Don’t look for scapegoats in hoops, Celtic tactically outthought


Let’s be clear: Anderlecht won last night’s the game because they won the tactical battle. (I have not watched this back, so forgive me if there’s a few seconds error) 55 seconds into the game Anderlecht had a 50 second period of unbroken possession, most of it in our half. We knew that early the visitors had an inappropriate levels of time and options.

By contrast, when Celtic got possession, we lacked options. Midfielders and full backs were faced with unattractive choices throughout the night. The familiar triangular patterns we have watched for 18 months existed only in fleeting moments.

Brendan twice tried to change things: initially by pulling Sinclair into the middle, pushing Armstrong left, and then by hooking these two at halftime, and introducing Ntcham and Rogic. The changes at the interval gave Celtic more presence in the centre of the field, but not enough to transform a rank bad performance.

Did you notice we didn’t press in the Anderlecht half? Out of possession, our three at the back became a flat back five as the full backs dropped deep. As a consequence, we allowed Anderlecht time to circulate the ball and build a move. Anderlecht are not a good team (few would get into the Celtic team), so they were unable to win by the necessary margin, but from 55 seconds in, it was evident the Belgians were in command of the most valuable asset in a game: space. Celtic tactics were wrong.

Let me touch on the players for a second, because they were mentioned post-match by Brendan. We watched this same squad stride imperiously around a pitch in Brussels in September. And, with one of two additions, our Invincibles were a European embarrassment under Ronny Deila. Don’t try to kid me these were bad players, who became Invincibles under Brendan, were magnificent in Brussels, but are not good enough for this level now.

This type of thinking is a fallacy. It’s all about the team, not individuals.

We were tactically masterful at Anderlecht, and I suspect did as well as we could have in both games against Bayern Munich. However, we were tactically atrocious in both games against PSG and at home to an Anderlecht, who were on the precipice of becoming the worst team in Champions League history. This is so self-evidently clear I think we are close to some form of group delusion if we don’t acknowledge the fact, and instead look for scapegoats in hoops.

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    You only have to look at Switzerland to see how badly managed the game in Scotland is:))




    I came her 18 years ago and it was a backwater, they had a couple of players who played abroad, now most of their National team play in the bigger leagues, France Italy Germany and England. Basel went down to Lisbon last night and got their result last 16:((




    They invested in the game while we stood around at Hampden wondering what the huns were doing and how we could assist them.




    Rips my knitting to see how the SFA have systematically undermined the game here..

  2. starry plough



    Switzerland and Belgium are prime examples of what I am talking about. They have 2 places from their leagues in the CL – one goes straight in to groups and one into qualifiers. Celtic are a very long way from even playing one less qualifier. If Celtic are ever to be a player on the big stage again then forget 10 in a row and find somewhere else to play.



    That won’t happen though, so we need to content ourselves with the odd outliers…

  3. Anderlecht are not a good team (few would get into the Celtic team)



    Apart from Dendoncker and Hanni are better than any of our midfielders (sitting and creating respectively) Mbodji and Spajic in central defence are better than any of our central defenders

  4. By the by, on the plus side, Celtic will have lots of European games to get ready for the Group stages next year (provided we get that far)…



    8 qualifying matches.

  5. A strange article by Paul67. He seems to be saying that the tactics were wrong but doesn’t blame the manager for this. And who was this “imperious team” in Brussels? We were dire in the first half in Brussels, couldn’t keep possession, just like last night.

  6. Paul 67



    So either Brendan’s tactics were wrong or the players can’t follow instructions???


    Which do you think Mr P?



    Or a mix of both, I have to admit to being disappointed when I saw Olivier wasn’t starting last night as a few have pointed out Calum and Stuart at the same time rarely works for Brooonie…



    The rest of the team more or less picked itself with form and injuries taken into account..




  7. thomthethim for Oscar OK on

    From last thread







    I posted last night on how football Outwith Scotland is refereed and how this reflects on the skill levels of players.




