Socially distanced defensive structure


One of the frustrating things is, you and I watch teams play the way we needed to play last night more than any other type of football.  Against vastly more resourceful teams, create a tight defensive unit.  Do not allow an opponent space inside the box or in a central position outside the box.

That way, if an attacker drops the shoulder, there is always another body in the way to block him.  For reasons that need proper consideration, Celtic’s penalty area was socially distanced.  Atletico were able to find dangerous space and make attempts at goal without pressure.

The opening minutes gave us a glimpse of what might have been.  Celtic were comfortable in possession and continued the good work from two weeks ago.  Then, Callum McGregor dropped deep to head the ball into an empty space he would normally occupy.  The shot took a deflection, but we conceded a good chance to Atletico’s top striker very cheaply.

Until 42 minutes we looked able to get into the dressing room still technically in the game, then something changed.  The second goal was preceded by Celtic’s disintegration, Atletico could easily have scored twice in added time at the end of the first half.

Did we run out of energy inside the first half?  There is certainly an energy deficit compared to other Champions League teams, but before halftime?  That’s a worry.  The contest was over by the break, the only question remaining was how bad the score would be.

Brendan Rodgers is entitled to take chances with the game gone.  He chose to leave the back four as it was, but none of the six who started in midfield or forward positions finished the game.  With five subs and one red card, we looked like a Celtic Select team, assembled for a testimonial.  Whenever Oh managed to take control of a clearance, he was surrounded by defenders (and still 40 yards from goal).

Manager’s often moan about individual errors costing their team defeat.  There were precious few individual errors from Celtic last night, in fact, Joe Hart and his defence all came through the game remarkably well in that respect, considering the scoreline.  The problem was one of structure.

They tell us it can be more difficult to play against 10 men than 11.  That’s because the 10 drop deep, deny space and stop trying to compete up field.  ‘They’ don’t watch Celtic.  We have a skilful squad full of potential, but we can be a soft touch.

You could convince me Daizen Maeda’s red card was an Atletico objective.  There was no injury, no weight or even stiffness behind Daizen’s leg as he went to block.  Atletico know all the dark arts; when an opponent blocks, leave your leg there.  It’s sure to result in a great photo op.

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    Your post on the last blog was not correct.



    Revenue is a good comparison, especially in the same industry.



    We make more profit than Feyenoord, we are richer than Feyenoord.



    Football Clubs have many income streams


    domestic TV money is just one of them.



    What Celtic lose in TV money through being in an impoverished league they gain by consistently winning that league and getting European Money and gate receipts.



    Also normally revenue generating Cup runs.



    The reason we don’t make so much money from player trading is we have a moneyball strategy that we manage very poorly.



    This doesn’t only effect our finances, it effects our playing squad massively.



    Hail Hail

  2. P67


    “Then, Callum McGregor dropped deep to head the ball into an empty space he would normally occupy.”



    Agreed. He meant well but he needs to trust the CBs to do their job – not like he tracked a MF runner or anything – he abandoned post due to not trusting his CBs to do their job. CCV would likely have headed it out to him or beyond him / to safety had he kept his position.



    “There were precious few individual errors from Celtic last night, in fact, Joe Hart and his defence all came through the game remarkably well in that respect, considering the scoreline. The problem was one of structure.”



    I agree our structure (with 10 men especially) was poor but AJ and others also had weak defensive headers into risky areas. Is this just poor technique or are we trying to keep the ball in play even in our box?!



    Is it time that we hired a “Dark Arts” coach in the same way that Liverpool have set piece/throw in coaches in order to try to change the mentality of the team from honest/naive to savvy/sleekit when the occasion calls for it – e.g. fight fire with fire when needed?




  3. Still raging.



    Just seen footage of Madrid polis brutality to Celtic fans.



    Polis all had numbers on their backs.



    Celtic, the Scottish government and the UK government should all be doing something about this.



    Won’t hold my breath.

