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. mullet and co 2 on

    So let’s project this forward-



    We qualify for the Europa League and claim £10m from that competition.



    We have say £45m in the bank. We sign Greg Taylor and lets say another right back at £1m. Maybe bring in somebody on loan at centre forward. Turnbull in January. Bank still has £40m.



    Wages fall to £48m for the coming season. Turnover is £85m. Wages are then 56% of turnover which is manageable. You may even think about dipping the cash to boost that to get to a point of stability until you offload Sinclair, Hendry and Kouassi but oh my that may be too dangerous for one to even contemplate!




    Good post until the Mc Ginn thing once more dragged up.Seems to be a massive memory loss when this is discussed.Once again,we were the only club bidding for this player.We went up to £ 2. something for him.Petrie then hiked the price to £ 4 million.In othervwords,you aint getting him.He allowed the player to go down tobVilla,without a fee being mentioned,andvsettled for a price we would have paid.We did not “Dither”.Petrie was holding us to ransom.

  3. Turkeybhoy, i agree, however was NL not the defensive shield infront of the defence ie a DM


    You cant have both full backs bombing forward and no DM shield, how many times have teams been straight onto our CB’s…. also Agathe was signed almost 20 years ago, our position in european football has changed since then….

  4. Last season we were completely unprepared from the season before. It was unforgivable from the board (possibly from the management team for not identifying suitable players). This year we actually had players in, whether or not they are good enough in a moot point. If they aren’t then NL or whoever sanctions the deals needs to take responsibility, if they are and they didn’t play then NL needs to take responsibility.



    The board constantly have us under-prepared, these signings should be bedded in much sooner, but the majority of the blame has to go down to the manager for last night.



    You could say we were unlucky and it was one of those games that on another night things wouldn’t have gone Cluj’s way, but we were set up wrong from start to finish. Poor.

  5. I have always backed the Board, but not any more. Yes, Celtic are stuck in a crap league and it is difficult to attract players. Even so, there is no excuse for the lack of recuirtment lately. Worse still is the poor quality of the signings that have been made. If you look at the team that won the treble treble, at least 8 were from the Ronnie D era. I really fear the worst now and Sevco are probably going to win the League which will go down as the biggest betrayal of the support in the history of our club.

  6. Malone Bhoy



    Prefer Dan Petrescu. Showed himself to be a level up and that’s the right direction for me.




    I totally agree.If you keep Boli as a wing back,to be used in games,not every game,we need a solid,dependable LB.I know its heresay to say,but I remember many games in Europe where KT was posted missing after bombing forward.Very difficult job to do both,without,as you say,backing.


    I am not all doom and gloom,a couple of defensive full backs,and we have a team.Should not cost the earth.


    I am already looking forward to Saturday.What you gonna do?

  8. If any of us were responsible for your employers losing out on potentially £40m would we expect to stay in that job?



    Perhaps that is the question Lennon and Lawwell should be asked?

  9. Lenny wont be sacked.PL wont be sacked.Would not get us anywhere if they were.PL replacement would be given the same remit.Lennys replacement would face the same challenges.


    A really bad night,but,time to get over it.A lot to play for.Support the team.

  10. MALONE BHOY on 14TH AUGUST 2019 1:42 PM


    Hate to say it but I’d consider sacking Lennon now and trying to get Benitez in.






    Benitez said he didn’t want it.

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

    So just carry on as before TURKEYBHOY? Wait for it to happen again next year?




    Not a great comparison.Football,not like any other job.You lose a game,you should be sacked?Really?

  13. I’m also going to say that Bain’s confidence has been shot partly as a result of being told to punt it out from the back. Asking your keeper to not put the defence under pressure is one thing, but it appears he’s under instruction to not pass it short at all as there have been numerous occasions where there was easy passes on to unmarked defenders and he choose to launch it up the park. Not the way a modern team should be playing. I’m all for being more direct than we were under BR but that is not the way to do it.

