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. From JJ



    The Balance Sheet Cup



    In Papering Over The Cracks I wrote: The defence is an omnishambles.



    In The Glass Ceiling I wrote: If Lawwell continues to bank the value on the park and not deliver the much vaunted nine in a row, who will the Celtic supporters blame? Lennon for sitting on his hands or Lawwell for slipping out via the transfer window with the family silver?



    The aforementioned articles were not popular. There were no retweets. One could count the number of ‘likes’ on Twitter with the fingers of both hands. I also wrote that the Celtic fans don’t see it coming as they are being seduced by the twelve goals scored in two games against teams with a fraction of their budget. I accurately predicted that Celtic would progress should they score more goals than Cluj on the night as I knew that the options available to Lennon would concede goals. I also predicted that Lennon would play Callum McGregor at left back.



    Despite this one enterprising Twitter keyboard warrior, now blocked, suggested I know fuck all about football and should stick to the law and accountancy. The criticism has come thick and fast since I believed Neil Lennon’s drunken rant that he had been passed over for the manager’s job. His drunken supposition, overheard by three observers, almost resulted in me closing down this site. Those in the Celtic social media milieu are reacting now. If truth be told they are more than a day late and €35m short.



    I make no apologies for reading Joe McHugh at Video Celts. He is not a bitter little man with an opinion of his ability which is at odds with his copy. He does not hang on my every word as is the case with PhIRA Macgiollabhain as he searches for an original idea. My ‘Close Season Championship’ became his ‘Close Season Cup.’ He will indubitably interpolate The Balance Sheet Cup. He has been getting away with it for a decade so why stop now?



    I digress. The following comment on Joe’s site was particularly apposite:



    We appoint a cheap option manager, chase our better players out the door, replace them with unproven cheap ones, then lose a Champion League qualifier … all while having tens of millions in the bank… did I pass out and wake up in 2014?



    Dan Petrescu, the Cluj coach, had the following to say:



    When they conceded four goals at home they won’t be happy. The four goals shows we’re good, but also that Celtic has problems.



    There are those who wish to blame Neil Lennon. He saw value in Simunovic who was overlooked by Rodgers. Boyata and Benkovic were superior. However with both gone Lennon selected him in preference to his £7m marquee signing, Jullien. He replaced Johnston who was causing the Cluj defence no end of trouble, with Morgan.



    Replacing Ntcham who was one of Celtic’s better players, was also an error. When he introduced Bayo with a surprising ten minutes left to play, replacing Brown, he had abandoned any semblance of shape. Cluj had done enough to qualify but when Lennon ripped out his midfield it was an invitation too good to miss.



    Others wish to castigate him for the selection of Callum McGregor in preference to the ‘erratic ‘ Bolingoli-Mbombo, but no-one has to colour your humble correspondent surprised.



    Lennon is just a symptom, not the disease.



    Peter Lawwell is evidently adept at adding value from sponsors. In the last published balance sheet he conjured up £40m. One does not have far to look to see how badly this aspect of a club can be inordinately mishandled by The Lying Consigliere and The Corporate Criminal.



    Peter Lawwell is a hired hand who pocketed a £2.3m bonus in January. He reports to the board. Dermot Desmond with 44% of the Plc equity is in de facto control of same. Those trending ‘Lawwell Out’ are wasting their time. Peter Lawwell is Desmond’s right hand man. Desmond entrusts Lawwell with every aspect of Celtic including manager selection and transfer activity. Bankier has a voice but no real say.



    It was Lawwell’s responsibility to provide Desmond with an alternative to Neil Lennon. The latter knew that David Moyes was in the frame. Moyes’ representative knew that Desmond, Lawwell, Bankier and Wilson sat down to choose a successor to Brendan Rodgers over lunch. McKinlay was awaiting a text at Hampden. From what I have managed to glean from my sources it was Desmond who made the choice to proceed with Neil Lennon.



    At which point Lawwell plays the media game by stating how he enjoyed working with Lennon and how Neil has an eye for a player. Where was that eye last night Peter? On the bench!






