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 cqnlastmanstanding@gmail.com 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. Joe Filippis Haircut on

    I assume Efe is getting his place in the team due to injuries and normaly he would not be a first pick and we have to remember that the big guy never gives less than 100% when he is picked but due to lapses in concentration he will never be a first team regular.I have to ask why is young John Kennedy our defensive coach ? as in my opinion he does not have a great deal of experience at this level.The Europa group we are in if we had won our 3 home games we would surely have qualified now surely winning 3 home games should not be beyond our team but once again after we appeared to have done the hard work when we shot ourselves in the foot.It is impossible to say where we will finish in the group. H.H.

  2. Canamalar



    Because we were 2 nil up and cruisng, they were a beaten team with their over priced prima donnas already eyeing the exit door.



    The goal breathed new life into them.



    Efe makes at least one costly mistake per game, mostly critical that result in a goal to the opposition.



    I posted this before a ball was kicked, last night.

  3. fan-a-tic



    My point is this isn’t news. Efe has been doing this practically all of his Celtic career.



    He gives 100% doesn’t cut it, I would give 100% if selected but I don’t have the talent to play for a top flight football team.



    Neither does Efe

  4. I have decided………………….half day it is!



    Hope you all have a great weekend!



    See you next week.



    Prayers will be said for all those in need.

  5. hiya phil and cheers sftb. i enjoyed last nights game and to be honest i would have taken a draw pre kick off, this was a team with world renowned stars, and favorites for our group,probably IMHO the best team we will face this season, even if we qualify !!!! hh

  6. I really cant see the point in blaming Efe. He is what he is. Its the manager who chooses to play him probably because given we sold our best player (again) he has little choice,



    The last week has been both interesting and revealing.



    – Those who run celtic and those close to them are now displaying all the cultural signals of Fred Goodwin’s regime in its later years. A culture of breathtaking arrogance, coupled with a view of the mastery of the universe. A sense of unreal reality propped up by nodding dogs and yes men all telling them how marvelous they are.


    – When pesky reality comes knocking then reality itself is dismissed. Honest we are better than last season – ignore whats happenning in reality – honest we are better?


    – Ronny of course agreeing with it all – after all the masters of the universe appointed him and they cant be wrong. Ronny is probably in the least sackable position than any previous incumbent.


    – Meanwhile celtic is being run only to meet DD’s investment demands – nothing else matters.



    We are a divided community, riven by the arrogance on display on a daily basis. Run by people who could care less about the support and who are looking forward to welcoming back the racist abuse routinely visited upon us.



    Tony D and others are fond of calling people huns – isnt this arrogance hunlike?

  7. Notthebus,


    It’s pure supposition there is nothing in that argument that backs up your claim, I said before the game, for what ever reason Bhoyata seems to be more settled when Effe is playing beside him, so to counter your supposition had Effe no been playing there’s a decent chance Bhoyata could have been the weak link which may have produced a worse result.

  8. When n why have we no one on the posts at corners. We used to have the two posts covered..thought if broony had been on the post it would have been an easy clearance. Good game tho.



    Good to meet up with everyone in the BV and enjoyed the black pudding provided by Hebcelt this morning.




  9. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    kikinthenakas on 2nd October 2015 1:12 pm When n why have we no one on the posts at corners




    Always like to see both posts covered. Although I’m sure someone will helpfully point out that goals have been scored with men on posts :-)

  10. NegAnon2 on 2nd October 2015 1:11 pm



    I really cant see the point in blaming Efe. He is what he is. Its the manager who chooses to play him probably because given we sold our best player (again) he has little choice,






    Virgil Van Dyke Celtic wage – £9k per week.



    Southampton offer him £45k per week.



    ‘Sold’ is a relative term. Explain exactly how Celtic were supposed to keep him?

  11. notthebus on 2nd October 2015 1:23 pm



    We’d have lost 4-0 if Efe hadn’t played. Just an opinion.

  12. coolmore mafia on 2nd October 2015 10:34 am




    TONTINE TIM on 2ND OCTOBER 2015 8:15 AM



    As Oldtim said, if Celtic make you that unhappy then either find another team or hobby. Oh and please nae response about happy clappers etc. I remember the old board and a punter in the stand with a noose shouting ‘this is for you Mr. Kelly”.



    Spoiled weans the lot of you.








    Classic- the noose thing isn’t real is it?



    *absolutely, history and Jock Stein has been kind tae Bob, great defender of the club but almost ruined it with his constant interference.

