Kolo influence, Moussa’s delay, squeezing the pips


As we discussed a few days ago, the margins between success and failure at this level are tight. Two rash tackles inside the box was enough to see Celtic into the playoff round. On another day, the story could have been different.

For me, Kolo Toure’s 30 minutes was eye-opening. His touch was assured, which gave him time on the ball. He was confident enough to hold possession while being closed down, and can carry the ball out of defence.

He talked throughout, often while gesticulating to team-mates to calm down or to push out in a line. It’s not that we had problems in central defence before he arrived, we didn’t, but he gave the entire team an authority we’ve missed. Without him, the game may have ended differently.

This is what a top player looks like in a Celtic shirt.

Craig Gordon had a big decision to make: come out of his box to head the ball, or stay and allow Kieran Tierney to manage the situation. Yes, it was a good finish, but the keeper made the wrong decision. If you head the ball while 25 yards off your line it needs to go safe or you shouldn’t there.

Did you notice Moussa Dembele’s penalty technique? There were two important elements: the pause and the number of steps.

Most players take a penalty as soon as the referee blows his whistle. Moussa didn’t. He waited. Players who wait until a moment of their choosing score a higher percentage of times than players who move on the whistle.

The delay empowers them. They are in charge, they decide when things start. The two step run up further denies the goalkeeper reaction time: “I’m the boss, you don’t know when we start and you’ll have no time to throw yourself about”.

Squeezing the pips

None of the 11 starters were Brendan Rodgers’ players, four joined until Ronny, while seven have been at the club since Neil Lennon’s days. It’s remarkable that we managed to eliminate a team who qualified for last season’s Champions League with players who were caught so short in Europe in recent seasons.

Last night we squeezed the last pips out of the squad. The addition of Kolo and the return of Erik and Jozo will give the defence a formidable look, but we are not right in central midfield, and I know every one of you held your breath when Leigh went down injured.

I left the ground feeling Brendan got a break in getting that squad past Astana (you could argue Ronny could have done with a couple of rash challenges inside the box in similar circumstances). Sometimes you need the breaks to achieve great things.

Oh, and if football was like that every time, every other leisure industry would close. I’m pretty sure no one in the North Stand knew two Astana players were sent off, such was the Festival of Drama.

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  1. Luck of the draw Bobby!



    Now to read the article and get back to work!



    HH EnnisBhoy

  2. I thought Kolo looked baffled, when bringing the ball out of defence at the lack of team mates available for a pass,particularly in central midfield……

  3. It is the finest of margins at this level.



    We managed to pull draws and defeats from the jaws of victory in Ronny’s era (against far superior opposition) often.



    We need some consistent midfield class added.

  4. Go tell the Spartim on

    I see the BBC have resorted to type, despite the mildly encouraging report from T English, hurting hurting huns



    I wait with baited breath to see this unprecedented spending

  5. Tommy Carmicheal rest in peace



    Thoughts and prayers for the Carmicheal family.




  6. There were a few excellent performances last night. Janko looked strong, fast and powerful at RB, Tierney was excellent as always, O’Connell looked assured and Lustig brought some composure at CB. Also most importantly I thought Brown had a great game in the centre of the park closing down, mopping up & winning the ball and even threw in some good passing, particularly to put Griffiths through. Toure looked good when he came on and Dembele done brilliantly to win and then convert the penalty. Even Forrest had his best game in a long time, closing down, chasing lost causes and being a bit more direct and effective than usual.

  7. Kolo was class. Good signing.



    Criticising Gordon is wrong, he read the play well and made good contact which was his priory. It was a wonderful finish from the boy.



    Traffic lights off and cops in attendance on London road btw.



    Kris who?

  8. Central midfield is and has been for the last year our biggest issue, occasionally like against Motherwell (albeit they were already on their holidays) and against Hamilton both at Celtic Park last year (8-1 and 7-0?) we look great with Callum McGregor in central midfield pulling the strings we looked fluid and full of movement.



    Mostly we struggle and last night it was noticeable that we often had nobody between the attacking players and the defenders between our box and theirs.



    There were normally three Astana players in or around the centre circle and no Celtic players which is why when we lose possession we are so susceptible to a quick break away.



    Hopefully we can get a system with Brendan where this improves either with injured on non playing players from last night but we still need a real “general” in the middle. Rogic or Johanssen back to his best might offer us something different in there Armstrong needs to be more central or right sided to use his abilities to their best, left sided he doesn’t fit the criteria.



    Onwards and upwards!

  9. Your “Practice the penalties” dominated the thread yesterday Paul. How quirkily prescient!



    Another memorable night in Paradise. 2 pens, a disallowed goal, 2 red cards and a flying 20 yard rasping scissor kick from Scott Brown.



    Of course there is lots to digest but for now just buzzing.



    50,000 still in the stadium 5 minutes after the final whistle didnae help the traffic right enough….

