Football’s ability to destroy the finest spreadsheets


I watched Liverpool lose their fifth consecutive home game in the EPL last night.  One of the best teams in Europe over the last four years, which famously benefits from fan motivation, sit seventh in the table and out of a European spot for next season.

Even on current form, Liverpool would destroy Celtic, but the parallels in the two clubs decline are clear.  Virgil van Dijk’s injury enforced absence at Anfield had as big an impact on Liverpool as Fraser Forster’s loss to Celtic.  Both sides lost significant numbers through injury and, if anything, Celtic fans have a greater reputation for encouraging their team than Liverpool’s.

Jurgen Klopp, the urbane football intellectual, looks lost.  We see unflattering bouts of temper as he struggles to understand where his Midas Touch went.  Jurgen is among the game’s very best; Neil Lennon should take comfort that what happened to him can happen to anyone.

You and I have often said that a team operating at 90% is unrecognisable from the same players at full tilt.  When one or two things go wrong at the margins, an entire edifice can crumble.  Watching Liverpool also suffer does not sweeten the pill, but it is a lesson that football can destroy even the finest spreadsheets.

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  1. When the ad that appears is for Celtic home tops ‘reduced’ to £45 notes i do wonder what is going on with football.



    Anyway, I digress, the Liverpool lesson is not lost on me. Great seasons not followed up are common in football. Not exclusive to any club.



    We know our problems.



    Others don’t realise they have any.



    Celtic have much to do but we are fortunate to play in a league where we can be rebuilding and still be favourites to reclaim the league title.

  2. Yawn. Same tired excuses for Lennon.



    Liverpool’s collapse has more to do with their enforced three year “cycle” than anything relating to the absence of fans. Other clubs are managing perfectly well without fans.



    Lennon is a third-rate manager who shouldn’t be mentioned in the same sentence as Jurgen Klopp. It’s a ludicrous comparison. Absolutely ludicrous.



    See where he ends up next. See who lines up to give him a job. Lennon is a Desmond-Lawwell production; I very much doubt a reputable chairman elsewhere is going to see it otherwise.

  3. Neil Lennon is a poor manager.


    To compare him to Klopp and our situation to Liverpools , is absurd

  4. PAUL is not comparing Lennon to Klopp as football club managers.



    Comparing their work situation is err, a bit different.



    Read his post again or jump on the bandwagon.

  5. Rolling_Stone on

    Throughout Neil’s tenure there have been questions marks. A fabulously lucky victory over Sevco in the 2019 league Cup final. A 2-1 victory over Hearts with a late winner in 2019 Scottish Cup and a penalties win over Championship Hearts this year. Scraping by at every turn.



    Also, how can you compare FF (a loanee) returning to his parent club over the summer transfer window with a mid season loss of VVD (Liverpool’s own player).



    We had every opportunity to replace Fraser.



    The English league is fantastically competitive. Who is our competition?



    More deflection anyone?

  6. Paul67



    Good shout, both Celtic and Liverpool were winning our leagues respectively before lock down and Covid 19 changed the landscape till we were officially made champions. Both clubs


    went for a minimal amount of changes, and both have suffered this season, especially with home form.



    There were no calls to change our manager last summer, after we won nine in a row, and spent £20M in the extended window.



    The Greeting Brigade came after we drew with Kilmarnock



    You’ll never walk alone whether it be Jurgen or Lurgan



    Hail Hail

  7. Back to Basics - Glass Half Full on

    Thanks Pablo.



    MOTD was on late last night so recorded it and avoided the scores.



    …… Until now 🤭



    Respectfully, I think the key message of this leader can be simplified?



    Great teams are made up of a tiny minority of great players






    A large majority of players playing great



    Ergo, each successful club – more or less – is just two bad injuries and/or two bad signings from significant deterioration.



    PS – Jürgen’s Liverpool team’s performance is following the same trend as that of his Dortmund team.