  13. Canamalar



    Seeing you’re on, I owe you an apology for having a go on Wednesday night.



    I didn’t realise you and Corkcelt were buddies (or cyber-buddies).

  14. Beamishismypint on

    Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. He must have been watching last night’s game!

  15. BRISBANE 67... Peter Lawwell # Serving up Tripe & Trialists since 2003 on

    If Deila doesn’t drop this zonal marking nonsense then some people might think he is a raw inexperienced amateur who Celtic got in on the cheap because that’s what Celtic do best in the ‘Lawwell years’.



    Oh wait…






    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).






    Agree on that. Except it’s about being able to score from the “least risk” positions. Near post header from great corner last night was an example.



    Another would be if the ball is played out to the 18 yard line and a player smashes a volley into the top corner.



    Good on them I say.



    If we concede from the high risk area – then it’s a worry. But not a crisis.

  17. Still sick….but if Brown stood on post then it’s cleared… I hate losing goals because there is no on on post.. he was in no mans land just in the way of keeper… Any player who losess a goal from their area at a corner should lose a weeks wages.. that might help them concentrate

  18. BRISBANE 67... Peter Lawwell # Serving up Tripe & Trialists since 2003 on

    Man marking is, was and will be the only way to play football defensively.

  19. Sandman @ 01.22hrs.



    I’ll look forward with interest to the avalanche of realistic replies you receive.




  20. Funny how all the top teams play a zonal marking system, me thinks they should be paying attention to all the super duper coaches that are on CQN..


    Must be great this coaching lark, lots of spare time to post on blogs.

  21. Petethebeat,


    No need to apologise we’re only CQN buddies like your a CQN buddy, were allowed to fall out and have a go if we’re passionate enough, it’s all part of the beauty of the blog.


    Hail hail buddy

  22. BRISBANE 67... Peter Lawwell # Serving up Tripe & Trialists since 2003 on




    No they don’t.

  23. Paul I do believe you are talking rubbish… It’s all about who gets to the ball first … 5’8″ and half the weight and a recognised speed merchant who is good is the air ??



    There is far to much nonsense on here about zonal marking and tactics in general … Champ manager does’nt qualify for a coaching badge …



    Attack the ball and be there first is the only option !!

  24. Sandman – whilst I understand your point this ignores the very obvious.



    VVD was contracted to us for several years. We didnt need to sell him – in fact Ronny was very keen to tell us we didnt need to sell him.



    We sold him simply because we value money more than football results and ultimately because the club is being run solely for DD’s investment.



    If you then tell me he would have been unhappy well boohoo. Who cares. Other clubs seem perfectly capable of refusing to agree to end a contract with a player. Why cant we? If you will then say that he would not play well – well thats just absurd – because at the end of the day he knows he would remain in the shop window and would want suitors when his contract ended – so he would have wanted to keep playing well…..



    This stuff gets trotted out all the time – but at the end of the day its a choice for the club……

  25. GlassTwoThirdsFull on



    Cheers. Seems we are basically in agreement. Although I am generally not a fan of zonal marking, I am not saying that was the problem last night.


    Whichever system you use it’s down to players doing the job correctly.

  26. BRISBANE 67… Peter Lawwell # Serving up Tripe & Trialists since 2003



    Rafa Benitez had the best defensive record in EPL 6 years out of 7 using zonal marking. The teams with the worst record used man marking.



    So is it the system or the players?

  27. Tony D I fear you have missed the point. I was simply asking whether the arrogance on display by those who run Celtic is hunlike?



    No idea what you are going on about with names??

  28. BRISBANE 67... Peter Lawwell # Serving up Tripe & Trialists since 2003 on




    The only zonal marking that works is a guy on each post.

  29. coolmore mafia on

    Maybe we could have 5 players getting ‘shoulderies’ off another 5 players, and just charge about at corners.

  30. Well that’s it, we are right into the swing of the board and PL haters, as predicted, and RD, and DD, I would as someone else said find another club to support if I was that upset about Celtic, it’s every day now, we all know it’s an agenda, infiltration from unwanted Huns and the SMSM , and dafties in here who listen to them, just trying to fix a thing that’s working, I’ve told you Celtic winning does not bode well with them, it takes the wind out of there sails, gives there agenda no oxygen what so ever and is not good for there purpose, I still can’t find what the problem is? Clubs ran well, not in the red, good business structure, headed by a clever board and a very good CEO, slag them all you want, but proof that the product is not good in they’r opinion, just doesent cut it, away an geez piece, and let us support our team, not use it as a tool to give your agenda publicity,.

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