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. TBB – Good post as usual



    What was it in the bank at the turn of the year? £35m was it? Since then we have had Rodgers compo and Tierney money. It’s just sitting there.



    If we do not win the league this year and there is a vast pot of cash sitting earning next to no interest in a bank account there will be serious questions needing answered.



    In fact they should be answered now.



    Celtic have always “spent everything that comes in” yet there is a large stockpile of cash being built over the last few years. I don’t think the reasoning for this has ever been explained to the shareholders.

  2. 67 European Cup Winners on








    The man that said that (no not PL) The CEO of Nokia





    In 2007 half of all mobile phones used in the world were Nokia





    4 years later they were nearly bust and Microsoft bought them on the cheap












    Apparently 3 reasons





    Nokias technology was dated and fast becoming inferior and Nokia did not invest





    The CEO was arrogant and thought it was all about him





    lack of vision









    See anything familiar here !!!!!!!!!!!







    I have respect for the time and attention Paul67 puts into this brilliant site





    But I believe (no proof just my opinion) that Paul67 from time to time will deliver a PL message





    Paul67 has told us many times that we will enjoy monumental success for many years









    There is only room for one main man at Celtic and its PL







    Look at our structure as a business





    The strategy is to buy good players at a reasonable price and sell at profit





    I support that 100%





    So I would assume we place a lot of attention and dedication making sure we have a top man doing this job












    I see no evidence (and not just because of last night) that as a club we are developing building improving on the football front





    There is no doubt that we are an example to many regarding the way we manage our finances





    The last 4 or 5 years have yielded some great returns on sale of players





    But we are weaker for it





    Have we ever replaced Van Dyke, Wanyama, Dembelle, Roberts (loan I know) Boyata, Tierney





    Not really





    Our football structure is weak





    The appointment of NL was done in emotion after the Scottish Cup Final





    BTW if a CEO of a any other Plc did that there would be an outcry from shareholders





    Oh I forgot the majority shareholder DD sanctioned it





    Damien Duff has no coaching experience





    John Kennedy is probably a good bloke but is he going to pull out a tactical change to make a difference when we are 1 nil down







    PL surrounds himself with non confrontational yes men







    Like the CEO of Nokia, PL thinks he has done nothing wrong







    9 in a row is at risk








  3. https://www.teamtalk.com/news/gerrard-gives-his-thoughts-on-celtics-champions-league-exit



    Whether his view-point has any validity or not.



    I was always advised that in order for a strong statement to be issued against a competitor, should do so from a position of strength…. Credibility n all that.



    Altho favourites to complete the job against the danes, Sevco could yet fall flat in the final qualifying round.


    Slippy in essence should focus on his own mob, before passing comment.

  4. Paul 67,



    A fine article which reasonates with the general support.


    We cannot spin our way out of this one and the full implications will become clear in due course.


    The one and only plus was our magnificent support. However to a man, woman and child they are scunnered.


    We must move on and we have shown that many times in adversity.



    However many more will feel the way I do too, still absolutely gutted.


    I worry about our ambition, our quality players will also worry about our ambition and frankly I don’t have a lot of confidence in our management team of Neil Lennon, Duff, Kennedy or Woods to change our fortunes.



    If anything I am even more saddened as time goes by today. No wonder I take a drink.



    HH to all, difficult but the journey must go on.

  5. mullet and co 2 on

    The guy that should have been in the dugout last night will be managing a team with Christie, Andy Roberston, McGregor, Griffiths et al next season.

  6. Worried about the tactics after Celtic go up 3-2; Bitton/Boli on and MacGregor to the mid seems obvious. Even more concerning is why Celtic were not prepared to play out of the Cluj high press! Surely this scenario was discussed on the training ground and even if it wasn’t, where was the in game management?


    Now is the time to bring in the players that will star in next year’s qualifiers. Due to the schedule, summer signings rarely seem to make an impact in August. I’d love to know what kind of fitness level Julien needed to start this game?


    Celtic were not destined to make the CL group stage but to go out in the third round to a team that are so far down the rankings and could only draw at home is numbing.


    BTW, all credit to Cluj on the night.

  7. onenightinlisbon on

    ROGUELEADER on 14TH AUGUST 2019 2:38 PM



    PL surrounds himself with non confrontational yes men



    As does Lennon, can you imagine Kennedy or Duff standing up to him?

  8. Sickened, pure and simple.


    Shape was alaugh, and playing Calmac at left back was pathetic. Why oh why was Jonny Hayes not lb and why no new signings playing. Don’t get it at all


    One thing for sure , no matter the cost is we must get Wanyama back, he’s the bhoy to replace our ageing captain.