    – intelligent analysis


    – well structured beginnings


    – MAJOR player buy-in to the philosophy


    – 3 years of players operating at 104%


    – Last 2 of 3 years delivers major success


    – then inevitable breakdown and downturn in athletic output



    Hail hail



    Keep The Faith

  8. !!BADA BING!! on 5TH MARCH 2021 11:01 AM


    Rangers have written to the SFA and the Scottish government, asking for permission to allow fans into ibrox stadium to celebrate their first title win



    The request has been granted but the only fans that can gain entry are the fans that saved the club from liquidation




    😂 😂 Sounds fair enough for me. Lest they forget.

  9. Klopp at least has his team fit . We aren’t.


    Klopp doesn’t play his 35 year old captain in every game. Lenny did .


    Klopp regularly gives youngsters a chance.


    Lenny didn’t.


    Klopp keeps them in the team. Lenny didn’t.



    The lack of fans has definitely had a negative effect on both clubs.


    The similarities end there .

  10. The Star above The Crest on

    Maybe Peter Lawwell could go to Liverpool with his spreadsheet and be their all seeing, all conquering saviour.

  11. The comparison is perfectly valid. You can draw it without suggesting Lenny is as good a coach or manager as Klopp, rather that there are similarities in both situations which suggest something about the nature of past performance and future results



    There has been a 40 point swing between Liverpool and Man City, 31 between us and the huns. They have gone from being unbeaten at home in nearly 70 games to losing 5 at home in a row. You could easily argue the decline is more remarkable than ours.



    Watching them this season what has been obvious is how quickly confidence drained out the team and how massively it’s affected their performances. Mane was one of the best players in the world last season, this year he’s been very average, same with Alexander-Arnold, Robertson, the keeper. The same malaise that’s affected us, among other things, has done for Liverpool. I don’t see how he turns it round now, they look beaten every time they take the field.

  12. Liverpool. PSG, Porto, Celtic and Juventus..also blowing the 10!



    Its a bizarre year

  13. To be fair, Klopp has form for this at Dortmund. He’s an intense man and an intense coach and I wonder whether he burns himself and his players out after 3 or 4 years.



    Mina Rzouki said the same thing about Conte which is why they struggle at the same club for an extended time.

  14. I wonder if this unpredictability will carry over into the Euros. Might be an idea to stick a quid on a “dark horse”.

  15. The Star above The Crest on

    Here’s a novel thought. If the Celtic fans are so important to the success of the 1st team then perhaps the powers that be at Celtic could stop treating the fans like shit. Like not hiring a 3rd rate manager who already walked out on us previously just because they’re pals with him. Like making the streamed games watchable. Like not pissing off the best manager we’ve had in 20 years. Like not allowing a rival to cheat us out of trophies and European places and meekly accept it. Like not constantly telling us we’re really lucky to have the person responsible for all this taking the biggest wage ever out of Celtic.

  16. GEEBEE1978 on 5TH MARCH 2021 12:39 PM



    That was the accusation when he was at Dortmund, he overtrained them and the players were burnt out. There’s obviously a fine line and they definitely didn’t look in peak physical condition last night. Although lacking confidence can have a similar draining effect as well, when we went on our ten game run after the break last season no one commented on our lack of fitness

  17. PeterLatchfordsBelly on

    Scottish & UK Govts = architects of their own misfortunes (correct).



    Celtic = victims of circumstance (do me a favour).



    Cognitive dissonance. Another favoured theme of the blog.

  18. CELTIC40ME on 5TH MARCH 2021 12:51 PM



    Agreed, it’s a combination of many things. Some Liverpool fans were pointing out even last season, that the team was playing a very intense style of football with very little rotation – especially among the front three.



    There are rumours he could be offered the Germany job after the Euros. One to keep an eye on.

  19. SAINT STIVS on 5TH MARCH 2021 1:05 PM



    You could argue he was very lucky to have the opportunity to take charge of matches against teams with a budget around ten times smaller on most occasions.



    Ronny Deila has a better win ratio than Pochetinno. Stats don’t always tell the full story.