  4. The Board have no ambition other than to qualify for the CL. Sell your best player, boost the balance sheet and buy a load of projects who they hope to sell on for big bucks.



    I’m surprised BR agreed to come back without insisting on CL standard players being bought. His tactics in Europe are like Ange’s, set up the team to play in the same way as against the likes of Ross County. And instead of going for damage limitation at half time by bringing on another defender he threw on the prospects to sink or swim. Predictably they sank. I feel sorry for the players, not only for the red card.



    If that had been Ronny Deila in charge last night everyone would be calling the manager a clown. Still, BR claimed the moral high ground by shaking hands with the cheats.

  5. The Battered Bunnet on

    We seem to have watched a different game, Paul. Our right back is the cause of more goals against in Europe this season than any other aspect of the game, red cards included.



    Speaking of which, Maeda sold a cheap one. Daft, daft man.

  6. Quadboy


    Sensible points well made. P67 good article. We treat Europe all the wrong way. I would happily take 0-0 in any of the games. I would have had a totally defensive team on last night 5-4-1 and get rid of the ball. We keep taking knives to a gunfight.

  7. CHAIRBHOY on 8TH NOVEMBER 2023 12:04 PM



    “Your post on the last blog was not correct.”



    You missed the “- FACT” from the end of that line ;)



    “Revenue is a good comparison, especially in the same industry.”



    Ok, so I run a web hosting company; I hire AWS servers from Amazon then sell them on with a bit of my own code running on them.


    I charge £100pcm for a website; but have to pay Amazon £50pcm so only make a £50 profit – assuming my costs are free as I’m just dropping on a template effectively.


    Amazon can charge £100pcm for a website but only have to “pay” an internal (cost) charge of £10pcm for the AWS servers so they can make a £90 profit.



    Both revenues look equal yet not a good comparison as expenses are relevant for comparison also.




  8. The Battered Bunnet on

    More generally,



    Our guys need to play at their absolute max to compete at this level. Their engines are running at the red line. Consequently, there is little margin for error, and the consequences of any such errors are magnified horribly.



    Now and then we’ll get a result, but mostly we’ll crash. Until we are able/prepared to field a team commensurate with the elite level we’re playing at, this sort of mangled wreckage will be a feature of our autumn.

  9. Hart slapped at a cross he should have held,then a weak header out,right on the D,1 cheap goal conceded as usual in Europe, as Johnston done 3 times during the game,a lot of basics missing right there.

  10. Who to believe…



    Paul’s appraisal that it was Brendan’s naive systems and shape that let us down ?



    Or Brendan’s assertion we have a bloated squad of projects that needs filleted and filled with actual kwality?



    Baith ?



    Article has the appearance of a dagger wrapped in a silk hankie monogrammed with the letters PL on it.

  11. I hope I misread Brendan’s quote that he will ‘ coach the players, that he is given’, that is a total cop out,any manager must have influence as to who he wants to sign.

  12. Club either supports the manager and has balance in its recruitment. The summer recruitment was a joke and we are seeing it play out now.



    Projects are not good enough as we have a former Aviva employee who mysteriously got a gig with City now Recruitment ahem Chief. Role never advertised and incumbents qualification of role never revealed.



    We are going backwards. Team and squad are not good enough esp with 70m plus in the bank.



    When the chairman has his own personal agenda which is a conflict of interest to the company he needs to go. We need a complete board refresh (and a recruitment guru urgently).



    Would you give the novice 15 mil to spend based on last few windows—- thats all you need to know.

  13. We have a skilful squad full of potential



    The problem was one of structure.






    Subtle, Paul.

  14. QUADBHOY @ 12:16 PM,



    Yes, over 15 years ago I posted on these very pages that turnover was vanity and profit was sanity.



    So you are preaching to the converted.



    My point was intimating revenue was not a decent comparison and domestic TV money was the only relevance was wrong.



    There are many factors involved.



