Fine performance marred by bigger failings than Efe


I liked a lot about what we did last night. Leigh Griffiths provided more evidence that he is a remarkable predator. Kris Commons delivered another driven corner, his third of this European campaign to result in a goal, Lustig made first contact leaving Griffiths with only instinct to produce a shot on target. That same instinct clicked an instant later to turn the second shot over the keeper and into the net.

Do you remember a moment, before the first goal, when Fenerbahce enjoyed their best spell of pressure, and we cleared our lines aimlessly four times in a couple of minutes? It looked ugly and invited Fenerbahce to continue to pile the pressure on, but it was a salutary indication of how tactically well Celtic played. When under pressure, clear your lines, regroup, and get ready to go again.

On two occasions we dribbled out of a defensive position leading to a goal. Nir Bitton had ample opportunity to clear forward, but with opponents closing space all around him, he hesitated until he could play-in James Forrest, who surge forward to cross for Commons to score.

Scott Brown as immense all night, but having held-off a challenge 20 yards from his own goal on the wing, he should have cleared deep inside Fenerbahce territory instead of trying to make a pass. We didn’t get the ball back until the score was 2-2. Johansen and Lustig were both caught similarly in the second half but neither was punished.  Being brave in possession isn’t always wise.

Some of the passing football we played was a treat to watch. Bitton and Brown played their best game as a partnership, if not as individuals in a Celtic shirt; Brown was certainly that good. James Forrest, now fit, is drinking-in responsibility. He was effective last night, but not because he used his unparalleled pace, instead he delivered link play.

You’ll have noticed Craig Gordon likes a leg save. Few keepers do, they seem to try to get their hands or torso to a ball, but I like that Craig likes getting any hard part of his body in the way.

Don’t let it bounce.

“Don’t let it bounce.” There’s not a central defender in the world who doesn’t hear that phrase every week. When a ball is coming towards the danger zone in the air, get your head on it. If you let it bounce, anything can happen.

This was Efe Ambrose first mistake last night. He failed to read the flight of the ball. The moment it bounced, he was in trouble. With Fernandao waiting to feed on the scraps, Efe should then have concentrated on winning the physical challenge as the ball dropped a second time, but instead he found his ‘don’t let the ball bounce’ instinct too late and committed a second inexcusable error.

Think back almost three years to the opening minutes of the Champions League game against Juventus, Efe committed pretty much the same mistake. He lost the flight of the ball and we were a goal down and out before we warmed up.

Although Efe is taking a large slice of the blame in some places for the second Fenerbahce goal, I’m not convinced this is a fair assessment. To give due credit, it was an excellent corner and header – from a zone in front near post it’s difficult to score from. The point about zonal marking is you defend areas it’s easy to score from, at the cost of leaving less-risky areas unattended. Fernandao’s header didn’t come from a high-risk zone.

For some reason, wispy Leigh Griffiths was delegated to man-mark bulky target-man Fernandao. Wee guys can block big guys, but they need to be standing ball-side of the attacker, preferably facing his chest with arms out, so that when movement happens, he’s at least the right side of the attacker. Leigh was on his heels, completely unprepared.

Before the kick was struck, Fernandao was on the move, gambling on a near-post run. Should Efe have also gambled similarly? On first glance it looked like it, but that’s only because the ball went to that area and ended up in the net. Fernandao could afford to gamble by running into a space the ball may or may not arrive at. This is not the case for a defender. He has to wait until the ball is in the air. If he leaves his zone before the ball’s kicked to follow an attacker who has move early, he’s not doing his job.

It’s all about the block.

Great corner aside, we lost the second goal because we didn’t get a block on Fenerbahce’s target man. Before the kick was taken, Leigh Griffiths was adjacent to and looking at Fernandao, having been delegated the task by the impressive Kieran Tierney, but Leigh was also looking all around him and made no attempt to block.

Griffiths (5’ 8”), the smallest man in the Celtic team, should never have been near Fernandao (6’ 4”), the tallest man in the Fenerbahce team. That’s 8 inches of disadvantage and double figures of kilos weight.

There are two big questions to be asked about this goal:

Why didn’t we have a physical equal on Fernandao, capable of withstanding a shove, or better still, getting his own shove in first? Fenerbahce had one target man striker, we didn’t notice him. It doesn’t matter if you play zonal or man-to-man, if we are conceding 8 inches to the opponent’s main physical threat, we’ll continue to lose goals at corner kicks.

