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. mullet and co 2 on

    Could I also mention that yet again our summer veneer of expensive players was overlooked in favour of young Tierney. (This time)


    Who scouted and agreed to Blackett and was his signing another one they thought the fans would get excited by just because he played a few games for Man U?


    See last seasons loan signings of Wakaso, Tonev etc as examples.

  2. On another point, which others have referenced.



    Jo Hansen. What the heck has happened to him? It’s as if he expected a transfer in the summer and Celtic denied him.



    His demeanour suggest a very unhappy player.



    When Commons scored the second goal, he meandered over to join in the celebration. But celebrate he did not. Substituted, rightly but too late, he went straight up the tunnel (according to some). To sulk?



    I can sympathise with him when, in the second half, he waves Commons to move up to the player on the right touchline, while he harries between two players, only to find Kris hasn’t moved. Did Kris do it deliberately ? Surely not?



    There is certainly disharmony between Jo and many of his team mates. To his credit he “gives” 100%. But his form is shocking. Even Deila has had enough by the looks of it.

  3. CultsBhoy likes living wage hates heated driveways on

    Blackett is a try before you buy?



    At least we can return him to Man Utd… Tierney on the evidence of last night is Izzy’s official understudy imo…

  4. CultsBhoy likes living wage hates heated driveways on

    Turkeybhoy on 2nd October 2015 2:53 pm



    I was with you till the last line – nobody has a bigger beard than Jo Ledley… (no bad – liked that)

  5. hi ghuys had a great night last night in the BV, pity about the result. Great to meet some illustrious CQN’rs also met some great Turkish fans ,they loved Glasgow and the stadium.Hope you enjoyed your Black Puddings and Corkcelt pleasure meeting you safe trip home. Hail Hail Hebcelt

  6. I liked the GB banner last night.Think some of the players took notice of it.I must say last night,and for the last couple of games,Boyatta,looks to be settling in.I think that when Simunovic is established with him,we will have a sound partnership.We have been unlucky with injuries,but hopefully soon,like Sunday,we will get them onto the park.Saying we are not as strong as last year is a bit premature I think until we actually see them in action together a few times.I remember last year Jason was decidedly shaky at the start.Biton has come on a ton,Rogic looks the business,Lustig is staying fit,as is Forrest,and playing better than ever,Janko,looks a great signing,and we have signed the best young player in Scotland,who hopefully will slip into KCs role once he hangs em up.


    Better than last year?.Maybe.Its all in front of the team.I am looking forward to it with optimism.Big month coming up.

  7. BigyinMilan 1.58pm



    thanks for that.ah gret like the wean ah was.Prati sticks in ma heid,we would have won it that year.That AC side shredded a not yet mature Ajax side.but were a class side in their own right.





  8. canalmar your posts would be much more effective if you could eliminate words like shite and arsehole from your posts. Just a thought.H H Hebcelt

  9. Info ghuys , do you know if the Ha’penny Inn in Puerto del Carmen still opens up for the games ….



    …. Good game last night , a bit more believe on the ball and we are starting to look like a European team … ps Effe does not . Repeat not provide one costly mistake per game , utter drivel




  10. Captain Beefheart on

    Entertaining blog today. Carnage everywhere as the heavyweight CQN bruisers do each other in. Neganon v Turkey bhoy! Worse than Syria.



    I am staying neutral.

  11. CANAMALAR on 2ND OCTOBER 2015 3:02 PM





    So , so not politically correct, but unexpectedly funny nevertheless.



    I somehow don’t think that’s what he had in mind.




  12. GuyFawkesaforeverhero on

    tonydonnelly67 2:39 pm



    No big deal just a clarification: the banner was stating the obvious and asking a question. From my perspective, the players answered yes and it was good to watch some acknowledge the whole ground at full-time. Every Celt is as worthy as any Celt.



    A pleasure to chat with a Celtic man like yourself.

  13. Turkeybhoy – fair enough dude. I was just having a wee laigh with you (or attempting to).



    Whilst I agree boards come and go for me celtic is and always will be about us as supporters. My view on this particular board is that they are doing incredible long term damage to us.



    Serendipty allowed them a once in a lifetime opportunity to rid ourselves of the shackles of being part of the “old firm”. To once and for all ensure we do not face racism and prejudice again. To create a level playing field. Itsalso afforded them the opportunity to push on and improve without the need to compete with the huns – to take some risk to improve knowing that we had the backstop of winning the league.



    Those opportunities have been squandered and most appallingly not only have we not freed ourselves from the shackles of the hun – we have openly embraced its return.



    Thats why I am so angry/passionate/determined.

  14. Heb..,


    I know but I was responding to a special request from a character that only appeared for the referendum and has done nothing but antagonise on his political agenda from day one, he brings nothing about Celtic to the blog, he even had the stupidity to claim he never raises political issues but only responds, and expects people who have suffered and witnessed his shite to have forgotten all previous examples, he’s a proven liar who is only on this blog to continue his political agenda nothing else, he does not get involved in discussions about Celtic unless it’s to turn the discussion around to his agenda.


    No doubt we’ll get some pish about me making up stuff but there’s enough who have been paying attention to know exactly what I’m on about.


    Night night n hail hail

  15. The Battered Bunnet on

    The business of Celtic over the past 15 years represents 3 distinct phases:



    1) 2000-2005 Expansion: The investment in players required to establish the club as a player again in the European Game. Referred to earlier by me as “Dermot’s EPL punt”



    2) 2006-2010 Retrenchment: It became apparent there was nowhere else to go, and created a business that was not reliant upon external working capital support.