  14. PeterLatchfordsBelly on

    When you read both P67 and David Potter having a go at the club you know things are bad. Hardly internet bampots.

  15. timaloy29 on 14th August 2019 1:53 pm



    I’m pretty sure he said he’d “consider it in future” (future probably meaning now he’s not in a job). Just one suggestion but really just a top tier coach. The manager should be the most important signing we make as a club, for BR’s snakeish ways I’d like to think we’d all be able to see the influence he had on the club as a whole.



    A top manager is worth more a lot more than an individual top player.

  16. Turkeybhoy,




    I take your point that football is different but, it’s not losing the game, it’s the lack of preparation and recruitment and then the tragic team selection.



    We knew we needed a new defence in January, maybe even before, and we didn’t recruit. That’s criminal.



    In fact a sacking offence in my book.




  17. THE HANDS ,


    What else is there to do?I support Celtic,win or lose.Always have.Still a lot to look forward to.To get us to the 10,I would have no one else but Lenny to do it.Would you have been calling for Rodgers to be sacked after the Ibrox shambles?.Lenny bolloxed it good style last night.Everyone does sometimes.

  18. PeterLatchfordsBelly on

    I make that 4 out of 8 games this season we’ve lost the first goal. A very bad habit and unusually bad fir Celtic.



    The attacking players were brilliant last night. They must be spewing at the goalkeeper and defence.

  19. VALEBHOY,,


    I know the feelings.Nobody more down than me.Its a game.We have lost similar before,with better teams and probably better managers.All we can do is carry on.As said,a lot to play for.Sacking peoplefor losing a game,not for me,but I understand the feelings today.

  20. Why didn’t he make a change at half time , taking off Johnston who was contributing nothing , move Christie out left and replace Calum with Boli.


    He was quick enough to make to changes at half time against Aberdeen last season.



    I’m afraid he’s just not up to it.

  21. The hand of God on

    The atmosphere at the game last night was electric especially when Eddy made it 2-1 and after Broony’s moment of madness the fans got right behind the team.The 3rd goal knocked the stuffing out of the team and the fans.They worked so hard to take the lead and once again Keystone Cop’s defending took over.What Neil Lennon was think about with his formation is anyone’s guess did he not watch the game at Ibrox last December not even highlights?

  22. Greenwells Glory on

    Hi Ghuys, Salve salve;- There are three names in the frame for last night’s debacle viz:-



    1) Lawell


    2) Lawell




    After such an event, the only thing to do is to regroup and move on WITOUT Lenny and his coaching staff.


    Remember what happened last night when it comes to season ticket renewal time. It would be beneficial for the supporter base to hold off until the board spend the club’s money before committing theirs’.







  23. Malone Bhoy,


    dont think SB being asked to hit long balls should affect his ability to make saves,


    in my opinion he was at fault for goals last night and on Saturday

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

    @ TURKEYBHOY on 14TH AUGUST 2019 2:02 PM



    Save for the fact both games you mention resulted in defeats, I have no clue of the relevance of comparing BR’s sole loss to Sevco (a 1-0 loss when we had a goal ruled out for offside and a squad depleted by injury) to one of the worst home defeats in Europe in our history.



    We are still all Celtic supporters here. However, we can simultaneously be supporters and recognise that our CEO is a liability, Lennon was the wrong appointment and that we continually make the same mistakes.

  25. JamesForrestsLeftFoot on




    Appreciate your assessment and conclusions.



    But, Neil was never really likely to put Boli on as a sub unless Callum got injured – because that would have begged the obvious question as to why he hadn’t been on as left back in the first place. Just how I saw that.


    If that’s true (I know IF) it poses another question though – if you have someone on the bench that you won’t use in a tactical re-arrangement why have him there at all?



    We all seem to agree on something though. Team selection was suspect from the start. But I also think we all agree that game management for the 97 minutes was also inadequate.



    For the first, I agree, what were the other coaches & staff thinking when they signed up to Callum at LB?


