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. !!Bada Bing!! on

    Weeminger-it’s not the worst Celtic squad I’ve seen,certainly the biggest,a half decent manager would make a better fist of what we currently have IMO

  2. PeterLatchfordsBelly on

    Deila must be sacked. He’s been a disgrace of a Celtic manager. Has none if the basic attributes to do the job.



    Lawwell should resign. He’s a failure and a fraud.



    I assume at least one person here is either Lawwell or his mum given there remains a tiny smattering of support for him in the face of overwhelming empirical evidence that he’s an overpaid balloon.




    At the end of last year’s LC Semi, THEY could never have dreamt of yesterday.


    Why did it happen and who allowed it to happen.


    More heads than Ronny’s should roll.





    I was pretty sure I’d picked you up wrong,but thanks for the explanation.



    Tell you what,we certainly weakened Dundee Utd. Wrecked them,in fact.



    A decent club who deserved better than to see their board selling virtually an entire team over the last four years,and are now reaping the whirlwind.



    As are Dundee Utd…





    Does that balloon get inflated by a heated driveway?

  6. Tony Donnelly,



    45000 SBs?



    The big picture? Axe RD or move him to look after the weans. With the Bigotfest back against a resurgent Hun and a new Celtic Coach. The new coach will sort out all of the mess left by RD. Who wouldn’t pay to see that?



    How many SBs does PL have to sell to trouser £1m? At £450 each =2222



    2222 SBs at £450 each. PL is worth every penny.



    We’ve even downsized and slowed down to let them catch up and make it competitive.



    The downward spiral of SB sales from 2008 might be reversed?



    It would be interesting to see what the analytics numbers are on here and other Blogs over the weekend to compare with previous weeks. Is the interest likely to be sustained if the PLC continue to rely on the bigot pound?

  7. Celtic fans raging about a result. The club was cheated for 12 years and denied Champions League qualification by the SFA.







  8. CultsBhoy can not relate to Celtic Board ambitions on or off the park on

    RD should go.


    I was willing to give him support on his appointment although felt distinctly underwhelmed.



    However in order to measure the true extent of his failure it would necessary to know what role if any he has played in bringing in players.


    If he has been the chief instigator then his history will make sorry reading. If on the other hand he has been told to manage players foisted upon him then I would hope history would be more sympathetic.


    I suspect he deserves more sympathy than he is likely to get.

  9. Sorry weeminger I’m with BMCUW on this one it would be 11points. Your tax returns must be some feat of arithmetic!!! H H Hebcelt

  10. HEBCELT on 18TH APRIL 2016 2:07 PM



    Read my response. I’m talking right now. Not season’s end.

  11. PeterLatchfordsBelly on 18th April 2016 2:00 pm



    Deila must be sacked. He’s been a disgrace of a Celtic manager. Has none if the basic attributes to do the job.



    Lawwell should resign. He’s a failure and a fraud.



    I assume at least one person here is either Lawwell or his mum given there remains a tiny smattering of support for him in the face of overwhelming empirical evidence that he’s an overpaid balloon






    I am still laughing at this!



    Fantastic and cheered me up no end!





    MICKTT 1320



    Seems a reasonable enough e-mail. Really surprised-and disappointed-that you didn’t get a response.

  13. Cultsbhoy thanks for the info re pubs, my mate watched in The Pittodrie Bar, 300 yards from his abode. plus it opened at 11, Malones not until 12:30. H H Hebcelt

  14. theglasgowcelticway on

    A decent manager with a bit of money,nothing huge would turn that squad into a team and win us the league for the foreseeable future IMO. Remember MoN had to make up a 21 point gap albeit with Henrik,lubo,Lambert and Petrov. Now there’s no way I’m suggesting this squad comes near but we have enough to coast a league and beat the likes of the Maribor’s /Malmo’s of this world. Yes getting a good manager to come to the SPL maybe difficult but we’ve got to try.

  15. I bet our attendances are up next year. I bet they would be even if RD was still in charge and the board decided PL should get a double bonus. I bet they would be if every person that claimed that they wouldn’t renew didn’t.

