Game planning works. Back to Seville


For the first 20 minutes of the second half, AZ Alkmaar lay siege to the Celtic defence, which stood firm.  They  only looked vulnerable when; in a carbon copy of the move Celtic scored with, Poku stretched but was unable to make a good enough contact to put the ball on target.

Free kicks and corners came and went without fuss, the defensive line was straight and each player in at the back controlled and distributed the ball safely.  Considering most of us believe the defence is the area of the team most in need of supplements, we are already in an elevated position compared to last season.

Yet again Anthony Ralston made a significant contribution, this time, sending Liel Abada clear to cross for our Irrepressible Icon, Kyogo Furuhashi, to do his thing.  Greg Taylor was injured but struggled-on until 24 minutes when he was replaced by Adam Montgomery.  This felt ominous as until then, AZ were most dangerous through their right back, Sugawara, who flooded forward effectively.  Adam more than took care of the Japanese full back in what was one of the most crucial personal encounters of the game.  He is a player.

Both central defenders almost had a flawless game.  Almost.  Stephen Welsh was caught in two minds; he did not head a long ball and he did not let it run through, as a consequence, it skimmed his chest to spark a night of anxiety.

Carl Starfelt’s own goal was a classic of the genre.  The Swede started the season on the left side but after clearly struggling there, Ange Postecoglou switched him to the right. Evidence mounts that his left peg is largely for standing on.  Carl swung at a cross that was going nowhere with his ‘standing foot’.  He missed, the ball struck his right heel and squirmed into the net.  The early weeks of his Celtic career, featuring so much good play, has been peppered by errors.

I am delighted Joe Hart is at Celtic and remain surprised at the improvement in our form he has provided.  Still in the peak years for a keeper, there is a reason he’s no longer in the Lucre League (I believe they prefer “EPL”).  At the point Stephen Welsh was caught in two minds, Joe’s decision-making capacity deserted him.  This was not a footwork error, he just did not correctly judge the pace of the ball in relation to the man who was about to drift past him and score.  The Joe Hart Anthology has another entry.  Our memories should also record that he made two crucial saves during the game.

Yesterday’s blog was entitled “Game management when the roof falls in”.  It is as though we have seen Celtic in Europe before; against the best team we have faced since 2019, there was always the potential for things to drift south rapidly.  Recent Celtic teams crashed and burned after being pushed to the precipice in European qualification.

To the home fans, this must have thought  this looked on the cards during the opening period of the second half, when Celtic could not get out of their defensive third.  Possession was repeatedly surrendered while passing out from the back.  AZ were permitted to mount relentless surges forward, we needed to change the game plan.

Odsonne Edouard arrived on the hour for the majestic but seldom mobile Tom Rogic.  From that moment, Celtic had the engine to cover the pitch and could retain possession.  For all of the criticisms that go his way, if we lose Odsonne next week*, we will have one less game-changing option.

If you are second seed in a European group, as Celtic are, the most important opponent is who you face from the third pot, given the assumption that the top seed is unlikely to drop two places below their expected finish.  In this respect, we got a very difficult draw.

Bayer Leverkusen, sixth last season in Bundesliga, 8 points behind fifth place Eintracht.  Difficult, of course, but a team we should compete against.

Real Betis also finished sixth last season, one place in La Liga above last season’s Europa League winner, Villarreal.  They will be favourites to win the group and are everything we did not want.  We have a bit of history here, of course, they got their first strips from us and we will both always have Seville.

Delighted to get Ferencvaros, they are a decent side but we owe them one.  Bring it on.

*We’ll pick this up at the time, but I’ve been preaching asset management here for 17 years, so you know where I’m going on this subject.

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  1. What a match last night, loved it, sweated a bit but loved our determination – after a terrific team endurance event we have earned the right to compete in the Europa League and earned it the hard way.



    If you have any doubts about what I mean look at the AZ players on the final whistle, devastated. Make no mistake, they got a weekend off to concentrate on this game, they got their tactics right and stretched every sinew to get Europa football – yet the best team got through.



    Sitting forlorn on the pitch de Witt’s despairing cry was echoing through the victors’ heads as they limped from the field of battle.



    Tough draw, some very exciting matches and excellent travel destinations.



    Europa League – Group G



    Pot 1 – Bayer Leverkusen



    Pot 2 – Celtic



    Pot 3 – Real Betis



    Pot 4 – Ferencvaros



    We have a chance of Europe after Christmas if we manage to get first, second or third in the group.



    While not a total disaster fourth must be looked on as a failure. So baring that Europe after Christmas it is.



    If we are good enough to be first, then with a favourable draw in the last sixteen our current holy grail – a European quarter final…



    Of course I’m getting ahead of myself, many permutations and trials and tribulations to go through and that’s where the “fun” comes in:)



    Looking forward to this season in a way I haven’t done for quite some time – it’s going to be an awesome journey.



