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. I have been saying for months our defence is dire and that the new additions to the defence have made us poorer, why do we have defenders who cannot tackle properly, positional sense is zero, defensive players who are not street wise, easily mugged into making rash tackles that end up penalties or free kicks in bad areas, defenders who cannot get their head thro the ball and clear it up the park other than powder puff clearances that end up at the feet of the opposition on edge of our 18 yard line. I could go on and on , who is coaching these guy’s, its only my opinion but JK needs help and experience to get this sorted.

  2. FourGreenFields






    How did the suggestion go about funding some sort of pick-me-up for him ?

  3. Paul67,



    Interesting analysis on Aberdeen defeat.



    I suggest you face up to reality. Lawwell has sold our best players and replaced them by projects.



    You are dealing with the symptoms off the problem, not the root cause …..Lawwell.



    Our strike force is Leigh Griffiths who will be banned over recent events.



    Lawwell will respect you more and indeed Celtic hyperspace if you call out Lawwell for destroying our club.



    I suspect not and having exhausted the Dave King, Campbell Ogilvie, Referee, Craig Gordon excuses …it surely must be time to blame the Norwegian Mowbray. Just try to remember who hired him as his puppet.



    Pedro doesn’t bite.




    Thanks for the reply mate , I’m not on as often as I used to be but wouldn’t want TCR to think he had been forgot about .


    I think we were waiting on an update from coorslad ? before taking it further .



  5. Paul67 and others solely blaming the defence


    Sorry ghuys, but our problems are much more than only the defence


    Did anyone see Broonie at Aberdeen 2nd goal ? Quinn came from behind him


    But let’s go further back, to the free kick


    Efe ( should he have been on the park ? ) made the tackle near the halfway line


    Where was our right sided midfielder for tracking a runner ? Or in Ronny’s structure our holding defensive midfielder ?


    Back further


    Anyone see Griffiths lose ( easily giving the ball away ) the ball creating their counter attack


    In my line of business for major failures, we do Root Cause Analysis (RCA)


    I’m afraid the RCA for this defeat would fall back to the Manager, his tactics, his decision making, and if being really critical could go further back than this :-)



    Jimmynotpaul – I heard something as you described took place, ( from someone in football, with links to Celtic players) but didn’t get players names, I actually heard it went further, with a major fallout in Management team, as the reaction resulted in several leaving the training field ?


    Now I asked on Saturday, who the new guy on our bench with HH on his gear was ? First time I’ve seen him, I was phoned today, and told, 2 of the so called fitness coaches were replaced by Ronny last week, with another 2 Norwegians ? No idea to truth


    I also believe there was a fallout resulting in Frail leaving his role ?


    All not well in background ? All hearsay though



    Hail hail

  6. Keevins also successfully sued by MON for the secret meeting at a service station re Leeds job



    The guy is hanging on and keeping younger people out of a job…..if yer daft enough to go into journo career.






    I give Ronny time. I think the infighting stuff is just …..well

  7. Latchford


    Here’s me typing away about Root Cause, and you’ve already posted on it :-))



    Hail Hail

  8. Unfortunately it’s not just the defence playing badly. The midfield isn’t creating much or providing support for the defence.


    All in all we seem tactically inflexible and leaderless.

  9. GuyFawkesaforeverhero on

    PFayr supports WeeOscar


    7:49 pm



    I’ve no issues yet with Dedryck Boyata.



    He’s trying his best to comply with RD’s plan to make forward passes and not sideways feart bail-outs. He’s still learning the duties and responsibilities of being a set piece lamp-post. Apparently, we can’t run short of them so Efe, not Saidy, replaces Mikael.



    It’s not an easy watch at the moment but Celtic remains the best football watch imaginable.

  10. Cowiebhoy



    Root cause is one thing…………..how deep the root is embedded is another….especially when it needs dug out.



    Our’s just might be one of those tap roots and sucking the life out of the club.

  11. Err Latchford.



    Haven’t you been reading the script?



    Paul will never criticise PL. they are indivisible.



    I would get angry at Ronny but of course you are 100% correct. He. Like NL before him (who we now know was paid off), is being continually undermined.



    We sell our best players and expect somehow to do great. We end up with one striker and expect all will be fab?



