Sunday: developing players and building a team


The truth is, football is not always exhilarating.  If we were two points off the pace going into yesterday’s Premiership game, all sorts of dramas would have taken place, but with an 8 point lead and a game in hand, there was no conceivable jeopardy.

Instead of contesting for all three points with his strongest available team, Brendan Rodgers chose to rest limbs ahead of the trip to St Petersburg, where he will attempt to defend a one goal lead.  This was, without shadow of a doubt, the correct course of action.  There are few enough advantages of playing in a weaker league, being able to rest players before a European game is the principle benefit.

Brendan also has developmental considerations.  Jack Hendry, Calvin Miller, Odsonne Edouard and Charly Musonda will all gain  from game time in the first team.  The expectations when playing for Celtic are uniquely onerous, these four young players will learn that from occasions like yesterday.

We came through a unique season last term.  The treble was won with a procession of brilliance, but our European endeavours ended in at the Champions League group stage.  If you look at the league table, you might be tempted to assume there is clear evidence that we are weaker now than a year ago, but the jury is out on that question.  If we progress to the Europa League last 16 on Thursday evening, Brendan’s second season will be set to eclipse his first.  This is perhaps a consequence of enduring some afternoons like yesterday.

Developing great footballers, building great teams, is not a linear process.  It takes time and patience.  Don’t bet against this squad delivering another treble and a European run which extends into the light nights.

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  1. Paul67


    However was fielding so many replacements really necessary ?



    Anyway the proof of the strategy will be the result on Thursday




  2. BT



    From previous article cheers, java script turned off on phone and can’t access my own email till I get home from work

  3. We started Thursday’s game missing a few first choice players, any more injuries before the return might well affect our chances of defending our lead, I’m guessing that was Brendan’s thinking and I have to say I agree with him on this.



    We proceed against Zenith and that’s saying something this season about our team:))



    Mon The Hoops Thursday can’t come quick enough!





    We only moan till our next game. As you say,roll on Thursday!!!

  5. gene on 19th February 2018 12:04 pm






    However was fielding so many replacements really necessary ?



    Anyway the proof of the strategy will be the result on Thursday






    IMO the result on Thursday will not determine whether or not our manager was right in his selection yesterday. All he is doing is giving us our best chance to progress – even if we fail to do so, he has still given us our best chance.

  6. Paul 67,



    Totally agree. There are few benefits in playing in an inferior league. Resting players and squad rotation is the only plus .



    Zenit is the priority, no doubt.



    In 2003 we won nuffin, apart from platitudes about our fans; yet books have been written, dvd’s have been produced, documentary’s have been made , even theatre has honoured us. Can you imagine if we had actually won the cup. ?


    Among other things, immortality in footballing terms for the manager and playing staff.



    And some fans wonder ( with the best intentions) why European football should be prioritised.



    HH. Buzzing for Thursday.

  7. Whether we progress on Thursday or not the rest to key players will be beneficial. We have games against the 2nd and third placed team in our league coming up among other things.


    Squad harmony is also key. Players want to play. Give them a chance when it presents. Tom R needed game time to get back match fitness, so too Calvin Miller. We can I’ll afford more injuries either – tired legs are more vulnerable to tears and strains. Rest is required.



    I don’t think there would have been as many changes if Olivier hadn’t been ill or broonie suspended.



    When these changes work they are lauded – I watched us dismantle Kilmarnock early season with KT at centre back, Miller, ralston, benyu and others in the team. It just worked on the night. Other times it doesn’t although we had chances to win the game yesterday.



    For me it was the right thing to do. Thursday night is not the only consideration.




    Scotland’s National Sport:))



    Folk here think I moan all the time:))



    I’m just talking says me!




  9. Oh and if any one ( Paul 67 ) has the ear of our strategists and the Gods are with us.:-



    KTF with our fans and implement a fairer pricing policy for the next leg.




  10. Thanks BMCUWP.



    If I can ever make one I will surely.



    I’ve met up with quite a few of the oul’ hauns back in the day and some even visit with us here in our Emerald Paradise.



    Not many of those still contribute to the comments section of the blog, thank goodness we’ll always have Paul’s articles!




  11. There’s good readon to make changes but seven? And to find a position that CM excels in then move him away from it . . .


    Fingers and toes crossed!

  12. What did Charly M learn?



    In Scotland, it’s pass n jump…..not pass n move!



    HH jamesgang

  13. Generally agree with your points, Paul, but I thought you missed out on the chance to refer to the standard of refereeing yesterday which was large;y appalling. The left back had already committed four fouls when he halved one of our guys off the ball – booking at last. Then midway through the second half he brings down/pulls down Charly (I think), foul given, but no second booking (perhaps through the clever use of the “McCulloch feint” where you foul a player, again, then immediately feign injury).



