Game intelligence, selection miscalculations, second best


Celtic got what they deserved yesterday. Alarm bells were ringing from the opening minutes when Newco Rangers created several chances. Their goal on 16 minutes was reward for their ability to get inside the Celtic box with remarkable ease.

So much about football is down to game intelligence, something which bypassed Dedryck Boyata in the move which led to the opening goal, as he clumsily barged into the back of an opponent who was running away from goal. After Dedryck went off injured for Erik Sviatchenko midway through the first half, Craig Gordon had little to do.

This fact illuminates the only positive aspect of Celtic’s performance – the defence. Sviatchenko and Charlie Mulgrew both played well, while Kieran Tierney would have collected the Man of the Match award, had his team-mates delivered near to his level.

Sviatchenko wasn’t in the starting line-up because he’d been out injured, but with extra time, he played (well) for 95 minutes. Leaving him out, presumably over concerns he would be unable to play 90 minutes, was a miscalculation.

From midfield forward we were individually and tactically second best. Scott Brown provided more evidence that he’s not regained top form after his injury lay-off. His touch and decision-making were both off. He had an opportunity to clear at the first goal but his contact wasn’t strong enough.

This is a real concern. Scott’s 31 in the summer, young enough to have several good years at this level, but my expectation is that we need to manage the remainder of his career carefully, in light of the cumulative effect of injuries. If this concern is valid, it will have a big impact on Celtic next season.

I did a fair amount of shouting at Nir Bitton during the first half. We were regularly overloaded 3-against-2 on the wing, while Nir remained in a central position, 5 yards away from being able to effectively press. If this was down to team orders they were complicit in a dreadful first half performance. If it was a personal reluctance to press, it was inexplicable. I could believe either scenario.

It was all too much for Gary Mackay-Steven and Patrick Roberts. Gary’s form has been underwhelming this season, but when I questioned his inclusion ahead of the game the point was made that he’s chipped in with a number of goals recently. Ronny Deila turned and walked to the dug-out to instruct Gary’s substitution after one inaccurate pass too many.

In the starting line-up, only Gary, Patrick Roberts and Leigh Griffiths had scored in our previous 7 league games. I suspect we were caught asking the wrong question here – who’s going to score the goals? Instead of asking how best to win the middle of the park. With Roberts, Mackay-Steven, Griffiths and Johansen occupying the advanced four positions we were lacking in kilograms – literally lightweight.

Contrast to when Gordon Strachan plucked Charlie Mulgrew from defensive cover to play left side of midfield at Ibrox; winning a game well against the odds.

Stefan Johansen was another unable to judge the weight or accuracy to apply to a pass, he was hooked injured after 84 minutes but could have gone earlier due to performance. His replacement, Tom Rogic, brought a considerable improvement to our use of the ball. Had we started with Rogic and Sviatchenko it would have been a different result.

The plan didn’t work for Leigh Griffiths. He was unable to hold play up, get in behind or craft a proper opening.  He’s been our charm this season, but he’s no miracle worker.

More on the big picture stuff later in the week.

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  1. Tony D


    We were all informed on here weeks ago that Celtic were backing it. It’s no secret. We were also told that they were keeping their cards close to their chest for now.


    So your source is correct. Maybe your source got it here too?

  2. The Green Man says SACK THE Board on




    I believe the CT all have been given a kerosene lamp each, so that they can read revolutionary tracts in the dark…..while everyone is asleep.


    And i believe next year…1926…there could indeed be a general strike:)


    And …..lets keep this quiet….the co-op have got Spam.




  3. CLOGHER CELT on 19TH APRIL 2016 9:50 AM






    Auldheid and P67 both made comments to you on here yesterday about talking about Res 12, and you perhaps betraying a confidence.




    Maybe you didn’t see the comments?



    Didn’t see any post from either enlighten me? I don’t recall naming any names or betraying confidence, I was just told a fact by someone I know, who obviously only I will know who it is, all I said was that CFC where involved still, got a problem with the truth? Cause I sure don’t.

  4. The Green Man says SACK THE Board on

    Hamilton Tim



    Just thought id mark your card.


    But they say John MacLean, James Maxton, the Independent Labour Party, and Lenin himself, will be seeking to join the Celtic Trust this week:)


    Thats the word on the street, from my high-up sources.




  5. Ynot67,



    Maybe check with Paul? They posted possibly shortly after you logged off.




    My travels are pretty boring mate, if I was to relate them to you it would take about all of five minutes to bore the proverbials off you. Trust me mate there are only two good parts about my travels, catching the flight home to my family and trying to help unfortunate families, as best I can, whilst I am away.


    Getting on the plane to go is a Monday morning hangover from hell’s heart. It never gets any easier but I am sure there are countless guys on here who can easily empathise with me, because they do it too and they don’t bitch about it.



    So I just get on with it. Trust me mate, I am not blowing my own trumpet but I have put smiles on distraught faces in some truly godforsaken places. I burst with pride when I do that and I do take the time to thank my God above for giving me the parents that I had and the friends who moulded me.



    We mutually moulded each other. We were almost all to a man (and women, never ever forget the women for without them we’d just be a bunch of useless bragging drunks).



    Mate there really isn’t too much to tell that you have not lived yourself. You’re a Celtic Supporter, mate you’ve lived. YOU HAVE LIVED.



    I could tell you about how I witnessed Charlie Devlin give away his total appearance fee to a beggar outside the Mexican in Baku whilst Peter Lawwell and Ian Bankier were holding court inside.


