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. Still so frustrated. We will never get an easier draw to qualify than this year. Why gamble every year ? If Bain has just caught that cross !!!

  2. Rock Tree Bhoy on

    We’re simply not used to setbacks like that, Paul mentioned Bratislava but it feels worse than that, that was a wide awake all night result, certainly I never slept much, but now is not the time for knee jerk reactions, we need to stay calm and take a long hard look at the direction the club is heading, or rather DD / PL need to do that. What I normally do after a result like that is think of all the Celtic supporters that are just that wee bit too arrogant for their own good, this will at least sober some of them up.



    The big worry is of course as Paul pointed out when we went 3-2 ahead where was the game plan to see out the game knowing they had to score and were running out of time? Obviously there wasn’t one, that’s a real worry going forward, we will probably find out when we play sevco at Ibrox if Neil has learned anything from last night, really hope he has.



    The worst thing we could do right now is a knee jerk panic type reaction, if that happens we’re screwed.

  3. SB needs a rest , needs to stop all this arrogant hard man attitude and realise that he has a football job to do that dosent include winding up the opposition , we have moved on from the dinosaurs ages , if we want a high temp and forward pacy team then don’t start him.

  4. AD-NL thought there weren’t too many problems down the left….when asked about McGregor at LB….ffs.

  5. Go tell the Spartim on

    You would hope at this point the coaching team will be watching videos of AIK and collectively trying to work out a plan to combat them as even if we did sign players right now they wouldn’t be ready for next week.



    I’m not so sure that’s gonna happen

  6. Bottom line is that NFL was solely responsible for the “team” selection, substitutions and for the “tactics”.


    So last night’s result is purely down to him.




    The rest is froth.

  7. The Comfortable Collective on

    Simple fact is Celtic do not have a manager capable of beating inferior teams in Europe.



    “We have only ourselves to blaim” said NL last night.



    Expect the same headline in the league cup, scottish cup and league this season.

  8. can anyone explain what assist manager J Kennedy brings to the first team table , academy coach at best imo



    Simple fact is Celtic do not have a manager capable of beating inferior teams in Europe.



    Lenny’s previous time as manager seems to have been wiped from your memory. You’re not alone though

  10. My team for Dunfermliine Game, Gordon, Elhamed, Julien,Bitton,Boli, Henderson, N’tcham, Christie, Sinclair & Shved. Griffiths.

  11. The actual game was a mixture of some great (second half) attacking play by us and keystone cops defending.


    Neil Lennon must accept some serious criticism, which is clear and without repeating it I’ll just pose the question: would he have made the comment of playing mcgregor at left back to accommodate Ntcham if Tierney had been available.



    The real issues lie at the door of Lawwell & Co. Year after year we play with a patchwork defence. There was absolutely no excuse this year as we knew well in advance we would be without our whole back four. Yet millions sit in the bank. Sell our best players, don’t reinvest and we end up losing millions. Of course we won’t have to put up with a tanking in the CL, so maybe that’s one good thing.



    After nearly 40 years of being a season book holder I won’t be renewing next year, unless we spend serious cash before the transfer window closes. I can accept getting a doing and not spending what we don’t have but we have never been better positioned financially, until Peter’s Russian roulette failed yet again.

  12. The Comfortable Collective on

    Now here’s the thing. It’s all well and good Paul67 going in a huff now.



    Yesterday we had an article with some pish title like



    “Oh Bhoy. Here’s Daren O Dee. Which included the sentence;



    “Now he could become another part of the jigsaw in Lennon’s rebuild of the eight-in-a-row champions, on and off the pitch.”.



    Jigsaw. Seriously. Celtic have Neil Lennon. John Kennedy. Damien Duff. And now Darren O’ Dee.



    If that coaching team turned up at Kettering town I would not bet on them winning a corner. Let alone a game. Let alone a league. Let alone 8 in a row.



    Still. Most of them are from Ireland. So that’s all right.

  13. Corkcelt – had we won last night I’d thn have expected to us to be a bit less than full strength against Dunfermline. But now, I think we need to build some momentum and consistency by trying to play with a fairly consistent starting 11 for the next half a dozen games.


    Your team would almost certainly be good enough to win on Saturday. But how many changes would we then make for our next game, the Europa Qualifier – looks to me as being 4 or 5?

