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. The Auld heid on 15th August 2019 8:06 am


    The old ways don’t work and won’t work.




    Without our Quality Street Gang coming through every season we’re nothing.

  2. Bain hasn’t been 100% convincing this season . Gordon played one game and was flawlesss. They should have been switched . And theres been a few puzzling selections.


    I aways said that the manger-coach does not get a good picture of the game from the technical area right down at pitch-side. The man with no-surname got it by watching the game from the stand and instructing his coaches by phone. Most of us will have a clearer over-all picture of the game looking down from our seats.


    Maybe there should be a way we can phone Lennon during the game to point out what’s happening on the other side and suggest the right substitutions?.

  3. Anyone expecting detailed answers from nl about Tuesday night will be in for a disappointment, he has already told you stop crosses ,get your head on things and don’t be loose, he also didn’t think playing McGregor at left back was the issue, he is the manager we have, so next point is that acceptable?


    Lawwell should have been gone many years ago, Desmond appears not to care,we have a huge squad of players will few suitable candidates to fill the jerseys.

  4. Sorry had to rush the end of that and didn’t spell check it.



    I would also add that in this case keeping funds in the bank actually demonstrates a measure of failure. It is all very well moaning about player’s agents, the value of the Euro, how Scottish domestic football is not seen as attractive and all of that. It is Celtic’s job to create a management and marketing pathway which overcomes such issues and helps negate those potential negatives thus making the club more attractive to players, sponsors and so on.



    Great strides have been made in certain areas in this regard, the recent Celtic Festival being a terrific and innovative example of how to increase overall awareness of the club, its mechandise and so on.



    However, the core business is on the field of play and that needs the same innovative and bold attention to make real progress. If you don’t improve the football then future Celtic festivals will not be so well attended and received.



    I am no fan of clubs who “buy” their way to success but having generated £x through genuine income, it is absolutely criminal not to spend that money on the core business of playing football at the very highest level possible.




  5. The Battered Bunnet on




    “do we still want to qualify for the Champion’s League 3 years out of 5?”



    I’m afraid, following the reformatting of the qualifying process into four rounds, 3 out of 5 qualifications is not realistic given our current national coefficient. The arithmetic is quite clear on this. The probability of winning through four successive rounds, each tie more marginal than the last, is at best one in four, and realistically one in five.



    With Scotland ranked 26th in UEFA’s coefficient list, the champions of Scotland start in round 1. Round 2 – where the opposition gets tougher – requires Scotland to move up to 19th, but that doesn’t impact the odds much since round 1 is a high probability of success.



    To make a significant difference to our chances, we need Scotland to be ranked 13th and drop straight into the final qualifying round, where the probability of succeeding against teams like Young Boys or Slavia Prague in a one-off tie is nearer to your 3/5.



    Ain’t gonna happen anytime soon.




  6. Fault, blame and recriminations. To some it is simply a knee-jerk reaction, venting our frustration at losing a tie which was eminently winnable. To others it is an opportunity to take a dig at the principal characters running our club who, for whatever reason we don’t like. I prefer commentators such as The Auld Heid, inciteful, composed and rational. However, if we had more honesty from the board and management, addressing the supporters anxieties and concerns, then the vacuum which exists at the moment would not be filled with as much vitriol and nonsense that currently is being displayed on this site. Over to you NL and PL/DD.

  7. Auldheid. I have been saying for years our rivals in Europe are the teams we play in the 3rd and play off round and yes every team we have met since the champions route was introduced have been against these clubs on a fraction of our income



    It’s not just the lack of investment it’s the planning and timing


    We should have a settled 1st 11 well before the 3rd qualifying game



    We should not be swaning off to training camps in Europe when end of June / July should be dry enough to use our top class training camp



    Sure play friendly. But at firhill , new love st etc



    Find your 1st 11 that is strong enough to get past these clubs on a fraction of our income


    And never never go into the 3rd qualifying wity a brand new player or worse missing positions like we done this year



    We have failed dramatically over last 5 years and the blame lies at door of the CEO



    Never has a director of football with a seperate

  8. I’m afraid that, after a bad result like Cluj, the market for vitriol and nonsense will be strong while the listening ears for rational explanation and considered proposals will be few.



    Even today, there will be many more open to the bar, boycott and sack solutions than there will be to development solutions.



    And Saturday won’t move it on by much as it’s “only” a LC match and we don’t get much praise or kudos for winning those.



    A Europa Play-off win will ease some minds but won’t salve the disappointment.



    Only a slow and gradual approach to getting a strong grip on the league and, possibly, progress in the Europa is going to get the fans back on side. (war is that important but it is a long time in the establishing.



    That is the problem associated with CL success or failure being defined so early in the season. A large black cloud has been placed upon us and it will take quite some time to shift it.

  9. TBB



    I get that, but Celtic then have to either use their own resources, skill and guile to overcome the national co-efficient, or hope that other Scottish teams help improve that co-efficient.