    Beaton’s wee flurry of cards in the last few minutes fools no-one – job done, as our opponents waged a strategy of foul, foul and foul again with impunity, very few of them serious in nature, but designed to break-up any semblance of pattern. The Biased Broadcasting Corporation has St Johnstone down for 23 fouls during the game – maybe they just stopped counting after the first half.

  14. Thanks BMCUWP.



    Probably in the States matey. I’m sure it’ll be a hoot tho’ !




  15. Players do talk Bobbio.



    ‘Great club. Great fans. Pash weather, always pashing doon…..and you’ll get booted to fek with impunity…..’




  16. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Very easy to focus on the number of changes, but it was still a strong team and we have also struggled in other games (Kilmarnock, Ross Co, Sevco) with pretty much full-strength teams.


    We make it easy for well-organised teams by being predictable.


    We move the ball too slowly around the box and don’t get it forward quickly enough in transition.


    This was the type of game we miss Roberts who can produce a bit of magic and Griffiths who gives better movement and can nick you a goal.


    No need to panic, but if we are not learning it will keep happening and the run-in will be harder than it needs to .

  17. I think BR was right to rest a few players. I only wish he had highlighted the number of fouls committed by St Johnstone (23 and lots more not given). It was a similar number by our previous two opponents. What this means is that the game is ruined as a spectacle and our team is cheated. I expect 20 or more fouls against us per game to be the trend from now on.

  18. Paul67






    Who’d have thunk that Celtic extended our lead at the top of the SPL after yesterday’s home draw?



    I’m all for postive thinking and yes there’s no point in having a bigger better squad than anybody else if you only play a first eleven. A first eleven is guaranteed to change with BR using all three subs most games, and a look at the match calendar could have told us the Zenit bashers were never going to play Thursday Sunday then half way across the world then play Thursday Sunday again.



    Some players especially those with knocks were never playing anyway, and the defensive changes BR made didn’t let anyone down with MIller, Henry and especially Gamboa doing well.



    Offensively was another problem Celtic never looked like scoring, but we’ll never know how an absolute first pick selection would have played, against Saints and Beaton we’ll leave it to Brendan and his experts, who are driving the slump.

  19. Maybe on the field we should forget about turning the other cheek and adopt an eye for an eye.



    And take slanderous managers to task also.




  20. VFR800 is now a Monster 821 on

    Notwithstanding that it was a flat and poor performance, the bottom line is that Brother Beatson allowed St Johnstone players (McLean, Davidson and Foster in particular) to commit fouls with impunity.



    Foster had been booked and took Charly out on the touchline and got away with it – feigning injury. He should have been booked for a second time and sent off. Instead he was substituted by Tommy Wright who knew he should have been sent off!



    Still, we are 9 points clear and have extended the gap to second place. 3 important games coming up against Aberdeen (A), Dundee (H) and Deidco (A). Win these and we are at least 12 points against our 2 closest rivals, neither of whom I expect to take all 9 points from their 3 games..





  21. 50 shades of green on

    Agents talk also, come up and play for Celtic win trophies play in Europe and if a decent offer comes in for you they wont stand in your way.







    Who’d have thunk that Celtic extended our lead at the top of the SPL after yesterday’s home draw?






    Not Radio 5, who said this morning that Celtic’s lead “had been cut to just 9 points”. Sheesh.

  23. Paul67



    Whilst I agree in principle with your blog, there are issues. What we have is a Celtic team that is struggling to create chances and to score goals over a period of time, long enough to concern.



    This season we have had one penalty, what that tells you is that we aren’t spending enough time in the opposition box. The system isn’t working, it’s too slow and predictable. I cannot remember the last time we scored from a corner or set peice. We don’t look like we believe we can score from a set play.



    In general play we couldn’t lay a glove on Kilmarnock or St Johnstone. We only look like scoring when we get to the byline, even then the forward players aren’t making the correct movements in the 6 yard box.



    You can’t cross a ball from wide if you have one guy against three defenders. If anyone watches Man City tonight, watch how they whip cross after cross into the box and how much variation they have in their play. You can’t spend all day passing the ball about to try and work an opening at the byline, it’s chronic.



    Unless Brendan mixes up the style and the tactics, expect more of the same. Slow, predictable, lacking in variation and ultimately toothless. The opposition can hardly believe their luck at the moment. It’s abject I’m afraid. We got it right against Hearts then take two steps back to the same formation we have toiled with all season.



