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. Glasgowcelticway



    Succinct post,the only thing you failed to mention was whenever the Huns were awarded a throw in in the middle third of the field they had immediate possession of the ball as the throw in went unchallenged as our midfield withdrew to 10 yards in front of the 18 yard line inviting them and allowing them to press right down on top of us


    As it stands the only players to gain some sort of pass marks yesterday are unlikely to be there next season,one will return to his parent club,one will be freed,one doesn’t really want further his career in Scottish football and one will be sold to cover our early exit from Europe


    God willing there will be a couple of Celtic players in possession of Scottish cup winners medals at the end of the season

  2. myboysnowatim on

    Being honest, how many of you would still be calling for Ron’s head if we had won yesterday (easily or after the penalty shoot-out) ?



    Personally, I have been willing this guy on from day one but this last year has been chronic & largely bereft of any real entertainment, skill, drive & dominance on the pitch.



    All of what we were promised at his appointment has just not materialized. In fact we’ve regressed rather than improve. Yesterday’s result was no real surprise to me. I have been of the opinion that a change has been required for a few months now.



    OK a lot of yesterday’s debacle can be apportioned to other areas of management/coaching/personalities etc. but I’m afraid Ron is just not capable of getting the best out of this team with current (real or speculated) restrictions.



    The players aren’t shit – they’re just not being properly organised/utilised. I truly believe that. FFS the other mob have cobbled together a bunch of players (who are very mediocre individually) & their manager has managed to at least make them a reasonable unit.



    Dermott Desmond, Peter Lawell & the Board are here to stay for a while yet I think. Not knowing the full picture, it’s difficult to demand their removal. All I can go on is performances & results on the field of play.



    Sorry Ron, it just isn’t working fella.

  3. P67



    You are peeling away the varnish in a building that is rotten from the founds upwards.


    This debacle has been a long time in coming — for me there was no surprise only resignation.



    We could have had 6 / 8 substitutions yesterday given the number of players who did not want to be out there. The club is rotten from top to bottom and yet still they will clap.



    Cut the crap about big picture stuff.



    Start at the top — the Irish Raj and the Bonus Thief need to go.


    Anything else will just ruin another managers reputation.

  4. Joe Filippis Haircut on

    Just on the News at lunchtime Celtic say Ronny will not pay the price for yesterdays defeat against the Rangers.H.H.

  5. Afternoon; still gutted but funnily enough not really surprised at all, I wasn’t confident due to our play for most of the season.


    I sent an email to John P Taylor last week, he has yet to reply…



    Ayrshire is Green and White

  6. Eyes Wide Open on

    We all know the most important games of the season occur during everyone elses ‘pre season’.



    It is therefore absolutely critical that the new manager has 5-6 competitive games to run the rule over this current squad to identify which players have attributes he wants to keep and confirm who he wants to sell.



    Selling players early and lightening the wage budget will have an obvious impact on who we are able to recruit.



    As things currently stand, the new manager will be appointed after the season has ended, meaning he will be trying to learn about the club, the current players, begin to professing his tactics, training techniques, recruiting non player staff, budgets for recruitment, potential new players, deal with the pre-season friendly list within a few weeks of taking over with the small matter of crucial euro qualifiers taking place.



    The extent of the continued negligence by the current board and custodians of our club is multiplying by day.

  7. Canamalar it looks like OCD obsession on



    It’s hard for many not to buy into it when it’s supported by people who should know better, the abuse I took over the years for pointing it out was an example how collective thoughtlessness can be overpowering, and I’m no even happy they have now caught up just sad that it’s taken this long and the damage that was required to provide enough evidence for them to open their eyes.


    I started on this blog as a very happy clapper, fell out with sydneytim, neganon and many other negatonians but instead of being entrenched in that mode, I paid attention to what they were saying and all too soon found myself shifting to their side of the argument, there was too much evidence to deny it any longer. I believed the board were doing a good job until I looked at the arguments from the happy clappers that because we had no went into administration and liquidation that some how this was an excellent job the only possible alternative offered to team investment, that was enough for me.

  8. Good afternoon John Paul



    John Paul, can I first state I am not a rebel nor an upstart, just an ordinary working class Celtic supporter.


    I’m raising the question to you and no doubt this is not the first in relation to the well documented resolution 12 issue. I am a worried Celtic supporter and I think our board should be too, this matter from a supporter’s point will not go away. I know many season ticket holders like myself who are waiting on Celtics action on this, and fear that should we as a club fail to publicly be seen to act on a legitimate request regarding it from the group of supporter’s who instigated it, the club may never recover from it as a whole.


    I appreciate that many things that occur within the boardroom at Celtic Park are not for public consumption and that includes supporter’s, but the whole heart of the club is at stake here, it honestly is.


    I appreciate that Celtic have a social obligation on how they handle things but we’ve been here 128yrs….!


    We were dismissed as a club, I am led to believe? in our questions to the SFA regarding the “Penalty” incident in last season’s Scottish Cup Semi Final, a matter that still riles me, I have seen many over the years. Is it just the case we are here to make up the numbers? or should we really go home as we are often told! I want Celtic to be strong on the field of play, but also off it. I hope the Celtic board can show the support we mean business on all fronts.