    Maybe a visit to Seville  is on the cards, a message to a few bhoys me thinks:)))))



    Hail Hail

  2. Big Georges Fan Club - Hail, Hail, Wee Oscar on

    Could finish anywhere from top to bottom in that group – Ferencvaros possibly one we would look for 4 to 6 points from. Betis really strong, as are Bayer – just signed the Dutch left-back Bakker from PSG – he’s a cracking player – we should sign him as cover for Greggs the Baker :-))



    A good Euro group – some cracking games to look forward to.






  3. Meanwhile still sitting by his phone awaiting the call,Kristian Lovric,the answer to all our prayers.Brilliant Left winger,goalscorer.


    They only moved him away from sleeping on the Celtic Way yesterday.


    Disgraceful.We arse about with players humming and having.

  4. Big Georges Fan Club - Hail, Hail, Wee Oscar on

    CHAIRBHOY on 27TH AUGUST 2021 12:10 PM





    Love it – great post.




    “…Sitting forlorn on the pitch de Witt’s despairing cry was echoing through the victors’ heads as they limped from the field of battle…”






    I was speaking about that scene last night – it really was an iconic image of a committed professional who had stretched every sinew to win – but to no avail.






  5. Big Georges Fan Club - Hail, Hail, Wee Oscar on

    TURKEYBHOY – have you been at his Wiki page? It has been Awe-Nawed:



    “…Kristijan Lovrić (born 1 December 1995) is a Croatian professional footballer, currently playing as a winger for Celtic fc in the Scottish premiership.[1] He is the fiancé of Croatian footballer Monika Conjar.[2]…”






  6. Nixon this morning talking about Bordeaux for Eddie. Losing Eddie and replacing him with a 26yo with one good season behind him is a massive risk. Keep Eddie and we’ll have a very successful season.

  7. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Certainly not the easiest of groups, but one where the teams could all take some points off each other.


    No reason why we can’t get through with an addition or two and continued improvement in our play.


    European knockout football is what our aim should be – and not just getting bombed out when we get there. Need to set our sights far higher than the old firm guff which only holds us back.

  8. Do you think we have a chance of getting lovric.think he would be a game changing signing.cmon it!!!!

  9. I dont think we will be signing Lovric. Eduoard and Christie will be staying and run down their contracts. No significant fees will be received. Scales will be signed but I think that will be it,



    We may loan out a few like Griffiths and Boli and a few young players



    35 + 2 on loan in 1st team squad. 34 in B squad. 71 players

  10. Celtic 3 Calamity 2. It’s always good to get the better of calamity. Very good draw, we are not in it to win it but to make some cash and to give the team at least six games against higher spec opponents.



    If Eddie and Christie are still in the building on Wednesday morning then fine. If they leave for zilch next year then, also fine. Both Lawwell and Desmond are culpable for the shambles that Ange inherited so if asset management misses a beat, then fine. Nothing to do with Ange or the support. You reap what you sow.

  11. Although I wanted Ferencvaros as we have a accord to settle it should be noted they beat Slavia Prague and really took it to the Young Boys in the champs league play off. No mugs.



    Betis will find it hard to replicate last seasons fine performance. They have already dropped points in 2 fairly easy matches so far.

  12. BIG GEORGES FAN CLUB @ 12:18 PM,



    Thanks, hope all’s good.



    Yes, for me that moment really struck a chord for the game – a consummate and commited professional with no lack of ability but so proud of our bhoys, especially the young team for facing up to the challenge.



    Really lifted by what the Club have achieved in the last six weeks.



    Have you managed to get down to the “new Broomfield” to watch the colts!?



    Hail Hail




    Yes, thanks, Auldheid had sent me some stuff but haven’t had time to sieve through it – no reflection on Walsh and Starfelt ;)



    Good timing though as I was planning to do just that today, so will read through.



    Hail Hail

  14. glendalystonsils on

    If we do lose Eddie , it’s essential we replace him with someone who can do what he did last night when the pressure is on . Neither Ajeti or Griffiths fits that bill .

  15. People seem to assume that if we keep Eddie, we get next year’s CL money so therefore it doesn’t matter if he stays.



    Has anyone considered the possibility of him staying and us NOT winning the league?



    Selling Eddie and reinvesting in two or three players who can go straight into the first team gives us a better chance of winning the league. Letting a £30m player run his contract down and walk for nothing, for a team in our financial environment is awful asset management – whatever way you spin it.

  16. squire danaher on

    AN DÚN on 27TH AUGUST 2021 12:37 PM



    Have a heart, man



    It’s not so long since they cudny tell the difference between Aberdeen and San Francisco 49ers.



    They were at it again this AM with news that Celtic “reach agreement” for Scales.



    Celtic don’t sign players. They ‘complete deals’ after ‘prolonged negotiations’



    The Manky Mob also do not sign players. They “mount audacious SWOOPS”.