    The Hot Potato style of ball retention is not an issue.



    The SFA , as in everything wrong in the game, are responsible for how our game is played.



    They share that responsibility the the Coaching Courses they run.




    If we can filter last night’s malfunction to one thing, I suggest it was that we would grab the initiative from the start, go for the early goal and kill the tie.



    The team selection was set up to play on the front foot, with little regard for defence.



    Armstrong on his best day is not a defensive midfielder, nor is Mc.Gregor.




    Anderlecht grabbed the game from the first minute and rarely let it go




    Team selection caused our problems and substitutions plus our superior fitness dug us out of them.




    Hard day at night school all round.

  8. Paul67,



    While we got a great result in Brussels, we were by no means “imperious”. In fact, until we scored (against the run of play) we couldn’t string 2 passes together. We were giving the ball away all the time, particularly Ntcham, who redeemed himself with his pass to Kieran Tierney.

  9. Sorry Paul67 but Anderlecht were set up wrong over there. They also gifted us 2 goals.



    BR admitted it last night, we lack quality at this level.



    There has been some games at home in the SPFL i think it was against Dundee and Hibs where they ran right through our midfield.



    We lack strength and experience in midfield, Broony stands alone.





  10. So once the ritual self-flagellation is complete…



    How do we approach the game on Sunday?



    I would suggest we should approach it Sinclairlessly but Ntchamfully.



    I’ll miss the match itself – I’ll be in Hamburg getting dragged round a Christmas market. At least there will be Glühwein…

  11. Paul



    I think you saw a different game in Brussels.


    We opened with woefully poor execution of basic skills and competencies.



    I thought the only pre match caveat was starting SA rather than ON. The former compounded and highlighted this tactical error by playing probably his worst ever match for Celtic.



    His (lack of) performance and those of others wasn’t down to mere tactics. It was down to failing to deliver the basics of top level Football.



    HH jamesgang

  12. Strange article .



    Presumably tactics are determined by The Manager . .Presumably The Manager thinks the selected team is capable of playing as per the decreed tactics



    There is no rationale for setting up offensively if you then allow the opposition to have the ball….( even less so when the defence is prone to dithering and the midfield struggle to pass the ball )



    Game in Brussels was the proverbial game of two halves — I seem to have missed that imperious striding .




  13. I have to disagree… or perhaps be more blunt.



    There were players who are not up to standard or not performing to their ability. The manager has to shoulder a lot of blame for performances in the CL this season too.



    The players are going out against bigger teams with zero believe of causing an upset. Players and manager at fault for this.



    The tactics in most of the game have been poor – or poorly implemented. Against better teams you either make it difficult to create chances by flooring the back line or you press and press hard. Personally I don’t think we have the personnel to contain and the team are not versed in playing this way so I would press as a unit and hope to compete that way. In all the games bar the one we got points we failed to do either and that’s simply not good enough. I think Rodgers is great, he’s done an amazing job domestically and seems to have a vision for the club, but changes can be made now to improve the team. You don’t need to be a £40m player to press the ball like PSG or Barcelona do – the fact that these world stars put in that kind of shift week in week out is testament to their professionalism and their manager.



    Last night, and in other games we’ve failed to make simple 5 yard passes and constantly pass behind players which baffles me. Dembele needs to learn to hold the ball up if he wants to be a top striker. In training they should be lumping the ball up for him to bring down on his chest until he can do it. The ball isn’t always going to arrive at feet. Boyata has a touch of the Efe’s about him from time to time. Lustig always looks nervous on the ball and no longer provides much of an end product, he doesn’t get close enough to him man defensively either and I’m afraid he’s lost the pace for this level.



    Not sure what has been in Armstrong and Sinclair’s tea this season but they’ve not played to their ability.



    Harsh but I stand behind it all.