    We have been “debt free” for ten years and we have squirrelled away on average around ten percent of our turnover.



    Hail Hail

  15. MARKIEBHOY on 8TH NOVEMBER 2023 12:15 PM


    “We treat Europe all the wrong way. I would happily take 0-0 in any of the games. I would have had a totally defensive team on last night 5-4-1 and get rid of the ball. We keep taking knives to a gunfight.”



    I agree – said similar pre-Feyenoord, especially for CL away games.



    We get away with it on occasion as Maeda and others work rate help us in this regard – we missed him hugely when he was sent off.



    I’d drop the 4-3-3 with attacking wingers (with only one side usually helping the defence of their flank effectively) and bring Holm / extra steel and composure into MF.



    3-5-2 in possession (Maeda and Taylor WBs and MO’R just behind/running beyond CF).



    5-4-1 out of possession and don’t try to press in their half for 90 minutes – certainly not when we are not losing; we always seem to tire 30 minutes into each half and these games are a marathon not a sprint.



    That said, when 4-3-3 works (even for a spell of a game) under Ange or Brendan it can be a sight to see – just its got a low probability of a win imo – even against RM under Ange we looked good but I felt they were just biding their time / waiting for us to tire a bit.




  16. !!BADA BING!! @ 12:22 PM,



    My take on that was in general terms his input was being ignored and big Pedro was showing everyone whose boss.



    That has got to change, our current recruitment strategy is not fit for purpose as the headless chicken display in the second half in Madrid showed.



    Hail Hail

  17. Paul 67


    The defence was shocking McGregor is played as a defensive midfielder, he might be on his grannies side, he is not and never will be, he also looks carthorse slow and that might be due to the new training methods, either way we need better from him much better, his header to their French forward was pathetic , no power poorly directed. Alistair Johnston the same heads the ball towards the middle of the box weakly and begging to be hit it was, we conceeded again.


    The defence got a roasting , the midfield offered nothing, if we arent going to pass quickly to Kyogo dont play him he is not a target man Centre forward, we had no physicality at all on the park the full game,the manager and coaches need to get to the bottom of this as it looks like a team of strangers with players recruited to play a certain way for the previous manager and now cannot/wont adjust. It looked like a NL team not a BR team, he the manager needs to get rid of the deadwood/ uncommitted as much as is possible and bring his own players in , otherwise BR should leave. We have 1 competitor for the League, who are favoured by Officialdom and the Media, their team is big and physical we need to be aware of this and prepare accordingly, will the battles you win the war.

  18. BURNLEY78 @ 12:44 PM,



    Agreed, I have never argued it was exclusively about the money.



    In fact I cautioned against it in 2019 when we thought our financial prowes made us invincible domestically.



    We threw money at a treble, treble winning team, to get the precious ten in a row and failed.



    We need a strategy to deal with our various challenges.



    Hopefully we will be playing against eight UCL teams this time next year, possibly a good Sevco side and a couple good domestic Clubs, St Mirren or Aberdeen possibly.



    Maybe a Hampden semi final and final.



    We will we expected to regularly perform at a relatively high level right up to the winter break.



    We need to get better.



    Hail Hail

  19. CHAIRBHOY on 8TH NOVEMBER 2023 12:39 PM



    “My point was intimating revenue was not a decent comparison and domestic TV money was the only relevance was wrong.” + “There are many factors involved.”



    I didn’t state that TV money was the ONLY relevance – just that how “rich” a club was should be measured in operating profit not just turnover and that even where profit is equal there can be other factors – market conditions, visa etc.



    I agree that there are many factors, including:


    – expenses occurred in generating turnover (see last example)


    – market conditions, e.g. being seen as a “poor league” do we have to pay players more wages to convince them to move here over other options? Therefore our costs for similar players may be higher?


    – squad management (and my point on markup due to league etc I think is valid)



    Then even with all this being even, we still play against opposition that in no ways prepares us for CL games.



