Lack of consistency haunts Celtic again


Celtic have been completely dominant in Scottish football on many occasions but only once did this result in a domestic treble (the treble was won another two occasions when Celtic were only marginally ahead of the competition but were ruthlessly focussed).

At all other times we have had a morning like this, tossed out of one of the cup competitions by a vastly over-performing team.  Little more than a handful of games against weaker opponents stood between us and a treble in each of the last two years, but as we have noted for many years now, Celtic are not consistent enough to win the treble.  The evidence is substantial.

There are parallel ways we should react to this.  In the middle of a Champions League campaign we should be focused on little else, players should be rested for the challenge ahead, even if there are resultant risks, but there will be disappointment that we didn’t see a recognisable performance from those drafted into the team.  It wasn’t until Matthews, Commons and Stokes arrived last night that we looked anything like the Celtic we know.  On no occasions should we lose at home to a Championship team looking for their first away win since April.

That domestic treble from a dominant position was achieved by Martin O’Neill in season 2000-01, a time when Martin scarcely made a substitution before 85 minutes, never mind rested players.  This drew criticism, of course, as his ‘feeder’ players were denied opportunities to grow.  Despite last night’s reversal I would still rather use these games to develop the wider squad.

I also don’t subscribe to the belief that ‘every game is a cup final’.  Motivational strategies lose effectiveness if you roll them out too often.

Credit to Allan Moore and his “boys with desire and work-rate”.
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  1. SFTB


    As the coaches pick the team they rightfully can take the responsibility for that player having an individual moment of brilliance.


    But our coach absolutely relies on a safety first system in the knowledge that our often superior players can produce moments that ensure victory.


    Playing one striker against a team from the bottom of a lower division would suggest that he is cautious.


    Our centre mids reluctance to attack the final 1/3 rd also suggests that they are instructed to hold position. Coaches can often be seen on touch line instructing them to do this.


    Our shots on goal ratio to our possession is also incredibly poor suggesting again we do not commit to forward areas.

  2. Hamiltontim is praying for Oscar on

    Oh no here we go again, another couple of hours of “off oot” and then “back in” but not really contributing anything worthwhile or thought provoking.

  3. 16 roads - Wee Oscar the Celtic warrior. on

    kevjungle – “c’mon the cellic – fairytale fc “



    10:57 on 26 September, 2013



    You are wasted on here,you really are…

  4. Hamiltontim is praying for Oscar




    11:05 on 26 September, 2013




    Oh no here we go again, another couple of hours of “off oot” and then “back in” but not really contributing anything worthwhile or thought provoking.






    there’s always DiCanio…..!!

  5. Fan-a-tic



    I agree. All the plaudits from Milan but how many saves did their keeper make? Same away to Shackter. And Hearts.


    We lack a cutting edge to our play.


    I was disappointed not to see the development squad allocated League Cup duties. NL was quoted as saying we dont have a huge squad. Young Atajic has been a sub a few times. Why wasn’t he and others giving game time (or development time) in a meaningless tournament? Baffled!

  6. emusanorphan




    11:17 on 26 September, 2013




    also totally surprised Atajic was excluded.



    Along with Balde not being used, but been thrashed to death, and no wish to raise again.

  7. thomthethim for Oscar OK on




    10:02 on 26 September, 2013




    I think the opposite in lack of concistency.


    We are very consistent under Neil’s tenure .


    A cautious and at times laborious team who rely on great individual moments to win games.


    When this fails and we have no plan B we struggle and results like Tuesday happen.






    I agree with your assessment of the current regime.



    I don’t think that it could be otherwise.



    Neil is a continuation in the style of O’Neil and Strachan.



    Both were ultra pragmatists, whose methods brought success, at the expense of flair.



    The traditional “Celtic Way” was a hit and miss model of inconsistency, down through the years.



    That was what spawned the “We don’t care if we win, lose or draw”, mentality.



    Today’s support actually do care.



    We are not good enough to have a domestic, attacking game and a European stifling game, so we appear to be focussing on progress in ?Europe.



    Hence, we are more effective on the back foot, than in breaking down packed defences.



    Martin never really trusted Lubo and Gordon insisted in deploying Nakamura and Aiden on the wings.



    Neil hasn’t unearthed or used a No. 10 either.



    It’s a trade off.



    Exciting domestic games and getting stuffed in Europe.






    Stifling domestic games and (moderate) success in Europe.

  8. fan-a-tic



    “Playing one striker against a team from the bottom of a lower division would suggest that he is cautious.”



    I disagree.



    4:5:1 or 4:2:3:1, or any variant of it, is just as fluid as 4:3:3 which people assume is an attacking formation. The numbers devoted to front line:middle line: and forward line, do not tell you how advanced those three lines are going to be deployed. Some of the most attacking displays produced in modern times come from teams with only one forward striker. Having two guys loitering up front does not mean you will attack more often.




    “Our centre mids reluctance to attack the final 1/3 rd also suggests that they are instructed to hold position. Coaches can often be seen on touch line instructing them to do this.”



    I agree that I would like to see more of our players attack the box in support of an attack, but I would not single out the centre mids, especially if you are playing 4:2:3:1 and committing both full backs to forward runs. By my count, you still have 6 potential attackers there without bringing the 2 defensive cover mids into it, and even then, when Joe Ledley is one of those defensive centre mids, he does manage to attack the box regularly.



    Also, I have never seen our coaches instructing us to hold defensively in games like the Morton defeat where we have not scored yet. There are, we will agree, times when they should be urging the midfield to hold as there will be times when they should be cautious. So, it is the judgement call on when they are being adventurous and when they are being cautious, that we should look at.




    “Our shots on goal ratio to our possession is also incredibly poor suggesting again we do not commit to forward areas.”



