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.

Click Here for Comments >

About Author




    Almore @ 7:45 pm



    “The Irish army is being sent into all the country’s primary schools:”



    Jeez, discipline must be bad over there.




    Maybe the weans just found out the Aberdeen result…?

  2. Natknow.


    I’d rather not. I don’t want to get anyone into trouble.


    I don’t know Cowiebhoy personally, although I enjoy his posts, it’s interesting he has heard similar to me because I doubt it would be from the same source(s).


    There are people on this blog who have much more insight to what is happening to our club than me. I was hoping they would come on and give a wee update especially if the stories have grown arms and legs, which can sometimes happen, especially after two defeats.

  3. Joe Fillipi I have actually written to Celtic and PL but of course it’s ignored. Questions are too hard.



    I was responding to another poster who asked why Paul doesn’t question PL.



    I have been reading your posts recently Joe. They are the work of a jilted lover who believes that his true love didn’t mean to hurt or leave him and that its all a misunderstanding.



    In short.



    Endearing but deluded.



    That’s your choice. But see that wee voice that’s grower louder? That’s called self respect.

  4. If Celtic had qualified for the Champions League, the loss to Aberdeen, only the first defeat in the SPL in seven matches, there would be less brickbats flying in Ronny’s direction. Undoubtedly everyone including the support and the players are still in the grip of a massive hangover after the huge disappointment of Malmo.



    Just when we thought the the days of Gary Caldwell and Stephen McManus style of defending at corner kicks had left us the jitters have come back to haunt our defenders again big time. Interesting how players like Darnell Fisher and Sadie Janko can impress on their first outing, unfortunately the same cannot be said of the Blackett lad who looked very unsure and lightweight and Izzy has nothing to worry about yet. A worry to see Celtic create so few chances and the Ajax spy left Pittodrie a happy man.

  5. Err BCW that was meant to be spag ball but weirdly the iPad wanted to say slag. I dunno if it’s subliminal. But if I were you I would be worried.

  6. Dallas Dallas where the heck is Dallas on

    Nat know with regard to the Sean Fallen tribute game in Sligo. I have known young Sean Fallen for over thirty years. I met him.a few days before his dad unfurled the league flag. An honour, in my mind, which was long overdue. Young Sean told me a new guy came in to promote the match and changed all the agreements which had previously been made between Sligo Rovers the and ourselves. Both clubs were not happy with the new promoter and the proposed tribute match was cancelled. Keevins article about the tribute match being cancelled was way off the mark and complete rubbish. This was why his press privileges were withdrawn. He wasn’t banned, he could still go into our stadium but at his own expense.

  7. Some thoughts on what makes a great football manager at CP, and where Ronny stands


    1) Understands the fans and builds a rapport




    2) Improves players / young players


    DEBATABLE For every Griifiths, Bitton who has improved, there is a Mulgrew , Izzy , Forrest who has gone backwards


    3) Tactically good and can make ‘in game’ changes


    NO , IMHO this is a major weakness


    4) Good judge of a prospective signing


    DEBATABLE Outside Denayer, his other signings have been a mixed bag, and some players like GMS have gone backwards. RD hasn’t yet purchased a player who has increased in value


    5) Good Communicator


    No , IMHO he regularly has to back track and clarify what he really meant – I wonder how often that happens behind scenes with players ?


    6) Is a winner




    7) Is a forward planner / organizer


    DONT KNOW, but suspect answer is yes



    So, only my opinion, and I suspect some will have other criteria, and other views, but after 1 year, two out of seven isn’t convincing.


    He has until Xmas

  8. Dallas Dallas where the heck is Dallas on

    Fallen should have been Fallon bloody word correction on this not so smart phone

  9. NegAnon2



    Conversely……………that’d make slag ball your desire……………………..you should be worried

  10. Btw celticrollercoaster as you know amortisation is generally made up from an overall policy (as per the notes) and exceptional expenses should be unexpected things that are actually happening. They should be a surprise.



    But I guess Celtic keep getting surprised eh?