  14. RON67 on 14TH AUGUST 2019 6:15 PM


    can anyone explain what assist manager J Kennedy brings to the first team table , academy coach at best imo



    Since moving up to first team coaching from the Academy JK has been involved in 5 successive league titles and a treble treble. He has worked under 3 different managers, the last of which wanted to take him to Leicester when he slunk off.

  15. The Comfortable Collective on

    in goals,and stick with it



    CELTIC40ME on 14TH AUGUST 2019 6:19 PM






    Simple fact is Celtic do not have a manager capable of beating inferior teams in Europe.



    Lenny’s previous time as manager seems to have been wiped from your memory. You’re not alone though






    I do recall spending a lot of money to buy my ticket for Celtic v. Juventus. Great tifo from the Green Brigade. Inspired by the Clash.



    Tie fucked by 17 minutes. Thanks to inclusion of Effe by NL.

  16. mullet and co 2 on

    We shut the game down at 2-1 and none of this would be getting discussed.


    Still, 5 mins of decision making by Lennon after the second goal (or lack off) allows us to shine a light on wider and more constant decision making. I.e. how can teams lower ranked than us who pay less in wages consistently in 2 games from 3 beat us?

  17. GARY67 on 14TH AUGUST 2019 6:29 PM



    Since moving up to first team coaching from the Academy JK has been involved in 5 successive league titles and a treble treble. He has worked under 3 different managers, the last of which wanted to take him to Leicester when he slunk off.



    so that makes him a top class coach/assist manager , naw ho having it.

  18. Any other clubs appoint a manager, and tell him who is assistants are? Kennedy is Lawwells placeman,not to be trusted IMO

  19. The Comfortable Collective on

    If Celtic and Celtic supporters are content to challenge for domestic trophies. And have a 50//50 chance of winning this years League title and next years then they cannot complain about getting a manager appointed in the showers after a scottish cup game.





    Fuck going through a professional recruitment process. That’s what teams with pretensions of playing in Europe do.

  20. I am still scunnered about the result last night. Kudos to Cluj and their manager. Outhought us in all aspects.



    I just can’t get my head round playing CalMac at LB. And if Boli and Julien are so shite, why even put them on the bench? Should have played Hayes if Boli is that bad.



    Really tactfully naive from a manager who targetted Lustig in our games v Hibs.



    Unable to admit his tactical errors is crass.

  21. Not posted in a while but having witnessed last night’s utter fiasco I feel compelled to chip in again.


    Most of us knew that we could lose the tie. However the manner in which we lost should have alarm bells sounding in the board room.


    Poor team selection, poor tactics, bizarre substitutions and the complete abandonment of any recognisable shape or pattern of play produced a performance that took me back to the Partizan Belgrade came all those years ago.


    The club has knew for a long time that Rodgers was going. The appointment of Lenny was a cheap and lazy appointment.


    The need to replace the full backs was also well known, Lustig was told in March he was going and KT was a likely target for richer clubs. The failure to address this with players trusted enough to start a major game is appalling.


    The continued failure to source a helper or replacement for Scott Brown is another disgrace.


    The main culprits in this sorry saga are the board and Dermot Desmond, however Lenny needs to take his share of the blame and throwing the players under the bus is a worrying echo of his last few weeks at Hibs.


    A real club with real ambition wouldn’t have gotten in to this situation in the first place but they would certainly take decisive decisive action now. Unfortunately that isn’t us!


    Last night was so shambolic that for the first time I really do think we might actually lose the league.


    Last season it took a while to get over not getting in to the CL, this season could be worse because we have a much inferior management team in charge – hope that I’m very wrong!




  22. The Comfortable Collective on

    Love the default, knee jerk reaction of a lot of people on here regarding NL.



    Along the lines of “people seem to have forgotten what he achieved first time round. Especially in Europe – remember Barcelona.”



    Well that was then. This is now.



    Martin O’Neil had a far better record in Europe than any Celtic manager since Jock Stein.



    So should we clamour to get Martin O’Neil back because of Seville?



    I think not.

  23. John Kennedy is a lazy, easy target who’s contribution is questioned when things aren’t going well but never given praise for all of the successes.


    No idea what he brings, but given the complete lack of communication from the club on the structure of the ‘football department’ we no nothing of what everyone else does either.




