam.

  13. Hamiltontim is praying for Oscar on

    Lustig is a genuinely quality player, I said it the first time I saw him.



    Mind you I also said that about Evander Sno!

  14. Dexter



    So what do you advocate be done?



    It is a debate worth having but only if it is grounded in reality.



    Here is my suggestion. If we are to continue with our develop and sell policy because we cannot attract players that will make us a pot 2 or 3 club then lets even out the dips as new players develop and developed ones go.



    To do that change the season so that the title is won by Christmas and players leaving leave then and players arriving have 4 months to develop personally and into a team before the CL starts. Wanyama was not an overnight success for example.



    This change would benefit all clubs and is in Celtic’s remit to argue for.



    Lets change the things we can. Accept the things we cannot and be wise enough to know the difference. (To paraphrase the much needed Serenity Prayer)

  15. You think Izaguirre played well?


    Interesting take.


    Pass marks to Efe, Virgil, Lustig and Fraser only.


    When we accept mediocrity on a Saturday afternoon in the SPFL, why are people disappointed and gutted when we dish it out on the CL stage?


    We struggled to take throw-ins correctly last night and people are now talking about beating Milan at home!


    In my own opinion, NFL’s choice of starting XI last night was wrong.


    Not changing it at half time was even worse.




  16. In the heat of Lisbon on

    would it be fair to say our team plays football in the manner in which NFL played back in the day

  17. CultsBhoy loves being 1st forever & ever on

    Ok Dexter



    Who could we have signed that would have changed our performances in CL?



    I’m no Board defender but I honestly believe they are limited in what they can do as long as we are in Scottish football.

  18. paolosboots Good Luck Wee Oscar on

    Dexter , I agree with many of your points its like deja vu after the Shaktar away game. Poor performances, lack of tactics etc. Although I agree NL options were limited but you have to wonder with Commons not fit, JF & Sammy not in the match! What happened to McGeough and Ledley coming in, McGeough was a stand out against Real Madrid. I thought Neil got the subs wrong again, thought Kayal was doing ok and Stokes was working hard, we had nothing to lose by bringing on Balde for Sammy with him & Stokes up front.



    What I thought was telling was the technical proficiency of the Ajax team in controlling the ball, possession & passing (playing football the celtic way). What are we doing week in week out at Lennoxtown? Talking of good luck to Bobby in his operation and thoughts to Cowie bhoy on loss of his friend.



    HT hope to see you at 5’s later!

  19. I’m confused.We were crap and we know we were crap. But then we get the ‘if we’re no happy getting beat by Ajax/Milan/Barca it just goes to show…etc’.



    And then we become good again?

  20. First things first, I don’t think AjAx are poor. They were certainly better than us last night. No expert but I thought the tactics last night were all wrong. We played a kind of` 4-2-4 and they over-ran us, predictably in the middle of the park.

  21. CultsBhoy @ 12.00



    We could have taken Willo Flood back. He might not have won games for us in the CL but at least he would retained possession better than any of our midfielders last night. And he would have run twice as far as KC.

  22. Bt…doffed as always


    If you can spread the word that kano has a new fb page that would be great


    old page has a forgotten password!!!


    Hope you are well mate



  23. CultsBhoy loves being 1st forever & ever on




    I sense your irony but re Flood I have seen him several times this season at Pittodrie and he IS better at ball retention than our guys.

  24. tommytwiststommyturns supporting Wee Oscar on

    Ht – big Evander was best player on park when we beat Benfica 3-0!



    After the first 75 mins in Milan, before the unlucky goal, I really felt that we had turned a corner and could be comfortable away from home in the CL. So last night was very disappointing in that it looked like a return to the usual poor away performances in the CL group stages.



    Too many experienced guys didn’t turn up last night, with Sami and KC being quite ineffective. The manager should also not escape criticism. Many of us did not agree with his starting line up or some of the changes he made. We’ll need the 12th man yet again when we play Milan later this month.



    I’ve just seen some of the video footage from last night, where so-called undercover police were dressed the same as the Ajax hooligans who attacked the pub on Tuesday night. How did they think our fans would react?! The SMSM, particularly the Herald and Spiers are already putting the boot in and concentrating on the police statements which blame our fans.


    Some of our lot are not blameless, but they were subject to severe provocation!




  25. thebhoydaveJAPAN on



    I fear you didn’t misread me. Instead, I mistyped.


    The point I intended to make was “If there was a better RB in the CL than Lustig… taht better player must be worth 15M+”



    But… In a round about way I guess I am putting a price on one of our own.


    Bad how?

  26. That last night was woeful . And each and everyone of us through blind loyalty continue to make excuses for the team . I as many did yesterday wondered where our goals were going to come from . The defence were as far as im concerned great . But midfield and attack are a worry for us. Im not going to single out players , there are some on the books not good enough , and we know who they are . being in the position we find ourselves in due to the demise of our rivals ,our club should be pulling away , and using the breathing space to introduce some of our up and coming talent , who if reports are co rrect wont be any worse than some of our latest buys. We need to blood some of these kids, they will only improve playing in the big set up . Other teams play young guns , we have a good crop ,let them loose, we can maybe then get rid of those that wont fit the jersey .

  27. CultsBhoy


    Actually I wasn’t being ironic. I think he would have been a good squad player for us. We have more than enough “ball-winners”.

  28. The Spirit Of Arthur Lee on




    I am not having a go at yourself it just seems that when we get a half decent player he always seems to have a sell price attached to him pretty quickly.




  29. jimtim @ 12.08



    “other teams play young guns”.


    Yes, I am perplexed that we never seem to give ours a chance, not even in the League Cup against Morton.

  30. CultsBhoy loves being 1st forever & ever on

    Last night was a game we should have gone all guns a blazing IMO. Ajax are young and would buckle under pressure.


    However looking at the guys we fielded they lack the pace to do that . James F should have been the catalyst for pressing them but he was mediocre again last night. He is great when on fire but his ratio of good to bad games suggests to me that he is not a guy we should rely on.


    In the CL you need guys who can go outside opponents and take them on. We have guys who go inside to let team mates catch up.. That is do easy to defend against and not what’s required at this level. Similarly long punts are loved by decent Centre backs it effectively just gifts possession to opponents.



    But reality is that is the standard of player we can attract.



    The more disappointing element for me was there did not seem to be a ‘team’ spirit in evidence. Sometimes team spirit can make up for deficiencies..

  31. tommytwiststommyturns supporting Wee Oscar on

    Ramie – sent you an e-mail on Sunday/Monday, did you get it mate?


    Wee package sent to Perth already!


    Great to see Martin on FB and really hope that he can post on here again sometime!



    Have a great time in Sydney.





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