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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

    Didier could have a sandwich

     

    =====

     

     

    An achievement in itself, with Hartson around.

     

     

    HH

  2. Fitness levels??

     

     

    Jaysus, the length of time the big French lad has been with us, even some of us could be match fit by now! (And a better fit for LB than Calamac!)

     

     

    HH jg

  3. JAMESGANG

     

     

    My point exactly. We know these games are coming and so do our players. Why is someone who has played no summer tournaments, not injured and had the same pre-season as everyone else not “match fit”?

  4. JAMESGANG on 15TH AUGUST 2019 10:18 AM

     

     

    Fitness levels??

     

     

    Jaysus, the length of time the big French lad has been with us, even some of us could be match fit by now! (And a better fit for LB than Calamac!)

     

    ——————————————————————————————

     

     

    Yip. Finding that explanation difficult to comprehend too. Though I will admit I am not a fitness expert. Which would be clear if you saw me.

  5. Delaneys Dunky on

    Did anyone notice the strange interaction between Jullien and Lenny at full time on Saturday at Fir Park? It looked like CJ snubbed Lenny’s attempted handshake.

  6. LazyDynamite

     

    Likewise and still not very approachable, this will not be soothed away not this time the support need to act, and now. The most important person at a football club and our CEO does not interview or consider anyone else, why are we doing in this and why is he getting away with this, likely answer because he can, our board are useless who like the comfort travel and best seats not to mention their salaries for minimal time at the club Bankier is on 80k for how many hours what does he do, oust the lot and run the place as a football club and get the best we can afford in the proper positions.

  7. traditionalist88 on

    SCULLYBHOY on 14TH AUGUST 2019 5:09 PM

     

    traditionalist88 on 14th August 2019 4:13 pm

     

     

     

    SCULLYBHOY on 14TH AUGUST 2019 3:57 PM

     

     

    I wanna, I wanna, I wanna be Ed Ward, I wanna, I wanna….

     

     

    HH

     

     

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

     

     

     

    I take your point, but Rob MacLean (I think) constantly uses the correct pronounciation and Bonner just couldn’t be bothered (or else he is proving that he is touch with the common man). Recently Bonner was talking about Celtic’s striking options and said of Jack Aitchison – is he still at the club? In the grand scheme of things (especially after last night) this is a minor issue – so sorry for bringing it up and now that I have got it off my chest I will leave it.

     

     

    HH

     

     

    ========

     

     

    Actually – I wasn’t making any point, just an attempt to lighten the mood!

     

     

    Now I see the point you think I was making haha – actually I think the GB chant fits the correct pronunciation of his name, totally agree about Bonners attempts!

     

     

    HH

  8. The hand of God on

    Reading back on the many posts since our defeat one thing that a lot of people are missing is that despite Neil’s baffling team selection Celtic should have and on the balance of play deserved to win that game.We had them hemmed in for the first 20 minutes of the second half we had two great headers which were saved or cleared off the line then scored 2 goals and created many more chances to extend our lead.Two shocking moments caused our elimination…Scott Brown’s moment of madness and Bain’s dreadful goalkeeping at the 3rd goal.Of course we should go into these games better prepared it’s not a surprise they come around at the same time every year but despite playing our best player in a role he clearly can’t perform we still done enough to win this game.Why NFL didn’t bring on a defender or Nir Bitton at 3-2 or even 2-1 was negligent on his part.

  9. FEEDTHEBHEAR

     

     

    “Who seriously is looking EL group possibilities? AIK will present a tougher proposition than Cluj imo”

     

     

    The same people that think the silver lining this week is being able to focus on 9IAR as if that’s a given.

  10. traditionalist88 on

    FEEDTHEBHEAR on 15TH AUGUST 2019 10:36 AM

     

    Who seriously is looking EL group possibilities? AIK will present a tougher proposition than Cluj imo.

     

    ====

     

     

    I was, under the context of many saying that we should dismiss it as a competition due to its perceived lack of prestige, which is not necessarily the case.

     

     

    We need group stage EL group stage football and we need to be on the ball against our opponents in the playoff round.

     

     

    No one is taking qualification for granted that I can see.