  14. Heading for some much needed kip ( cricket lovely cricket )



    Text from my Liverpool pal –



    ” Brendan Rodgers really struggled to get his Liverpool teams to replicate their domestic form in Europe . Either that or the likes of Ludgorets and Basel were way better than EPL standard “

  15. Listening to Brendan talk last night in his post match interview, I think he is considering whether has has got as much out of these players as he possibly can. If that is the case he and thinking you can’t make a silk purse out of a pigs ear then he will look for another challenge away from Celtic Park. The players need to step it up and show him he’s not wasting his time – in terms of making Celtic a team to be respected in Europe once again. Right now in Europe, the supporters and the stadium have much more respect than the team.

  16. glendalystonsils on

    It only takes a couple of key players (Sinclair and Armstrong) to be right off form to severely weaken a team.


    I don’t know how Anderlecht players normally perform, having only seen the game in Brussels before last night


    but they didn’t seem to be deficient in any area.


    I think they are a good but not a great team. We were a poor team last night although we defended comfortably for the most part. Their crossing was not great and their goal was slightly fortuitous.


    When Celtic lined up in the tunnel in Lisbon they were not overawed by the tanned giants with the fabulous football pedigree. Oh for a bit of that gallousness in the present team.

  17. VFR800 is now a Monster 821 on

    Word of The Day (We wanted European football after Christmas …..)



    Desideratum /dɪˌzɪdəˈrɑːtəm/



    noun (pl) -ta (-tə)


    1. something lacked and wanted



    Word Origin and History for desideratum




    “something lacking,” see desiderata.






    plural of desideratum (1650s), from Latin, literally “something for which desire is felt,” from past participle stem of desiderare “to long for” (see desire).





  18. Lots of good analyses on here and I am glad that we are disappointed, even as we acknowledge the great achievement of Europa football from a 4th seed team.



    Brendan Rodgers sounded both disappointed and stoic last night as he coped with the conflicting emotions of a good outcome from a poor result and an even worse performance. Our confidence, at this level, was put back in a box last night.



    We have had two crunch games already, the biggest games in our whole season.



    Game 1 was on the 22nd August, when with a 5 goal lead, we still contrived to play with fear for most of the game in Astana as we aimed for our CL group qualification. Yes, it was 8-4 on aggregate but none of us will remember that game with much joy.



    Game 2 was last night, where we needed to ensure Europa qualification and we did, yet we allowed ourselves to be bossed by a team that are competent at European level but not clearly superior to us.



    I know the league is important to us but Anderlecht would beat Aberdeen, Sevco and Hibs, home and away in every fixture they played in Scotland: they would run us close in a league campaign. Even Astana would be more than competitive with the Aberdeen, Hibs and Ibrox teams in chasing second place in an SPFL.



    Those 2 matches which earned us a lot of money will not be cherished as examples of good performance from a Celtic team that will now have to re-build a lot of confidence.



    Thankfully, we have a good break in which to re-develop confidence against our weaker domestic opponents before we are tested again.



    BTW- good post from John51 in the middle of the night. It is possible to analyse the same match but arrive at different conclusions. No-one played deliberately badly but shortcomings were cruelly exposed. We feel bad just now but this feeling will fade.

  19. The CLl is for the mega-rich clubs. As others have said, we are allowed to the table to get a few crumbs (helping us to dominate domestically). Qualification will be even more arduous for us next season. The mega-rich soon won’t want to be bothered playing against the likes of Celtic and Qarabag. They’ll soon create a more exclusive CL, with perhaps a Europa League 1 and 2 for the riff-raff.



    Finishing 3rd as a Pot 4 team in our group this season is a success.


    But most of the performances left a lot to be desired. Our technical deficiencies and our inability to keep possession have been a problem for a long, long time. Can this ever be overcome as long as we play in such an awful domestic league?



    Brendan’s tactics have been poor. He seems to think we can play the same way in Europe as in Scotland. He must surely have realized by now that we can’t.

  20. thomthethim for Oscar OK on

    So, according to finger on the pulse man, Keith Jackson, Mc.Innes is going to quit Aberdeen and “rejoin” his boyhood heroes.