    The Celtic marketing team will be flat out to put lipstick on this pig. The call will go out to get behind the team against the also-rans of European football. The Celtic fans will turn up as it’s an emotional decision. Peter Lawwell will get away with this. Desmond has his back.



    Lawwell spent £11.83m on players. He received £25m for Tierney paid in advance. That’s a £13m transfer surplus. In last year’s close season he sold Dembele and Armstrong for £27m, with Edouard coming in at under £10m. In just over a year he has banked a profit of £30m. Bankier was quick to extol the acquisitions of Bayo and Shved but when one factors in the compensation for Rodgers and his team there is another £5m surplus.



    Who needs Champions League income when one can rip out the heart of the team and pocket £35m?



    Is anyone confident that Lawwell will spend to strengthen the team given the absence of CL income? If the £35m in pennies has not dropped then these supporters are the perfect audience for Lawwell viz: Enjoy the diddy teams under the Disco lights.



    Everyone including Alan Brazil is apprising one of their opinion that ‘The Rangers’ are coming. I do not accept this thesis. The problem is that Celtic are regressing. Peter Lawwell is motivated by making a quick buck. He is handsomely rewarded for turning a profit. He does not give a flying fuck for the consequences as he’s untouchable.



    If Lennon does not deliver nine successive titles he will be sacked. The only title that counts for Lawwell is The Balance Sheet Cup.

  2. AuroraBorealis79 on 14th August 2019 10:19 pm






    My apologies, dumpling. Any offence was pUnintended





    No harm done mate and now that you have asked – are you a bore Alis no you are not – you are actually very witty – Hail Hail

  3. Prestonpans Bhoys.


    I just sent an email to tickets@celticfc.co.uk . Gave my client reference etc, said I wanted to withdraw with immediate effect and that I’d cancel my Direct Debit (which I did).


    I got a reply early this morning to say that they had already “prepared the file” for next Thursday’s tie but actually saying that if I did cancel my DD then this would mean that my card wouldn’t be activated automatically.


    Actually, for the past couple of seasons I chose not to attend any domestic cup games. However, my Bhoy still did and ‘sold’ my ticket for those games to his beloved wife, improving the chances of them then getting Hampden tickets. He has also now withdrawn from the automatic scheme.

  4. Henrik1967. What is your blog ?



    Excellent post. The fans need a leader


    To make a plan something lawwell struggles to do


    Some sort of boycott , Europa league ? Celtic shop Something that will make the majority shareholder wake up

  5. SYDNEYTIM on 14TH AUGUST 2019 10:29 PM



    You need the big hitters like Phil Mac, Paul Larkin, Paul from this site, Etims, video celts, Joe O’Rourke, Matt McGlone and there are many more to start making noises.



    Too many of our big hitters always quick to put out a blog about the going’s on at Sevco than criticise our board and question their motives.



    Peter Lawwell wants resolution 12 dead and buried that tells you all you need to know about this charlatan.



    Granted he has pulled in some amount of profit on selling players but creating our own history is in serious doubt now with his transfer policy and if we don’t start applying pressure to the board then we can kiss goodbye to the title.

  6. Anyone else having difficulty with the blog on ipad?



    The screen keeps reloading stating an error has occurred. Very frustrating

  7. AuroraBorealis79 on




    Anyone else having difficulty with the blog on ipad?



     The screen keeps reloading stating an error has occurred. Very frustrating




    Unfortunately this ain’t exclusive to the iPad. I continually get logged out on Android. Not to mention the ads that often hijack my browser.



    This site has more bugs than Florida ballot box

  8. LENNONLARSSON on 14TH AUGUST 2019 10:57 PM



    Anyone else having difficulty with the blog on ipad?



    The screen keeps reloading stating an error has occurred. Very frustrating





    Yip. On iPhone. Might be an iOS thing. I could hardly respond to some bad spelling earlier…




  9. LennonLarsson on 14th August 2019 10:57 pm



    Anyone else having difficulty with the blog on ipad?



    The screen keeps reloading stating an error has occurred. Very frustrating




    Once P67 gets back from holiday he’ll fix the problems :O)

  10. Broke blog.



    I blame Lawwell!!!!