     

     

    By the way, if you want to play that game, AIK haven’t qualified yet either for the next round, they only lead 2-1 going into the second leg I believe.

     

     

    HH

  11. HeknowsWHOknows on

    The ignorance the club is showing the support these days unfortunately is the harsh reality of hidings one failings.

     

     

    The lack of forward planning by our club beggars absolute belief. I mean let’s be honest we knew our defence required surgery 2 seasons ago.

     

     

    For the record I don’t care the price of the player, what I detest is our “reported” lack of finalising the deal due to miniscule amounts of pounds.

     

     

    I mean having Big Marv of the payroll should be enough alone for a marquee signing :-)

     

     

    Questions need asked, however I fear once again these unmitigated self made disasters will go unchallenged once again…….

     

     

    The only way is stand as one and make ourselves heard.

  12. I am disappointed we didn’t qualify for the CL for two reasons.

     

     

    1. The money would allow the club to grow

     

    2. Thursday-Sunday isn’t as good as Tue/Wed – Saturday

     

     

    I won’t actually miss playing in the competition. Getting skelped by PSG is no fun.

  13. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    QUADROPHENIAN on 15TH AUGUST 2019 9:36 AM

     

     

    Aussies have disowned Kyrgios.

     

     

    True.

  14. The Battered Bunnet on

    BRTH

     

     

    “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.”

     

     

    Looking at the latter point first – Scottish teams helping to improve the coefficient – I’m afraid that’s not going to happen to the extent or in the timescale required.

     

     

    The coefficients are updated annually on a rolling 5 year basis. To make a significant difference to our chances we need Scotland to be ranked 15th or better, giving us access to the 3rd round (where we’ve lost two years in succession). 12th ranked or better and we get into the final qualifying, where the chances of qualifying for the group stage become much closer to 50:50.

     

     

    Scotland is currently 26th, with a load of nations ahead of us. It’ll take 4 or 5 years of respectable results from all Scottish teams in Europe to get up the ranking list to a point where it makes a difference to the likelihood of qualifying.

     

     

    Your first point: “Celtic have to use their own resources, skill and guile to overcome the national co-efficient”

     

     

    Yip. Absolutely. This is where we are. We’re handicapped by the national rank, so we need to do it off our own bat.

     

     

    I noted yesterday that the job of the leadership and management of the club was to do exactly what you’ve said to improve our chances. Clearly a better prepared team has a better chance than a poorly prepared team. Equally, an established team has a better chance than a team in transition. And an established team with better players who are well prepared has a better chance again.

     

     

    We ought to be able to manage our affairs such that the team that goes into qualifying is not getting to know itself and each other.

     

     

    We ought to be able to manage our affairs such that our players are well prepared in terms of fitness and knowledge/tactics.

     

     

    And we ought to be able to manage our affairs such that we can utilise the (now absurdly high) cash in the bank to buy and wage better players.

     

     

    On reflection, this year and last we have failed on each point, and rather than optimise our chances we’ve served to reduce them.

     

     

    I’m basing my “probability calculator” on the following accumulator of odds for each round:

     

     

    1st round – 90%

     

    2nd round – 75%

     

    3rd round – 60%

     

    4th round – 50%

     

     

    That’s a roll up of 20%. As you can see, going directly into the 2nd round doesn’t impact the chance of qualifying greatly – 22.5% versus 20%.

     

     

    Getting directly into round 3 improves the chance to 30%, while 4th round entry is a coin toss in my reckoning.

     

     

    Question is: How much influence on the chances of qualifying can we exact by going into the qualifiers with: a) An Established Team; of b) Well Prepared; c) Better (bought) Players?

     

     

    Does the probability calculator move much? Might it go to…

     

     

    95

     

    80

     

    75

     

    60

     

     

    That works out as a roll up of 34%. Even if we get straight into round 2 we’re still looking at a 36% chance. We need to move the odds to…

     

     

    98 (say Red Imps)

     

    90 (say Malmo)

     

    80 (say AEK)

     

    70 (say Young Boys)

     

     

    Looking at that, we’d need a hell of a team to be confident of beating the likes of Legia or Young Boys 7 and 8 times out of 10, and that (from the present coefficients and seedings tables) works out at a probability of 50%, still way off from your purported 3 times in five seasons target.

