Moneyball Christie, subversive right hemisphere


Celtic always had the look of winners last night, but until Odsonne Edouard pounced on the rebound from Ryan Christie’s shot, the outcome was in the balance.  We are going to face a lot of packed defences like that this season, though fortunately or not, that could be the last we see of them in the Europa League.

Christie was back to his best.  I know his stats are far from impressive and he is criticised (by others) for his decision making, but I spent almost three years during Brendan Rodgers time wanting someone to mix it up.  Take shots that would force the keeper to work or a defender to block, or play the low percentage pass that we all know is going to miss most of the time, but will result in loose balls in dangerous areas.

Those poor stats are a consequence of randomness, which is something we loved in Frank McGarvey, but that was before the stats came along to both inform and confuse.  Stats are all about interpretation, which is the real lesson of Michael Lewis’ Moneyball for those who never read the book, or those who did, but didn’t understand it.

I tried most of the second half to figure out what changes Neil Lennon made at halftime that freed up Jeremie Frimpong.  During the first half, he was so well shackled, I considered the Sarajevo left back as a possible recruit.  At the break, the suggestion was made to me, maybe he is better as an impact player?

Sarajevo certainly opened up at the break, which may have helped, but Jeremie was back at his impactful self during the second period.  Credit also to Greg Taylor, who had his best game in a Celtic shirt.

I’m still pretty gutted about not being in the Champions League and at the manner of our exit, but Pot 1 seed in the Europa is an important place to land.  Last week we spoke about how it was to our advantage that all domestic rivals also reach the group stage.  We didn’t want them having a week to plan games against St Mirren etc., while we traverse the Continent.  Not this season.

That kind of left hemisphere thinking was nowhere to be found once kick offs were underway last night.  You can’t fake this stuff, it is just not possible to subvert the tribal instinct (which is why nationalism is so potent, and why Celtic is my only identity).  But, in a crisp and sunny autumnal morning, logic is back on top.  No one will get an easy pass to the title this season, including Celtic.

Uefa’s methods of seeding have never been perfect, this is not tennis, but those pots are full of variance.  I’m hoping to avoid sides from the big nations.  Farewell, Copenhagen, Basel, Sporting, Rosenborg, Legia (sorry, Zbyszek) and yes, even Galatasaray.  Strong sides are out of Europe, the potential to join them was real.

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  1. @hot smoked



    Sevco are just better organised than us. They are the sum of their parts.



    It’s difficult to argue that their coaching team is not overarching in Europe. Could the same argument be made of us in a European context?

  2. Christianity 101,





    We are in trouble though.



    Lenny has put up with so much Brad P, fitba wise I have nae Doubts we will be successful, it may be or may be limited.

  3. From previous:



    Good post MadMitch…



    Big Shane is just playing out as planned. Terrific competitor in the air, great when under the cosh and a good presence but ill-suited to a footballing and possession side (which is what we are in Scotland), as shown by his demise at Brighton.



    No harm in that but has created a new problem to solve around Julien, unfairly characterised in recent months as a fearty. He’s our best central defender and a better footballer, however if the side has been coached to play it short to Scott then you get slow, slow, left, left and back. Competent managers will reward him with all the possession in the world and then you get the cognitive bias here that he was ‘terrific’ when he was just ok, neither penetrating or defending against the more amibituous younger, fitter and faster throguh the middle. Last night’s opposition looked semi-pro at best.



    There’s a lot of doubling down on here and from Neil too recently. People deal with the pressure of 10IAR their own way and whilst I’d categorise myself as seeing a car crash coming, others are happy to pass off each win as ‘the result is all that matters’ . Fair play to them. We are all wired differently.



    HH and here’s to a kind draw and 3 points on Sunday.

  4. I like Ryan Christie but there are parts of his game that aren’t noticably improving beyond his shooting from his breakthrough season. He drifts left and contributes to our lopsided nature.



    That’s a coaching issue surely?



    He on the left and a naturally right footed player on the right would be a better balance to me.



    Well worth persisting with despite some in our support wanting to see him go.




  5. NOR, YAMMA.



    SHUT the Window.



    If Odsonne could have went earlier?.. if he goes last minute.



    Not having that.

  6. Scott Sinclair, Mousse Dembele, Stuart Armstrong, Lee Griffith, Patrick Roberts, Calum McGregor, James Forrest, and latterly Odsonne Edouard…..

  7. We need to find a better way of breaking down 10 men behind the ball. Too many games this season have followed the same pattern and there is no indication we are moderating our style of play to meet the challenges posed.



    Last night 5 of our outfield 10 were players that are not particularly creative or goal threats. We need to get more creativity into the team or else players end up isolated and starved of supply (Eddy).



    Also, with playing wing backs as opposed to wingers, it moves the onus of creativity to the middle of the park.



    The obvious initial change is to swap out Broony for Ntcham or Turnbull. Broony may be an inspiring captain but its nonsense to suggest that our team needs inspired to beat SPFL level teams (save for Sevco) and i include last night’s team in that bracket.

  8. PJBhoyNYC was a guid commentator.



    Didn’t always agree with him, he was open and Honest..



    RAP is Big All around the World.



    NotnearlyasLoving or promoted as Hip Hop.

  9. Melbourne Mick on




    Think that’s your best comment recently ” we’re all wired


    differently ”


    Maybe you would then appreciate those who’s view of the team, manager


    coaches, and anyfink Celtic related to yours.


    It’s not difficult, just take a moment.


    Yours in Celtic 8-))


    H.H. Mick

  10. Melbourne Mick,



    What makes you think I don’t?