    Or that we do not take the shots when they are on, as with Scott Brown in the San Siro. I’d still like to see the stats on possession to shots to see if it is as bad as people claim, relative to other teams. I can be convinced by evidence-based information but you have not supplied any.





    Where I can agree with you, is that both WGS and NFL place a high value on possession of the ball. At times, WGS took this to fetishistic levels in that, only our wingers seemed to attack the defence and we became a bit one dimensional, or two dimensional, in attack.



    Neil’s team is nowhere near as limited in options. We do attack from the centre via Common’s trickery and we have had players like Ki and Rogic who can play clever slip passes up the centre, so that we are a threat from right, centre and left now.



    I realise that some will laugh at the inclusion of Ki there as he is generally derided as one of the sideways passers. However, as an evidence based practitioner (and a saddo), I decided to measure this at two games in Ki’s last season with us. I counted a sideways pass as one which, however far it went sideways, only deviated by up to 3 metres or so forwards or backwards from the position it was struck. A forward or backward pass was counted as one which was deliberately struck in that direction and went more than 3 metres forward or back.



    I sampled twice in each of the games over a different 15 minute period and I got a ratio of roughly 7:3:1 for forward:sideways:back passes. Though the evidence was there that the ball was being moved forward, the perception remained that Ki was a sideways careful, non-threatening passer. My belief was that, since very few of these passes were the final killer pass that produced a goal, they were seen as non-threatening passes and from there were reduced to being seen as safe and sideways passes.



    Goals are, however, scarce in football and a good forward pass from a centre midfielder to a winger or advancing full back in space is just as vital in the build up to a goal as the final pass is in some moves.

  9. SFTB


    Thanks for your analysis. I agree that the odds are understandable but sugges that those who set the odds have only a passing knowledge of Scottish lower Leagues.Incidentally, I don`t remember your post of the past being as insightful as they have been of late. Have you stopped drinking or something? 0:-)



    Winning Captains


    Basically, those are my recollections as well but to them could be added a particularly good pre-match drink/meal organised by Kickinthenakas and other social occasions throughout the year.





    Same for me. I am wondering if it is worth complaining about the anodyne nature of the reply. Shall we all do that?





    If everyone is entitled to an opinion, is it OK to opine that some opinions are worthless in that they are without any substance? In the opinion of the reader, of course.




  10. Hamiltontim is praying for Oscar on







    At least it would be a genuine point as opposed to a nark that is deliberately designed to antagonise, which is the norm.

  11. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    Tom McLaughlin


    10:55 on


    26 September, 2013





    Now locked on to record.

  12. The Battered Bunnet on

    If you utilise your full backs as an attacking option – as Celtic do in most games – it is imperative that the centre mids hold position.



    Attacking via the wide areas is a central part of Neil’s Celtic, hence the value attached to Forrest, Sammi, Matthews and Lustig, the use of Mulgrew periodically, and the signing of Boerrigter and indeed Balde for example. The quality of cross, the capability of the opposition defence, and the positioning of the targets become the arbiter of success.



    Some folk observe that we are perhaps too apt to use the wide areas, and point to teams such as Barca who play most of their offensive football within the width of the penalty area. Juve likewise. Even Bayern, despite having Robben on one side and Ribery on the other, get a great deal of success from the two of them playing inside rather than outside the full back.



    Certainly, it’s easier to set up a team to defend the wide areas, than it is when the opposition have the quality to play tight football in and around you, but the issue with the latter for the attacking team is that very “quality to play”.



    We use Commons to decent effect in that area of the pitch periodically, but he can’t hold a candle to the top boys. No one else at the club (so far) has shown the technical wherewithal, the last of the Mohicans being Naka and Maloney, both ironically played wide in the main.



    So long as we set up to use the wide areas of the pitch, we will use our centre mids to the same effect. We set up that way because that’s the best way to use the talent we have.



    Only when we have players (plural) with the ability to play the tight technical game will that role change, and it’s unlikely we’ll see that any time soon.



    Best we can hope for is that Pukki’s game encourages others to try to link short, in a style reminiscent of Nicholas, McGarvey, McCluskey of yore.

  13. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    thomthethim for Oscar OK


    11:27 on


    26 September, 2013


    That was what spawned the “We don’t care if we win, lose or draw”, mentality.



    Above is the sanitised version created for Glen Day`s recording of `62 or so.


    When I first heard it,I thought: “He`s got to be joking.”


    We cared.Desperately.


    The real version,the fans version,was “We don`t care what the Rangers say……..”



    “Darn the hair we care” ? What was that all about?



  14. thomthethim for Oscar OK on

    Before the new post, read this.




    bmchugh says:


    September 26, 2013 at 11:47 am


    0 0 Rate This



    Rather interesting correction at the end of this story on Craig Whyte






  15. Thomthetim


    From previous thread.


    I agree with the assumption that it may be the course of action taken by the club to secure European participation.Concistency of playing systems is vital but leaves us pretty dull to watch in domestic games.Playing 2 deep lying mids against teams with 10 men behind the ball lessens our chance of breaking them down.




    From last thread.


    Justifying a playing style by saying every team does fails to recognize that every league has varying degrees of competition .


    When Real under JM adopted this approach they only had one season of domestic success and led to that club rethinking their approach.


    You have to take into effect the style of your opponent and implement subtle coaching details to win.-


    A catch all approach to tactics has as struggling in most domestic games.

  16. darwinsbeautifulidea on

    so we lost some games to poor teams in the past and every team has off days,but we have more off days in cups under the blessed neil(sic) ,and he regularly sends out teams which are very slow to get into their stride ,and to play a very negative team against the bottom side in the second tier of football ,only one striker is not the celtic way ,watching his teams is becoming more boring by the game,suppose if you pay peanuts you get monkeys