  9. i'vehadtochangemymind on

    It’s not getting any better as the day goes on. It’s not like a no show , or the ref did us or we lost to a last minute goalie horror. There was something weird about the whole night that is worrying. As people have blogged already –


    why buy players you’re not going to play ? the fans get it that our most important games are when they’ve just arrived


    could someone not have spoken to lennie about calmac at LB


    why fuggin calmac, why take your team’s fulcrum out of it, why not a hayes etc.?


    why not change things when they weren’t working?


    why not sub late in the game for stability?


    what happened to broonie – were the team on edge? had the half-time bollicking unnerved them or spurred them on?


    why not stick your hand up at the end of the game and say it didn’t work? Even levein did that when we hammered them!


    Why isn’t there a reaction to last night about recruitment and getting quality in for the most important season this millenium?



    All very odd.


    I hope the lennie – player relationship isn’t damaged after this weirdness.

  10. JIMTIM on 14TH AUGUST 2019 2:44 PM


    Well what can I add to what has already been said . We knew boyata and berkovic were for the off , the same with KT , planning and scouting should have commenced to bring in replacements ,it obviously wasn,t . But then again had we a chief scout to oversee the search for the replacements , one who was committed to the club , I don’t think we had . Now take lenny , and make no mistake NFL was the cheapest option , the guy is Celtic to the core ,but last night he made very costly errors in team selection, I am not going to ridicule the guy because he should not have been quoted for the job . He stood in to help us over the line and got us there , along with a cup win to boot . A manager with a pedigree should have been sought , costly I agree but would have been money well spent . Instead our board members decided in the directors box by way of a wee group huddle after the cup final , To offer the job to Neil , then he was informed in the shower area of there decision ,how unprofessional was that . As i said neil got it very wrong last night ,but out of work ,the chance to see the team over the line for the treble ,which one of us on here would have turned it down . A new coach should be sought , one who like the late great jock stein makes it known he will not tolerate interference on team matters. And that financial backing for the team is a must . I hate to mention this , as I detest every mention of there name ,but the Scousers team haven’t the quality we have , they brought in 8 players 2 season ago to beat us ,it failed .last season they brought in 10 new additions,and it failed this season they have brought in 12 new additions which may not fail , (hopeTo god it does ) but they are not prepared to just make up the numbers they want our crown and will buy , loan or an other to achieve it . They buy the fair players from wee teams and by God they don’t buy wimps , unlike us who tend to go for the slight built tanner baw players ,dead handy when you have there place to go to , not . We badly need a defence upgrade. We badly need STEEL in the middle of the park and another top


    class sutton hartson style striker . And if PL doesn’t play ball .we badly need another CE HH.

  11. Go tell the Spartim on

    So Pat Bonner is being quoted on here now



    How low have we fallen, he was a far better gk than an insightful pundit and even then he was a bang average goalkeeper who had one decent season



    Obviously we are fair game at the minute and we take our medicine but come on, Pat Bonner

  12. KINGLUBO on 14TH AUGUST 2019 2:58 PM


    Sickened, pure and simple.



    Shape was alaugh, and playing Calmac at left back was pathetic. Why oh why was Jonny Hayes not lb and why no new signings playing. Don’t get it at all



    One thing for sure , no matter the cost is we must get Wanyama back, he’s the bhoy to replace our ageing captain.








    I’d love to see that, but reckon it would have to be a wanyama-type, rather than the bold boy himself.



    ☎️📞Hi Victor…..it’s peter here……Peter lawell….Peter lawell….from Celtic……yes that Peter.


    We were just wondering if you’d like to come home……no, not Kenya…..Glasgow. You know where you scored against Barca. No victor well not be playing them again this season…..I know you you’re playing with the CL Runners Up at the moment……but c’mon Victor….can your fitba CV really be complete with a visit to the Stade Tony Macaroni???









    ………Lenny, you still got Jackie McNamara’s number…….

  13. The Battered Bunnet on

    Rogue Leader



    “If we do not win the league this year and there is a vast pot of cash sitting earning next to no interest in a bank account there will be serious questions needing answered.”



    Like… what is the most remote desert island in the world?



    Well, that’s the question I’d be asking in those circumstances if I was Peter Lawwell.

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

    Unthink the unthinkable. You can’t even cope with thinking the thinkable.

  15. The Battered Bunnet on

    BSR – au contraire, I was impressed with him last night, and gutted for him given the effort he put in.

  16. 67 European Cup Winners on

    RUGGYGMAN on 14TH AUGUST 2019 2:45 PM


    He was asked a question he answered it


    I am no lover of the Hun – but his answer was spot on, exactly what I would want my manager to say



    If we underestimate this guy we will wallow in self pity for years




  17. EspiritoDeCelt on

    Ok solution time. How about Robert Gumni for £6m on the right and Melling for £3M on the left? Defence sorted then and we go again and try and build a formidable back-four?

  18. 67 European Cup Winners on



    You are a beacon of light on this site as your posts are filled with common sense


    But today you made an assumption – you assumed PL has a conscience and will walk



    Unfortunately Dictators never relinquish power – you need to take it from them




  19. TBB



    You have a perfect close up of him, in your seats.



    He’s playing well, and is the lone success in a window just made worse through NFL’s team selection.