But the real curious question is why was it left to 18-year-old Kieran Tierney to instruct who picks up whom at a corner kick? Action moves so quickly at corners that everyone needs to understand they have a responsibility to take control, not just the central defenders, captain, or keeper. Or 18-year-old novice.

This is not happening at Celtic right now, which is why we’re playing our European football on Thursdays this season. If you put your smallest player on an opponent’s tallest, and it’s left to an 18-year-old to delegate responsibility, you deserve to lose a goal.

Last Man Standing 5

Last call for all those wanting to take part in Last Man Standing 5, in aid of Wee Shay McGinlay who is 2 and suffers from cerebral palsy. To date CQNers and friends have raised an incredible £5400 towards the fund raising campaign, to finance treatment for Shay not available on the NHS, which will hopefully improve his quality of life.

The current entrants stand at 72, so if you want to take join the LMS5 clique, then simply drop a line to Jobo and CRC at before 12pm Saturday and they will send you more details.

Thanks for indulging me bringing the work of the Foundation to your attention all this week. The Great Scottish Run is less than 48 hours away and dozens of Celtic fans have put thousands of hours into preparing for the event.  Those doing the ‘half’ are going to miss the Hamilton game, another consequence of playing Thursday night European football.

If you can support any of the runners, please do:

Click here for my linked donation page.

Here for Steve Gunn’s.

Here for Thomas Eman’s.

Here for Robert Doherty’s.

Here for Stephen Hewitt’s.

Here for Kenny O’Neill’s.

Thank you.

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  1. isnt it ironic that CQN was all about desmond yesterday and we end up with a tutu? i’m off to the comedy night at the KDS tonight anyone from here going?

  2. Reluctant to be an Efe basher as he is a very good athlete.



    Unfortunately he does not have the mental strength or concentration to be a top class defender.



    His athletic prowess covers up a lot of the mental errors but on to many big occasions he has been found wanting.



    He is a good honest trier but in football there is no room for sentiment so he has to be dropped as he has had many chances but to often failed.



    He is most at fault for dropping points last night but coaching staff can share a portion to.



    Our set piece marking is hopeless and has been so far this season so whoever has responsibility for this has to be held accountable as does the head coach.



    There is so much video technology available to analize whats happening on the pitch now there is no excuse for this glaring problem not to be addressed.



    Not all bad though Tierney and Forrest both suggesting that our academy may offer hope for the future.



    And Leigh is getting better on the European stage.

  3. Butsybhoy



    And a good afternoon to you too!



    I am considering a wee half day the day.




  4. Surely what is implied in Paul’s piece is the absence of a real manager – Ronny?, yes he has “improved” the likes of Biton, Rogic and Forrest – Ronny is a first-team coach NOT a manager.



    Ronny’s weaknesses are tactics and overall game-management – we need a MANAGER.

  5. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Spot on about the corner, Paul. Posted something similar last night. Although I would disagree about the area in front of the near post being low risk. I see plenty of goals being scored from there.


    Efe didn’t spot the run as he was facing straight across towards the corner taker. Should have been standing at an angle so he could see both ball coming in and player making the run.

  6. Celtic played well !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!,shocker from CQN.The mob will be on their way as I write with the burning torches and pitchforks.We cannot have these heretical views on this blog.


    Pull yourself together Paul,”The Green Man(ilishi)”will be on your case,after he finishes with TD.

  7. TURKEYBHOY on 2ND OCTOBER 2015 12:16 PM


    Disgusting piece by E-Tims diary today.A piece I look forward to normally.Just what goes on in these cretins heads.Its beyond me.The hysteria against the club being whipped up by these f-k-n spoiled brats,because thats how they come across,is despicable.Really time some took a long hard look at themselves.”Sack the manager,assistant manager,Kennedy,drop Gordon”Oh really?.





    Celtic fans,my @ss.My urine would stay within the confines of my bladder if they combusted in front of me in the street.



    – See more at:



    Great post, I did read a bit of it and saw where it was going, so I dumped it.

  8. A lot of criticism of the coaching at Lennoxtown.



    I actually think that has been Ronny and JC’s big success.



    I can never remember us passing the ball as well or as quickly in Europe as we are doing now.



    The zonal marking is the same as it was last year – we hardly lost a goal.



    We are losing goals just now due to personnel i suspect.

  9. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Plenty of positives though – Brown, Bitton, Tierney, Lustig (lasting the 90 as much as a solid performance), Boyata.