  11. Some good posts with a bit of perspective going on…



    Caught some of the last thread, it seemed the thoughts and emotions were all over the place, I guess that was to be expected, of course you always get the great CQN stalwarts talking sense – but the logic of the naysayers was incomprehensible.



    Ronny, as was pointed out by Bigshuggy earlier, we have played Aberdeen five times and won four – now the naysayers are telling us we are worse than last Season – so we should change the system, change the Manager.



    Well it was the same system and same Manager as last Season.



    They say we bought dud defenders that have made us weaker…



    Who? Guys that have played a handful of games, guys that have played ONE, yes one game for us and guys who haven’t played a full game for us?!



    We had VvD and Daneyer at the heart of defence last Season – a combination at Central Defence that is comparable to anything we’ve had since the Lions. Along with Craig Gordon they were a record breaking combination. We knew they were unreplacable both as individuals and a collective unit. Could this have been managed better? It’s now the middle of September with important games coming thick and fast and no steady back four, of course it could.



    Yet I certainly didn’t and I don’t remember anyone else in the punt VvD early and rebuild the defence camp. As for the keep VvD for the qualifiers, but rebuild the defence anyway, well that’s another suggestion that defies logic “where’s the money”, and as Auldheid states – we did replace Deneyar with Ata Bhoy.



    Celtic have a medium long term plan, do I understand why Supporters get frustrated by this – yes, because it takes time to come to fruition and so many of these plans have badly underachieved in the recent past.



    Yet I think we are on the right road – persist with plan A – go with the 4-2-3-1, some club stalwarts don’t seem to like it, our striker, who is on fire, isn’t suited to the one man up front, but remember…



    A while ago Barcelona had a plan (plan A if you like) – La Masia – the goal, they would win a senior match with 11 home grown players (not Spanish, Messi of course isn’t Spanish, but home grown players) After many, many years and great success along the way, with maybe 7, 8 or 9 guys from La Masia in the team, they recently managed it – 11 guys from the Academy, everyone was rightly proud of that great achievement.



    It has proven more efficient and consistent than the Galacticos route – Look how often, Real Madrid, Chelsea, PSG, Man City etc, etc, fail to match expectations.



    The plan is good, we have a problem with the players – I watched the Georgia v Scotland match last week, something struck me and was mentioned on the live updates. Scotland had the better players, you could tell that they played at a higher level and they are re-numerated accordingly, way better than the Georgians – but you know what, the Georgians were much better technically, the way they controlled and passed the ball was way superior.



    The SFA are behind the curve, our lads are not been coached well enough (Scots boys, and like it or not that’s where the core of the teams will come from), or at least they hadn’t been.



    I believe if we had a player like Drogba at his peak, we’d be in the UCL and be winning at Pitodrie – a quality player in a key position that can play in the system. Oor Leigh is doing great, he is playing to his strengths and scoring a lot of goals – So as a Manager what do you do? You can’t afford to buy a Drogba, you have Ciftci who can play the role, but can he play it effectively and get the goals and assists he needs to provide? So you play the guy on form and he does his best.



    We could go through every position on the field and analyse like wise, but the fact is we seem to have four types of player…



    – Experienced performing players who are not best suited to playing the system


    – Experienced previously performing players who are not comfortable playing the system


    – Inexperienced players who have not been given the time to bed into the system


    – Ghuys who can and do play well in the system, the point is, with the other three types it’s difficult for them to excel.



    Celtic need to be punching above their weight – this is not to satisfy the hopes and aspirations of the fans – it is to build a sustainable Football Club in the modern Footballing economic environment. We all know that in actual fact we are underachieving, I don’t think it’s the strategy or the system. We need to persevere with both and get it right. The personnel changes necessary to make the process work, seems to me to be a longer and more painful process than we thought.



    Well that is a great pity, but we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water – we must persist and succeed with plan A.



    Hail Hail

  12. 67Heaven .. CHALLENGING THE LIE ..I am wee Oscar...... Ipox belongs to the creditors on

    I’m being told “Craig whyte had the security on ibrokes but has now sold it for £6m to a legal firm who, after qc opinion, have approached bdo for payment its just magic☺”

  13. lennon's passion on

    LATCHFORD on 14TH SEPTEMBER 2015 8:33 PM



    People on here say ex-Celtic players put the boot in to us to keep there MSM jobs. Mr 67 isn’t going to call out PL and loose his privilege within CP.

