Celtic’s defence has broken records in each of the last two seasons. Last term we conceded 17 goals in 38 league games, an imperious record. This season we’ve conceded nine goals in seven games, a run of form which was already well established before the departure of Virgil van Dijk. So much has gone wrong in such a short space of time it’s difficult to narrow the focus down to a root issue.

Virgil will be a miss, without doubt, but he’s been in attendance for all but the last game of this season, so whatever’s going wrong, we’re not seeing the consequences of his departure yet. We lost Virgil’s junior partner from last season, Jason Denayer, who was replaced by Dedryck Boyata. Dedryck’s contributed to some of the defensive issues: he was culpable for both Inverness goals, for example.

One issue which I couldn’t figure after the Malmo game at Celtic Park, and which re-emerged at Pittodrie, was Mikael Lustig being drawn to the middle of defence, leaving a gap behind him. Jo Inge Berget scored for Malmo after being left unattended, while Aberdeen were unable to punish us from similar situations on Saturday.

Lustig is the definition of reliability, I don’t believe he’s abandoned his duties on the right flank without reason. If Lustig sees his two central defenders in front of the striker when an opponent has the ball on Celtic’s left, he’ll abandon the threat from the right to cover the space the striker has behind Celtic’s two central defenders. This is why we lost the first goal at home to Malmo and could have cost us again on Saturday.

Then there’s the goalkeeper. We’ve debated how a high ball into the six yard box should be the keeper’s ball, defenders should not be running back towards their own goal and challenging in an area where the keeper should win the ball, or take a foul.

There was a bit of shock when we lost goals like this from set-pieces against Malmo, but Aberdeen’s second goal was inexplicable. When the free kick was taken, Craig Gordon was standing on the spot where Paul Quinn met the cross from a moment later. If he stood still, the ball would have hit him. Instead of claiming the ball, Craig backed off and was stranded on his line as Quinn side footed the ball into the net.

Defenders shouldn’t be in this area. The goalkeeper should come out, knowing his own men will not get in his way, and that he can claim the ball unless he’s fouled by an opponent.

If all is going wrong in front of him, a goalkeeper should still be claiming balls into his six yard box, so Craig Gordon is without doubt not prepared when corners and free kicks have been fired into him, but I suspect more than this is going wrong.

It’s impossible to tell from the outside what’s actually going on in a defence but two key aspects of any defensive unit are trust and communication. You need to know where team-mates and threats are, and you need to know that you can rely on team-mates to do what’s necessary. I have my doubts that either have existed in any measurable quantity this season.

Where does authority lie?

Last season Virgil was Celtic’s defensive authority. He had a new central defensive partner, a new goalkeeper, and he was one of our best players, so the lines of authority were clear. This season nothing has been clear. The whole world knew Virgil was leaving last month, while he had another new partner, who had made a career total of 32 appearances. Dedryck has a lot to learn about the game, he’s going to need mentored, and unlike last year, when Jason arrived, his senior partner was in his final weeks at the club.

The full back positions are another area of concern. Emilio was dropped for two European away games, as we publicly looked for and then signed a left back, while Mikael Lustig returned to the team after a lengthy injury, before picking up a minor injury.

With all that going on, problems should not be a surprise, although it’s disappointing that this far into the season we’re still not cohesive. Ronny has some big decisions to make for Amsterdam.


While all else can go wrong, the work of the Celtic Foundation continues to amaze. The photos of Celtic Park Haiti, which opened this week, a product of the Foundation’s work in the country, is a phenomenal monument to the work of Celtic fans. Well done.

You have just one more day to bid on our hospitality auction for the Foundation, take a look here on ebay. You can win hospitality at the Walfrid and attendance in the Directors’ Box for three people for Sunday’s game against Dundee, courtesy of club sponsor, Intelligent Car Leasing.

It’s a genuinely special prize, thanks to Intelligent Car Leasing for their support. Good luck with your bids.

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  1. Corkcelt – you can only value a player at his purchase price. Ryan Giggs never had a value on the Man Utd accounts because they didn’t buy him.



    Now there was a way around that. Imagine if you set up your youth development dept as a separate company. You could then ‘buy’ the players for your 1st team instead of just promoting them. You could, within reason, even set your own value.



    Guess which recently deceased team employed that trick.





    Serious question re book values.



    When we spend money on a player,that money is listed as an asset,reducing over the length of his contract.



    Is the value of his contract listed as a liability?




    Spot on, that’s what I meant, put more succinctly, we need to have some patience.



    The next three months should tell us a lot. A bumpy road no doubt, but this has to be done.



    Hail Hail

  4. Celticrollercoaster supporting Shay,our bhoy wonder along the way on




    The Liability (creditor) only exists as long as it is unpaid for.