    Forrest – not sure if he was going to make it as he seemed to have plateaud, but was excellent. Can now defend and use his left foot. Well done to James and the coaching team.


    Onwards and upwards! Plenty of points to play for and more than capable of getting them.



    SuperSutton on 2nd October 2015 9:30 am



    The stats are based on the assumption that if no goal is scored then it is considered to be a successfully defended corner.



    Hmm – seems like a good assumption to me



    If an attacking player gets a free header and puts it over the bar then for me that is not a successfully defended corner.



    OK – you’re on your own collecting those stats.



    Though I think we’d have a higher count of “opportunities missed at corners” than the opposition

  11. Talk about over analysis!



    Its simple, we have a duff player who is NOT a centre half.We have known this for years.



    Let me put it simply. If Efe wasn’t playing last night, we would have won the game comfortbaley.

  12. coolmore mafia on

    I remember when MON arrived, the sieve suddenly began just clearing the ball out of play no matter what. Ball playing centre halfs? I’ve seen a few- VVD was good-the rest should launch it into the stands when under severe pressure. Leave the percentages to mathematicians.

  13. See if Zonal marking or man marking at set pieces was an exact art,Henrik would have scored around half the goals he did.How many goals did Jimmy Mc Grory score with the head from corners,with men marking him?.


    I dont get involved with all this guff.If you watch Goals on Sunday,every goal,according to the “Experts”is someones fault,not marking,losing their marker,switching off,etc.Sometimes the CH wins the ball,sometimes the striker,but the majority of times it will be the defender,like last night,one header won,one goal,maybe the defender won the other 10-15 duels,but thats the game.As I said about GOS,they are highlighting bad marking,as they call it by defenders in the £20-30 million bracket.Same in the CL.Loads of goals scored by ,supposed bad marking.Its a nonsense,its fekin football.

  14. GlassTwoThirdsFull on



    The point I was trying to make was that European opposition managers/scouts will not be sitting at home looking at spreadsheets and saying “gee Celtic use zonal marking at corners and don’t concede goals – better not bother wasting time on that.”. They will come to the games and pick up on small details that they can exploit (see Paul’s article and my post above).

  15. NOTTHEBUS on 2ND OCTOBER 2015 12:44 PM


    Talk about over analysis!







    Its simple, we have a duff player who is NOT a centre half.We have known this for years.







    Let me put it simply. If Efe wasn’t playing last night, we would have won the game comfortbaley.




    Yes,I agree fully.While the cretins on E-Tims want to sack everyone,and close down Celtic Park,and make it a car park !!!!!!!!.



    – See more at:

  16. Notthebus




    But maybe the coach felt he was the best available.


    I think he has had to many errors to be trusted in that position but if he hadn’t played who can say if we would have won or not.


    Maybe Blackett is even more suspect and Simonuvic was the preferred option but unfit.


    Pauls observation about Tierney our youngest player directing at corner says a lot.


    I have written here on a few occasions that someone has to be designated the leaders role in defense.


    He should control when we stay or go and who plays where.


    We are to frequently rudderless in the defensive zone.

  17. Last night was a good effort and much better tactically than previous outings. Some decent stuff played at times and some excellent individual performances particular Brown who was outstanding. The mistake by Efe was critical not just in terms of the lost goal but it changed the flow of the game. I feel for the big man he is all heart.



    Some good signs that Ronny is starting to get to grips with the European matches in a tactical sense.



    Was also pleased to see the strength on the bench last night, a good few options. If Rogic and Tierney can kick on it will really benefit the squad.

  18. SAINT STIVS on 1ST OCTOBER 2015 11:43 PM


    I enjoyed the match.







    The Celtic support in attendance seem, like last seasons Europa, fans who back the team, great.







    Now to fall on my own sword.







    I thought James Forrest had the best performance I have seen from him. Work rate, attitude, defensesive support to Tierney, and set up a goal. Well done son.







    Secondly, nani apart, I thought fenerbahce were very honest opponents. No cheat in, faint in, div in or time wasting. Not a dirty team, good fans as well.







    The number 9, very smart player.







    Lastly, oh how I miss samaras for European match corner kick defensive duties.



  19. notthebus on 2nd October 2015 12:44 pm



    You simply can’t prove we would have won with a different player in his position. The whole game would have been different. We might have lost.

  20. Paul67. Poor defenders will always make mistakes


    Celtic TV from CEO to coach have known for years we need better players than Efe



    You can spin as much as you want efe is the result of poor scouting and investment

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