Has this squad hit the ceiling or can we control, pass and move better


You and I both knew before last night that Salzburg are well ahead of Celtic, so a 3-1 defeat away to the top seed surprised no one.  However, the game itself provided positive, as well as disappointing aspects.

Odsonne Eduard looked a handful when running at defences.  His goal and the chance he created a minute before the break typified this.  For all Salzburg’s ability, they looked weakest in defence.  We looked like we could put the ball in the net every time we got near then, which, admittedly, was seldom.

That aside, Eduard’s distribution was as poor as the rest of the teams’.  There were two distinct phases to the game: before Salzburg’s third goal and after.  After this point, the home team did not press nearly as forcefully, which allowed Celtic to find men with passes and retain possession.  This merely demonstrated how poorly we did so earlier in the game.

Prior to then, passing and movement lacked the confidence needed to play out from the back.  For example, Salzburg did not mark defenders in front of or at either side of the box when Craig Gordon took goal kicks in the first half.  Despite having three options for an easy pass, Craig kicked long the majority of the time – by definition into areas with fewer Celtic players, as we had three back at the penalty box.

The goalkeeper just didn’t fancy the consequences of passing to an unmarked defender – the story of the game in metaphor!

Dedryck Boyata was the outstanding Celtic player on the park.  He won everything in his vicinity and I even noticed him chasing down a ball he had himself headed clear, before others reacted.  But, on one occasion, when Craig chose to send a goal kick straight to him, he panicked, lost possession and conceded a chance in a dangerous area.  There was an easy pass back to the keeper.

You do not need to be Iniesta to work the ball out from the back.  You need to be able to control and pass, while everyone in the team needs the awareness to move into space, ensuring no one is boxed in.  This takes lots of practice and confidence.  We are correctly working towards this kind of football, but we’re not there yet, even in the SPFL.

The pertinent questions is, has this squad hit the ceiling or can we control, pass and move better?  I’m sure we can improve, although perhaps only by degrees.

I know what you were thinking every time Salzburg got a corner kick, “Here we go again” – or was that just me?  Instead, we defended set-pieces well; in fact, it was the home team who conceded the two best chances of any type before the interval.

James Forrest tucked in well on the right.  He got unfortunate with the bounce at the penalty, which was correctly awarded.  No complaints at the red card either, although I could squabble that Dabbur, who was already cautioned, should have received a second yellow on the two occasions he displayed a Tshirt message after his goals, if the referee followed his guidelines correctly.  Pedants CSC.

The football business is all about the next game and right now there is nothing on the horizon more than St Johnstone on Sunday.  Lick your wounds and get a result, Celtic.


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  1. Pass mark s to Mulumbo and no one else. I’d like to know what Gamboa has done to BR to make him hate him so much.never mind Kouassi!!!

  2. The Blogger Formerly Known As GM on







    Accurate and entertaining in equal measure.

  3. BR said our ball retention was not good enough in the second half. For as long as I can remember, Celtic have been unable to keep possession away from home in Europe. Do the players practice ball retention in training? Do they actually train with a ball?

  4. 2 draws versus Man City, and a draw away in Germany at Borussia Munchengladbach…



    seem an eternity away.



    The energy, the motivation, the way we pressed and conceded nothing.



    The complacency and malaise started at boardroom level. It has since impacted on Brendan Rodgers, and now transmitted fully within the team.



    We have lost quality (Dembele, Roberts, Armstrong, Erik) and not made sufficient efforts to replace.


    There is now zero star quality around our squad. Hugely mediocre.


    Lacking in hunger, drive, heart.


    Yet, all that said, we remain the team to beat in Scotland. We are the best. However our superiority on domestic front is now only marginal.

  5. My other issue is after arriving back into the house to see the score line 2-1 I thought we’re still in this game. After a couple of minutes I was quickly disabused of that notion.



    Why are completely out of most games, particularly in Europe with only a 1 goal deficit. I know the hun game was against a lesser team, but 3 times they have responded to going behind against Villareal and Rapid Vienna.



    We never seem to have comeback in us, even a massive 1 goal comeback.



    Árd Macha

  6. Finally, while RB Salzburg do not need work permits? Barcabhoy on twitter put up a tweet of all of their team. None of them world beaters, most of them cheap, indeed their star player was £5m not £9m…



    Are they just coached better and organised better then?



