The tried and tested, ‘Callum McGregor at left back, strategy’ proved predictably reliable last night.  Callum is not a left back and throughout the game had no instincts for the position, lacking muscle memory and positional awareness.

His absence from the middle of the park, where he exerts a metronomic control over Celtic, had a greater impact.  Neither Scott Brown nor Olivier Ntcham can do this.  Two successive managers have now tried this strategy.  The outcome is so clear, it is inconceivable that Neil Lennon will contemplate doing so again against moderately difficult opponents.  Last night, he learned what you knew.

After the game, Neil said, “In the first-half we were so passive. No tempo, I don’t know where that came from.”  I know where it came from: play without your metronome and you lose tempo.

I am sure Scott Brown would have apologised to his teammates after the game.  The ‘Forrest, Christie, Johnston and Edouard Show’ got Celtic out of trouble.  Cluj looked like conceding every time they were under pressure, but Scott’s handball to concede a penalty fortified the Romanians, who were never again subdued.  Scott was also on his heels at the start of the move that led to the first goal, did not stop the cross and did not close his man at the third goal.

With his injury profile, I have been anticipating signs of Scott slowing down for years, but let’s be clear – this is NOT that sign, he still has plenty in the tank.  This was no more than a bad day, however, it is time we accepted the fact that the only man in the squad that can dictate tempo from the middle of the park is Callum McGregor.

Callum played more minutes than anyone did in world football last season.  For the player, this is a heroic achievement, but it is an awful indictment of Celtic.  It means we are too dependent on him, we ask too much of him and we risk ruining him.

Buy someone who can share the burden, or watch Callum and Celtic deteriorate in tandem.  And please, learn that having a man play more minutes than anyone else is the world is not a boast, it is a problem.

Going 3-2 ahead, with 14 minutes on the clock, game management should have kicked in.  Boli Bolingo should have come on (for Mikey Johnston, if he was tiring), McGregor moved to the middle and Cluj would not have been allowed possession beyond the halfway line.  Instead, nothing happened until we conceded again, when an unedifying two substitutes finally broke whatever shape we had.  Bayo must be wondering what he has got into.

Last season’s failure at the same stage to AEK Athens was mitigated by our main central defender being on strike and our manager playing games while saying who-knows-what to Moussa Dembele.   This time, there is no mitigation

Those who said we were going backwards with Neil are justifiably pointing to this and saying “Told you so”, and that decision sits with our board.  Unlike some, I will tell you when they do well, and they often do, a historic treble, treble, is proof, but we were knocked out of the Champions League by a team with a tiny fraction of our budget, due to a strategic planning failure to be ready for this day.  After last night, I have no counter argument.

This feels as low a point as Bratislava.  It cannot be acceptable.

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  1. traditionalist88 on

    LUCKY CODY on 14TH AUGUST 2019 12:01 PM



    We would all need to be prepared for it to be Moyes. Was at the game last night apparently.



    If Lenny learns from last night there should be no problem.



    Going forward we have improved – we look more exciting, and have cut out the side to side, pass the ball among everyone for the sake of it BR tactic.



    It would be a shame if the other issues that were so obvious last night were to bring about his downfall.



    Some are easily fixed, others possibly entrenched.



    And how do we cut out the shocking number of individual errors that we seem to commit in important European nights?




  2. Fair play Paul67.



    Neil showed no signs of learning in his post-match. He’s a ‘score more than opposition’, tora tora tora type manager who was schooled last night.



    Most important signing at the club is the manager. A bunch of drunken executives bursting into the hampden showers was an embarassing episode in our own banter years. Last night’s schoolboy display was jusr another.



    I fear we haven’t hit the bottom yet.

  3. Garngad to Croy on

    House of cards right enough !



    Let’s win the league , to hell with everything else !

  4. Paul67,



    Fair assessment.



    However what is the outcome required to drive the transformation of the club ?



    1. A new CEO with a strategic plan to deliver CL football not a beancounter.



    2. Escort Lennon out of the building ASAP. He is a failure and needs to go now.

  5. If you can’t see what we all saw last year, with Calmac at left back, then you cannot be expected to learn.



    Pathetic team selection from Lennon.



    I don’t expect him to suddenly learn and improve.

  6. Beamishismypint on

    I think Lenny is a motivator rather than a coach. Got found out against moderateclevel European opposition. Unwilling to accept any blame afterwards citing ‘tempo’ as the problem.

  7. The Board can start by backing the Manager with a some quality additions. You get knocked down, the response must be to come out swinging. We have the muscle, time to flex it. Nothing else is acceptable.