  20. Rolling_Stone on

    @ Celtic40me



    Big difference is that the English league is far more competitive.



    In Scotland our only competition is Sevco. Covid weakened all other teams substantially.



    Neil took over best team and spent £40m in 3 transfer windows. The biggest spend in our history. That’s more that the competition combined.



    Kopp built Liverpool up to their dominant position. Neil broke us down from ours.



    Klopp has not been the biggest spender in English football and most other teams spend substantial amounts.



    Our fall from grace from a monopoly position was far more difficult to achieve.



    Even on the injury front, Liverpool have it worse. 5CBs our injured. Shane Duffy has been fit all season, we have just elected not to play him. Just like we haven’t played Ajeti or Klimala when fit.



    It is a tenuous comparison.

  21. Squire D



    “Mr McGeady would obviously “treat with contempt” any appraisal which didn’t chime with his own inflated view of his own ability. Ask Mr Lennon and Mr Strachan.



    I really have to laugh though.



    People on here get accused of being devotees of a cult.



    You have never met me, barely exchanged views with me on here, yet you feel able to jump to conclusions about my supposed rationale for disputing McGeady’s contribution.



    And I’m a slave to a cult?”





    It is true that Aiden had a good conceit of himself and was difficult to manage but many good players are. It takes a good degree of self confidence to put yourself out there on the pitch, to keep trying things when fans are on your back.



    It is also true that we barely know each other and I have limited info on why your assessment of Aiden’s ability is so scathing and belittling. What I did say was that many of the Nationalist fans of the National Team (but not you) regard Aiden’s decision to play for the ROI as a betrayal, and that this blood and soil view of nationalism is more entrenched than it should be (It is one that Nicola Sturgeon would like to dissociate herself from).



    AllI do know, is from exchanges on here, that whenever the SNP or its leaders are criticised by Paul, there will be a reliable stream of replies from yourself and Timmy7, and one or two others, calling him out for his audacity to criticise this party’s behaviour.



    Up until this year,the bloc voting tendencies and the lobby fodder voting of most SNP MSPs deserved being called out, but the voices of many (not all, I hasten to add) SNP supporting Celts were silent on these matter. That is why the “Cult” jibe did fit the behaviour, in recent times.



    Thankfully, with the Salmond/ Sturgeon split, the pro and anti Joanna Cherry split, and the emergece of a Referendum Now Party to counter the Referendum Sometime Soon party of Nicola Sturgeon, dissent is , at long last, being allowed. And that is a good thing.



    I have no compunction in criticising the Labour Party for many things. The Iraq War vote, the dirty deal that Blair did with Murdoch, The Brown raid on pensions, the lack of energy of Corbyn in leadership, and the current Starmer stance on Nuclear weapons, are all aspects I will dissent from. My Party is not belittled if it gets something wrong. I am, however, belittled if it gets something wrong and I say nothing critical about it.



    It falls to those of us who back any movement to back its solid principles and to oppose it when it is doing wrong. Never put party above principles. Yes , you cannot always get your way when a majority vote decides otherwise but the least you can do when your chosen party gets legitimate criticism (in your party’s case for the ObaF Act, for its authoritarian tendencies in using Legal Statute to control behaviour, and for its less than even handed approach towards football and towards Celtic, then I think it is required that we hear some dissent from SNP supporting Celts. Instead we get the unconvincing straw man defence of “Is that you calling the SNP anti-Catholic? How ludicrous!” without any expanation being proferred as to why there was no even handedness.



    Dissent is what differnetiates a cult from a Broad Church Political Party. I welcome its belated emergence in your chosen party and I hope you can feel free to join in with it too. There are other drinks than Kool Aid.




    One thing I do know, I’d love to see another young McGeady coming through our ranks right now….

  23. There’s some key issues not covered here which makes the comparison a bit less transferable.



    Liverpool’s entire success is based on a system that requires high fitness levels and everyone finely tuned and doing their jobs. The first lockdown is where it started going wrong for them – the enforced absence from the training ground meant that they lost fitness, the finely tuned understanding and momentum.



