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Progress will be about how we defend, penalties

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There’s been a palpable sense of relief among all of us since Leigh Griffiths scored in Astana last midweek, but as Wednesday’s second leg draws nearer, the reality that our Champions League hopes are very much on the line is dawning.

Astana’s natural game in Europe is to defend and play on the break. They kept a clear sheet in Vilnius in the last round and conceded only twice on the road in last season’s three away qualifiers against Maribor, HJK Helsinki and APOEL Nicosia – decent qualifier opponents by any measure.

They will put two men on both Patrick Roberts and Leigh Griffiths, and sit deep, hoping to draw Celtic into leaving space at the back. This is the exact scenario we lost out to otherwise inferior teams in Europe over the last two seasons. We enjoyed possession and territorial advantage (home and away) but were ripped open on the break.

Progress to the playoff round will be all about how well we defend.

The bulk of tomorrow’s training session should be set aside for the practice of penalty kicks. Celtic lose far too many penalty competitions, and despite legacy notions which persist in British football, penalties can be practiced. 10 players should hit at least 10 penalties each.

Dreadful news that Tommy Gemmell was hospitalised over the weekend. He’s been a great friend to CQN in recent years and I know we all send him our best wishes.

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487 Comments

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

    DELANEYS DUNKY on 1ST AUGUST 2016 5:05 PM

     

    BGFC

     

     

     

    When have you seen a Celtic player’s performance improve in a match due to booing from his own fans?

     

     

    When have you seen a Celtic player’s performance improve in a match due to support from his own fans?

     

     

    ——————————-

     

     

    DD

     

     

    Never

     

     

    Often

     

     

     

    HH

     

    BGFC

  2. Our home game against Aberdeen on the 27th .. Is it confirmed 3 o’clock kick off ?

     

     

    Looking at flights here

     

     

    Get well soon Tommy Gemmell

     

    Keep the faith

  3. I’m in for any crowd funded device and service for Tommy. A great idea to give back to a legend that gave us so much.

     

     

    Please get well soon Tommy!

     

     

    HH

  4. The Battered Bunnet on

    Something’s happened to Efe along the way.

     

     

    Folk refer to his bombscare performance versus Juve, but few of them recall why he was even in the team at all that night, or that he was part of a back 3/5 for (what I recall was) the first time under Lenny.

     

     

    He was in the team because he had what the manager thought was a terrific partnership with Kelvin Wilson, and teaming them with Charlie Mulgrew for the Juve match needed no prematch training, apparently. Two nghts earlier, on the 10th of February, he had played in the final of the African Cup of Nations, helping Nigeria win the competition.

     

     

    Two days later, having flown home from South Africa and landed in Glasgow on the day of the match, he was selected to play against Juve to the surprise of most folk with an interest; his 7th high profile game in 21 days, notwithstanding the travelling.

     

     

    It’s fair to conclude that Lenny thought highly of Efe Ambrose, and so did Celtic, giving him a (now dreaded) long term contract extension later that year following consistent interest in him from other clubs.

     

     

    Lenny’s considered view of him:

     

     

    “He’s already an important player for us,”

     

    “Efe has been fantastic and he’s low maintenance in terms of injuries.”

     

    “He’s got terrific pace, terrific athleticism and he’s improving.”

     

     

    Where did it all start to unravel for Efe? I think it was the contract extension. Just my own view, coloured, biased and imperfect as it is.

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

    QUONNO on 1ST AUGUST 2016 5:20 PM

     

     

    More to the point. How does a squad improve without adding quality to it?

     

     

    ——————

     

     

    That’s not more to the point – that’s an entirely different point.

     

     

    Better coaching, improved fitness, settled selection, etc., – many ways to improve without adding ‘quality’.

     

     

    Not that I wouldn’t welcome better players…

     

     

    HH

     

    BGFC

  6. Mountblow Tim-

     

     

    I see you have finally surfaced after your wee stay in Hollywood.

     

     

    A few of us were getting anxious that after rubbing shoulders with the celebrity hoi poloi for a week, you were going to ignore us plebs from here on out.

  7. Joe Filippis Haircut on

    If and when we beat Astana on Wednesday night Celtic will move up a gear in the transfer market in order to strengthen the squad but nothing is likely to happen until after the result of that game.Also we are likely to see further movement out of Celtic before the end of the transfer window as Brendan Rodgers continues to try to reduce the size of the playing squad. H.H.

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

    AN TEARMANN on 1ST AUGUST 2016 5:05 PM

     

    Wee BGFC/BGFC

     

     

     

    What were the 2 hills you done yesterday? Well done btw

     

     

    ——————-

     

     

    Ben Lawers then, on the way back, Beinn Ghlas. Five hours, and glad to see Wee BGFC was as knackered as me by the end of it :-)

     

     

    Think his thighs and knees have recovered more quickly than mines have, though!!!

     

     

    HH

     

    BGFC

  9. TBB

     

     

    I was with you completely till your conclusion which doesn’t fit for me.