    This could cause the SFA a problem if Aberdeen complain.



    However, a precedent had been set, which should be a relief to the SFA, when they fined Celtic £200k for “poaching” Tommy Burns and his assistant from Kilmarnock.



    I understand,from a good source, that the stumbling block in granting permission to “talk” to Mc.Innes was Aberdeen demanding the talking fee of £100 to be paid up front….Sevco want to pay in instalments!!

  21. My, perhaps too simplistic a view, is that too many players played way below their normal standards. Armstrong most of all. After one minute I commented that there was something wrong with him and that I would take him off long before half-time.


    I also had a good look at Anderlecht and thought they were similar us on a reasonable day but were not as good as we are when we are at our best. So, in a nutshell, just a poor performance. They are human and are allowed the occasional below par performance. Fortunately, it was in a game where a 0-1 reverse was hardly catastrophic.


    Finally, I felt the support was also way below the normal CL heights.







  22. Last night was both a tactical and performance issue. The team formation was wrong from the start, exposing some of our less adaptable players and this was compounded by some of the worst performances I have seen in a Celtic shirt. Attempts at managing this through tactical reorganisation in the first half were almost completely ineffective. The change of formation at half-time coupled with the introduction of two players stemmed the tide and we finished the match largely matching a relatively poor Anderlecht side.


    We now have a team mindset where you can almost see the panic in the players heads as they start a European game and I wonder if this is due, in part, to the play out from the back dictate, where we have players who are struggling with this approach being forced to use it against good quality European sides who use it to gather easy possesion against us. Even when forced to hoof the ball up the park in desperation we have not set up for that, so see it quickly returned by the opposing centre-halves. Brendan does not seem to have learned from the European spankings we have suffered over the past 3 years and this needs to change.

  23. Glad we are through


    pot 4 to pot 3 and Europa football


    yup i will take that.:-)



    Next year its goin to be 8 qualifying games!!



    Well done Celts




  24. HOT SMOKED on 6TH DECEMBER 2017 12:13 PM





    Finally, I felt the support was also way below the normal CL heights.



    AS I have posted previously. The support is entitled to a lift from the team.


    Midway through the first half, Anderlecht had around 65% possession.


    Not much inspiration for the fans there.

  25. Brogan Rogan Trevino and Hogan on

    Good Afternoon.



    Do I think Brendan Rodgers is a good manager? Yes I do.



    Do I think we have good players and that Rodgers has improved those same players? Yes I do — on both counts.



    But, I also believe that the manager is smart enough to know that when it comes to the business end of European Competition we need even better players than the ones we have just now.



    Does that mean we need a whole new team? No, of course not, but we do urgently need a more effective midfield which can not only provide protection to our back four, thus making them more effective, but who can also create, improvise and release our forwards making them more effective as well.



    A strong, skillful and dominant midfield changes the shape of a game and the opposition.



    Right now, our midfield comprises of Scott Brown and three helpers from the squad.



    They are good helpers. More than sufficient to shine in Scotland but they are not dominating and dictating games in Europe. They are not, as yet, of a sufficient European standard.



    Jock Stein once said of the Lions that in any big game he only needed 5 of them to play to their potential level and Celtic would win. The other six could have a day where they only made up the numbers and that would mean that they would play sufficiently well to bring home a result.



    Right now, Brendan doesn’t have the same confidence in his team as Jock did and that is just a fact of life. We are good, but others are better and we must try and narrow that gap.



    At the European level, we need all our current players to play out of their skin to progress.



    I agree we need another centre half, though I do like Boyatta and Siminovic and I think they would be far more confident with a stronger midfield in front of them.



    Brown is peerless and tireless, but he can’t play forever and too often he is doing the work of two men.



    I recall a Manchester United friend saying that the problem with Roy Keane was that it would take at least two players to replace him. We are kind of in the same situation with Brown.



    I don’t know if Kouassi is a ready made replacement but I would like to see him get some game time because I am told he is a player.