    They were really poor after the restart and effectively only won because that had built up a huge lead. Having been due a refresh anyway That stutter continued into the new season as they didn’t recruit to refresh and have limited time on the training pitch. The highly tuned press and system also fell apart when the key midfielders had to play at the back to cover injury absences of the key defenders, so it was always going to be a challenge.



    They also had an attitude challenge – the past 4 years had saw them build toward the main objective – a league title. Having achieved it, just a little bit of motivation is gone – and the absence of crowds doesn’t help.



    Set against that, they are in a very competitive league with teams still able to fork out huge sums on players. The successes this season have been those teams who have a solid structure and don’t press too aggressively. Man City have also dropped their pressing intensify, and they are protected from financial impacts like no other team on earth.



    By contrast we are the richest team in an uncompetitive league. We’ve suffered this season because we “traded” poorly (recruitment in and keeping folk we ought to have moved on); changed from last seasons successful 3-5-2 and back again multiple times before stumbling on a diamond system that seemed to work; using the wrong players before finding a balance then gradually sneaking old favourites back; playing midfielders in defence and up front instead of actual defenders and strikers; chopping and changing goalkeepers; and an inability to defend even the most basic set pieces.



    So two teams:


    1) A team which reached nirvana, are highly tuned and reliant on the right balance which has been killed by injuries and a lack of training time, and richer competitors doing all they can to win.


    2) a team on the verge of nirvana, needed a bit of tweaking having found success last year with a focus on the basics (defend set pieces, play players in the right position and be clear they know the basics of the position) and only one team to beat over a season (who we are told we are richer than, better managed than, have players who wouldn’t get into our team, etc).


    But sure, more or less the same…

  24. vinniethedog on

    I see Gerrard saying Wright has put on 4 kilos already since joining from Aberdeen….the huns really do know how important the physical aspect of the game is nowadays …..even Atibo who I thought was a pushy has added a lot of bulk……why are we neglecting this aspect of modern football??…..if mikey Johnson could do the same i honestly think we could have a superstar.. ..6 kilos of muscle needed

  25. Other comparisons made:



    Juventus – appointed a rookie manager;


    PSG – had to be picked up off the floor after being beaten in the CL final – the manager couldn’t do it and got sacked;


    Porto – haven’t been the dominant team in Portugal for a while – last year was only their second title in 6 years (soon to be 7).

  26. CaddingtonCommon on

    James Forrest


    Where in the article is Paul comparing Kurgen Klopp to Neil Lennon ?

  27. St Stivs, here’s a stat that proves stats don’t always mean much – Lennon has a better win percentage as Celtic manager than Jock Stein. Stats mean nothing without context…for instance, the Tories spend more on the NHS than Labour ever have in purely monetary terms – the context is that inflation (cost) and population (demand) increases mean it’s also never been so underfunded when spend is set against need.

  28. SPIDEY101 on 5TH MARCH 2021 1:28 PM



    Out with Man City, Liverpool spent pretty much the same amount as other team in the top 6 in the summer window. By EPL standards no one spent big. The gap to a very average United who spent about the same says a lot



    They spent in two players, one a world class midfielder who hasn’t fitted their style of play and the other a striker who has. They didn’t address a main area that needed strengthening, they failed to do it again in the January window. These are problems of their own making



    They may have tailed off at the end of last season but they were the best team in England up to Christmas of this season.



    Their decline has been incredibly rapid.

  29. The only proof of the stat for Neil, is simply he wins 7 out of 10 matches he is in charge of for Celtic, that is it.


    I am not comparing it with anyone else.



    I work with stats and data every day of my working life.



    I trust data more than unqualified expertise , opinion and rumours.

  30. Weebobbycollins on

    “Yawn. Same tired excuses for Lennon.”



    Yawn, yawn. Same tired whinging from Forrest…

  31. !!Bada Bing!! on

    Wee Nicola positively gushing about the Euros……but she told us she wasn’t remotely interested in football…more faces than the town clock

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