  16. Peter Lawwell will save his skin when he brings in the fans choice & he will get off Scot free as per usual.

  17. Whoever succeeded Ferguson at Man Utd was on a hiding to nothing.Davie Moyes has a reputation to rebuild,3 years at Celtic I think would be a win situation for everyone.Games are won by fine margins,how often have you seen a free kick like the one taken by Griffiths rebound off the keepers back and go into the net,McKays goal was their first shot on target since the 27th minute,if we get the shy the ball is going in the opposite direction and to top it all the ball on the penalty spot moves as Rogic hits it.These are not excuses just how the game goes sometimes,Rangers looked like a team that had a plan and played to it,we have a manager who is tactically naive and well out of his depths.

  18. HEN1RIK on 18TH APRIL 2016 2:12 PM



    Totally agree. It doesn’t even need to be a ‘name’ or the fans choice. If they do well enough all will be forgiven.

  19. Could we afford Moyes?



    Mind you he must be loaded with the reported pay offs he received from his last two clubs who sacked him for , err, failure.

  20. I suspect that Scott Brown hasn’t been fit for weeks, if that is the case why was he allowed to play in a friendly game for Scotland?

  21. I feel a bit silly today. I feel silly because I foolishly believed yesterday that today would mark the beginning of change at Celtic. After yesterday I thought for sure decisive action would be taken and be seen to be taken.



    I was wrong. The club don’t even see for to communicate directly to me or the rest of you. Instead it’s left to the back channel journalists to tell us what’s happening at our club.



    Yesterday I was angry. Today I’m disgusted at how I’m being treated. Season ticket will be posted back this evening. It’s time we showed these arrogant basterds where the real power at our club lies.

  22. Many have stated that attendances are down due to results, footballing style, PLs bonus etc , etc. Not many seem prepared to admit (or at least I can’t recall seeing it) that a huge chunk of those staying away are simple OF fans. And they’ll all be back.

  23. From aylg1987



    All Ronnys ideas seemed perfect,the eating,fitness,youth policy,signing/scouting,style of play



    Board never backed it, neither did players

  24. Swimming against the tide here, but I’m not convinced a root a branch clear out is needed. On reflection, we were exceptionally poor yesterday (as we have been for some time) and lacked, for want of a better word, heart. By contrast, they played well and were right up for it. Despite the two vastly different approaches and performances, they still couldn’t beat us over 90 minutes, or over 120 minutes.



    Notwithstanding that they will strengthen next season (and the increasing likelihood of European football for them points to them gambling and it coming off), I don’t think we’re in that bad a place. We still, with poor management, a lack of commitment and poor performances, have higher quality than any other team in Scotland.



    What we do need, however, is a change at the top. We need a new manager, someone experienced, who can set out an organised team and get the best out of the players, to come in and immediately do two things: trim the squad; and make clear that places will be given based on performances rather than reputations. I think a large part of our problems are that we have a bloated squad, but a core of 8 or so players know they will be picked regardless or performance or form (I’m thinking Gordon; Lustig; Erik; Tierney; Brown; Bitton; Johanson; Griffiths) – this leads to a degree of complacency on thier part, and discord among the other players.



    Once that’s done, we need a few experienced players in key positions (CB; CM; CF; and someone to play left wing/left attack/left midfield) to guide the younger guys and instilll a winning mentaility, or at least a never say die approach. Then, a settled system/way of playing that gets the best out of those players we have, and a plan B for when that isn’t working; which makes us hard to beat, but plays attractive, effective football and we’ll be ok. At least in Scotland. Europe might be another matter.



    As for who the new man is/players are, I’ve no idea. But then I’m not paid to make those decisions. Basically, all I am hoping is that DD is involved, and doesn’t just leave it to Lawell – out of our last 5 managers, 2 were DD’s choice (MON and WGS) and 2 were PL’s choice (TM and RD) with Lennon probably a mutual choice. Look at the relative success/failure rates and it’s obvious that PL can’t be left to make the choice on his own. Though I hear Everton fans are starting to agitate for Martinez to go, so expect Lawell to make a pitch for him if it happens.

