We dropped points at Pittodrie on Saturday but should have buried the home side in the first half and then our two January signings combined to produce a goal. There were enough positive signs to have me relaxed ahead of last night’s game against Hibs.
What’s more, we scored with a penalty kick awarded after four minutes. Hibs fans, who have watched two consecutive 0-3 home defeats, must have feared for the worst. Almost two hours later they left the ground feeling robbed.
Before the equaliser our play was poor. Forward passes were very low percentage efforts, often trying to find Daizen Maeda who was marked and could neither catch a long ball in front of him or find space to drop deep and control. “We need a second goal” was doubtlessly mumbled by each of us, despite the fact that Hibs had not made a single attempt at goal.
After they equalised from the second ball at a free kick, Celtic collapsed. Hibs piled forward through shredded lines and would have made the points safe if they were more competent in front of goal. Celtic also made chances but just like Hibs, each move was poorly executed and often ended without an actual attempt being made.
A defending block on Kyogo in the 90th minute failed to stop the shot, but caught the shin of our Japanese striker. VAR reviewed the incident and referred referee Nick Walsh to the monitor. I know what you would all have been saying had this happened elsewhere!
At the risk of jinxing him, Adam Idah has a 100% career conversion rate from 15 penalties, good enough to win Celtic three points last night. He’s worth a fortune to us for that quality alone. After the game Brendan Rodgers was able to point to various excuses for the performance: disruption in the team being the most valid.
Alexandro Bernabei had his best game for Celtic – the boy can tackle – but he and Maeda on the left looked like they had never met. Bar those opening four minutes, the defensive line had only one of our first choice starters, and was further disordered when Stephen Welsh went off.
Nicolas Kuhn and Tony Ralston may actually have said little more to each other than “Hello”, so our unstructured right wing was no surprise. When Luis Palma arrived on the left we were at least able to hold onto possession in an advanced position, a quality Maeda was unable to deliver before him. Again, Joe Hart did enough to add to our points tally. These reasons sounded plausible until I remembered that disruptive new arrivals at Ross County were an excuse for helping them at Celtic Park.
Brendan, any one of us reading this could have done as well in the dugout last night. You need to put a team on the field that can dominate and win against Premiership sides with 10% of your financial resources and who would be embarrassed by the money you spent.
Against Ross County, Aberdeen and now Hibs, teams on terrible runs of form, we are a soft touch. Enough with the self-fulfilling excuses for failure, you have the resources to comfortably win these games. It is your responsibility to get it right, or just own up if you can’t do the job without Chris Davies.