    I hope this can be passed on and hopefully as a club we can remain a part of so many lives in Scotland.



    Still waiting on a reply



    Ayrshire is Green and White

  9. Joe Filippis Haircut on

    It looks if the board expexct us to take this seasons poor performances on the chin.We are expected to purchase season tickets as though everything was well.It looks as though the board expect us to keep our opinions to ourselves well I think we the support need to decide are we prepared to accept yesterday was just a bad day at the office and move on ? H.H.

  10. eddieinkirkmichael on

    jamesgang, Ryan Christy would be hounded by our support the 1st time he had a bad game. Our support don’t want development players they want ready made superstars. They don’t care where the money come from to pay for these players and they can’t name any superstars that would want to play in a third rate league such as the SPFL.


    They want instant success, nothing less will do.



    I witnessed these laughably called “greatest fans in the world” boo their own team off the park at half time, I also witnessed other things that disgusted me. There is an element within our support that is Hunnish in it’s outlook and it’s making me consider my continued attendance at games.



    PL wont be going anywhere, the Old Firm is alive, our greatest rivals are back to boost season ticket sales. If you doubt that is true you should have on our supporters bus yesterday, standing room only and half the bus hadn’t attended a game all season. Talking to others last night and they shared similar stories.

  11. PeterLatchfordsbelly at 12:36



    That didn’t stop a large % of posters labelling Ronny as “…the new Stein”. No doubt the same people also referred to “…the Motherwell born billionaire”.



    I think posters who posted both, should both own up and not post in an apology to Stein. Great managers are action first and talk last rather than the other way around.



    Someone yesterday posted that Sviatchenko should be the new captain because he bumped his gums about “…how much he was hurting…”, all I’ll say is I hope the players enjoy their games of golf and days at the races over the next few weeks, 100 per cent ma baws.

  12. The Resolute Mr Pastry on

    I agree with Paul’s article, although I believe he is understating his real feelings – let’s see what happens when he addresses his ‘big picture.



    What happened yesterday was that Sevco were given a permission slip by our management and players, to say all the things that they must have thought would take years to say:



    1) We are ‘back’ where we belong.


    2) We are better than you.


    3) We have a better manager who can fashion a squad from free-signings and loan players


    4) Our manager if more tactically aware than yours


    5) Our players ‘play for the jersey,


    6) We will challenge for the title next season.



    That is the extent of the belief now at Ibrox. In two and a half hours yesterday, the Ibrox fans finally buried all the ‘sh**’ that has engulfed them – they have ‘turned the corner’ in their mind. No matter what transpires in future in their fiasco, yesterday was the day they left it all behind.



    As I said yesterday, Ronny will be in place to hopefully, see out the title race, and then replaced – with whom I have no idea.



    A more worrying aspect, and yesterday was just another illustration, is the calibre of player we think we have at Celtic Park. All season we have been waiting for things to ‘click’, they haven’t, and maybe they never will.



    We have spent money and pay high wages – we have twenty full international players from eleven countries, perhaps these players are just not good enough to deliver anything better than we have been getting – that’s a sobering, but possibly a realistic thought.



    Or, is Ronny just unable to get the best out of an expensive squad.



    Ronny has brought in twenty-three players in less than four years – three from Dundee Utd, Carlton Cole (“he will give us something different”), CKR, Allan, Christie and Janko, all who have never really featured regulary, or have been more than disappointing.



    Those from a previous regime – Brown Biton, Lustig, Izaguirre, Ambrose, Forrest, Johansen and Commons all seem to be wishing they were somewhere else.



    Boyata, Simonovic, Svaitchenko are still as yet unproven. There are eight out on loan who will probably not come back.



    So, that leaves us with Gordon, Tierney, Roberts, Griffiths, McGregor, Rogic and Mulgrew – plus the above three centre-backs, as the ‘backbone’ for next season.



    After all the turmoil, all the hassle, all the disappointments of the last two years, signing twenty-three players – we could find ourselves with a major rebuilding job next season.



    Ronny has failed on all levels – game management, fitness, tactics, player recruitment and selection – we could be starting from scratch next season – how would a new manager get rid of the number of players he needs to bring fresh faces in?



    Yes of course the CEO and board must shoulder their share – however from where I am standing they have given this manager all the backing he needed – the returns have been minimal as the team disintegrates.

  13. archdeaconsbench on




    Absolute nonsense.



    Are you Ian Bankier?




    I go into the Mexicana for most of the games and I am a member of the club but I don’t think any of them know it. I tend to keep myself to myself. I will talk to them if I can get any sort of response to a collection. At the moment there is no point in talking to them and I’m home here for the next two weeks.






    The oil companies are hard to get anything out of. They do allow collections though but to date there is nothing organised. All help appears to be ad hoc and scattered.

  15. The Battered Bunnet on




    “45,000 season ticket holders will renew”



    I’m afraid that’s simply not possible, as, per the 2015 annual report:



    “2014/15 was a successful season for Ticket sales. Almost 39,000 standard season tickets were sold”



    We haven’t had 45,000 season ticket holders since Tony Mowbray was the manager, and have been on a downward trend since 2008.