  25. HEN1RIK on 18TH APRIL 2016 2:17 PM



    It’s why I stated earlier that he will be a success somewhere else. Somewhere where there’s no need to win at least 2 trophies every season (or 1 trophy and a very good European run).



    He may have succeeded here if we’d brought him in as soon as Rangers were liquidated. He maybe just needs more time to turn a whole club around.



    Unfortunately (for him) it’s time he didn’t have and if he does learn from his mistakes he does so very slowly.

  26. I supported Ronny until around January, amidst heated debate with pals and family members.


    I eventually came to the conclusion that too many good players had regressed alarmingly this season from last. Too many for it not to be linked to the manager as a common denominator.



    • Lustig


    • Bitton


    • Johansen


    • Brown


    • Commons



    They’re the obvious ones, but you can add others….GMS & Armstrong have never hit the levels they did last year.



    Ronny is clearly the problem and I believe the players are not playing for him. That is shameful, but a reality in football when confidence in a manager has been shaken.



    Never mind last season, I think back to the type of football we played in the CL qualifier at home this season v Malmo. Ultimately a disappointing result, but the energy & tempo we displayed in the first 20 minutes of that game was incredible. The first goal is still my favourite goal of the season because of the way in which we carved open the defence of a pretty decent team leading to Griffiths on a 1 on 1 with the keeper and he duly did the business. Armstrong cut in brilliantly from the wing, passed to Johansen who destroyed the Malmo defence by playing a first time pass to Griffiths. The belief to play like that has long gone.



    Ronny will be replaced at the end of the season, but the big worry is by whom and what confidence can we take of Peter Lawwell & Dermot Desmond’s ability to recruit well if we look at recent history in that department…..



    Tony Mowbray – disaster



    Neil Lennon – incredibly risky appointment in that he’d never managed before. A rookie should never be appointed as Celtic manager. Lots of fan pressure and a pretty unprofessional/unedifying road show with PL & NL going round very supportive fan groups led to Neil being appointed. I think the small remuneration involved suited the board’s fiscal policy. I love Neil Lennon and he was a good manager for Celtic but the rationale and method of his appointment were questionable.



    Reports that Roy Keane & Henke were offered the job before Ronny Deila now fill me with dread. No imagination and more worryingly no evidence whatsoever on both guys’ managerial experience/careers to think they would be successful managers. But both would have popular appeal with fans because of who they were rather than what they’d done.



    Ronny being set up for a no.2 role only to be jettisoned to the Manager’s job is not logical, again leading to a lack of confidence in the ability of the board to recruit the next man.



    One thing that leads to a massive recruitment problem is the salary allocated to the manager. I know one or 2 people in the game and I have heard that Neil was on around £500k pa and Ronny less than that, around £300k. If true, it is staggering. Celtic have to be serious in how they reward their managers. Appointing the right manager is far more important than recruiting any new player or renewing an existing player’s contract – so the respective salaries should reflect that. Yet we have top players on around £20k per week whilst the manager is on around £10k or £6k.


    Far better to have less players (think of the amount of midfield players we have) with the savings going towards recruiting the right man.



    It was a bit of a dread waking up this morning. Yesterday was bad. Not Black Sunday bad, but bad bad.



    But I thanked God that I woke up as a Celtic fan and that I am part of the Celtic Family and linked to the beautiful history that belongs to us.




  27. I think we can already say bye bye to our Champions League qualifying chances next season if we stick with RD until the end of the season.



    I am not even convinced they will sack him, that is how out of touch with the support our board are. We have had 4 years to strengthen while they have been away. Instead, we have regressed so far backwards that they will now believe they have a realistic chance of a title challenge next season. That is unforgivable.



    We have all seen, except the board, over the span of the last 2 years that this was coming. Delia has turned us into a laughing stock, an irrelevance. He needs to go now!