    Árd Macha

  7. Ard Macha



    You mean like this :






    Champions League · 01/11/16













    Group stage · Group C · Matchday 4 of 6



    Lars Stindl 32′



    Moussa Dembélé 76′ (P)


    Julian Korb 75′










  8. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    We also don’t seem able to “stem the tide” in these games when things start going against us. One goal seems to lead to another and another with no ability to shut up shop or reply. Feels like there is an air of resignation at times.


    do we lack character?

  9. glendalystonsils on

    I see no sign of improvement at all in our Euro performances. Poor passing ,poor ball control , nervous breakdown defending .

  10. Everything that can be said has been said. The bare facts are the team has been poor now for almost the entirety of 2018. The squad has gone backwards. The individuals that improved significantly in BR’s first season have reverted to type (JF, Sinclair, CMG, LG, Lustig, Gordon . . ). The best player in the squad, Ntcham, has downed tools and Edouard looks disinterested most of the time too.


    So what are the managers and coaches learning? What the hell have they done or are they doing to improve things? It’s like Groundhog Day . We wake up before each game and repeat the same mistakes that we did the game before. Throw ins, corners, free kicks, passing and moving, pressing for possession . . . Why have we not improved with any of this? Why, in fact, have we gone backwards at a rate of knots that is bewildering?


    Remember all the sports science we were supposed to be using to ensure peak fitness? The dieticians? The psychologists? The coaching staff that watched videos all of our opponents games before the next game to ensure we were prepared for it? Studied all the opposing players stregths and weaknesses?



    Right now we are a busted flush. Aberdeen, Hearts, Kilmarnock, Hibs and sevco will all take points off this season. Probably others too.


    We are not going to get out of this situation easily. If BR and PL are singing from the same hymn sheet then they should start acting like it. I would love to see BR actually sit down and talk to supporters, engage in debate with us, tell us why he thinks we are wrong and he is right over the likes of Lustig, or our inability to pass the ball forward at pace.


    He, like the players, exist in a bubble. They have gone soft. They go home to their multi-million pound mansions and know the pay checks will keep rolling in.


    Someone, somehow needs to get their heads back in the real world.

  11. Ah philosophical musings from Paul. How nice.



    Pity Rome is burning while he is doing it.



    Incidentally I presume Celtic won’t do or say anything in response to Ann budge. Are we too scared of the wee woman?



    The board hiding behind their seats eh.




  12. The hands cant hit what the eyes cant see on

    @ !!BADA BING!! on 5TH OCTOBER 2018 2:11 PM



    Is there a link to PSV’s accounts?

  13. From the lead article, the more pertinent question is why Salzburg are so much better than us. Both teams dominate domestically, have similar turnovers, we spend more in the transfer market ( their starting 11 last night cost only slightly more than Edouard) and I would hazard a guess our £60m wage bill is higher than theirs. They are very good at recruitment and youth development, we are shockingly bad at both.


    Half a dozen of their starting eleven came through their youth set up/feeder club whilst they have recruited well with the likes of Dabour and Minamino.


    Of our starting eleven Gordon, Lustig, Hendry and Griffiths are not good enough at that level, Boyata and Ntcham don’t want to be there, Tierney, Forrest and McGregor are running on fumes as our squad is so weak they have been flogged for over 2 seasons, Edouard needs a partner he can link with, at least Mulumbu provided a ray of light.


    Our subs bench was embarrassing, no midfielder when we knew Mulumbu wouldn’t last 90 minutes, no striker because we only have 2 and all 7 on the bench not good enough, some you would add a yet.


    Our manager, for all the deserved plaudits for invincible season and double treble is a poor manger when it comes to European football. He was at Liverpool with far greater resources, and he has learned nothing. He’s a dreamer, who can’t set a team up to be difficult to breakdown.



    We also don’t seem able to “stem the tide” in these games when things start going against us. One goal seems to lead to another and another with no ability to shut up shop or reply. Feels like there is an air of resignation at times.





    do we lack character?



    I’ve always thought under BR,we lack ‘talkers’ on the park ,we could do with more moaners and organizers on the park.

  15. Cheerful, positive football and manager.



    Changed almost overnight to a shell.



    That seems to be happening again.




    Not to worry though, the main thing is that the balance sheet is magnificent.