    I have no monopoly on views and like you and everyone else, I have my cognitive biases when it comes to how I see our one great love – Celtic Football Club.




  11. When the Windae shuts Praise the Lord.



    Humble people are amongst us.



    If OE stays.




    Wheres my Jobo Chant?

  12. Melbourne Mick on




    I’ve no doubt about Celtic being your one great love,


    and that’s the thing about us all, we get so entrentrenched


    in our own view of things, and passion sometimes beats




    Appreciating another point of view only comes with patience


    and experience.


    Browbeating never works in my aul experience.


    H.H. Mick

  13. That Temple will be erected in No Time.



    Forgiveness is jibber jabber Central.



    Be a..Ware



    We are Lucky being Celtic Supporters.



    Love is the Law anaw.

  14. BW @ 9.43



    We currently have two active sources of quality in the squad …



    One is OE and his ability to come from deep through traffic towards goal.



    The other is at CB where we have two — CJ / KA — who are footballers first and defenders second with the priceless ability to work the ball out from the back and push on into the opposition third of the park.



    Even if we fill the team with stiffs we have these two elements to take the game to the big boys and we need to make the most of this talent.



    Regarding growing talent we have another two:



    AA — poacher with a bit of class / depth to his game.


    Young JF — we have been lucky to lose one FB talent but find another of similar talent / potential.



    Two others are out there in the shadows:



    MJ — his recent long term injury stops me from adding him to the list / missing link on the left?


    DT — very high quality player the only issue is how we play / coach him.



    Regarding dormant talent — we have quite a lot:



    Old JF — hugely talented but has the look of a wee boy in a man’s world.


    ON — becoming more and more sloppy as time goes on / huge waste at the moment.


    TR — semi retired at the moment / we need him back.


    RC — has the basics / building blocks but has regressed recently due to Hollywood aspirations.



    Consequently we should be playing a lot better than we are.


    Even amongst the jersey fillers / stiffs we have some very good players.


    Just a case their talents mean we won’t lose games rather than win them.

  15. Through the rain on

    To be honest other than the financial benefits, Europa League is more our platform. Not only only us but many clubs in the medium to smaller league environments plus the ‘lesser’ clubs in the top 5.



    Our exit last year was a huge disappointment after an excellent group phase. Particularly as progress deeper into the tournament is the only practical way to develop players for the greater challenge of potential CL play. Would help retain some players and, I think, make the club more attractive to potential new signings.



    Just my view, but the journey to 9 and now 10 has been and is a distraction (entirely understandable) from what should be our overriding aim….. building a European reputation on the bigger stage.



    Clearly I always want Celtic to be champions but I hope after 10 is secured we reboot to put European ‘success’ as the main and essential requirement in the Club’s future planning.




  16. ‘Sarajevo certainly opened up at the break…’ helped, Paul, by the fact their energy started to flag.


    In a sense, our possession/attrition strategy took its toll on their fitness allowing Ed to pounce ‘loike a toiger’.


    Wonder why Eddy’s in-play touch and effectiveness seem shaded atm?


    Still on the Moneyball theme, surely the rarely-spotted Tom Rogic could command 2.5mill as a punt for some Eng Champs side?

  17. Melbourne Mick,



    Who’s browbeating?



    I can only write down a series of words and only you can decide what you want to do with those – ignore, argue, disgust, counter or even browbeaten if it takes your fancy.



    Not my bag mate.




  18. onenightinlisbon on

    Greg Taylor without doubt gives 110% on the park for Celtic, this is to his credit. It’s not his fault that he is being asked to play in an unnatural position. Those who can’t wait for the transfer window to shut had better hope we have a quality left back before it does…

  19. Greg is wholehearted



    I reckon.



    Love is da Law.




    Absolutely Every Life matters..









  20. P67 — Up until OE scored we had the look of losers.


    Even if that was through penalties we still had the look of a team struggling to find confidence.



    What was even worse was the amount of ball the opposition enjoyed in the last 10 minutes.


    We never took the ball of them we just waited until their lack of quality delivered a mistake and a turnover.


    They are an extremely limited team — kicking a free kick straight out the park at 92 minutes was a particular highlight — but we were afraid to go toe to toe with them. giving them space while trying to defend our 18 yard line.



    Not good but shows our mental state at the moment — fragile.



    As for RC — he is a good player but he is not at his best.


    You highlight the talent but you forget his wastefulness.


    He needs to think before he plays — it will come with experience which is something he lacks.



    As for JF — the fouled him at ever opportunity in the first half and the ref did not do his job for some of the other tackles.



    In the second half they didn’t double up on his just a much or the second player was 5M further away which gave him more space.



    Also he started to play further forward and their looseness allowed the ball to be played in behind the LB for him to run onto.



    Not sure if that was them coming out of their shell after our poor first half or tiredness as you say.



    However all he talk about RC and JF mean that their has been little said about CMcG — honking / SB — hobbled / GT — very poor and playing with no confidence and poor decision making.



    If we had the players I would put GT on the bench to catch his breadth.


    We are asking too much of him at the moment.

  21. I thought we played well last night and deserve to take our place in the group stages, the one off games were a minefield. Given we’ll be playing with no fans – I’ll take a very bland group today with no big names to worry about.



    I also don’t think a desire for self determination equates to tribalism but each to their own.

  22. Taylor is our new Agathe whipping bhoy. Jeez. He hasn’t hid in any game I have watched. he looks like he is following instructions and being coached. Hope the bhoy stays with us a long time as first pick left back.

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