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. SDB.


    I agree, every day it appears to be another story.


    What I don’t know is how much is true. I asked yesterday if anyone else was hearing anything different.

  2. GlassTwoThirdsFull



    I just looked back to find the poster “Wilson” you described as a clown…….



    Then realised you are providing a running commentary on the Deadclub’s adherents on Radio Scotland.

  3. Joe Filippis Haircut on

    In any football club you are dealing with testerone filled young men and many of them are wealthy young men so bust ups are bound to happen now and then.It is how they are dealt with so a bust up at training would not be unusual one thing that might help the hoops is a couple of senior players to help the youngsters along. H.H.

  4. Joe



    Yes we were on the wrong end of a horrendous decision in the cup semi but at HT we were still winning 1-0 against a poor team. It wasn’t the ref that messed up in the second half it was our team. Winning 1-0 we had eight players attacking a corner and managed to give away a penalty in less than 30 seconds from that corner being taken!


    Fast forward to Malmo – an hour in and we are winning 2-0 yet the very same thing happens again.


    If we had won the game 2-0 I don’t think Malmo beat us by 3 clear goals!


    The less said about the second leg the better – wrong team-wrong/no tactics-no fight – no leadership



  5. Joe Filippis Haircut



    Fair comment.



    I’d imagine that there’s a wee bit of needle in every team. Can’t recall any team I’ve played for not having fisticuffs.

  6. twentyfirstofmaynineteenseventynine on




    I know what youre saying, what Im saying is that when MON had a bit of cash he spent it well, and we had a great few years. I think we have the men with enough money to sustain us for the foreseeable future, but they apparently have very deep pockets




  7. ....PFayr supports WeeOscar on

    Playing out this season with the defence we had on Saturday is a frightening prospect



    Blackett didn’t approach putting in an Izzy performance



    Boyata is timid …no confidence …and on the evidence of the last few games little defensive ability ….one can only hope it’s nerves



    Efe…not for me …still can’t understand why he came on before Janko



    Mulgrew….passable but slow



    Lustig…good ..but will he remain fit



    A lot of work to be done defensively




    Hugh Keevins without the SMSM shackles, would be thee ideal Celtic PR Ghuy.




    HK earns his corn playing Uncle Tom/Tim. He’s allowed his job in the media because he’s willing to stick the boot into Celtic whenever required in order to sell papers/radio advertising – under the guise of telling “The truth”. He’s made more money from putting Celtic down in the media (and making lots of it up) than pretty much anyone else over the last 20-odd? years. I wouldn’t have him selling the pies at Celtic Park.

  9. prestonpans bhoys on

    A Man City fan told me that Boyata has one good game followed by three bad ones. Not aware of him having a good one yet :-(

  10. Joe Filippis Haircut on

    Our back four against Aberdeen how many games this season has each player played in that position ? it is very few and any back four needs games together in order to knit.On Saturday our back four did not know each other on top of that our keeper made a bad call and it cost a goal I am afraid our back four is going to change again when we bring in the new Centre Back.That has been forced on Ronny by injury and players leaving I believe we need to stand by the manager and the back four will settle down and we will turn the corner. H.H.







    He could clean the toilets …..with a toothbrush




    Ha! Still too good for him.



    Believe me – if you had him there in any capacity, he would find a way of using it to sell stories to his pals in the press. Any king’s shilling….

  12. The Bearded Jungle Journo boxing day 1984 on





    It depends on what you want to read or, hear.


    When I hear him tonight on the radio I hear a layer in his voice which can only be described as – hurting Tim.

  13. prestonpans bhoys



    I think he’s been decent defensively……….



    His problems have been with distribution. The two goals against ICT had been coming. Understandably his confidence has nose-dived.

  14. Evening all.



    Had to break my self-imposed exile of about 24 hours.



    I caught mention of Ahmed’s comments on Reporting Scotland. He is only voicing what most of us in Scotland probably feel.



    I would go further and extend the love-in beyond our police to the likes of Salmond, who called thon infamous conference when the deid mob went too far, resulting in his infamous act which can even up the score, as they could not get us with the existing legislation His fellow Hearts supporter, Mrs Budge, who knew it was safe to castigate us, while waiting (is she still?) for reports about her own supporters being beaten up at Ibrox.



    Ahmed is quite possibly right, of course, about not getting a fair trial anywhere in Scotland, pace Neil Lennon being attacked at Tynecastle and witnessed by millions and the culprit getting off not proven in Edinburgh.



    It shows itself in the “honest mistakes”, as on Saturday and will go into overdrive next season, if the deid team manages to survive and gets promotion.



    It shows itself in the likes of our former Justice Minister praising their bigotted hymn sheet to the skies and his police chief backing him up. Did anyone in Scotland complain about their nonsense? Doubt it; there’s no mileage in it, if you want to get on.