    Big Moussa has to show up every game and he has to stay on his feet.



    I like the look of Edouard. He is quick, mobile, strong and confident.



    We need to regroup for February. Get some confidence and fight back and maybe strengthen that midfield area if at all possible.



    By the way for anyone wanting to support the Mary’s Meals project then here is the link.






    All donations made before 30th December will be double in value so I want to really push this as we have already made a huge difference to this school raising attendance levels from 265 to 805!



    Please do what you can and grab your friends, relatives, acquaintances and passers by to see if they can give something. No sum is too small or too little.



    Cheers & HH




  26. 79CAPS –



    ” Qarabag ”



    Watched extended highlights of last nights 1-0 loss @ finished top of the group ahead of Chelsea / Atletico -Roma .Qarabag are way better than any of Celtic’s domestic opposition



    Roma should have won by more but profligacy and heroic defending kept the score down .. Qarabag kept the ball well passed the ball well ( when they had it ) and looked dangerous on the break



    Qarabag certainly have technique but lack pace . Their Manager expressed pride in his team’s performance but bemoaned the fact that their domestic situation didn’t help them be ready for playing teams like Roma — ” a totally different mental level” .” a totally different level of intensity ” . ” Give teams like that the ball and you struggle to get it back -that is not the case in our League ”



    The Roma Manager praised Qarabag — ” they can certainly play football ” and added that with more European experience they would improve a lot

  27. P67, it’s mostly about the individuals. The tactics weren’t that bad. If you look at it they had plenty of the ball but didnt really hurt us or cut us open. The performance in Anderlecht was equally as bad up until the first goal which pretty much blows your theory out of the water.



    At this level if you don’t do the basics correctly you struggle. Poor choices on the ball, poor excution and just generally losing the head. And how many goals have we lost from cross balls? Basically every goal we lose is from a wide delivery. This is the problem. The individual quality of the players is not good enough at CL level. It’s not about scapegoating, it’s cold reality.

  28. VFR800 is now a Monster 821 on

    SFTB, spot on the money with your analysis of last night.



    We had an off night but it’s mission accomplished and objective reached!



    Very good letter of the day; particularly liked escalator!





  29. I’d take anderlecht midfield over ours, broonie ended up man marking trebel, he was so influential, onyekuru was a permanent danger, and dendoncker showed why clubs were being quoted 25m for him. I liked one of the Centre halves. They all showed far more technical ability than their opposite numbers



    At the risk of sounding like a complete negative misery the game in Brussels was a red herring for me. We were terrible until the first goal playing against a team that were a shambles under their interim novice coach. Last night they showed us up, you can’t hide a lack of technique in the game at this level any more, the high press and increased fitness levels means that you don’t have the time that you get in the spl.



    I don’t know what the solution is, it’s not buying another Centre half in January if we can’t keep hold of the ball in the middle of the park, but until we sort it out we’ll be watching teams from all over Europe doing what anderlecht did to us last night

  30. Sevco have shafted Aberdeen big time, by tapping their manager before two back to back games and in the process destabilising and ultimately ousting them as Scotland’s second force. They knew they couldn’t achieve this fairly, so they reverted to type and along with their friends at the sfa and media, started a campaign of rumours and underhand jiggery pokery. It’s what they did as rangers, and they are continuing to do as sevco. It’s hard to feel any sympathy for Milne after his “move on” statement. Aberdeen’s form has been dire for weeks, almost since Pedro left.

  31. Some players look good in domestic football but dont appear to be able to handle the jump needed for football at that level. We need a realiable centreback who is confidence defending and passing, we need our midfield to protect that backline and we sometimes need to drop the ball into the angles for our forward players to run on to. Players should be able to pass the ball 10 yards and if they cant they should not be at celtic




  32. Paul67, you say “Celtics tactics were wrong” I think you sitting on the fence there, or maybe just being diplomatic. I think what you really mean is Brendan Rodgers tactics were wrong. If you said that, i’d agree. We made them look better than they are.