  16. theglasgowcelticway on




    100% agree. Those in charge of Celtic have to get as much money coming into the club as possible so the cries of “Rangers are back” will be met with their tacit approval.



    I knew plenty of people who aren’t interested in football who wanted to see yesterdays game,my niece included.

  17. !!Bada Bing!! on

    Scott Brown has a decision to make,it looks like injuries are catching up with him. He needs to chuck that Scotland mob,and rest up as much as he can now.

  18. Y NOT 67?????????? Are you Peter lawell? bad luck? Celtivc played the same as in 90 % of games this season, They are dire! Only a good season by LG, who was not even first choice at start of the season, has saved us.. I said after malmo game we would win nothing . I stand by that. But hope I am wrong. get rid of manager now.. PL at end of season , Perevious board were incompetent but at least some were Celtic fans.

  19. Get Davie Hay in to get us over the finishing line. Get rid of Scott Brown. he is finished.. Same happened to Hartley.. Turned up at training one day and his legs had gone

  20. Have he and his “helpers” departed yet? If not, why not? In “charge” of the worst motivated and unfit beach donkeys for many a year.

  21. If our development “team” is as good as everyone is saying then I’d play them from the start next game, but that ain’t gonna happen is it?


    Now my dream for next season is that perhaps we can aspire, just maybe , to mediocrtity! That would be a massive improvement.





    PS Griffiths had some guts taking on the penalty after his recent performances from the spot and he should be applauded





    Good shout on SB. He has his half-century of caps,no immediate prospect of a Finals,quitting international duties would give him a chance to rest up.



    He can even join the other former internationals on their “training” regime during each fortnight off.

  23. Clashcitybhoy on

    My bhoy’snowatim


    In response to your opener



    I have been a critic of Ronny Deila since the Maribor game last year.


    I don’t take any pleasure in that, but my biggest gripe is that he doesn’t learn from his mistakes nor is he a pragmatist.


    He made same mistake against Malmo this year as he did against Maribor – threw away a winning position.


    Lennon, Strachan and MoN, had three common qualities – they are pragmatic, prickly individuals, who concentrate first and foremost on winning, and then try to do so with style.


    They were all successful



    Mowbray, Barnes and Deila are / were all visionaries, who put style before substance and were / are underachievers / failures.

  24. Auldheid


    They are clearly not stupid people the plc board, so why do they act this way is it complacency, fear of the fans, laziness, or do they not have the answers that the support want to hear and see.


    This cannot go on the way it is .

  25. I think the Celtic board will just ‘wait and see’ how season ticket renewals will go. They have obviously heard a lot of noise about fans not renewing but, especially with Rangers “back” they will hope more fans will join up and fans threatening not to renew may have second thoughts. Yes, it’s a gamble, but if it pays off then it’s as you were. Best thing they could do is go public on Res 12, fight the fight, sack RD and get an exciting name in, I.e. MON and give him a war chest as big as Warby will get :-)

  26. One reason I think Moyes might come is to restore his reputation as a manager that doesn’t need to spend. It suits all parties.

  27. The Battered Bunnet on




    He craves legacy. Give him the club, top down, and let him get on with it. Let him write his own history.

  28. archdeaconsbench on

    Moyes may say yes to VIlla, before we win/blow the league. Celtic would have to act now, to get him IMO…..

  29. 8 points clear with five games to go. There’s a scenario where we could have a 100% win record and only be 9 points clear.



    Does that tell you anything?





    I think it tells me you canny count!



    If we win all our games,fifteen points.



    If Aberdeen win their other four,twelve points.



    Result,eleven points margin.

  31. myboysnowatim on




    Really cannot disagree with anything you’ve stated there with respect to Ronny.



    The other parts of your submission are very interesting. I have never looked at things that way.



    Looks like we’re in agreement – sadly.



    I have not had a knee jerk reaction after what happened yesterday. Even if we had won, my mind is made up.

  32. GREENPINATA on 18TH APRIL 2016 12:02 PM


    Paul 67,




    Looking forward to ” the big picture stuff later in the week”




    The past is past, it’s the big picture stuff that will be our future.



    Problem being that the future is often determined by the past.


    From which Celtic seldom learn.







    I meant to date. We could have won all our games. Aberdeen the same except the three against us, so we’d only be one point better off than we are now.



    To be honest though the only thing it tells us is perhaps that Aberdeen don’t get quite the credit they deserve for keeping the race alive.



    It dawned on me this morning that while buying the D Utd trio we not just weakened them, we strengthened Aberdeen and Hearts. Had we not done so it wouldn’t put D Utd in among them chasing us, they would have taken more points off each other and we’d have a bigger gap. This is the scenario I suspect will happen next season. It won’t suddenly be a 3/4 horse race. We’ll be in front and 3 teams will be further behind than now taking points off each other. Even if RD remains.



    That’s the worrying thing. We’ll be presented with another season where points mask the problems.

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