    “We have been “debt free” for ten years and we have squirrelled away on average around ten percent of our turnover.”



    We did this I think originally to invest in a hotel which we hoped would then generate more profit each year. Sadly GCC had other ideas and the pandemic may have changed thinking here also?!



    I’d like to see some of that cash spent – Lino was a £7M buy. Palma £3.5M. Whilst I appreciate MOR, Hatate, Maeda etc all brought great value for money you will surely have a better chance if you shop a little higher up.



    With 10 CL games next year (IF we win the league) and the drain on the squad this may cause I think we need a strong January window – clear out and pay off as required (is McCarthy the new Bobo?), retain the best of the projects (Holm, Palma, Yang) for SPFL games next year, esp after CL away games etc and get a new Keeper, LB and a new Wanyama type please :)



    Hail Hail




  20. We play in the SPL…we went from Dingwall to Madrid……not trying to be clever or funny…its impossible…..with 10 its beyond that…we must remember the quality they have what was it ..4 world cup winners ?…..I don’t think supporters are realistic….even 30 million wouldn’t change it

  21. With hindsight (I know, I know…), a 5-4-1 was our only hope last night. I noted the 4-3-3 when the team was listed and went into the game with only hope in my heart.



    The contributing factors are well listed here but I don’t remember a more one sided game in my entire life.



    It was so hard to watch, I nearly went back to work!

  22. The chasm in the quality of both teams was stark last night. They were light years ahead both individually and collectively. Their on field structure just tore us asunder. We were made to look exactly the level we are at. Which saddens me. I was longing for the final whistle from the 55th minute. To me the Celtic board are content just to qualify for the CL. They don’t really seem ambitious enough to have enough quality to give the tournament a go. Are they content to get these annual hammerings so long as the balance sheet pays out lucrative dividends ?? Are they not embarrassed when sipping their gins in their hosts Boardrooms ? Please give Brendan his head in the next few windows. Back him. Let him put out a team unlikely to get a mauling from the top teams. I expected to lose by 3 or 4 last night but that could have been a cricket score. They were having a laugh at us 2nd half.

  23. I can completely understand why Brendan made the subs he did but he also needs to take some responsibility for the score line. Making the subs gave a message that he was saving his best players for upcoming games, if I was still on the pitch I would have been saving myself as well. We’d given up on the game completely, the score line was inevitable



    I also don’t think he did any of the subs a favour, watching Holm standing still while Atletico ran through us didn’t make me think he was gaining anything from the experience at all, the opposite. Hopefully his confidence won’t be shot



    Like I said I can understand the thinking, a draining night and a three of four goal defeat does us no good at all, but it will take all Brendan’s skills and experience to limit the damage to the groups confidence.



    I think with that in mind, and with the early goal, the poor luck with the red card decision and with the opppsition in mind who gave an excellent home record and a ruthless manager and team I think the game was a one-off. Only the very top teams would get something there after that start and the red card. I don’t think it’s necessarily the same as previous doings we’ve had under Brendan and Ange either



    The game in Rome and the final game against Feyenoord will tell us much more than last night imo.

  24. QUADBHOY @ 12:55 PM,



    Is the ten guaranteed or do we have eight and need to finish in the top 24 to get the play off game?



    Still your points are valid but consider this, we are in a poor league with certain disadvantages yet we regularly win it.



    Feyenoord are not in that position.



    So surely we should be taking advantage of the upsides.



    The squad management while not been disastrous has been very, very poor.



    In the last ten years 50 duds.



    It is a hugely important aspect of our business and has been mismanaged for a decade.



    Good businesses thrive by understanding the challenges of market conditions and making strategies and decisions accordingly.



    Our staid Board can’t do that unfortunately.



    We need to ring in the changes.



    Hail Hail

  25. No use being angry or sad, or even picking the bones out of the toughest fixture we’ll face this season.



    We are in a Generation of Drubbings.