    So we really, really, really, buy a player for £5m ( not including potential add ons or wages) , you immediately have a liability of £5m. You may negotiate to pay this liability tomorrow; within 30 days, 90 days or 3 years. Depends on what is agreed between the parties involved.










  5. DOC imagine CRC trying to slag us for our designs (admittedly my oldest ghirl had a part in the design) but at least we designed oors ;-)



    Talking about badges…..



    Right bhoys n ghirls its that time again CQN badges and now CQN cuff links!!!



    Please have a look at the following link, myself DOC and CRC have designed the badges n cufflinks (tho my design is obviously bestest :p) anyway have a look and if you like what you see email cqnbadges@gmail.com with design you like and how many etc to register your interest until manufacture and sale :-)



    1st two designs are badges and 3rd is cufflinks






    Badges will be £5 and cufflinks £8 (plus postage)



    p.s help me beat DOC n CRC to the prestigious honour of TOP CQN BADGE designer\seller hahaha (mines is shamrock design badge ;-) )





    Bundoran Bhoy





    That’s pretty much what I was attempting to ask. We have values listed as assets which ignore the liability of the asset.



    We have agreed to pay a fee of,say,£2m,plus wages of £2m. And enter that £4m liability as a £2m asset.

  7. Feck me…..



    Sipsini…..I’ve just realised from your post earlier I’m a currant bun……I expect the Celtic to win every game……

  8. “If any of the stenographers wish to have a day off and try their hand at journalism..”



    Phil Mac telling it like it really is..



    Stenographers/Lazy Journalism/Succulent Lamb

  9. Fill in the blanks.



    ” The build up story was that the champions were visiting the runners up, and the two managers, xxxx and yyyy were resuming an intense rivalry. The post mortems however, were very different, as ZZZZ fans lamented the lack of spirit and the utter fragility of their seemingly powerful squad. AAAAA dominated the game from start to finish, making a lasting impression in the minds of many, not least the current champions.



    I would not say Aberdeen dominated the game from start to finish in fact some stats made that Celtic dominated but that apart the above could have been about Aberdeen v Celtic on Saturday.




    It was Man City v Chelsea



    http://outsideoftheboot.com/2015/08/18/tactical-analysis-manchester-city-3-0-chelsea/ and there is a tactical analysis of both sides for those who are interested.



    My point though is if the same thing that is happening to us as is happening at Chelsea how does any solution that requires a sacking of the manager or overthrow of the club or stretching the budget actually address the problem?



    I did notice in watching a Chelsea game one of their full backs, the big fella. had a night mare. Last year he was solid as a rock. So what has changed. Do advancing years have an impact, is it “seen it, done it canny be arsed”?



    Has John Terry passed his shelf life?



    I think our problems are more on the park than off, but even if they were not at least what is on the park can be addressed much more easily than a revolution off it.



    The conclusion though seems as apt for Celtic as for Chelsea although Celtic are unlikely to ship as many points as Chelsea are so RD has a bit more time to fix.



    Of all the causes the ones that point to formation look the most likely, particularly when bedding in new players.



    For a start why have two flying wingers to act as cover for two flying full backs? In the first 30 mins v Malmo Armstrong had their full back on toast. That means when we do lose possession in midfield (or give it away as we do) we have two full backs better placed to cover rather than running back. Let the wingers take on the defenders just get the ball to them early enough on their half turn.



    Its the little things in football that matter on the park.



    Conclusion re Chelsea



    ” With pretty much the entire season still left, 5 points is far from insurmountable, especially for a team like Chelsea. What might be tougher to get over is the psychological impact. City made Chelsea look quite soft in every department. Difference makers from last season like Diego Costa and Hazard had literally no impact on the game. Mourinho better fix this and quick, because the next game is a trip to West Brom, a ground that has traditionally brought bad news for Chelsea managers.

  10. Celticrollercoaster supporting Shay,our bhoy wonder along the way on




    Wages earned over the next 2 years of the contract are matched up against the income we( Celtic) receive for season tickets/match day income to enjoy(?) the performances of the players. So no need to recognise liability right now as we know it will generate income in excess of any future liability/costs.



    The trouble happens when it does not and the business starts to forecast losses as expenditure is greater than income.







  11. AULDHEID @ 11:36 PM,



    Well you know since we have been subjected to the inescapable schadenfreude due to excess of the plc formerly known as the Company formerly known as Rangers Football Club – now non-existent – Germanic seems to be the language of choice.



    Et cum spiritu tuo…



    Hail Hail

  12. auldheid



    Even worse that Phil Mac prefaced the word ‘Untermenschen’ with ‘Irish’ used as an adjective.. Coupled with a reference to the ‘Edwardian Era’ by which I assume refers to the period following the death of Queen Victoria, or perchance some oblique reference to the Normans! Either way disgraceful use of language.