    I could tell you countless acts of kindness that I have witnessed by Celtic Supporters in far flung places. But I would not be telling you anything you have not witnessed for yourself on countless occasions. The geography changes but the generosity, the heart, the family, the colours, the craic, the tears, the smiles, the pain, the parting, the memories, the nightmares, the night tears, they are the same no matter what border you choose to cross nor what region or village you care to visit.



    I watched a funeral of a young kid who was killed in the Karabach two weeks ago. Nobody could hold it together. He was the cousin of a good friend of mine. That good friend of mine and her friends are all Celtic Supporters at heart. They were in the Celtic end at the Karabach game. They wore Celtic tops then and they were them today.



    It really does not matter where you go, what you say, what you see… it is always… always… what you do.


    To the attention of others. Never once have I called for Peter Lawwell to be sacked. Nobody gets paid the money he does for screwing up his remit. It is who is paying him for perfecting his remit that I would like to see change ways or part ways.



    Make the distinction.


    just got word from PUNTING pal of mine who says SMART money says OWEN COYLE.






    I said before RONNY we would get THE CHEAPEST OPTION and that’s what will happen again.

  8. PeterLatchfordsBelly on

    I think this is also a big day for our host P67. I am a big fan of Paul’s. He’s extremely clever and devotes more time to gifting us this forum than anyone could reasonably ask. However, rightly or wrongly that has built an expectation of leadership around his opinions and insights (in my mind anyway!).



    He has been a great defender of Lawwell and “the strategy” and argued its merits with great skill and logic. He has encouraged us (not that I personally required much encouragement) to believe the Hun was effectively dead and presented no real threat to us. As recently as last week he blogged about the possibility that Sevco might never win the league. Music to these ears.



    Now they are pulling into our rear view mirror and we are a club in disarray, a shambles. It’s our worst fear coming to pass and i personally am desperate to hear someone provide me reassurance that Celtic has a plan and that’s it not just the same rubbish plan that has brought us to here.



    Ideally Lawwell or Desmond would be fronting said plan, but they are hiding in their bunker. So in their absence, fairly or not, I’m looking for P67 to fill the void.



    We’re looking for some hope Paul, are you able to provide it?

  9. TheOriginalSadiesBhoy on




    I think it goes without saying that if we had a more successful team on the field then there would be less whingeing about the Board. You have been one of Ronny’s biggest critics in recent months (rightly) but who was responsible for his appointment? The Board’s appointed CEO, Mr. Lawell. Fans are angry with the Board for other reasons: their obfuscation over Resolution 12, their lack of any meaningful response to the shenanigans at the SFA and SFA over many, many matters relating to Sevco (title stripping, the conferring of fit and proper status etc) and our Chairman’s arrogant and patronising attitude towards our fans at an AGM.



    More importantly, the Board have allowed a situation to develop since 2012 when we found ourselves the Top Dogs in Scottish football (only in a fiscal sense) and capable of winning trophies by the bucket load but have managed to squander that advantage and allow us to deteriorate to a position whereby we were soundly beaten (in terms of performance) by a Championship team on Sunday. Such performances in big games have occurred too frequently in recent seasons. The Board have the responsibility of trying to ensure that catastrophe does not occur when you are in a position of strength.



    As far as Ronny is concerned, there is a genuine concern that we might not be able to limp over the line to the League title. I posted on here after the 0-0 draw at Celtic Park that Ronny should have been sacked overnight. We were so lucky to get a point that night. At that time a new manager would have had 10 League games left to secure the title and assess his squad for next season and, in particular, the Champions League qualifiers. He would have also had six weeks to prepare for Sunday’s Cup semi final against Sevco. Now we are hearing that Ronny has been told that he will be leaving at the end of the season.bwhat incentive is there for the man to try to motivate his players to win our remaining games if he knows he’s getting the sack, win or lose?



    A strong Board would have demanded that the CEO take decisive action earlier and brought a new manager in. Much has been made of Dave King and Paul Murray being allowed to hold positions of responsibility at Sevco when they presided over the demise of Rangers 1872. What were they doing when David Murray was up to his tricks and then when Craig Whyte failed to pay tax and NI for employees of that club? It was their duty to act, we have been told. What about the duty of the Celtic Board of Directors? Why are they there? What do they actually do? They sit in the Directors’ Box and watch the games that we watch.vare they intoxicated and can’t see what we can see on the pitch? What are they going to do about it? Do the powers that be only react to unrest among the fans only when it leads to boycotts?



    If there is unabated sniping at the Celtic Board, for the reasons I have listed above, I think it is well merited.

  10. Weeminger 9.25



    I posted it on here just after we signed him.


    Some made the same point that you were making,and it was and is a valid one.



    It was mostly instinct.



    VVD was risked by Celtic to play in the CL qualifiers.


    We gambled that he wouldn’t be injured and that th circa £12m deal with Southampton would not be jeopardised.



    We hope that it would help us gain £15m CL income .



    Simunovic’s transfer fee was much less that Simunovic’cs club would gain from CL entry.



    Therefore the risk of playing him was much less.



    He barely featured.



    This meant one of 3 things to me.



    His club were risk averse.



    He wasn’t good enough .


    Or he had injury problems that were serious enough to keep him out for a few weeks.


    It could have been a mixture of all 3,or any conortation.



    It didn’t add up for me.



    My rational may have been flawed and different from how many think,but it proved to be correct.