     

    I agree that fateful Juve game was … well fateful. And few seem to remember how chuffed most were that Efe was back in time for it.

     

     

    I’ve seen too players form and commitment stop after securing a long term contract. To his credit I think efe’s about the last person in the squad who that would apply to.

     

     

    HH jamesgang

  10. RABERTO67 on 1ST AUGUST 2016 5:37 PM

     

     

    I haven’t seen much defence of Efe the player on here. In fact I have seen him slaughtered regularly.

     

     

    I think the point that many are making is the abuse he gets on the pitch is at an unacceptable level. The culmination of which was the booing in Dublin on Saturday. Pure scunnering it was.

     

     

    I also agree it’s time he moves on. He obviously has a nagging doubt in the back of his mind when he plays, and any top level performer will tell you that is a recipe for disaster. A new club and environment is just what he needs.

     

     

    His charity work, his attitude,and love for Celtic will always ensure he remains a Tim.

  11. TBB…he declared himself fit to play against Juventus. Fair enough, good attitude, but if you remember the long ball he missed that lead to a goal then you have to ask why he hasn’t improved this part of his game at all. Also, not trying to argue or be disrespectful here, but those comments are very selective. It’s one thing saying these things when he’s still your player and you have to keep his confidence up, but for me the more telling comments from Lennie were give during his commentary gig at the ACN where he was basically laughing at him. As for the extended contract, a strange one for me. I have no idea what went on at the time but wonder if it was usual him or nobody type deal. Thanks for your reasoned response and for not calling me a hun.

     

     

    TET…I generally enjoy your comments, but if you think telling me to go back to FF is not at least hinting that I’m a hun then you can gtf as well.

     

     

    Or…maybe like TBB you could give a reasoned answer?

  12. The Battered Bunnet on

    Jamesgang

     

     

    I don’t think it’s a conscious thing, certainly not with Efe any kind of “Billy Big Time” mentality, but it’s a pattern I’ve noticed with a few players.

     

     

    Nir Bitton is the latest to have dip in form following the contract extension. Celtic only EVER sign them up such when there’s interest from the market that justifies it.

     

     

    I think it serves to distract the player, and for Efe, it’s as if he’s never recovered from it.

  13. Sin City Bhoy on 1st August 2016 6:16 pm

     

     

    Fair enough, maybe we read the blog at different times.

     

     

    I said right at the beginning of my original post that abuse of any player at the game is not on.

     

     

    I also accept that doing all the charity work, etc is great. So what though? Plenty of people do charity work and are nice to people, doesn’t mean we should be signing them. My point was about his performances and nothing else. I made this clear.

  14. RABERTO67 on 1ST AUGUST 2016 5:37 PM – you are wrong in your assessment of the OG. Janko was out of position and Roberts was covering the RB area. Big Efe was running back into cover the ball coming in from the right and there was a Barca player whose run he was matching. The Barca player checked his run and Efe (IMHO) rightly moved to cover the open space. Eve didn’t see the Barca player stopping so if he doesn’t go for it he thinks it’s a tap-in. Gordon and O’Connell saw this and should have shouted. It appears they didn’t so Efe has to make the contact. Unlucky that it went into the net.

     

     

    The midfielders should’ve been dropping back to cover (Brown and Bitton) to allow Jako to get back into position – they didn’t. So there were a number of errors leading up to the goal – big Efe was just the luckless sap that turned it in. In my opinion Brown, Bitton, Jako, O’Connell and Gordon could have made decisions to help prevent the goal. the only 2 pro-active players were Efe and Paddy Roberts. Look the re-run here and how 1 pass takes out about 4 players who just jog back: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JUdK130OPo

  15. There is nothing, absolutely nothing , that can be achieved by booing a player whilst he’s on the field. So it’s pointless. In fact it’s liable to make the player edgy.

     

    Ambrose was quality on Saturday night, despite the own goal. I’m not a huge fan of his, but I won’t fault him for his performance on Saturday.

     

    The manager puts him in at CB. He gives his best.

     

    Write to the manager if you have a huge issue with the continual selection of a player.

     

    I hope Efe gets the loudest cheer of the night if he’s announced on Wednesday. In fact I hope he scores and somersaults all the way across the length of the pitch.

  16. Joe Filippis Haircut on

    I like many other Celtic supportersI think Efe could save Celtic a lot of money by playing him as a defensive midfielder just in front of the Centre Backs. I believe he would be a revelation in that role. H.H.

  17. TBB

     

     

    I agree it happens. And v noticeably with Bitton. He was one I’d wondered if perhaps he’d become too big for his boots as a result, while waiting for an EPL move so/and fair play to Nir for staying the opposite today.

     

     

    Efe I think has wonderful athleticism. Who else would you choose to take a handstand in a handstand penalty shoot out?!?! A big, good heart.

     

    A seriously questionable heading technique/positioning and a scary tendency to get caught in possession in danger areas.

     

    And frankly he’s unlucky at times.

