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. glendalystonsils on

    GENE on 14TH AUGUST 2019 8:38 PM


    Before I definitely go



    Before newco played hibs someone on here posted that newco were 1 loss away from meltdown. Well the sentiment was right just got the team wrong






    I also posted after they beat Hibs 6-1 that Hibs defending was the worst I’d seen in a long time . I was wrong . After last night it was only the second worst.

  2. Hot Smoked –


    Spending money (which we only occasionally do) is only half of the story and I understand that on our books we may well have our most expensive ever centre back, left back and (possibly) right back. However, we then have to actually play them! Consistently.

  3. RON luv ya to bits pal but you are batting your head up against a brick wall, feck the board.hh.

  4. Three times last night we were ahead in the tie, the last time with only 15 minutes to go. Whatever the plan was, it did not survive beyond the first 15 minutes. There were adequate opportunities to change personnel. When they came the management chose to compound the problem.


    We are not a CL team but we have 4, possibly more, players who would enhance one. That should have been more than enough to see off Cluj.

  5. MADMITCH on 14TH AUGUST 2019 @ 8:50 PM



    Never mind DP. RZ should be our next manager.

  6. If you are looking for the reason why we failed then can I offer the concept of insularity — a total lack of depth or footballing nous which affects us at every level.



    Starting at the top — the CEO is only interested in his heated driveway.



    Then comes NL who has very little experience in management beyond what he has learned at CP.



    Finally we have a squad of varying levels of experience and ability but with next to no levels of senior experience away from the closed shop that is the SPL. The only player with a varied career outside of this environment is the RB who looked most at home trying to deal with a new threat of a team full of limited players

  7. Gotta Love / luv?…….


    …… the “Turns”……………….. that pitch up regular with the


    ” a don’t post much oan here ……”…….


    ……… every other day.! Too funny…………. and as for the execrable profanity and the even worser :) faux mis-spelt profanity………..



    Hunned-up Guff.




  8. !!BADA BING!! on 14TH AUGUST 2019 4:32 PM


    Pick a back 4 for Saturday and stick to it, with Gordon back in goals






    Hard to argue with that. I still think Jullien isn’t match fit. But the known known at this time is that Kris Ajer and Jozo Simunovic are our most reliable centre half’s. Ajer is a top notch player in my opinion.



    But, yes, we need a settled back four. Soon.

  9. Nite troops


    …ahem…full moon in… ?



    Personally I dont give a ….for the EL..play a sprinkling of dev players & price tkts accoedingly.


    Concentrate on domestic trophies.




  10. Mike in Toronto on

    Gene @ 8:38



    I cant speak for anyone else, but for me, this isn’t about one lost game, or even a trophy…. it is about accountability and leadership, or the lack thereof, at our club. And not one day.. but over a sustained period of time.



    last night wasn’t the problem, per se… it was a symptom or consequence of a much larger problem…



    If the club had a plan, and articulated that, and it was a reasonable plan, and they made reasonable efforts to implement it, then I think most fans would respond to games like last night… well, reasonably.



    I get that I am more interested in the legal and ethical side of the business than some others might be … like some on here understand the financial side of it better than I do … and some may not care about either… that is okay, too …. people dont have to spend their time learnig about what happened to the money they put into the club ….



    but, if the fans care enough to learn, then they should be given the opportunity to do so….



    even for those who aren’t particularly interested in boardroom machinations or the legal ins and outs of administrative law, most of us know enough to know that what happens in the offices impacts on what happens on the pitch…. and, obviously, that concerns all fans…



    I get that, even a PLC is not required (nor should it) divulge everything that goes on in the background… but the last seven years in scottish football have been remarkable times, and serious questions have been raised about the leadership (or lack thereof ) in Scottish football …



    unfortunately, Celtic’s failure to provide any information on the issues has led me (and I know that I am not alone) to question Celtic’s involvement and integrity…



    If they want the fans to work with the club, then the club has to start working with the fans.



    To be frank about it… we (people who buy shares, tickets, etc.) pay their god damn salary, and it is time they treated us with a modicum of respect.

  11. how do you get a settled back 4 that includes 2 of the 3 new signing that their fellow players allegedly have no confidence in.

  12. Last random thought for me for tonight. I wonder what next Thursday’s ticket will cost. Yet anotehr chance for our extremely cash rich club to give the fans something back. Surely 60,000 £15 tickets (£900K) would be preferrable to say 40,000 £30 tickets (£120K), even though the overall take would be lower (though partly offset by the additional pies, drinks, etc sold?).


    Did I menion that me and my Bhoy withdrew from the Home Ticket Scheme last night and will instead assess our attendance at cup games on a match by match (and price) basis?

  13. Jobo baldie-not looking forward to next Thursday and to be honest I will only be going cos my dad will want to go

  14. Welcome back BRTH.


    Has anybody at Celtic apologised to the fans yet for last night’s debacle? Oh silly me. They’ll be too busy wondering how much cash they can squeeze out of us for next week’s game. Here we have a Board that last week had the cheek to question Cluj taking advantage of Celtic fans by charging £36 for a ticket. Well my youngest Bhoy went down to Glasgow yesterday so I got him a ticket for the game and it cost me? That’s right £36, well it didn’t really. It cost me £38.30, an extra £2.30 for the privilege of using my own power, printer ink and paper.