    It shows itself in the likes of Walker, Bonnar and their ilk who don’t dare to offer balanced opinion because they know they won’t last too long in their jobs.



    Will it end? As my auld Dad said today, we’ve had to put up with it for years. Imo, it won’t end anytime soon, unless Res 12 really comes home to roost.

  15. The Bearded Jungle Journo boxing day 1984



    Dr Do-little would understand him and the Bluenoses on Clyde better……

  16. Evening folks,



    Interesting point Paul67 raises regarding big Craig Gordon and the Aberdeen winner. Not read back so not sure if the point has been raised. Going back to this time last season, even when we were going through our horrendous start to the season (In Europe) Craig was commanding his six yard box. So what’s happened since then. It might be as Paul suggested the change in personnel in defence, but could it be that he has been instructed to stay on his line?.



    HH Dan






    It depends on what you want to read or, hear.



    When I hear him tonight on the radio I hear a layer in his voice which can only be described as – hurting Tim.




    Depends on what I want to read or hear?



    What, like telling lies about Celtic wanting to ignore Sean Fallon’s 90th birthday?



    Or this when we signed Lubo Moravcik : “”I don’t know what I find more laughable; the fact that Celtic cannot find £500,000 from their biscuit tin to sign a proven talent like John Spencer, or the fact that they then spent £300,000 on one of Dr. Jo’s old pals, the unknown Lubomir Moravcik!”



    If that’s the kind of story (and I do mean story) you want to read/hear about Celtic then fill your boots. But me? I recognise the guy as a money-grabber who makes a living telling lies about Celtic.

  18. Thomas Kent was one of the 16 men executed in 1916 following the Easter Rising and one of only two executed outside Dublin – the other was Roger Casement, who was hanged in London. Following his execution by firing squad at Cork Prison, Kent’s remains were interred in an unmarked grave within the prison compound:







  19. ....PFayr supports WeeOscar on




    Boyata’s positioning for corners , free kicks and crosses is atrocious …

  20. Captain Beefheart on




    You forgot to mention Jim Murphy. Didn’t he want the huns to survive?



    Labour have nothing left in Scotland except an outdated and, frankly, embarrassing sectarian card. Dinosaurs.

  21. prestonpans bhoys on




    You could argue that he played well in that game since he had nothing to do, or perhaps I’m being too harsh!

  22. The Bearded Jungle Journo boxing day 1984 on





    How can it be a lie when, Celtic’s 1st team were sent to America to play in a glamour game instead of the Sean Fallon game?



    The Lubo stuff I’ll give ye:)



    Does PL not make a fortune ‘out of’ Celtic by, telling lies?




    Not to mention his sacking from The Scotsman for telling us Artur Jorge was to be the next manager and the


    outright lie about Bologna’s interest in Nakamura. The last one in particular when Alfredo Cazzola had to issue a categorical denial saying that Keevin’s article was “completely made up, and that he is appalled in the face of this scandalous way of doing journalism”.



    The man is an embarrassment. Happy reading.

  24. We have lost 3 goals recently in the 85 88 and 95th min..costing us 4pts and imo putting us out of the c/l…i dont see how Deila can be blamed for that, Players not concentrating till the Final whistle…I just think the players aint performing as they can….I blame the players before i blame deila, they aint doing it…..

  25. Captain Beefheart on

    Sorry Kev but I agree with natknow. Flanders and his crap paper led a vicious and unprofessional vendetta against Celtic.



    Incidentally, there is a Flanders themed metal band from America called Okilly Dokilly. I would rather invite them to Celtic Park.



    Take care Kev J.

  26. The Bearded Jungle Journo boxing day 1984 on





    PL told lies about Bolonga’s interest because, he was trying to flog Naka behind the scenes!


    When Naka was asked by a reporter from the Evening Times about the Bolonga interest, Naka said – “I don’t know yet, Peter hasn’t told me when I’ll be leaving.”


    Maybe Naka was subjected to a Bobo type of confidentiallity clause?


    Who’s Kev?

  27. Aye. Maybe if my aunty had baws she’d be my uncle. Maybe the hokey-cokey really is what it’s all about. As I say – enjoy your reading/listening material.

  28. As ever really good stuff by the Clumpany.


    Jackson’s comments are awful/ cringing/ offensive.


    Maybe his editor should have a word. Oops his Twitter comments are worse.

  29. Parkheadcumsalford. I haven’t said it for a while but Scotland is an institutionally racist country. It’s major institutions are anti catholic and more vehemently anti Irish Catholic.



    All you are seeing is this played out time and again.



    All Imrad is saying is the truth from someone who lived it for a wee while.



    But don’t worry,



    If PL and DD get their way we will be at the back of the bus again, being told we are mentally ill, watching cheating and Celtic will say the sum total of nothing.



    The game is rigged. We are the mugs.



    Rise up. Fight back.



    Our true enemy lies in the boardroom at CP.