  10. Ronny got us through the same round last season, so it’s a bit early to hail Brendan as a genius. The next round will be a challenge, as we have been poor in both away games. Leigh’s goal in Kazachstan was decisive. We’ll need an away goal again in the next round. Without Patrick it might be difficult.

  11. I still really like Biton but I agree we need another player in there



    Not sure how good Ajer is though

  12. Good solid performance that needed some more sharpness in front of goal to make it comfortable.


    Once again Paul67 called it with the late tiredness of Astanta. Last two minutes was a good call.


    Hail hail

  13. Posted last night, I think a Ronny Deila team would have lost by 1,2 or 3 in Astana. We defended their strength, long throw ins, set peices and corners well last night in general, I noticed we left 3 up when they had corners. Ronny would have had everyone back, you can only imagine the ensuing chaos in the penalty box. Would a Ronny team have rallied and found a late winner? I seriously doubt it. The tie didn’t hinge on a couple of penalty decisions, it hinged on a Manager with the ability to set his team out and get them to believe they could do it.

  14. glendalystonsils on

    Don’t know about unprecedented spending.



    I’d settle for some precedented spending, provided it leads to genuine team improvement.

  15. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Kolo is a class player, Paul. You don’t play for Arsenal, Man City and Liverpool if you are a diddy .


    Interesting to see so many posts praising Brown and Janko. After the Red Imps game many were saying they should never play for us again!


    Seems like McGregor and Armstrong are the latest two to be “not good enough”.


    Maybe show a bit more patience?

  16. To be honest I thought Scott Brown was beginning slip out of the Celtic team due to past performances, after watching him last night I take it back…he was superb.



    Hopefully Brendan has not only instilled a confidence in our pups but also our stalwarts.

  17. I feel slightly sorry for Armstrong. I though he was doing OK in his natural position in CM before being shunted out left which clearly doesn’t suit him due to Roberts injury.

  18. Whilst “squeezing the pips” is a good analogy from our leaned scribe, Brendan’s success in guaranteeing European football until December has also been achieved in spite of lack of spending and a horrific injury list which has included Bailly, Simunovic, Boyata, Sviatchenko, Bitton, Commons, Roberts, Ajer, Christie & Mackay-Steven. That’s 10 players not to mention Lord Lucan Mulgrew. When injuries finally clear, defence will be the strong point of our team but midfield class, guile & steel are urgently required.



    SA & CMcG are able deputies for domestic fayre but not at present in Europe as was evident last night & in the 1st leg. Our midfield is way too lightweight with both in the same team.



    For me, KT was the star last night, heart of a lion and setting example to others at the young age of 19.

  19. Prior to Kolo Toure signed we absolutely had problems in defence. Our ability at set pieces, in fact, a simple ability to be organised will improve vastly with Kolo in the side.



    Sviatenchenko has proven to be a liability here, as has anyone alongside him in Ambrose or Lustig. Simunovic is probably a liability too given he was a Ronny signing and Ronny signings didn’t have organisation or discipline as their number one priorities.



    Ronny would have lost last night. We wouldn’t have got into position to grab that 2nd penalty and Astana would’ve scored again.



    Onwards and upwards, any of the five potential opportunities look winnable. Well done Brendan.

  20. Saw on Scottish gossip in BBC comment about



    Edinburgh City



    Who did Edinburgh City replace in league 2 ?

  21. The Battered Bunnet on

    We badly need a set piece expert. A player who hits a dead ball with speed, accuracy and reliability.



    We swapped Armstrong for McGregor for Johansen set pieces last night, as we do most matches, and got nothing from them, as we do in most matches.



    Can Scott Sinclair take a good corner? Can he hit the backpost-six yard line target with a free kick?



    It’s a skill none of the players in the current squad have mastered.

  22. The Battered Bunnet on




    City were promoted from the Lowland League after their play off win over East Stirling, who were relegated from League 2.

  23. Answer to my own question East Stirlingshire



    Were they not another recent victim along with Annan



    of the migthy Govan galacticos

  24. Geordie Munro on

    Only a matter of time before we hear about how we wouldn’t have gotten past the imps under Ronny.

  25. Neustadt-Braw on

    Just woke up….a wee cold wan in the hand ….



    Krombacher ….hahahahaha



    Will have a wee read back now…..just to find out when I got to ma scratcher initially !!! Heb there is a braw word for ye…


    Midfield was a doddle with Joe and Victor…..???



    Squeezing the pips….reminds me of someone squicking the queue at a Luton taxi stance….the ooooohs and aaaaahs from fellow querers as a twat was dingled and dangled…braw days……ended it up he was going Oor way so he got to pay….see. Abidy hoopy



    A big call oot to Bulgaria Tims ….






  26. Have Hearts played any friendlies since losing to Birkirkara on 21st July? According to their website, they haven’t (although the could have played closed doors matches). In that time we have played two CL qualifiers and 2 high profile friendlies. Would we expect our team to be sharper than the opposition on Sunday as a result?

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