    To bill him as a full back was naughty, to make him into one will require good fortune before he’s potentially suffering from lost legs.

  20. EspiritoDeCelt on




    Totally agree with your analysis. Lennon also defended his Calmac at LB selection on the basis that he made an assist, but his logic is faulty. Boli also made an assist at Motherwell and was then subsequently dropped. For me Calmac’s inclusion at LB destablised Brown and possibly the performances of out 2 centre backs. Rogers got flack for selecting Calmac at LB and deservedly, but at least we had a 9-point league advantage to work with when he made that selection gamble, but Lennon had no such luxury last night so

  21. traditionalist88 on




    Agreed. Arguable that Ajer done so well there and could have been kept at RB for continuity sake alone. Then decide who can partner Jozo… Julienn, Elhamed…




  22. I cannot bear to hear P Bonner commenting on Celtic. He knows nothing about the current team and insists on pronouncing the French Eddie as ‘Ed ward’.

  23. Guys,



    I hate the thought of Celtic sacking any manager. It also reflects badly of those who appointed the manager.



    Something to contemplate : NFL is 48 and cannot be regarded as a young manager. The average age of a manager in the Bundesliga is circa 48.




  24. EspiritoDeCelt on




    Totally spot on with your analysis. Lennon also defended his Calmac at LB selection by offering up that he provided an assist, however his logic is faulty. Boli also made an assist at Motherwell and was deemed a failure then dropped. Rogers got a lot of flack for selecting Calmac at LB at Ibrox an deservedly so, but at least Rogers had a 9-point advantage to play with. Lennon had no such margin to play with last night and to take that gamble in such circumstances and then not fix it during the match when we got ahead was In my opinion a sackable offense. I can only imaging Lennon was stuggling with the pressure or was not well, because that was one of the worst tactical decisions I have seen if football in my entrire life and it cost us qualification. Lennon should have played his £10 million pound signings, because even if Cluj had still beaten us then Lennon could have had more of case to have had a go at his players. As it stands, Lennon is critiscising the team, but he set us up so badly that Brown, Ajer and Sumunovic played badly and we lost when our attacking play deserved more.

  25. EspiritoDeCelt on 14th August 2019 3:43 pm



    Ok solution time. How about Robert Gumni for £6m on the right and Melling for £3M on the left? Defence sorted then and we go again and try and build a formidable back-four?






    You are spot on, but it just will not happen.

  26. Mike in Toronto on

    why, after reading P67’s article, does that scene from Casablanca pop into my head? – you know, the one where Captain Renault spends his evening gambling, then is told to create an excuse by Major Strasser to close down the casino,. When Rick (Bogart) asks him why he is closing down the casino, Captain Renault says ‘I am shocked to find there is gambling going on here ‘ … just as he is handed his roulette winnings for the evening.



    “Unlike some, I will tell you when they do well, …” Sorry, but if CQN is going to take its digs at others for being unduly negative, then it has to accept responsibility for failing to address the key issues for the last several years ….. because the failure to address the systemic issues has led us to where we are at the moment (both good and bad)…



    Some of us have been saying for a while that the whole business model seemed to be based on our connection with the zombies, and that is why Celtic and CQN havent properly addressed the systemic issues and Celtic’s failure to address these issues in any meaningful way…



    hell, even Auldheid (whose patience and faith make Job look like an athiest) has now all but said that the Board have been ripping the pish out of them for some time … why dont we hear about that?



    It was revealed recently that Celtic had hired a PR firm, Holicom, to assist in dealing with the child abuse allegations, …. I’d be willing to bet that they, or some other PR firm, has been helping Celtic and its outlets stick handle things for the last seven years



    Remember… back in 2012, Dd said Celtic would be happy to play Rangers every week! Remember, he also said they were relegated!



    See, last night’s result was not the failure of Celtic’s business plan… it is part of the business plan ..we cant be too far ahead of them, because old firm competition is what keeps punters coming every week …last night may have been perhaps the climax of the little theatre of the absurd that is scottish football… the denoument will be when the zombies win the league (if not this season, then the next), and then we all go back to the way it always was, and pretend that events since 2012 never happened….,



    As the great Scottish philosopher once said, ‘nothing ever happens, nothing happens at all, the needle returns to the start of the song, and we all go along like before’



    dont worry… we’re just about there…

  27. I’m staying off social media for a bit because I don’t like wallowing in defeat.



    But I have to say this: I am as annoyed as I can ever recall about last nights shambles. In field aberration is a fact of life sometimes. But I think we all accept now that we have significant shortcomings in our planning as a club.



    I hope there is no truth in phil Mac blog today but if there is then I hope it’s the beginning of the end for those alleged shenanigans.



    I find it astonishing if it is true. A man supposedly frugal with our resources wasting £10 on two dumplings? Time will tell. With Jullien I think it’s match fitness he lacks. Boli needs confidence. But it would be shocking in the extreme if PL had done the deals with no agreement from NL. I’m fact it should be the end of his career at Paradise if it is true.

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