    The 4/3/3 and 4/2/3/1 aren’t working in the League and the players know it. Yesterday it was screaming out to go 3 at the back, shove KT on and leave Edouard up with Dembele. Try something different, it’s was obvious to everyone we could have played all day and all night and not scored.



    Our best performances this season have been with 3 at the back. At home to Hearts and away to Aberdeen. Yet we persist with alternatives. For months everyone keeps saying, it’ll be alright and jam tomorrow whilst trotting out excuse after excuse. I’m not seeing where the upturn is coming from, unless the answer is Patrick Roberts.

  24. Have to agree with the lhad who said we are too easy to play against due to our very slow build up play. I am all for short sharpe passes, but we also need to mix that up with quickler more direct passangers of play when the pitch open up. Yesterday was poor, very poor indeed!!!



    Celtic have 35 first team players on the books, we could field 3 teams. By my reckoning we have 15 players to many. If we stepped stickpiling and invest those wages in 3 or 4 quality players we would have 3 or 4 to many players in the squad. When is the smaller better squad going by to emerge?



    Will hope for the best in russia but not overlapping confident we will win through, live in hope all the same




  25. VFR 800



    ‘ Still, we are 9 points clear and have extended the gap to second place’



    That not always what you do when you extend the gap?






    Lazy journalism?

  26. The hands cant hit what the eyes cant see on

    I agree with the comments from of @DAVID17 on 19TH FEBRUARY 2018 1:30 PM.



    We are too predictable in our play when using the 4-2-3-1 formation (and have been all season). After 27 games we have only scored 54 goals- an average of two a game- Sevco are on 53 goals at present. Our goals scored at the end of last season stood at 106 (an average of 2.8 a game over a higher number of games).



    I think the 3-5-2 which we utilised against Hearts/Aberdeen/Zenit will prove more fruitful. We need more penetration and bodies at the business end of the field.

  27. 16 roads - Celtic über alles... on

    Wonder if CQN could hold a vote for the supporters asking one question only – would you prefer to win the Europa League this season or the SPFL title?



    Settle it once and for all.




  28. North Cyprus (Baku no more) Bhoy on

    Wee bump for these two posts from end of last article.






    KC VIC on 19TH FEBRUARY 2018 12:07 PM


    After seeing Saturday’s game and listening to the Celtic underground podcast I looked at the spfl website wondering about fouls, yellow cards and referees.



    -Saturday’s game had the most free kicks in any league game we’ve played this season (35).



    -St Johnstone committed the most free kicks against Celtic (24)



    -This follows the Kilmarnock game last week that had the most yellow cards (7)



    -Kilmarnock and St Johnstone collected the joint 2nd most yellow cards against Celtic(4)



    -This is joint 2nd with Aberdeen (23/12), Motherwell(29/11) and Aberdeen again (25/10)



    -These games are 2nd only to the Partick Thistle game on 20/12 who collected 6 yellows against Celtic. ( Thistle need to commit fewer fouls than any other team to receive a yellow card, barring St Johnstone. Thistle opposition also need to commit more fouls before receiving a yellow-source;



    -In both games lost this season (Kilmarnock and Hearts away) the fouls by opposition to fouls by celtic ratio has been 3 to 1 (15 free kicks by opposition to 5 by celtic)



    -These are the highest ratios of any league games Celtic have played.



    -Of the 7 draws, the opposition have committed more fouls in 5 of the games



    -In all 27 games the opposition have committed more fouls in 22 of the games. Celtic have commited more fouls in 2 of the hibs games and against Dundee (26/12), Kilmarnock(28/10) and Ross County (16/9)



    -There have been no red cards



    -Celtics next 3 league games are Aberdeen away, Dundee home and Rangers away.



    Celtic are vulnerable , at the moment, particularly away from home to an opposition that commits a high ratio of fouls against Celtic. This is the next challenge in the league.



    A final point; in 2017/18, Willie Collum has been the referee in 4 league games involving celtic. Celtic have drawn 3 and lost 1. Lets hope we don’t see Willie in the next 2 weeks.




    CALL_OF_JUAREZ on 19TH FEBRUARY 2018 12:57 PM


    KC Vic excellent analysis. Do you know what the average no of fouls per yellow card is for each team?








  29. Gerryfaethebrig on

    16roads 1.53pm



    Can I have the Europa league as the Spl is in the bag :-)






    Plus win the Europa it’s automatic entry to group stages of the CL




  30. A European trophy for me any day of the week.


    While we’re at it I would also take a continual loop of nine in a row . Not getting ten would be eased by winning ninety out of the next hundred. Not that any of us would see it of course.

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