     

     

    HH jamesgang

     

     

    HH jamesgang

  18. RABERTO67 on 1ST AUGUST 2016 6:22 PM

     

     

    Indeed.

     

     

    I’m just stating that I disagree with your point that the blog defends his mistakes on the field. You obviously have not been reading the same contributions as I have.

     

     

    Even Paul made Efe the brunt of his criticism in a lead article a few weeks back.

     

     

    Efe needs to move on for the good of Celtic, the fans and his own career, in my opinion.

     

     

    No need to disparage, or dismiss his good deeds. That’s how I would prefer to remember him, or anyone else for that matter.

  19. Geordie Munro on

    Jamesgang,

     

     

    Really? Aw braw. I like a new signing so I do.

     

     

    (Reads names again)

     

     

    Hey!! Just you wait a minute mister…. ;)))

     

     

    HH

  20. R67

     

    You come on here and slagged posters who are defending Efe, me, I defend him cos he is a Celtic player and does his best.

     

    You called me childish and pathetic for defending him.

     

    So with all due respect you can GTF

  21. vfr800a8 on 1st August 2016 6:23 pm

     

     

    Thanks for your response. I looked at the clip to see if I was mistaken (it’s happened before!), but I see it exactly the same as before. Effe’s man leaves him and there is no other player in the box at all. Messi’s the closest and he’s coming in at the back of the box. IMO there’s absolutely no way he should be unaware of this and the ball should have been left. This is only one example of his continuous behaviour that I’ve witnessed since he came and it’s just not improving. I accept most agree that he should be moved on, but think some need to open their eyes too.

  22. Delaneys Dunky on

    Raberto

     

     

    I totally disagree on your opinion of Efe. He is error prone ocassionally. Name a player in the Celtic team who does not make errors. Efe’s are highlighted by huns, SMSM and abusive Celtic attendees. Wish they would support now and then.

  23. Lenny didn’t laugh at efe, he laughed at the idea of him playing at right back, which was a bit strange as he won the acon laying in that position and even made the team of the tournament iirc. I know the bar isn’t set particularly high

     

     

    Abusing your own players is bullying macho selfish counterproductive and and just stupid, but in a world where expressions of anger and any form of agression are deemed unacceptable people (I’ve seen a woman at west ham giving one of her own players the most foul mouthed tired you’ll ever hear) feel safe to let their hair down and take out their frsutrations on the latest scapegoats

     

     

    It’s not fair or right but footballers get paid very well doing what they do and included in the unwritten contract that exists between the fans and the players there is definitely something in there that means if we sing your name and worship you when you in, expect the opposite when you fail

  24. Geordio!

     

     

    ;-)

     

     

    I hoped you’d like them!

     

     

    Especially Noah!!

     

     

    HH jamesgang

  25. Joe Filippis Haircut on

    RABERTO67 Did Efe get a shout to tell him he had time from any Celtic defender or the keeper ? football is a team game and the team need to converse with each other so in my opinion all the blame does not lie with Efe.H.H.

  26. THE CLUMPANY @ 5:42

     

    Brilliant! Very, very funny. That should be compulsory reading far all Celtic players, and should be reviewed prior to any interview by the MSM.

     

     

    What is despicable about the BBC media scum is that they use a quote from Brown as a headline, “Aberdeen the main threat to Celtic,” then insert two words he did not say as follows, “Aberdeen (NOT RANGERS) the main threat to Celtic.”

     

     

    It is patently a lie, intended to be inflammatory, and arouse the Sevco horde. If the Celtic PR Department made the CLUMPANY approach mandatory for Brendan and all players, it would be immensely entertaining, and frustrate the life out of the MSM. We should just stop giving them ammunition to use to our detriment.

     

     

    Time to act smart, Celtic. If we ignore every question re Sevco, they can’t use it against us. Mention them, and it will be twisted, and not in our favour.

     

    IniquitousIV

  27. Neustadt-Braw on

    Feck sake another 67……..

     

     

    TET …can you feel the Burnley Burn. Hahahahahaha……if they could only pay their bills…..pay their taxes…

     

     

    Aye its a braw life being a bhoy….

     

     

    Smiley thing ….

     

     

    Braw

  28. Clashcitybhoy on

    As matters stand on Wednesday, if no goals are scored by either side, we go through.

     

    Critical for me is that we start the game in the right way, with 100% concentration, and we do similar either side of HT.

     

    On numerous occasions under RD, we managed to snatch defeat when victory was ours.

     

    Lets hope BR changes that & big Efe scores & gives us a somersault

  29. Neustadt-Braw on

    Clashcitybhoy…….braw….

     

     

    On the fringe of despair….is the anchor of love ….

     

     

    Braw..

  30. I never got the impression the abuse affected Gary Caldwell or Paul Telfer – I always thought Telfer was cpunting the putts he’s taken on his second 18 on Friday while Heid thought they couldn’t possibly be booing someone as supremely talented as he was

  31. All Celtic players and staff must be told not to answer any questions about ‘Rangers’