    We accept the situation and adjust our goals which mean that the riches offered by the Europa League is the likely source of European Income for the future. If this is the case then the board will look to regularly enhance pure football income generation by increased player sales at high value.



    Part of my point is that when it comes to Transfer Policy, there is at least a suggestion of a wait and see policy which says we will “wait and see” who we can bring in IF we qualify for the Champion’s League, whereas what we should be doing is absolutely concentrating on who we can bring in TO qualify for the Champion’s League.



    With money in the bank we could spend that money and so try to buck the national co-efficient handicap, and so through qualification improve that co-efficient bit by bit.







  10. Lawwell out


    Lennon out


    Bain out


    Gordon in


    Naw fk that


    Brown out


    Mbombo in


    Naw fk that


    Jullien in


    A dunno


    Morgan out


    Johnston out


    Sinclair in


    Naw fk that


    Where’s Rogic


    Director of Football in



    Celtic Twitter

  11. traditionalist88 on

    In some ways the events of Tuesday night showcase the unpredictability of football and is one of the reasons we all love the game. The winning team have a fraction of the budget of their opposition.



    The frustration of course is that we are on the receiving end of such reverses a far higher proportion of the time we dish them out.



    Of course, its not a fair comparison as we are favourites/seeded in most rounds so the first chance we get to actually pull off a ‘shock’ would be in the group stage of the CL.



    By not minimising the risk of events like Tuesday night happening we’re not even giving ourselves that chance.



    I’m sure Cluj, aside from having a fraction of our budget, made plenty mistakes as well, but kept them to a minimum, played players in familiar positions and probably picked the best they had available (Sinclair v Morgan anyone).



    Maybe next year we’ll do everything right and still get put out by a deflected goal, a bad refereeing decision, or whatever… these things happen. And will make you rue the days you would have gone through but for basic avoidable failings on your part.



    Despite its perceived lack of pestige we need Europa League group stage football this season.




  12. So the current conspiracy theory is that Boli & Julien are signings arranged by Peter Lawwell & Son. Foisted upon poor Neil Lennon.



    Ignoring the fact that Lennon spent his own birthday traveling to France to convince Julien to sign.



    What a joke.

  13. Sorry if this seems obvious or has already been answered but what’s the problem with Julien? Why isn’t he playing ninety minutes every match – especially the ones we signed him for?



    The general feeling is that he’s “getting his fitness up” or “settling in”. Sorry, I don’t buy this.



    He had a break in the summer like everyone else; he had a pre-season like everyone else and has been training with us for a while now. Why isn’t his fitness up to scratch? As far as I know, we didn’t sign him injured.



    Different level of player I know, but Man United through Maguire in straight away and was man of the match. We through El Hamed in straight away and has been pretty steady; for better or for worse, Boli was thrown in straight away and despite his faults, fitness isn’t one of them.



    I’m not buying into the conspiracy that Lennon didn’t sign Julien but I can see no other reason why we’re not playing him in the games he was signed to play in other than Lennon’s not liked what he’s seen so far…..unless someone can suggest otherwise.

  14. traditionalist88 on

    From the teams already qualified:



    A tough/interesting Europa League Group stage draw:


    Man Utd, Celtic, Saint-Etienne, Getafe.



    Less so:


    Basel, Celtic, Istanbul Basaksehir, Oleksandriya



    Lets qualify in style and get some confidence back by going on a run again, the only way we can mitigate in any small way the effects of Tuesday night.




  15. traditionalist88 on

    Europa League also throws up the potential for a return to Seville.



    And if you thought seeing KT hold up an Arsenal scarf was tough, 1 in 10 chance if we qualify next week he returns as an opposition player.




  16. ulysses mcghee - a demographic of one on

    Apropos nothing in particular except the post re Sutton



    Am I mistaken or didn’t MON play Sutton at left back once (at least) which saw him caught and turned by Lovenkrands who then proceeded to score from the edge of the box? Was it a cup game?




  17. THE AULD HEID on 15TH AUGUST 2019 8:06 AM





    Good post BRTH and generally agree with a lot in there.



    One other failure of the current operating model at Celtic (but not all PLCs), and which has been raised by various posters in the past is the lack of engagement and communication. There is a clear disconnect between those running Celtic and the fans/supporters/hell even customers.



    A shared vision is required that fans can get behind. Celtic is a cultural phenomenon as much as a commercial or sporting enterprise. The guys (they tend to be guys) running things need to be on the same side as the people who are Celtic – us.



    Right now, we’re miles from that.




    You might be right about Sutton but did Larsson and Hartson start upfront?



    This is my point and one that worrying, NL seems to have missed. CM may or may not have been steady at left-back. Personally, I didn’t think he was but NL disagrees. The problem is, you lose CM from his natural position and that was more damaging than a makeshift left-back.



    Lots of theories but it seems it was done to shoehorn Ntcham in. Ntcham hasn’t played badly so far but there’s probably another universe where we sold Ntcham, Turnbull passed the medical and we started with CM in midfield and Turnbull on the bench.