  13. CELTIC MAC @ 12:32 & Auldheid,



    Apologies if any offence was caused.



    I thought PMcG was referencing to the Edwardian attitude to the Irish Under-class. If I got that wrong – please advise?



    Hail Hail – the thinking mans übermensch!

  14. chairbhoy



    Cannot accept linking “Irish and Untermenschen” in any context that I could think of. And why a specific reference to the “Edwardian Era” what is that supposed to mean?

  15. Anyone one tell me who the young player at training was. that was done by Johannsen that resulted in a couple of more senior players,wanting to physically throttle him. From what I hear relationships in the first team are more than than a little bit fractured and if the MSM were really doing their job they would be informing us of the disharmony created in the dressing room over the Norwegian backroom and medical staff




    Shoogly pegs are the only things in abundance at Celtic Park just now mark my words

  16. These bhoys had better start realising who they’re playing for…….US not themselves.



    Ayrshire is Green and White

  17. Where’s Jobo to tell us it’s bright but a 6 degrees worth of chilliness this morning?



    In fact where are so many of cqn’s finest?


    Scunnered by the near continual mass cyber brawls of late?



    HH jamesgang

  18. Good morning CQNers,



    Who is going to step forward and take the leaders role in the defence?



    Who is going to grab the opportunity by the throat and drag this group into a functioning unit on the park for Thursday’s game?



    Craig Gordon? don’t think so, his confidence looks fragile as evidenced by his erratic dead ball clearances and his failure to take command of his 6 yard box.



    Tyler Blackett? hmm, Tyler has won honours with England from under 14 level which would indicate he has ability, unfortunately we haven’t seen it yet but it is early days and for that reason I don’t think he’s a candidate at this time.



    Emilio Izaguirre? Emilio’s role of attacking defender has stretched him, perhaps too far in terms of his defensive duties and he’s absent from defence too often to lead it.



    Efe Ambrose? Efe is fortunate to start a game these days and when he does he’s always playing catch-up football, definitely not a contender to marshal the defence.



    Dedryck Boyata,? Dedryck made his Man City and Belguim debuts in 2010 but his performances so far would suggest he hasn’t progressed. It’s still very early in his Celtic career and it’s difficult to gauge if he has the character to lead the line and for that reason I doubt he’s ready to step forward in Thursday’s crucial game.



    Charlie Mulgrew? Charlie was so far off the pace against Malmo it was embarrassing. To be fair he was returning from a lengthy absence but nonetheless there is nothing in Charlie’s demeanour that would suggest he’s a natural leader and for that reason isn’t one I’d consider for a leadership role.



    Jozo Simunovic? Jozo comes with credentials to impress but hasn’t yet had a game and having just turned 21 would suggest he’s not a contender for Thursday.



    Mikael Lustig? Mikael has produced some great performances in a Celtic shirt; he’s been here for 3.5yrs which in itself is a bit of a novelty for the modern day Celtic player. At 28 he is one of the senior players (in age terms) and he’s a seasoned international player. Like Emilio his attacking responsibilities have stretched his defensive capabilities and perhaps Ronny Deila needs to review if our tactics are making the best use of them. Attacking full backs are a useful tool but perhaps a rethink on how we cover them when they venture forward is required.



    Mikael is the stand out candidate for the role of marshalling the defence on Thursday, I do hope he’s given the challenge and he grasps it.

  19. I was up at 7. Another spectacular bright sunrise to the east of me. Ithe appears just to be above the titan crane.

  20. JamesGang, Jobo is in Portugal chasing/hitting a wee white ball while walking.



    Edinburgh via Bellshill then on to Colchester, ah the glamour.

  21. Morning Celts there’s a definite chill in the air in the Green Valley..



    Whatever way we go on Thursday it’s going to be a new untried defence.



    Big Mik at centre half, good shout but maybe only for 60 minutes:))




  22. Murdochbhoy – would it surprise you to learn that Izzy hasn’t been part of a losing defence this season? It did me.

  23. weeminger



    I believe if Izzy had played in Malmo we would have got a result, he offers the defence a break by putting opposing players under pressure going forward.



    I’m very sad to see the wee man getting tight and as we have seen his replacements Mulgrew and Blackett couldnae lace the wee mans boots.



    Be careful what you wish for CSC

  24. Starry


    Be careful what you wish for…..



    We’ve been there a lot recently, unfortunately.



    Not too long ago I was please to sell Gary Hooper….in the over optimistic assumption we’d get someone better in. More fool me.



    We’ve had similar situ’s all along the line, with our keyboard analysis.



    As ever, reality is so much more difficult.