    Juventus aren’t an inferior team, that game was in the last 16.



    Didnt Celtic qualify for the groups in his last two seasons last time he beating inferior teams?

  25. Rock Tree Bhoy on

    Any one calling for Neil’s head now is nothing more than a glory hunter, never a Celtic supporter.




    No knee jerk, just a bit of perspective on a manager who had us in the last 16 6 (not 16) years ago

  27. G67- Kolo Toure was the most decorated player at CP, and brought in as a player/coach, then coach, ended up coaching kids,now an assistant at Leicester, Kennedy kept his job,seems he’s not trusted by the players.

  28. It’s O’Dea. Darren O’Dea. If you’re gonna slag off Celtic people, then at least know howe to spell their fucking name.



    And we’re looking for them to deliver our 9th title in a row – they already gave us the 8th title. That was last year season.

  29. Bada Bing.


    Why not to be trusted. Is he in the employ of Sevco or something. Or is it that he may be the CEOs man on the training ground. Is that in itself a bad thing. Should the boss not know what is going on at the shop floor or is our CEO working to some nefarious agenda to cause our club harm.


    I remember when he got injured and how proud we were when the club stood by him and helped him through his coaching courses. That’s the Celtic way we said.


    I dont understand why there is such animosity towards him. He is only a coach ffs.

  30. John Kennedy is a lazy, easy target who’s contribution is questioned when things aren’t going well



    why shouldn’t it be, he is part of the first team ‘management’ and involved in the team selection or is NL a one man band when picking the team.

  31. Good Evening.



    First of all, I have no idea why my user name shows as The Auld Heid because I am most certainly not Auldheid.



    For a number of months now I have had difficulty in logging into CQN but thought it appropriate to persist after last night’s debacle with the result that I have managed to reset my password but find I now have a different user name which i can’t seem to change.



    The cyber world is indeed a curious place.



    Anyway – to matters more pressing.



    Over the years we have been told that it is the stated business goal of Celtic Football Club to qualify for the Champion’s League Group stages in 3 out of every 5 seasons.



    This evening I wonder if this is still our business goal or whether that key strategy has been replaced by something else entirely?



    If this is still our strategy, i question whether it is the correct strategy and you must also question whether or not we, as a club and a business, have adapted to ensure that we are as well equipped as we can be to meet such a footballing targets and ambition.



    Let me expand.



    Scotland does not have a rich league and if Celtic were to rely upon the income from Scottish Football alone then all financial targets and results would undoubtedly be lower than they have been over the last number of years.



    Celtic have enjoyed strong financial performance as a result of the ability to boost domestic football income with (a) European Football income (b) player trading income (c) commercial sponsorship, advertising and media income the likes of which are not available to any other club in Scotland.



    It follows that this last income stream is greatly boosted by regular participation in European Football, and it is at least arguable that player trading income is also boosted by the performances of players playing in European as opposed to domestic competition.



    It therefore seems to me that there is little doubt that advancement in Europe is essential for Celtic to maintain the financial trajectory it has enjoyed over recent years.



    It is also clear that (a) the qualification route for the Champion’s League is becoming ever harder for clubs like Celtic (b) that the rewards for CL qualification are becoming ever higher – as in almost £40 Million as a minimum – and (c) that the financial rewards in the Europa league are being increased in response to pressure from clubs outwith the big leagues who dominate the Champion’s league. The group stages may well be worth £7-£10 Million and further participation goes up incrementally.



    Against this background I ask the question; Is it still the aim of Celtic Football Club to qualify for the Champion’s league in 3 out of every 5 years?



    At the very top of the game, football finances have changed massively since that ambition was first mooted with player wages and transfer fees becoming stratospheric with top top players being ever further from Celtic’s reach and budget.



    To qualify today for the Champion’s League some may argue that you have to spend more in order to secure qualification than was the case when the three years out of five formula was first discussed.



    Yet with cash in the bank it would appear that Celtic are in a far better financial position than say Cluj or say Rosenberg to pay for the kind of superior players who can secure you entry to the golden riches of Champion’s League football.



    However, the club seem to have developed an absolute inability to prepare properly for the automatic opportunity that presents itself in football and monetary terms as a result of winning our domestic league.