    Were they overruled or did they honestly think it would work THIS time?



    For the second issue, the spotlight falls again on Neil and his staff. The fourth goal was irrelevant for the outcome but it dents our pride to be defeated anywhere. By that time the game was lost on away goals and frankly we never looked like we had a clue how to break them down. At 3-3 we lofted a series of freekicks into their penalty spot in the hope that one of our heads might prevail.


    Petrescu’s game management was superior in every regard.



    When you get team selection wrong, then refuse to change it when that is patently damaging the team, you are doubly responsible. Neil looked in shock during his post game interview.



    I hated hearing the Romanians screaming and shouting as they walked past the interview area on the way back to their changing room. I could also see how that hurt Ryan & Neil during their short interviews.



    Next move from the club is important so we all hope they get t right.




  26. mullet and co 2 on

    Would you be confident of winning the league this season with addition of Greg Taylor at left back, Stephen ODonnell at right back, Turnbull in January and a journeyman centre forward on loan?


    We may sell McGregor in January. Rogic and Ntcham possibilities to go between now and January as well as Edouard by next summer.


    How confident are you if we go to Ibrox and lose with this team plus a few of additions mentioned?


    How confident would you be come mid October sitting 6 points behind?


    Mind you have £45m that sits in the bank while the cheap management team repeat past mistakes.


    Rangers win the league. 9 goes, they qualify for the Champions League.


    Does the money get spent then?



    Sheer arrogance not to address what could be a reality.


    Scott Brown will be 35 next year.


    McGregor will have played another 60 odd games if he is here that long. If Ntcham plays well he will be in the team then sold.


    The Hotel at 100 rooms and 67% of rooms taken each night at £100 per room gets you £2.5m. How much will it cost to build. £2.5m covers one half decent players wages. Is it worth it?



    I make that 4 out of 8 games this season we’ve lost the first goal. A very bad habit and unusually bad fir Celtic.




    The attacking players were brilliant last night. They must be spewing at the goalkeeper and defence.






    An important point to consider going forward. We look lethal going forward. We scored 3 and it could have been 6. Few teams will be able to cope with the triumvirate of Forrest, Christie and Edouard.

  28. Against Partizan Belgrade, I stood on the little bit of terrace connecting the Jungle to the Celtic End. When we got to a 5-3 score which would have taken us through, I stood and roared at right midfield Roy Aitken and right back Alan Sneddon to get back into position as both of them were at Belgrade’s corner flag which was right in front of me. Seconds later it was 5-4 and we were out.



    Last week Cluj showed us their strengths – tall, physical and fast on the break but not technically specially talented. Their game plan was obvious beforehand and even more obvious as the first half progressed as they took a lot of control of the game stopping us making any real chances.



    No thoughts in hindsight here:



    I could understand why Julien was not included as he has had little game time with the team and there was a risk of misunderstanding. Boli has been unconvincing so may have been considered a risk also.



    But, our initial selection was too lightweight with all three of Johnston, Christie and Forrest playing leaving an out-of-position Callum with little cover and the trio failing to make real chances for Odsonne in the first half. Scott seemed to be slowed down by his ankle twist – I wonder if that is what stopped his attempt to head away the cross with the handball reaction?



    At worst, it should have been addressed at half-time, if not before, with Johnston taken off and Callum moved to his right position. Personally, I wanted Bitton on at left back that stage for Brown, Callum moving to midfield and Griffiths on for Johnston with Odsonne droping back a little to let him run at the defenders with another striker to work with, rather than waiting for runners coming through midfield.



    When Mikey was taken off at 2-2, he was replaced by a similar lighter weight Lewis Morgan , leaving us with the same problem in midfiled. Then, when we desperately needed a striker, we had to sacrifice Ntcham who was holding his own in midfield, leaving us more exposed again.



    I agree with Neil Lennon that we were not aggressive enough in our first half play but if he doesn’t assess and accept the multiple tactical failures, we have a big problem.