  28. Can anyone give me a definitive answer to the question, if, god forbid Sevco win the Scottish Cup are they in Europe next season? If no, for what reaqson? H H Hebcelt

  29. I promised myself I wouldn’t read anything about that debacle at Hamden for at least a couple of days.



    But I logged in here for, at least a bit of insight.



    I think I’ve got that.



    But I was a Celtic fan 40 years ago, I was a Celtic fan yesterday, and today, and tomorrow.

  30. Will Alex Neil be available in the summer if Norwich go down? Would anyone have him?



    Who do we now build a team round? That seems the easy bit to me: Gordon, Tierney, Sviatchenko and Griffiths. The difficult part is who do we choose to build the rest of the team?



    If Moyes is the man we’d be successful, but Celtic will be right back in the Old Firm love-in, because he shares DD’s view that Rangers are a great club with great history. That might be just what the board are looking for.

  31. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    weeminger on 18th April 2016 1:45 pm




    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




    Don’t you think he’d be back to the EPL as soon as something half-decent came up?


    When he went to Spain, didn’t he stay in a hotel and not learn the language?




    Did you type lucky instead of little surely not!!!


    Advocaat, 67, was nicknamed the Little General in the 1980s because he was No 2 to then-Holland boss Rinus Michels – who also known as The General

  33. Clydesider thanks for that, no caveats then? eg 3 years accounts or similar? H H Hebcelt

  34. During my 10 years on CQN – I’ve tended to post a paragraph or so after a game typically commenting; good result, average performance but 3 points – a nod to players that made a significant contribution etc. Results such as yesterday, I normally give it the 24 hours don’t look back in anger analysis. For what it’s worth:


    Yesterday’s game-management was symptomatic of previous failings over the past 21 months of RD’s tenure – an inability to set-out/alter tactics pre/during a game so as to accommodate decent and better than average players at his disposal.


    I’ve never been an RD advocate – I gave him some leeway after the CLQ/Legia debacle given the circumstances of his appointment and the loss of key defenders.


    However, the frequency since of; abject performances, failure to manage must-win games, tactical intransigence (rigid 4-2-3-1) and the patently obvious lack of man-management skills – it begs answers to many questions. Why was he appointed? What criteria were used in his selection? Constraints and budgets aside – exactly what kind of financial package are we offering potential candidates? Who made the final selection and who approved the strategy? And – why have steps not been taken to rectify this malaise before now?


    RD’s attempts to batter round-pegs into square-holes are evident within his 2-3 area (of his 4-2-3-1). I posted a list earlier in the season that he had utilised circa 22 players in those positions (probably now updated to 25 following the January Window) – if you can’t get it to work then you have to adapt to suit the personnel at your disposal (Good Lord – even Barca/Bayern/PSG adapt)! Too often this set-up has allowed opponents enough space to drive a ‘coach & horses’ through the gap between midfield and defence.


    I’ve noted on occasion comments about the number of fouls we commit and why our yellow card count? The answer is probably staring us in the face – we have a squad of players (with 2/3 exceptions) that can’t tackle/ don’t know how to and resort to a trip or pull of a shirt to stop an opponent.


    Pressing was supposed to be a key-element of RD’s philosophy – yesterday we surrendered (sic) half the pitch to them. Why? The few times we pressed them in and around their box – they floundered (e.g. 4 rapid corners and Eric’s headed goal).


    Fitness? They strolled – our 3 forward players ran themselves ragged because we failed to push up. Anyone watching the DU/Hibs semi would have seen the surface was lush/spongey and their game slowed the longer it went on.



    Time for new management and a player cull and purchase rethink:


    Cut our current gene pool by 20-25% – Academy and First Team (sell or move-on). Instead of buying various ‘projects’ – narrow the field and look for semi-finished articles like FF (loan with option to buy) and GH (proven below EPL level and superior to SPL) – pay a decent transfer fee and a wage that entices a player to come to CFC with the option of going down the V67/VvD route when the selling price is right



    Radical root & branch changes needed from top to bottom of the Club – and no sympathy votes!




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