    It’s his blog after all. Or as good as.



    O’Deeeeee out!!!!

  11. Melbourne Mick on

    Hello again all you young rebels.



    Where to begin?….. ach ferget it.


    Still in shock.


    Away to finish cleaning my crusty bread sanny with ham beans


    off the flatscreen.


    H.H Mick

  12. Dermot will only react when the fans stop throwing cash at the club.



    Unless the EL game is free on ST it should be boycotted; it’s a dreadful tournament resulting in Thursday / Sunday games.



    I will not take up my 3 season tickets even if they are free. Sickened by the Bonus Thief and the shambles he has created. That’s Lennon Delia and Mowbray ; he has cost us circa £100M in CL money. An absolute parasite sucking the life out of Celtic whilst lining his own pockets.



    I hope there is 10k there on Sunday. Only thing that matters is the League and ditching the gruesome twosome.

  13. MADMITCH on 14TH AUGUST 2019 9:44 PM


    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.




    Probably better not to have replied to you but hey ho,Petrescu has had 15 clubs in 19 years,and you want him as manager?

  14. we have won 3 consecutive trebles.


    we have in the region of £50m in the bank.


    and we are in a right mess.


    sevco had a great result in denmark and the next day signed a player.


    we had a disaster yesterday and i believe sevco are signing another player.


    they know we are vulnerable.


    they stumble from one financial crisis to another but they are going all out for it.


    sevco smell blood.


    well done lawwell.


    sevco supporters will be naming supporters clubs after you.


    the larkhall loyal true blue queen’s own peter lawwell ulster unionist loyalist 1690 supporters club.

  15. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    Twenty five years ago , Celtic faced bankruptcy .


    There are serious suggestions that a recession may well be in the offing.



    Right now , cash is king.



    Thank God our Club is run by professionals and not by well meaning well intentioned amateurs on CQN.


    Sooner or later they would run out of Celtic`s money.



    Having said that , a period of introspection and reflection at Board level is , I feel , necessary. Not a knee jerk reaction.


    I`ll bet they know that.


    They`re professionals.

  16. MacJay…



    I’m tending to agree with you. I said on this very blog a couple of years ago that a portion of Celtic fans are in the same position as Rangers fans were during their 9 in a row – lording it over the opposition with claims of fabulous wealth and ‘buying our way out of trouble’. The issue with that being that it’s frequently actually buying our way *into* trouble.



    Lennon’s previous results in Europe, including a win over Barca suggests he’s a decent judge of a team, and I’d say that he’s arguably better than Bredan Rodgers in that respect. Rodgers delivered frequent humiliation without a plan B when we came up against better sides.



    Celtic for a number of years were the smartest guys in the room – buying players by and large at decnet prices and selling them on for a tidy profit. Now? Now our buys are pretty much lazy – spending ever larger amounts on players that won’t deliver the same value when selling on. And the blooding of youngsters has slowed down too. Rodgers wasn’t the answer. Is Neil Lennon? Who knows? When looking at the alternatives like Moyes? I’d have Lenny every day of the week.



    Equally, a bit like when we soured on Alan Thompson as a player, the support have soured on Peter Lawwell. Like some Dick Dastardly-esque villain he’s became a cypher for all of Celtic’s ills. I cannot see where he’s failing, at least in terms of the commercial side. The fans want a commercial and capitalist behemoth? We’ve got it. A soulless, characterless blob of a club where as a fan base we’re like a bad version of Harry Enfield’s ‘Loadsa money” character. And for every 5 pounds the huns spend, we’ll spend £10!!



    For me? The club has become lazy from top to bottom. We’ve lost focus, and take success for granted. And when we don’t get it? We stamp our feet like petulant children and demand a “marquee signing” at either managerial or player level. Personally I’d give up 9 in a row in heart beat to get rid of Dermot Desmond and his pals like Lord Livingston et al. We’ve even let the huns beat us to an ethical strip. Celtic has lost its way.



    TL/DR – The club are a shambles. And in no small way, that starts with Desmond and ends with the fans.