    I don’t believe Gareth Southgate is anything like the best coach England have had in recent history but he’s more successful for one simple reason – playing players in their correct positions even if it means a “better player” sits out.

  19. The Auld Heid – you really ought to think about changing your “display name” back to BRTH or similar! There’s enough confusion on this site as it is!

  20. In many ways tuesday’s defeat has been a good thing for me personally.


    After a lot of soul searching last night I have decided that I am a fool and have realised that I should never let Celtic FC results and status rule my feelings and life.


    I had been in a foul mood tuesday night and all day yesterday.


    I had a good think about things last night and realised how pathetic I am.


    I have three beautiful girls [single parent dad] who are all healthy as am I .


    NEVER will football do that to me again.


    I am still obsessed with celtic but things needed to be put in perspective big style.


    Its a game of football FFS.


    Don’t allow yourself to be put in a dark place by a bunch of men kicking a white ball getting paid figures you could only dream about.


    Take the ups and the downs and keep it all in its rightful place.

  21. GEEBEE1978 on 15TH AUGUST 2019 9:11 AM



    The general feeling is that he’s “getting his fitness up” or “settling in”. Sorry, I don’t buy this.





    If the coach says he isn’t fully fit then I’ll take his word on that.



    Doesn’t mean he couldn’t have been brought on for the final 14 mins plus added.

  22. LAZYDYNAMITE on 15TH AUGUST 2019 9:29 AM



    Glad to hear it. We all get carried away so don’t be too hard on yourself!

  23. Meanwhile, ‘Straylia’s delightful young tennis ambassador Mr Kyrgios’ suggested mental issues find a release valve in anti-Irish racism as he calls umpire Mr Murphy ‘a potato’ and ‘a spud’, breaks two rackets and spits towards the ump refusing to shake hands. The meeja laught it off – what a drawcard character eh?


    That ‘banter’ stuff seems to be going international.


    Hey Nick… try it in a Dublin pub.

  24. traditionalist88 on

    LAZYDYNAMITE on 15TH AUGUST 2019 9:29 AM



    Good post. I think the thing that gets to us is the frustration of underachivement and of shooting ourselves in the foot.



    La Liga and the Bundesliga back this weekend – chance to watch good football if you have the time without the emotional rollercoaster!




  25. SFTB @ 8:51 said:



    “I see ST’s post was cut off in its prime too.”



    Very funny indeed :-))))



  26. There is no way a manager at a major European club would survive losing 4 goals at home to a minor club, in something as important as a Champions League qualifier.

  27. Natknow @ 9:21



    ” There is a clear disconnect between those running Celtic and the fans/supporters/hell even customers.”


    So true.




  28. TIMALOY29



    Has Lennon said that his fitness isn’t up to scratch? If so, then I agree with you that I’ll take his word for it.



    I’m just simply confused as to why it isn’t. He had no injury, hasn’t played international summer tournaments and had a pre-season like everyone else. These players should’ve been signed with these games in mind. For £7m I’d like to know why this guy isn’t fit to play ninety minutes – or, as you say at least to shore up the side at 3-2.

  29. LAZYDYNAMITE on 15TH AUGUST 2019 9:29 AM



    Good post mate. Single dad myself (1 daughter).



    I have a mate who used to let Celtic results dictate his life. We lost/drew a game and Saturday night out was cancelled. Having him experience that made me wake up myself.



    Maybe the interwebs have helped – CQN and sites like it are a release valve for many.

  30. Lazy D @ 9:29


    I agree with your general sentiment but Celtic , for many I believe, represent a lot more than just football.That is at least part of the reason for our pain.


    Another, of course, is that we have to face the general glee that abounds in Scotland when we suffer such a result as Tuesday`s was.



  31. Delaneys Dunky on

    Hot Smoked


    The huns in my neighbourhood are certainly showing emboldened glee since Tuesday. Hopefully it does not last long.




    I think you are mistaken about Sutton and getting confused about when Mon played 3 at back and huns just chipped into space for lovenpants to run into to



    Next game changed to 4 at back and lovenpants was against Agathe and it was game over as Didier could have a sandwich then catch up with the wee hun. lol

  33. 67 European Cup Winners on

    Didn’t sleep again !!


    I have posted more in the last 2 days than the last 2 years





    Lawwell is dictatorial his people skills are very poor


    PL is the common denominator with all that is not working at our club


    Most who have come and gone have had a problem with him



    The reason for most of my angst (and I suspect with most on here) is not getting knocked out of the CL But our dominance of the SPL is diluting


    We are weaker our competitors stronger




    What keeps me awake at night – 9 in a row is at risk



    NL should never have been appointed


    The arrogance of our board Pl in particular to appoint him without interviewing anyone else is incredible



    But perhaps the real reason NL was appointed is because no other manager up and coming or experienced would work with Lawwell


    PL has been diligent with the running of Celtic he is now reducing our appeal as a club



    Nicky Hammond did we only offer a short term contract. Or did he want one to see the PL influence before committing



    In the city PL is God in the football world he is the Antichrist.



    God help us




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