     

     

    I dunno where this is going, but if you’re into actuarial risk, there’s plenty of small things that we can do to move the probability a small amount, but to move it a significant distance needs improbably large amounts of cash spent and stability established.

     

     

    Given we change manager every three years, and players tend to hand around for about the same length of time, establishing that team stability over a the period might be harder than buying the talent we need with the money we have.

     

     

    Bit of a head scratcher.

  15. Auldheid- the coefficient is being changed to club results, not the league/country,not sure when.

  16. ulysses mcghee - a demographic of one on

    There’s a plethora of articles today laying Celtic’s lack of strategy bare – from the mistake that was Congerton (including keeping him for 3 months after BR left) to the news that Boli was a rec from Shaun Maloney and Jullien was a rec to John Kennedy.

     

     

    Specifically – read – Stephen McGowan in the Daily Mail, Harry Brady & Paul Larkin – collectively they make for sobering reads.

     

     

    And within this context we can maturely take a stab at realising where we are strategically

     

     

    Meaning we can ask – what are we going to do about it.

     

     

    Short term & Long term

     

     

    To say we don’t need an immediate injection of quality into the team would be foolish – as these articles point to that need for 12 – 18 months

     

     

    But also – as more clearly defined by BRTH and others we need a clear and stable strategy that maturely embraces European challenges.

     

     

    We are a modern day example of Buridan’s Ass

     

     

    Or Claudius praying – And, like a man to double business bound,

     

    I stand in pause where I shall first begin,

     

    And both neglect.

     

     

    U

  17. I don’t think Celtic lost to Cluj due to lack of planning.

     

     

    I think they appointed the wrong coach.

  18. I musta read that post too quick last night. A good exchange between TBB and Auldneid?

     

     

    So AuldHeid is BRTH? Zat right?

  19. That defeat was, of course, horrible but a rational a post such as this is, helps sooth the waves of mental turmoil:

     

     

    “THE HAND OF GOD on 15TH AUGUST 2019 10:40 AM

     

    Reading back on the many posts since our defeat one thing that a lot of people are missing is that despite Neil’s baffling team selection Celtic should have and on the balance of play deserved to win that game.We had them hemmed in for the first 20 minutes of the second half we had two great headers which were saved or cleared off the line then scored 2 goals and created many more chances to extend our lead.Two shocking moments caused our elimination…Scott Brown’s moment of madness and Bain’s dreadful goalkeeping at the 3rd goal.Of course we should go into these games better prepared it’s not a surprise they come around at the same time every year but despite playing our best player in a role he clearly can’t perform we still done enough to win this game.Why NFL didn’t bring on a defender or Nir Bitton at 3-2 or even 2-1 was negligent on his part.”

     

     

    JJ

  20. HeknowsWHOknows on

    Some ferocious articles appearing today. It unfortunately does not pant a good picture.

     

     

    Unmitigatedselfmadedisaster

  21. Patently, we’re hurting with an array of coping mechanisms…

     

    – Spleen venting

     

    – Gleeful vindication for feeling you were right about Lenny being all wrong

     

    – Seethin’ that them fatcat board profiteers are jamming us good and tight

     

    – Or still remembering a very fresh treble x3, and the fact realistically attainable silverware is on for the taking.

     

    All seemingly valid choices.

     

    FAITHFULCSC

     

    (def: loyal, constant, true, devoted, unswerving, unwavering, steadfast, dedicated, committed etc)

     

     

    MACJAY – dunno; Ozzy meeja still follow the troubled one round like he’s a minxy li’l rockstar. HH

  22. Happy Assumption day – just back from Mass – see England are 2 down for 30 – surprise is the Australia won the toss and are bowling.

     

    Unfortunately got jobs this afternoon so won’t be able to watch it

  23. Okay , just re-read the original post and the CQN chap BRTH has an alias ” The Auld Heid”? not to be confused with the original CQN Auldheid……………gottit!

     

     

    :0

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