  8. Phil just posted that his source tells him that the two signings were not Lennon’s and that info comes from a director




    If True then lawwell should walk today





  9. ulysses mcghee - a demographic of one on




    If we have any signing reaction to this – it will be purely that – reactive – and doesn’t convince anyone that there is a coherent plan – especially for Europe.



    Lennon has hamstrung himself re the two new defensive bench warmers – and the media will soon ask about the elephant in the room if they haven’t already.



    If there’s a rush of signings (regardless of expenditure) the same questions will be asked.



    We’re in retrograde. The big questions and the brave decisions are being swerved – and we’re trusting to fortune.



    Shouldn’t be that way – not for a club with our cash generation potential.




  10. i understand that as far as matchday prep/decisions go the Manager has final say / shouldnt really be challenged by those under him etc – but did no one – senior player or coach say to him – neil this has been tried before – it didnt work before – if these guys are anything they are tactically acute – they will target that LB position again – when it doesnt work you will get pelters –



    I know STB will ring loud – and too be honest I think the buck this time has to sit with Lawell etc as the guy at the top – every year we enter the most important part of early season with a patched up squad – its either theres no strikers – only one CB – no Defensive midfielder etc – last night we essentially gave tierney aware for nothing – surely someone looks at it and goes – right the english are after him – their deadline say is – we have important games coming up on…. – never mind how the payments are structured if we cant afford a ready made replacement LB without selling him then sell him a tthe first point – dont waste 2-3 weeks playing hard ball – Boli may well become a decent player for us – but he is not a LB, not at the minute anyway, he may well be a LWB as part of a 352 but hes not a defender to be part of a flat 3 or 4 – this is basic stuff every summer – he’s the constant – hes the man in charge – tim to go

  11. Paul,



    If I may……



    1. Given just how well kent a debacle it was when CMcG was previously played as a left back……if nfl was sufficiently foolish to ignore such evidence and do it again last night, how can you be confident that he’ll not do so again? Or do something equally foolish?



    2. On what basis can you assure us the Scott Brown’s newfound practice of being 2-3 vital yards off the pace ISN’T evidence of the physical decline in such midfielders that usually becomes apparent at this age?



    3. You’re certainly correct about overplaying McGregor. We also did it with KT from aged 17. Same kinda mileage and treatment as a Skoda Octavia in a backstreet taxi firm.


    Responsibility? CEO and coaching staff.



    4. Now if only we had a huge cash surplus with which to recruit?? 🤷🏼‍♂️Sadly the lure and lustre of CL football will again not be available to any would-be recruits.


    Responsibility? CEO and coaching staff.



    HH jg

  12. Paul67



    Good shout if you are one thing, it’s consistent.



    We don’t have a Champions League board you can’t expect them to appoint CL staff.



    Neil is merely a sacrificial lamb.

  13. It’s not having a problem that is the issue, but,not admitting you have a problem, no contrition from Neil Lennon and none from the board headed by Lawwell, I hope Desmond acts now and removes the lot of them, that will take the best bit of the Tierney money but if you accept this as nothing more than a blip, it will be repeated. Plenty anger about regarding this which DD cannot ignore.

  14. not been on in yonks.



    but IT will be accepted and nothing will change.


    Lennon shouldn’t be anywhere near a managers position at Celtic.


    Our absent landlord coudnt give 2foox unless it affects his golf handicap.


    Lawwell only does what he is told to do.



    time for change is now before its too late…if its not already.


    its ok to go gung ho against the likes of st johnstone and motherwell et al


    cos they are crap. but against more technical players that’s down to the manager being inept, out his depth and long since past managing a top team. (which we are not anymore – in a European sense)

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

    I feel sorry for Neil.



    He is a Celtic legend but limited manager. It was clear and obvious from his CV after his first stint with us.



    Frankly, he will be the fall guy if this all goes tits up. As Chris Sutton put it, one of Stevie G or Neil will be gone by the end of the year. This is really make or break for Neil’s future career; if he is the man in charge of Celtic when the chance of 10IAR was lost- will he ever get a decent managerial role again?



    He has staked an awful lot of his future career on current success and he clearly does not have the gravitas to demand more from our executives- 5 new signings were downgraded to two (after we sell players first); we now have rumours circulating that he didn’t sign our main signings this window.



    Unfortunately the die is cast. The only way to get out of this hole is to spend a lot of money between now and the end of the window- which we won’t do.

  16. glendalystonsils on

    If Neil Lennon was unaware of the ‘Callum MacGregor at left back Ibrox fiasco’ of last season , he has neglected his responsibility as a manager . The many bus /taxi drivers , joiners , teachers , hospital workers etc who follow Celtic knew when last night’s team sheet came out that disaster was just around the corner.



    Today’s article is the strongest condemnation of the Parkhead power brokers that Paul has ever come out with……it could hardly be otherwise. What we must have now is change.