    3) 2011 to Present Day – Controlled Decline: Maintaining the football club in a market diminishing both relative to and compared with European neighbours and competitors.



    The Revenue line for the past 15 years, from 2001 to 2015 is noted below:



    £M 42 57 60 69 63 58 75 73 73 62 53 51.4 76 65 51



    As can be seen, Revenue in 2015 (£51M) is less than in 2002 (£57M), and the lowest since 2001 (£42M). There is a sine wave of sorts in the numbers, up, down, up, down, but the trend is diminishing, with each high less than the previous, and each low deeper.



    The rolling 5 year average turnover from 2005 reveals the pattern:



    £M 58 61 67 68 68 62 63 61 59



    We go up…. we come down again. Given Europa League again this year, it’s a certainty that 2016 will be within 5% of 2015’s £51M turnover. Whether that’s +5% or -5% will determine whether we maintain the club above the £50M mark, or diminish again to be reclassified as a SME. (Sobering thought: How many SME Directors earn PL’s package?)



    We are trending to return, indeed have returned, to the revenue level of the period before the Expansion years.



    This has a direct impact on our budget – the amount of money we spend to operate the club. The 15 year budget figures are noted below:



    £M 41 51 54 64 58 54 59 64 61 57 53 54 63 60 53



    The budget follows the revenue trend, and is returning to levels of 15 years ago.



    At the same time, Football in Europe has been in an expansionary phase, with annual growth in the order of 9% sustained over the period. Where our European competitors have grown, we have shrunk.



    We are declining both in terms of our actual size, and moreover, in terms of our relative size. These facts are indisputable.



    For once, I do care what the Animals say:



    We gotta get outta this place!

  16. Captain Beefheart on

    A lot of positive things from last night. We are still obviously well in the group. Terrific crowd.



    Bring on the beautifully monikered Molde.

  17. The Battered Bunnet on 2nd October 2015 3:23 pm



    Just one thing. Our highest high was just 3 years ago. £51.4 form four years ago is close enough as makes no real difference, on the low front.



    It looks like the gap in revenue between CL and non CL years remains at roughly £20M over the piece as well.

  18. My friends in Celtic



    What TBB @ 15.23hrs has just posted outlines the statistics. Facts that cannot be changed by any individual business model.


    The decline is down to where we ply our trade.



    If we had financial equality with our neighbours then I could compare DD , PL et al to similar sized clubs and evaluate their custodianship on an equal comparable basis.




  19. long may dissent,debate and criticism reign,espescially as regards our club.


    the day its stopped is a dangerous thing


    It has not stopped since 1888 and was critical in the years preceding 1994.


    Celtic fans only agenda is Celtic and its betterment,sense and a way forward prevails,


    hun opinion and trolling are obvious as they skanks are passionless & unloved


    its why they died.They sat and murmured as Sir Dave of Aquid pockled their club and identity


    This will not happen to Celtic.


    its a Celtic blog,i respect all views,learning can only come from that which is aired.


    question rigourously the content of posts not the poster.they are Celtic men and woman



    good on ye Celts



    hail hail and have yourselves a great weekend


    victory at Hamilton too.




  20. The Battered Bunnet on




    True, but bear in mind 2011 had no European football beyond Utrecht in the prelims, while 2015 included a UCL Qualifying round payment, and a run in the Europa League to the last 32 v Juve.



    You’d be better comparing 2011 with 2006 (Artmedia) and 2015 with 2010 (Mowbray).

  21. Efe eh?



    What can I say?



    Nice ghuy and a fine athlete.






    One minute, for a few seconds, he looks like George Connelly (sorry George!) and the next he does something that makes Oliver Tebily look like Franco Baresi.




  22. South Of Tunis on

    Pierino Prati ! .



    Great player.Great goalscorer..Nicknamed – The Pest – a tribute to his in your face style and his ability re nicking the ball from the oppostion.One of 3 players to have scored a hat trick in a European Cup Final ( Puscas / Di Stefano )..



    Post match interview saw the AC Milan Manager predicting that his team would now win the competition ( having eliminated the only team he was frightened of – Celtic) They beat Man U in the semis and then thrashed Ajax in the Final.

  23. The Battered Bunnet on 2nd October 2015 3:45 pm



    I’m wondering if the real change is the gap between the CL income years and others increasing. I’d need to see the figures with transfer fees removed.



    We’re certainly having to sell for higher fees to achieve these revenues now. So I think it’s clear that our other revenue streams are going through the floor.

  24. An Tearmann on 2nd October 2015 3:11 pm


    South Of Tunis on 2nd October 2015 3:58 pm



    If we ever meet up, I have a tale from Milan about Prati which I cannot put in writing.

  25. S o T






    How’s the weather?



    Pissing down here – first ‘proper’ rain in about five months!




  26. 16 roads – Celtic über alles… on 2nd October 2015 4:08 pm



    Tony Stokes, if selected – loses us the game.

  27. The Battered Bunnet on




    Asset transactions are not included in Turnover. They’re booked to the P&L as Gains (or Losses) on Disposal.



    The single biggest difference is the loss of season books, from 54,000 in 2009 to 41,000 in 2013, and up to 44,000 lately. That’s around £5M in income. The economic crash wiped out much of the Irish support, and the Rangers liquidation did it for a similar number. Merchandising is on a similar curve.



    While participation in European Football is an annual lottery, we can surely do more to reengage those fans who quite clearly have been lost.



    The trick is to do so within the constraints of a Managed Decline model. There are, after all, fewer heroes, and fewer moments.

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