    But Ronny has fallen for the first rule of these sort of jobs. Stand your ground or leave. He told us we didn’t need to sell VVD. Well done. Good marker.



    But then when we sell him he talks crap about us being stronger blah blah blah.



    He was always the cheap option but it wasn’t about cost. He was always the compliant option.



    He is weak and his weakness is showing. He had a wee chance before the CL qualifiers to call the board out and say he needed investment. He would have been in a strong position. But he isn’t experienced enough to get that.



    Now he is another of PL and DDs victims. It was always going to be the case.



    See the galling thing for him is that this will ruin his career. At least NL realised and told them to GFT.

  12. NegAnon2



    The spag bol comment ? Right now I’m hoping that’s the one you’re referring too…………sweating a wee bit……

  13. The last report I saw about TCR was that he was recovering well and lurking on site and would post when he was up to it. Like Four Green Fields I would hate for TCR to think he has been forgotten about because he hasn’t. Maybe got pushed into the background a wee bit in all the chaos after the Aberdeen defeat, in fact the more I think about it, a post from TCR would be a great antidote to all the doom & gloom on here, so how about it TCR, just a wee post to give us all a lift.

  14. Joe Filippis Haircut on

    NEGONANON2. Maybe Paul doesnt share your views about PL he is probably happy with the job Peter is doing if that is the case why should he be challenging Peter?If you feel he is doing such a poor job why dont you write to him with your questions ? Just so it is clear I am not unhappy with Peter I remember some of our previous Execs. Terry Cassiday ,Jock Brown I will take Peter any day. H.H.






    Thanks for the reply mate , I’m not on as often as I used to be but wouldn’t want TCR to think he had been forgot about .



    I think we were waiting on an update from coorslad ? before taking it further .



    – See more at: http://www.celticquicknews.co.uk/defenceless/comment-page-6/#comment-2678358



    Please (coorslad too) keep us updated. I’d be happy to contribute, I enjoy TCR’s posts and think it’d be a great to do something for him.

  16. Anyone know where I can watch Celtic games in Puerto Del Carmen,Lanzarote. I believe that the Ha’penny Inn is now closed.


    Hail Hail

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

    Evening Neganon



    I promised to come back to you on the £4m exceptional costs.






    Note 4 (page 41) note 7 (page 42)and note 16 (page 47) details the £4m write down (additional amortisation).



    Note 7 also shows compromise payments of £575k but does not detail who for.










    Hopefully we will hear something soon mate , I know we wouldn’t forget about him on here .


    If you are lurking TCR then all the best mate and get back on here when you feel ready .



  19. ....PFayr supports WeeOscar on




    What would you consider additional amortisation to be




    Writing off of value from dreadful signings

  20. Cowiebhoy.


    Thanks for reply.


    I asked last night if any of those close to the action could confirm or deny all the rumours but no one answered. I’m sure their is a few on here who have heard more than us but I guess they are not telling. However I think I can confidently say everything is not rosy in our Celtic garden.







    Thanks for reply.



    I asked last night if any of those close to the action could confirm or deny all the rumours but no one answered. I’m sure their is a few on here who have heard more than us but I guess they are not telling. However I think I can confidently say everything is not rosy in our Celtic garden.




    Can you tell us where your hearing your rumours from?

  22. adi-dasler



    Before you put your three stripes to bed for the night…:o)



    MON did not sue, successfully or otherwise, Tom Bower for his detailed account of MON not only being offered but verbally accepting the Leeds job in June 2002. Bower’s book ‘Broken Dreams’ has the detail.



    Apologies to any Reaganites but “Keevins is no Tom Bower”.

  23. Good evening Celticrollercoaster. From a peruse of those accounts I think the difference is that amortisation occurs on current players whilst exceptional expenses occurs on writing off a contract when someone leaves.



    Either way from reading the notes Celtic are super prudent.



    There is of course no detail as to the exceptional expenses. But it’s okay Paul has told us it was getting rid of the management team, so now we know dude.



    Adi dasler. There are ways of calling out the board, boxing them in. When ronnys star was riding high all he had to do was start laying down some markers. That he didn’t is an indication of his weakness and, sadly, the board strength.



    BCW chill out. Yes the slag ball comment.