  17. We must just be happy to be where we are this morning. A few weeks ago overcoming the likes AZ would not have been ‘on the cards’.



    Yes, bringing on Edouard changed the focus of our game, we had an outball instead of playing pinball, with it coming straight back at us.



    Tuchel said only a few days ago that having Lukaku gives a technical team like Chelsea the option of going long & direct when need be – that’s what happened last night – credit to Ange for changing at the right time.



    However let’s not get carried away – Eddy is no Romelu, and to be honest, other than hold it up a few times allowing our overrun midfield to catch a second wind, and feeding a pass to young Monty, I did not see anything mind-blowing in his solid but unspectacular performance.



    It makes sense to sell him (he wants away). Surely we can find another ‘big man’, even on loan, somewhere in England, or Europe, who can play with his back to goal & do a similar unspectacular job?



    Another full season of last season’s Eddy is not a prospect that I relish. Losing him for nothing after another lacklustre season is not a risk worth taking……in my humble opinion.

  18. Tottenham


    Stade Rennes


    Vitesse Arnhem





    Tougher than some Europa League groups.



    Humble opinion?






    That’s a good one.




    No response, nor, even disagreement – just a personal poke and jab – what a great blog if everyone did similar.



    Play the ball and make your own “humble opinion” as strong as you like – now that would be of interest.

  20. Welcome to our utility defence man…



    Was Mulgrew the last one? Always liked him, well until the walkabout….



    Hope he graces our hoops like he did the Dubliner’s.



    Liam Jumps, Liam Leaps, Liam Scales



    Hail Hail

  21. Weebobbycollins on

    JHB…I’m afraid you have alienated me as well as a few others with your ‘humble’ opinions. Can you imagine if everyone was sleekit? What a great blog that would be…

  22. corkcelt on 26th August 2021 11:30 pm



    If a Press Reporter used some of the comments used here there would be uproar.


    Who needs enemies when we have fans like these.


    First of all, I am thrilled we won the overall tie.


    Yes of course AZ were the better team tonight. They are a better team, they play in a better League, there is little we can do about that.


    However we managed to hang on and knock them out of Europa Cup.


    We made two monumental cock ups & gifted them 2 goals but the culprits redeemed themselves in a hectic second half.


    We are a work in progress, we will not meet any teams of the calibre of AZ in the SPFL, our job this year is to win the League not the Europa.


    After the St. Mirren game there was euphoria here, we were going to pump the Huns and everyone else.


    I said then and I am saying now, I’ll be happy as long as we don’t lose at Ibrox.


    We are already very much improved on last year, we can & will improve further but there will be bumps on the road.


    Just now I’m as Happy as the Proverbial pig in shit, however it was a bruising encounter , Bhoys need rest & recovery, we go again on Sunday, it won’t be easy there.






    Brilliant sumation.









    Condolonces on the loss of your mother. I know how hard it is to come to terms with.


    May she rest in peace with God.






    On the game last night I really thought we would outscore them but 2 defensive errors gave them the belief and gave us the fear.



    Half time came at a really good time for us and I thought they hit us with everything they had including their phisicality in the first 15 mins of the second half. The bhoys who I thought made the mistakes for their goals all recovered well and made really good work of their jobs in the second half.



    The group will be entertaining if nothing else. I hope travel restrictions are eased by the time the games come around.



    I watched the hun game yesterday as well and although I always say really good Celtic teams find it hard to win at snake mountain after watching their drivel yesterday we really should hump them.








    TURKEYBHOY – have you been at his Wiki page? It has been Awe-Nawed:







    “…Kristijan Lovrić (born 1 December 1995) is a Croatian professional footballer, currently playing as a winger for Celtic fc in the Scottish premiership.[1] He is the fiancé of Croatian footballer Monika Conjar.[2]…”















    One for us,one for ra burds team.Bargain.

  24. I’m amazed the ref has escaped censure. What a totally different game if the ref had been in any way competent. He was appalling throughout, so utterly biased to them and a very obvious bent ref. Az deserved about 3 reds,especially the dreadful assault on ralston. The offender neither apologised nor displayed remorse. A very clear red card. They were filthy throughout, and the absurdity of seeing all their fouls and 2 celts get yellows for delays on throw ons! How do eufa tolerate such incompetence in this day and age.


    Ps anyone doubt the gers will be exactly the same on Sunday, cheating, dealing, fouling, especially Kyogo off the ball.

  25. Tom McLaughlin on

    General football point alert.



    Jack Ross was vociferous in denying that there had been discussions with Celtic regarding Kevin Nisbet, in which case why has he rushed to commence talks with the player regarding an extended contract and salary increase?

  26. BIGBHOY on 27TH AUGUST 2021 12:34 PM


    I dont think we will be signing Lovric. Eduoard and Christie will be staying and run down their contracts. No significant fees will be received. Scales will be signed but I think that will be it,




    Well,thanks for that uplifting post.Yev fairly put a dampner oan ma Lum.

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