  14. Why would anyone feel the need to post negative rumours of Celtic on an open forum


    What possible good can come of it. Internal disputes can be sorted out inhouse and not put on show for the amusement of our friends in the Scottish media or orcs down the pub

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

    PF Ayr/Neganon



    The extra write off of £4m official reason is



    “The impairment charge of £4.09m (2013: £0.50m) comprises no players (2013: 1)


    whose contracts expire within one year. ”



    So we have written down value of players on our books with contracts greater than 1 year by £4m. I assume that is because they are believed now to offer lesser value of their remaining life of their contracts. For me if that is the case, then that is an admission of a very poor purchasing strategy.



    When a player leaves the club, the value of the player is written off in the accounts and offset against the sales proceeds received and a profit or loss on disposal of the intangible assets ( player) is shown. So a player with a value in the accounts of £2m, sold for £3m, will show a profit on disposal of £1m.



    In the accounts you will see that in the year to May 2014, we made a profit on disposal of players of £17m. This is a net sum of all disposals in the year and this makes 2014 a very good profitable year.



    Amortisation is judgemental ( and hence easy to fiddle), so If I was a cynic, then I would suggest that additional prudent write downs can help suppress profits ( and expectations), in one year and that those profits will benefit in later years as there is less amortisation to write down.



    Having said that we look as if we have written down a hefty chunk of amortisation in 2015 as well. I will need the full accounts to understand better.



    Hope that makes sense and not put the whole of CQN to sleepzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz







  16. NegAnon2



    Enough nonsense.



    How does it get changed ? it’s pretty pointless your repetitive mania on CQN ? And please don’t take that nastily.



    But how do you think change should happen ? What positive input does NEGANON2 have to offer ?

  17. Warbiola for Newcastle?…….need to get a Timposter to stick that on Swallow Swallow, that will take the wind out their sails…..

  18. Joe Filippis Haircut on

    NEGANON2. No its much easier to understand we are at opposite sides of the scale You are unhappy at how things are going with Celtic and I am happy with how they are going.Now it occurs to me neither of our polarised views might be correct it may well be the truth lies somewhere in the middle.I prefer to support the current regime and expect to see improvement I remember many many worse times to be a Celtic supporter than now. I am looking forward to the AJAX and Dundee games.We have to remember financialy football has changed greatly in the last 10 years and unfortunately Celtic have been left in the financial back waters.So under the current climate we are doing well and when our new players get to know each other I am sure they will Gel.However,as the old saying goes he who lives the longest will see the most. H.H.

  19. A few points to add into the mix–



    1) How much influence does RD have regarding our new signings?



    2) Did we get into the CL because VW was in the team?


    My memory of qualification in 2012 was an almost unnatural solidity to our MF.



    3) What level of coach / manager do we now need to get into the CL?


    Who would be a suitable candidate — any EpL newbies like AN or EH?



    4) Is there any reason to suggest that we cannot offer £45K pow to a suitably qualified player?



    5) If we were to shut down the academy at L/town what would we replace it with?


    Multiple — 4 is my guess — youth teams attached to geographic areas?


    Glasgow / Dublin / Boston ?!? / Ross County or Coventry?



    We are struggling, really struggling at the moment.


    Will we need to lose the league this season before change will come?

  20. Warbiola for Newcastle?…….need to get a Timposter to stick that on Swallow Swallow, that will take the wind out their sails…………

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

    NegAnon2 on 14th September 2015 9:26 pm



    Btw celticrollercoaster as you know amortisation is generally made up from an overall policy (as per the notes) and exceptional expenses should be unexpected things that are actually happening. They should be a surprise.



    But I guess Celtic keep getting surprised eh?






    Made up are quite an appropriate words :-)



    It is amazing the amount of businesses that have surprises each year. Exceptional items are overused IMO.