    A wee apology wouldn’t go amiss to the fans, many less fortunate than me, who put vast sums of cash, time, effort and travelling into supporting their beloved team. Yes a wee apology as a way of saying we appreciate what you , the fans, do to support our Club and pay our wages. That includes you Mr Lennon and accepting the fact you made a massive cock-up and let down the people who matter most. As regards PL I wouldn’t believe a word that came out of his mouth so an empty apology would be a waste of time.



    Jobo, under no circumstances would I play Broony this Saturday, the guy needs rested. Jullien and Bolingoli must start. I also thought that Broony saw there was no left back defence yesterday and stuck his hand out as an act of hopeful desperation at the penalty incident, that does not absolve him from blame.

  15. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on




    If the reaction on here is in any way representative of the Celtic support in general , then Lennie will not be forgiven for the Cluj debacle. It will continue to be cast up at the next significant reversal.



    Dead man walking ?



    We mustn`t forget that when Brendan walked out on us at the most inconvenient time , Lennie it was who stepped into the breach.

  16. Is it better to qualify for Europa and play twice a week earning circa £10m or not qualifying playing once a week and not banking £10m? Which is more likely to deliver the 9?

  17. onenightinlisbon on




    We mustn`t forget that when Brendan walked out on us at the most inconvenient time , Lennie it was who stepped into the breach.



    For a handsome salary when no one else wanted him, let’s not kid ourselves….

  18. glendalystonsils on

    Has the club issued a statement yet setting out our short and long term goals (on the footballing rather than financial side) with a plan on how they hope to achieve them?



    Or even an admission that we don’t have any?

  19. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on




    Aye. Ok.



    But at the drop of a hat.



    And successfully finished the job Brendan abandoned.


    ie. earned his corn.

  20. onenightinlisbon on




    Not trying to pick an argument. We shouldn’t allow sentiment to get in the way of progress and I think a lot of supporters do.

  21. BB @ 9.06



    What has that zombie stat got to do with the situation that developed last night?



    The base point is that DP as a CL manager is several levels better than NL.



    They are a pretty poor team but we managed to make them look like world beaters. NL didn’t help himself with some of his selection decisions but he put out a team that was one mistake away from a nervous breakdown. They were poorly set up, lacked focus and seemed to have been taken in with all the talk that they were a team of old men who would struggle for fitness.



    At 80 minutes in we were the team that was struggling for air not them.


    More ammunition to those that say that NL does not condition a team well.

  22. NL has to take his share of the blame for last night but for me insularity is the main issue. We are a team of flat track SPL bullies who can cope with the local but not the exotic.



    BR brought in a level of new thinking and bigger world view but NL is being swamped by a dressing room culture that has a waning SB at its heart and very little leadership or on field football intelligence.



    We need a new captain — preferably someone from outside the club who can inject a new ethos into the squad.



    When we were on a high last night — after we took the lead — we became very sloppy and wasteful as chance after chance was lost to poor passing and poor decision making. We seemed to be two seperate five a -side teams who were only interested in passing to their pals.

  23. I know people won’t think it’s a major issue in isolation but I’ve been watching Celtic for 40 years, have attended in person well over 1000 games and only twice have Celtic in all that time taken the goalkeeping position seriously- Boruc and Forster.


    Every other one has been at best a 7/10.



    Bain faced 4 shots on target last night and saved none ( btw he faced 3 at Motherwell).



    My family and friends are sick of me pointing out that Barcelona had SIXTEEN shots on target and only scored one the night we beat them….El Grande Muralla.



    HTF we can have great players and not see they are continually let down by really really average goalkeepers?



    We should sign a young hungry goalkeeper that is no2 at a big Bundesliga or Spanish club on loan.



    £2m a year and just repeat it every year as it’s a position that doesn’t really affect team cohesion.



    Bit embarrassing not having your own goalkeeper but we might still be in the CL if we at least took the position serious.

  24. AuroraBorealis79 on 14th August 2019 7:20 pm



    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





    You are a Bore Alice

  25. prestonpans bhoys on




    If you are still on. Getting off the HTS did you just go up to the ticket office and ask them? I thought it wad a season obligation/ contract thing. Asking cause Miss Prestonpans can’t make Thursday’s

  26. Gary67


    Just after 6.


    Brendan didn’t want to take John Kennedy with him to Leicester, he was never asked to go, just thought I would clear that up for you, that comes from JK himself.

  27. fairhill bhoy on 14th August 2019 9:21 pm



    Jobo baldie-not looking forward to next Thursday and to be honest I will only be going cos my dad will want to go





    Surely your Dad has lived the dream by now – time for a new team me thinks

  28. AuroraBorealis79 on 14th August 2019 10:12 pm






    Did I hit a nerve?





    No but I clearly did Alis :–)



    Sorrt A boring Alice 79

  29. This failure by Peter Lawwell is not a one off


    Against Maribor the fans turned on him


    But his PR company came up With a few things in social nexts including the in Ronny we trust



    We closed ranks and all was forgotten.



    This time again beware of social media spin



    Let’s be clear Peter lawwell is the Celtic teams biggest problem.



    Good article from James Forrest





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