  29. A few days before this match Lenny told us that the defence is “still a work in progress”. That says it all. He then makes things worse by playing Callum at left-back. Why didn’t John Kennedy tell him how that worked out the last time?


    Odsonne is a class act. How much longer will he want to stay? The same goes for Callum.

  30. Big Georges Fan Club - Hail, Hail, Wee Oscar on




    The attacking players were brilliant last night. They must be spewing at the goalkeeper and defence.






    Agree with this.



    (although ironically not the fault of our actual ‘defenders’ if you know what I mean – Broonie’s moment of inexplicable madness and CalMac playing innexplicably at left back again – both midfielders – but I absolutely agree with the point).



    Liverpool are a great example (at a whole other level, of course) of the difference a good goalie and defense has on the chances of success.



    Klopp dumped Mignolet (good, but prone to occasional mistakes) and replaced him with Alisson, and invested big-style in VVD – a top center-back, great communicator and organiser. Turned Liverpool’s chances of success at the top level around.



    Bain – previously very reliable – lost a very poor goal against Motherwell and lost two bad goals last night. Gordon’s a better shot-stopper, so I expect he will come back in again.



    Broonie – out of character.



    CalMac – WTF was that selection about?



    Mickey – great start to the season, but clear within 20 minutes that the game was too robust for him – should have been changed at half time.



    Needed to bring on the left back, Boli, and move CalMac into midfield – moving either Christie or Ncham out further left to replace MJ and accommodate Calmac in the center. Left was a real problem all night.






  31. oh and by the way SB and ON playing in the same team as holding midfield players dosent work, not last season or this season, not ever.

  32. We have some very good players at the club but what we seem to lack are good solid pros who specialise in their position. What we needed last night, apart from a better manager, was a left back that could defend. That is something which inexplicably seems to escape the logic of the manager/board. I remember Graham (Graeme) Sinclair, a bang average but solid pro nullifying one Yohan Cruyf at Parkhed. Don’t overcomplicate things We don’t need world beaters or even very good players in each position, just players that can do the job they are supposed to do!

  33. Ntcham deserved his place in the team last night, Callum was moved to left back to accommodate the captain, Lenny said last season that he would build his team around Broony.


    When he was out of the side last season the team played some great football with Callum as our midfield general, Lenny must’ve watched our display at Ibrox with Callum at left back, this makes last night’s selection all the more ridiculous, Bain will be last night’s fall guy though, except Gordon in goal for Saturday and beyond.

  34. Paul67 et al



    Felt more like Inverness in the Scottish Cup than that valiant attempt against Artmedia. Good effort and great result in the first leg, (and not many on here calling for Lenny to be sacked), scored three goals at home and as you say Paul leading 3-2 with fifteen minutes to go. There is only sixty seconds in each minute. Felt like the other way round. Regardless of where Calmac (and he’s no Lambert or Lennon) was playing this is where players and managers earn their corn. Or in last night’s case, don’t.

  35. 67 European Cup Winners on



    When I saw the headline OUT I thought for one minute you had PL in your sights



    Never mind there is an acceptance in your piece that PL has some crimes to answer for


    Still having a go at Brendan tho !!!!!



    The reason why PL has to go is the money he is costing us


    He has no person/department managing player acquisition



    It’s the most important part of our club development and we have a guy on a 3 month contract



    PL has failed to manage this process for years he has cost us millions in players we could have should have signed


    Contributing to weakened team contributing to a lack of progress in Europe


    We get away with it in the SPL (in the land of the blind the one eyed man is king)



    But will we this year


    Ronnie got away with it because there was no Huns – but Aberdeen gave us a fright


    Brendan got away with it because he was a great manager and the huns were only just getting their breath


    This year the Huns are galvanised up for it and hungry


    and we have NL



    And Peter still has a Nokia (relevant to a post on previous thread – i will repost)



    Paul67 I respect your piece today I have been having a pop lately, but today you acknowledge the problem but if like me you did not sleep last night then you need to shout louder




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