  22. CRC @ 9.33



    I think you are over analysing the issue and producing a lot of fog not light.



    For the write down to take place there has to be a significant / material change to a players circumstances.



    We can’t keep a player and write down his value.


    We have to write down the value because we have had to sell at a loss.


    It is not as if we have been short of failing CF projects to clear out.



    However that issue is so last year.


    The current scandal is the £9.4mill we seemingly invested in the squad last year and how little benefit we gained from it.



    £9.4mill — some is having a laugh at our expense.






    Nat know with regard to the Sean Fallen tribute game in Sligo. I have known young Sean Fallen for over thirty years. I met him.a few days before his dad unfurled the league flag. An honour, in my mind, which was long overdue. Young Sean told me a new guy came in to promote the match and changed all the agreements which had previously been made between Sligo Rovers the and ourselves. Both clubs were not happy with the new promoter and the proposed tribute match was cancelled. Keevins article about the tribute match being cancelled was way off the mark and complete rubbish. This was why his press privileges were withdrawn. He wasn’t banned, he could still go into our stadium but at his own expense.




    Thanks for the clarification. Agree that such an honour was long overdue.

  24. jude2005 is Neil Lennon \o/ on

    Had to laff at the D R today. Big spread abt Warburton wants his players properly hydrated b4 they come in for training by drinking plenty of water or they wont be allowed to train. Inside the DR weve got a player sucking a pipe attached to a big bowl of water at 4am in the morning. Me wonders what big Jock wd have said??

  25. Joe Filippis Haircut on

    MADMITCH. Fella thats a good question I envisage big Peter retiring and when that happens it will not be easy in my opinion to find a replacement as good.However, others may have a different point of view.H.H.

  26. If Peter Lawwell did leave and another Chief Executive did come in would things change dramatically ? Is he not following instruction from the board ?

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

    MadMitch on 14th September 2015 9:44 pm



    Apologies if my explanation is foggy but that is how it is done. No over analysis of the situation or hyperbole. I did try hard to show some light :-)



    Of course we can write down an asset ( player) and keep him on the books. This is an allowed practice when reviewing assets in businesses. The accounts explain that we have done this to a value of £4m in addition to the normal amortisation. What I cannot tell you is who or why, but I can tell you what has been written down.



    Think about our dutch injury prone superstar, perhaps he is one?



    You are right in respect that the £4m write off, is if accurate, an admission of bad purchasing. Yes somebody is doing well out of this as you say laughing, but equally the profit on disposal at £17m suggests that we also get some right with the strategy of buying projects, develop and then either sell for vast sums or put them down.



    I do not like this strategy btw







  28. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    BGX 8:02PM


    ….I blame the players before i blame deila, they aint doing it…..




    The manager is always the easy target.


    Remember the Newcastle fans last year with their “Pardew out” banners?


    Wonder how they are feeling now…..

  29. the glorious balance sheet on

    Rumours on twitter that we’re appointing the Dundee utd youth coach Stevie Campbell to coach the u21s

  30. BCW there are two separate issues to think about here.



    Let’s take the easy one first. If I took over at Celtic tomorrow, as I have said before, then we go for a true desire to improve and build. We tell the support we are going to in St and we need them. We get an experienced manager and we spend what money we can afford to get a mix of experience and youth. We then learn what’s working or not and keep this in place for circa 3 years.



    We do not follow stupid Moneyball bolloks. We do some simple things to maximise our chance of success. We do not need to bust the bank to do it. We just have an ambition to get better.



    Talk to the support on a regular basis. Tell us what is going on, the choices we are making. Be honest but ambitious. Be ruthless when it doesn’t work. Admit mistakes.



    Now for the harder. How the hell can we get rid of the dead weight of the board.mwell it’s simple but painful and hard. Deprive them of our money. I am sorry it has come to it but there is no other way. They have no respect for us. They have lied ad Naseum to us.



    Unless we want to storm CP then that is the way forward. We need to do this and then be ambitious.



    From a conceptual perspective none of it is hard. We just need the desire and ambition. But of course the journey is filled with rocks etc. but that’s life.