  16. The overall impression I’m getting from almost everyone on here is,it was inevitable we would lose last night, we would not keep possession of the ball properly, and we would lose poor goals, that’s not right,is it?










    You can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear.



    Correct, you can coach players to be better team players IMO, but it looks like we have went to the well,too many times with a lot of these players.

  18. But you can make a good team better with a significant transfer investment strategy.



    Ahh that’s betterer! :))

  19. Paul67 et al



    Back in October 2012, we witnessed one of Celtic’s greatest away performances in Europe, and most disappointing results, when we lost 2-1 to an injury time goal (by Alba) to Barcelona. Felt like a body blow. And yet the team that beat us was quite simply the best around, but even they had to work their socks off to beat Neil’s team. And then of course we beat Barcelona 2-1 a couple of weeks later. Where is that sheer effort now, where is that determination, and no little skill, now? Where is that belief? Now.

  20. We do get pass marks for consistency in Europe.


    We lose the same type of goals regularly.


    We panic at first sign of adversity.


    We pass mostly to our opponents.


    We resemble a game of musical chairs with everyone scrambling for the last position.


    We make them same lame excuses after every gubbing.


    We say we need to improve in various things then never do.


    Whae’s like us?







    You can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear.



    But you could make a team out of a limited group.


    We have a decent squad but no cohesion as a team.

  22. No more post mortems from me. Home to watch the young lads’ football matches.



    Big Championship Game tomorrow also.



    Slán agus beannacht.



    Árd Macha

  23. CELTIC MAC – exactly. We are powder puff now. Once we lose one goal, we crumble. In the last few seasons in Europe there are two fairly typical scenarios. At home we have lost loads of early goals through self-inflicted mistakes. Away from home, if we score first we don’t know what to do. We end up defending like schoolboys who have never played together before.

  24. My view on last night in isolation,



    I thought the players for the most part gave everything. They are good professionals with the exception of a couple possibly, who either aren’t fit enough or have their mind elsewhere, specifically Ntcham and Griffiths, we tried to execute the game plan. I thought we were set up relatively well and not too open. In the first half we defended our box well but in the second half we gave way. The pressure was too much and they were too good. They haven’t lost in nearly 50 matches at home and are clearly a quality outfit.



    The main issue for me was the lack of link up between the forwards and the midfield. We were quite deep so when we tried to move forward we needed someone to either take the ball and turn or for the forward players to hold the ball and wait for support. We weren’t good enough on either count and they kept coming and coming. It is easy to blame the defending but we defend as a team with and without the ball.



    The players are playing for Brendan and still believe in him, in my opinion. The trouble is some of them are simply not good enough at this level. This team and squad cannot do much more than they are doing at the moment. From now until January it is a dogfight. When January comes we must add quality and cut the squad down to a more appropriate size.



    Looking at the bigger picture, the blame is a collective but primarily lies with the Board in my opinion.

  25. I am sure Brendan Rodgers is facing real challenges at Celtic and he has just as many problems in attack as he has in defence…. the midfield is not too hot either. In midfield and up front though there is spark and control and inventiveness with Forrest, Griffiths, Sinclair and Odsonne to choose from. Rogic and MacGregor along with Nitcham and Brown should be fighting it out for a place in midfield . So why is the defence not contributing to the outfield play. Reading Paul´s account, Craig Gordon is punting the ball on European nights! Dennis Connaghan used to punt it and i liked him well but the game has moved on, Craig Gordon has to be able to play with his feet, he sets the tone for the defence, the buck stops with him. If he can´t do it, get Bain in.



    The defence has changed a lot recently I can think of only Lustig, Tierney and Boyata that stand out.. They should always play…but of course the qualifiers for the Champions League ruled out Lustig, the transfer window unsettled Boyata and Tierney was manoeuvred out of his position for Bloody Scotland to accomodate another player .






    On to Perth.

  26. DBHOY on 5TH OCTOBER 2018 2:51 PM


    But you can make a good team better with a significant transfer investment strategy.




    Ahh that’s betterer! :))


    While i agree investment is needed i have doubts that Brendan is the coach to integrate new blood quickly.


    His track record with us suggests not.


    Took him around six months to integrate Roberts who shone in the second half of the season.


    Edouard was used sparingly till second half of the season.



  27. Fan a tic- very few of BR’s signings,are first choice players,a lot of money squandered IMO

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