  17. Beamishismypint on

    Julien said that Lenny visited him on his birthday to convince him to sign so not buying the Lenny didn’t want him bs

  18. HeknowsWHOknows on

    Out AGAIN against a team whom we should have beaten quite easily if we are honest.



    However as for the signings. The big right back was being touted when BR was manager so I don’t believe either are NL signings.



    NL body language for me is evident. His press conferences are rehearsed and when asked questions about signings he’s ignorant.



    If they don’t want to tell their fans what’s happen ING at the club then it’s not acceptable.



    BTW Emery’s interview prior to the transfer window closing was refreshing. He explained to the agitated support what his plans where! What do we get?



    The support deserve better whether happy clapper or not. That I am sure everyone can’t argue with.

  19. Go tell the Spartim on

    Fair play to Paul



    Nothing more to add



    I’m tired of the PLC formula and cheap option mantra ruining my day

  20. Lenny is the wrong man. We all knew it, but a lot of us hoped to be wrong. He is an experienced manager, and a lot of that experience came with us. So the mistakes he made yesterday are baffling. His continual refusal to play Sinclair is baffling. His post match press conference sounded like the sort of stuff a manager on his way out comes away with, the lack of responsibility taken by him was concerning.



    The board put the wrong man in place and they will now need to deal with the fall out from that. If he fails to get Europa or gets beaten at Ibrox very hard decisions need to be made. The ten cannot be gambled on.



    My only hope is if last night stung as hard as the semi-final defeat to them that precipitated Rodgers. There is still time, and resources, to sort this out. it needs to be sorted or an unforgivable period of our history is on the horizon and any legacy anyone built up will be over shadowed.

  21. BEAMISHISMYPINT on 14TH AUGUST 2019 12:40 PM


    Julien said that Lenny visited him on his birthday to convince him to sign so not buying the Lenny didn’t want him bs





    Phil Mac is an embarrassment. Re his article today, I have never read so much nonsense.

  22. P67 – re a shore-up substitution…we could also have used Nir for Elhamed who looked spent due to exertions at this level, from around 60 mins in. How could the coaching staff see Boli as too big a gamble in this game, yet CalMac at LB not so much so FFS…hubris, underestimation? And Jamesgang’s point about overplaying is well made; poor squad depth and management contributed to KT’s osteo; mibby Broony’s fatigue too.


    Still love this team, debacles included. HH

  23. “Going 3-2 ahead, with 14 minutes on the clock, game management should have kicked in. Boli Bolingo should have come on (for Mikey Johnston, if he was tiring), McGregor moved to the middle and Cluj would not have been allowed possession beyond the halfway line. Instead, nothing happened until we conceded again, when an unedifying two substitutes finally broke whatever shape we had. Bayo must be wondering what he has got into.”



    Nail on the head.



    It’s perfectly understandable to question the long-term strategy of the club. It’s obvious to point out that the starting 11 was wrong.



    But failure to utilize the two remaining subs at that stage is just negligence. Chasing a 2 goal cushion with 14 minutes to go is more risk than reward. A baffling decision by the manager.



    I stood by Neil Lennon’s appointment at the time but I cannot justify what went on last night. He needs to learn from this and fast.



    Did Cluj’s press disrupt us? Absolutely. What do you think will happen at Ibrox? What do you think will happen with the likes of Bobby Madden in charge? The will be flying into us.

  24. The only thing that surprises me is that some people were surprised last night happened. It’s Groundhog day over and over again. Fail to plan, plan to fail.


    I will be amazed if PL is not trying to punt Ntcham ASAP to give the bank balance a wee boost. Ajer, McGregor, Christie and Forest will all be seen as sellable regardless of what NL says.

  25. Its over.Enough gloating from various Hun scum on Media.We all know the mistakes from last night.Calmac.Not playing the £ 10 million worth of talent you bought.Not bringing Biton on when we went 3-2 up,tighten the midfield,keep possession.Too many things Lenny should have done,but did not.No use blaming the team for his mistakes.We can still take some pluses.Eddi,Christie,Calmac in his right position,Ntcham,Jamesy,Ajer,El Hamadi,Julien,should really give us a good core of players .I really hate to say Broony is looking a shadow.In quite a few games now,he is not dictating like he did.More running around,getting caught up in play,not to a good effect,as we witnessed last night.Lenny has to ring the changes.Bain,has looked shaky.Their 3rd goal was shocking.Punch the ball away,knock it out for a corner,even,god forbid,smother the shot,dont palm it weakly to the only other Cluj player in the vicinity.


    Anyway,not getting caught up in too many witch hunts.We can only wait and see what comes out of this.9is still the main goal,if ever the team need our support,its now.

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