    Not won a game in the CL since 2017


    Not won a home game in the CL since 2013


    Not kept a clean sheet in the CL in 14 games



    Last 5 CL campaigns



    2013-14: 4th – 3Pts


    2016-17: 4th – 3Pts


    2017-18: 3rd – 3Pts


    2022-23: 4th – 2Pts


    2023-24: 4th – 1Pt (2 games to go)



    P28 W2 D6 L20



    Comfort will be sought in keeping ahead of der hun, we’ll continue to look high and low for moneyballers that bloat out the squad (Rocky, Lagerbeilke, Holm, Yang, Tilio, Kwon, Iwata, Philips, Bernabei, Oh, Haksa, Siegrist, Kobyashi from last 2 seasons or so or about €30m in spend not in the team last night).



    For the champions league, we are seeking a step up from being 4th to the 2nd worst team in the group. Anything above that is clearly a Brucie bonus but still requires the board, guardians of your money and your european dreams, to move the dial to be the very best we can be at this level.



    Not overly sure what the point is in our participation anymore, apart from diminishing our football brand on an annual basis.



    Not just me. Rodgers himself said he’s back with an aim to push up our European pedigree.



    Back him ffs and let’s see.




  26. CELTIC40ME @ 1:05 PM,



    I also don’t think he did any of the subs a favour, watching Holm standing still while Atletico ran through us didn’t make me think he was gaining anything from the experience at all, the opposite. Hopefully his confidence won’t be shot



    Totally agree, I made the exact point in the transfer window, it is all well and good getting in a few prospects to develop over the seasons.



    Expecting these lads to come up against the best in Europe and perform is totally unfair.



    Hopefully we have learned a lesson, no more prospects until this “skilled squad full of potential” starts maturing.



    Until then we need experienced, quality players in with the physicality and technique required to drastically improve this side.



    Hail Hail

  27. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    You must have a different definition of individual error to me, Paul. Ball-watching (why am I not surprised!), not picking up players in space or making runs.


    Three sendings-off in four games (two straight reds!), another goal conceded just before half-time.


    Just seem to shoot ourselves in the foot at this level.


    The good news is at least we’re not too far in front of partner club…..

  28. CHAIRBHOY on 8TH NOVEMBER 2023 1:18 PM



    That wasn’t my point. Playing large parts of the second half with ten men and a midfield of Turnbull Iwata and Holm, and a message that we’ve effectively given up on the game doesn’t do anyone any good. Exposing a kid to that sort of situation isn’t great.



    However, I can understand Brendan’s thinking.



    I also think we should bear it in mind before we get carried away with how awful we were

  29. Brendan will have some say in who we sign. He might name a player he would like but knowing we can’t afford him, ie Haaland. What he’ll get is a Haaland type of player but not as good as and much cheaper. He’ll name the “type and position” of player he wants and our scouting network will get as close to that at an affordable price. When he says he’ll coach the players he’s given, I don’t think he’s given any old player out of the blue. He’s given players for the positions he’s asked for and at what we can afford. Hence the “I’ll coach the players I’ve been given” He still has a say in transfers

  30. 31003 on 8TH NOVEMBER 2023 1:40 PM



    Brendan asking for John McGinn but getting Yousef Moloumbu kinda thing :)



    Stands back csc




  31. CELTIC40ME @ 1:38 PM,



    This is the same point as fholk losing it before the Sevco game at Ibrox.



    They didn’t like the team BR picked but he only picked that team as we didn’t have alternatives.



    Matt was having a bit of a mare, you can imagine Holm thought he could do better



    Opportunity knocks…



    If we had the tough, experienced quality DM many were calling for in the summer BR would most certainly have being playing him.



    Aff oot



    Have A Great One



    Hail Hail

  32. CHAIRBHOY on 8TH NOVEMBER 2023 2:01 PM



    That awkward moment, just before a certain poster will be coming on, asking us to name that experienced DM, his salary and benefits package and his inside trouser leg measurement.



    Scouting for Guys csc




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