  17. I keep checking the Celtic news pages like I’m expecting to wake up from an awful nightmare… Not sure what I’m hoping to discover but the club need to do something.

  18. On purely football terms…



    The take aways from last night:



    Broony’s time is up. It’s not stamina that’s lost with age, it’s response times. Look at elite swimmers – guys in their 50’s can still post very competitive times. The slow down isn’t that great. Scott’s handball was another misjudgement – and IMO as a result of him trying to achieve something he no longer can. The reflexes aren’t there.



    Ncham is a luxury player.



    Sinclair hasn’t done much wrong, but must be absolutely stunned he can’t get a game.



    Morgan – needs the Christie treatment, away on loan to Aberdeen or similar to get him game smart.



    And worryingly – Lennon’s post match comments suggest less a bad day at the office and more that players are ignoring instructions. Maybe understandable after seeing Calmac at left back…



    All in, a disaster. And letting “Rangers” fans lord it over us is hellish.




  19. DANSO_1888…



    here we go the board lovers come out makes you wanna vomit



    I’m hoping you’re not aiming that comment at me? If you are, re-read my post. I detest the board. Starting with Dermot Desmond. I hate the re-framing of our club as a capitalist enterprise.



    However – Pater Lawwell is a servant of the capitalist ‘owners’ and does the job he’s tasked with. Mostly very well. That said, I’d happily see him loaded into the same rocket as Desmond and his tory chums and fired onto the surface of the moon, as far away as possible from our club.



    Then again, I’d have ethically made shirts without sponsors, no truck with betting companies and a wage cap.




  20. p8ddy on 15th August 2019 12:37 am


    All in, a disaster. And letting “Rangers” fans lord it over us is hellish.




    You must have the character of a very weak man, pathetic even, to allow der Hun to lord it over you.


    Treble, after Treble, after Treble and they’re still picking on you? Jesus wept, I’d hate to be as pitiful as you.


    Stand up to them, at least get a punch in first.

  21. I people would stop saying rangers fans, they do not exist they died remember its only they gutless press and bbc who are scared to admit the truth about there non existence they were liquidated and for any way that means you no longer here

  22. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    P8DDY on 15TH AUGUST 2019 12:28 AM



    Nice to hear from you.



    Mine are home thoughts from abroad and should be assessed in that context.


    Can there be any doubt that we are the wealthiest and most fiscally responsible football club in Scotland ?


    I am loath for that reason to jump on the ” sack P.L.” bandwagon.


    Sack him for whom ? Embdy ?


    Surely not sound practice after one admittedly humiliating result.


    Do Lenny , his dugout team and the players carry more of a responsibility than P.L.?


    Surely the answer is yes.



    One bad result after a succession of fine results and ” let`s chuck the baby out with the bathwater? ”



    An understandable response.


    That weel kent traditional cri de coeur from the terraces…..


    ” Give us a bodyyyyy ”


    Any body will apparently mollify the punters.





    What is comforting , however is to see the depth of love and support for Celtic when we are down.


    And the determination to improve.


    Hope that`s not too saccharin.

  23. p8ddy, no they know who they are, my personal opinion we should not play in Europe as its corrupt to the core

  24. Henry Joy…



    You must have the character of a very weak man, pathetic even, to allow der Hun to lord it over you.



    etc etc etc….



    Firstly you utterly misunderstand both the context and tone of my comment. Secondly, it’s refreshing to see such an empathetic and familial response to a fellow Celtic fan.



    Finally, when you get over yourself and develop beyond playground insults feel free to engage me in conversation. Until that point take your self aggrandisement elsewhere.




  25. Danso_1888



    p8ddy, no they know who they are, my personal opinion we should not play in Europe as its corrupt to the core



    I have a great deal of sympathy for that stance on Europe. Sadly, when you see the evidence in the Panama papers etc, the guys running European competition are amateurs in comparison to our own Dermot Desmond.




  26. p8ddy on 15th August 2019 1:04 am




    Let’s get one thing straight as you try backtrack over der hun lording it over you, I’m a supporter not a fan.

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