    Surely if our aim is to qualify for the riches of the Champion’s league then the priority would be to secure fresh playing staff each year who maximise the possibility of that kind of progression?



    Instead we retain money in the bank and of recent we have boosted that money by cashing in on players such as Tierney, VVD, Armstrong, Wanyama, Forster etc. with transfer fees and sell on contract clauses.



    Could it be that increased money from player trading has overtaken the desire to achieve money from the Champion’s League, with the footballing argument being that domestic success plus prolonged participation in the Europa League will produce sufficient revenue into streams b and c mentioned above – and that the fans will accept this as a standard?



    With cash in hand are Celtic intent on signing quality players designed for the Europa League as opposed to Champion’s League standard with the hope that some of these can advance to Champion’s League standard football either for us (occasionally if the Gods smile on us) or for someone else when they have been bought from us for a healthy fee?



    The current and repeated lack of preparedness for the Champion’s League qualifiers makes no business sense at all, and no matter what difficulties Celtic may face in attracting players to Scotland, it is the job of management to overcome these as best you can as opposed to being constantly left short as they have off recent.



    As TBB has pointed out, cash in the bank never won a football match and it makes no sense not to invest in that area of business which will likely give you the biggest return – and in this instance that is quality playing staff and a far better recruitment set up than we have currently.



    Last night we started a crucial match fielding 10 players who were all at the club last season. Surely that is not progression with Champion’s League qualification in mind let alone being a key goal?



    Our manager has stated that he intends building his team around our ageing captain who remains an automatic pick for every game and sees no challenge to his position in any competition. With all due respect to Scott, surely that can’t be right if you want to advance further into Europe each year?



    If the promised freshening up of the team only comes after the 3rd CL qualifying round ( win or lose) that is hardly making CL qualification a key goal in 3 out of every 5 years is it?



    Instead it suggests a different target and a different set of footballing goals.



    We were also told years ago that every penny will be reinvested in better players and constantly improving the team, but the current evidence would suggest that this is clearly not the case as there is so much cash in the bank doing nothing at the current time while we have exited the richest competition to a far poorer, in financial terms, club.



    So, I ask once again what is our stated goal and plan for European football over say the next 3-5 years?



    Has it changed from what we were told before?



    I do not want to be a cynic or a conspiracy theorist but I could not believe what I was seeing last night at all and today I have read enough online comment from fans saying that they don’t care about Europe for this year or next as long as we win the ten.



    That seems to me to be a very inward looking and self destructing outlook to be honest but I wonder if some within Celtic park think the same?



    Money in the bank is to be used to bring in first team loan and semi project players at the end of the Scottish window when competition for players is poorest and when a lot of CL teams are no longer in the market. At that point, Celtic’s bucks may shout loudest and would be sufficient to make sure those players are of good enough quality to secure the ten, and so we concentrate on making that piece of history as opposed to preparing seriously for Europe and the heavy quality schedule that brings?



    Could it be that this set of goals, boosted by the belief that the club from Ibrox must eventually implode financially, is at the core of club thinking at least for the next 24 months and so explain the lack of preparation that Paul67 has spoken of?



    Would that satisfy the Celtic support?



    The board and management would have to ride out storms like last night but could they redeem themselves with such a strategy in the eyes of the fans?



    Not that long ago someone with a lot of influence at Celtic Park asked the following question:



    “Imagine we didn’t win NINE?”



    Could that be the strategy for the next two years?



    Despite the moniker at the top of the page I remain ………




  32. Dan Petrescu, a very good manager has to be said did an excellent job of putting on the poor mouth about his aging squad with little or no chance of turning Celtic over in his endeavours to give us a false sense of security. Of course he was fooling nobody as it turned out.



    It’s remains a mystery to me why Neil Lennon had to tinker with a team who had not lost a match in either pre-season, Champions League or the SPL. The team was doing fine and was prolific on the scoreboard and also achieving a fine result away from home against last night’s opponents.



    Calmac to fullback? just what were you thinking Neil?


    Boli is a recognised fullback who we signed from a team with a high European profile who played well on previous Saturday. Despite this our attacking players still continued in their scoring vein with another three goals and are utterley blameless for last night’s debacle.

  33. AuroraBorealis79 on

    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’.



    Pot, kettle…



    You insist on calling him Eddie when in actual ‘fict’ his nickname is Eddoui