Taken to school, Paul McConville


Celtic’s valiant capitulation last night had a familiar feel to it.  We took the game to Milan, bossed them in many areas while the tie was still close enough to be called a contest, created chances but had no cutting edge and lost heavily, at home, to what is clearly the weakest of four Milan teams we have faced in the last decade.  It was a similar story when Juventus came to Glasgow last season.

Am I the only one who thought it was familiar from stirring European nights of the 80s?  Take on one of the most experience teams in Europe with two out-and-out wingers, inspire for a time but only earn a lesson in how unforgiving the game can be at the top level. Or at least, hope we learned a lesson.

We loved it in the 80s, of course, but it was like going to school when Martin O’Neill arrived and taught us how to win in Europe.  Despite the defeat, the 10 men got it right at home to Barca, and in the home win over Ajax, where we allowed the visitors the majority of possession and territory, but with four minutes on the clock and Celtic playing well last night, I noted the game was “worryingly open”.

In Europe, an open game means defeat. We don’t have the midfield or attack to win playing adventurously. When setup properly, we can defend as well as anyone in Europe, this is our irrefutable strength, play to it.

Paul McConville

The first thing I did when I met Paul McConville at the Columba Club on Friday was dig him up for not being in touch recently.  This gave him an opportunity to wax enthusiastically about the consuming joy of being back on the tools as a solicitor in Glasgow.  He was a man who had arrived exactly where he wanted to be in life.

He was so full of drive, clarity of vision and purpose that it was with utter disbelieve I heard the news of his sudden passing yesterday.

As anyone who read Random Thoughts Re Scots Law knew, he loved his family.  He also loved practicing law and held Albion Rovers in high affection.  He was not, as has been suggested, part of the Celtic family. Had the snake oil salesmen turned up at Celtic Park they would have endured the same forensic analysis from Paul as he applied elsewhere, but he was an important friend and resource to our community, and ultimately our club, during an historically important time.

To most of us he was a unique blogger.  Cheerful, incisive and unrelenting.  He charted the story of Rangers insolvency, administration and liquidation, then picked up the even more complicated events surrounding the phoenix.

When asked on Friday why he had been less industrious recently, specifically covering the leaks from Charlotte Fakes, he conceded he just didn’t have the time anymore; he was back litigating and loving it.

The personal cost of his blogging was often all too clear, he was out there, but Paul managed to retain his determination not to be browbeaten, while enduring the numptites with more good grace and humour than most of us could muster. Before taking up his new role in Glasgow he worked a few minutes walk from me. We collaborated on a number of matters in recent years and marked one auspicious afternoon last year by sharing a bottle of Champagne; a genuinely treasured memory.

The fragility of it all is breathtaking. Our condolences to the McConville family. May he rest in peace.
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  1. Comparing today’s game to the days of Big Jock is completely irrelevant.



    Back then we could sign a player for peanuts, pay him not much more than the average wage, he would be happy living in a tenement in Dennistoun, the club held onto his contract and only left the club when big Jock was finished with you.



    Those days are gone and are never coming back. Players are in charge and by and large don’t want to come to Scotland unless they are paid stupid money, which we are not going to do.



    Get over it.

  2. God Bless Paul McConville may he Rest In Peace.



    May it be of some consolation to his family that he was so loved by the online community most of whom he had never met.




  3. Bt,



    I think the blokes I had a drink with in aberdour were from bannockburn, old tim was in the same hole as them, late on. If memory serves, he posts under Jamiebhoy.



    Then again a lot of drink involved.



    Hope the old bhoy is ok.

  4. dontbrattbakkinanger.



    Sorry to have missed you at BBs,



    Just received a call from Hospital,they had an appointment for Monday 2nd Dec which I accepted,It’s earlier than expected. So heading over to Barcelona with a bit cut from my nose.

  5. acoustamatix


    11:49 on


    27 November, 2013






    I understand what you are saying, but I think we all need to take a reality check at times with what we are, and where we are in European terms.



    We all know the squad we have are more than capable of winning domestically (although Dundee Utd are coming good and playing some great football), but when it comes to Europe I feel we still have the train of thought that we “expect” to beat teams in certain games that in reality, without the green goggles on, we would be doing well to compete in.



    Yes Meeelan were/are on a dreadful run, but when you looked at their line-up were there not more than a few you would want in your team? Kaka? Montolivo? Zapata, de Jong? These are top proven internationalists. Not to mention Balotelli who despite his temperament is an undoubtedly talented footballer. The MSM done their best to have us believe that we only needed to put in a decent performance to get the 3 points last night, when in reality we were up against a top class team, full of players who have been there and done it.



    It’s tough on the players, who have to up their game by 20-30% or whatever to get up to speed with these type of games. I fear that until we get out of the SPFL we will always be limited to what we can achieve in European terms, and consequently we need to perhaps lower our expectancy levels somewhat. Disappointing as it undoubtedly is, that’s where we are, and the hand we have to play with.



    We were a Pot 4 team this year for a reason, and we have finished 4th. Anything else would have been a bonus.






    In Lenny we trust, but Neil, please get rid of that dreadful zonal marking nonsense…. PLEASE!!!!




  6. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on







    Couldn’t find you bhoys in lounge. I left at half time as wasn’t feeling well..


    We bit better today

  7. WGS



    The Steaua team has the same number of points as us, has scored the same number of goals as us but has conceded one more. What is so impressive about them?



    While I am at it, what is so impressive about Jackie MacNamara as a manager. The Thistle team he developed are very ordinary and have two ex-Celtic reserves in their starting 11. The United team he inherited, with Gauld and Mackay-Stevens already there, Have won fewer games than ICT, Motherwell and Aberdeen.



    Just because he is an ex-Celt does not make him a great prospect for us. That sort of thinking got us Tony Mowbray to replace WGS

  8. RobertTressell 12:07



    “Celtic, you broke my heart again last night. But I still love you….”



    Like it! :-)

  9. As always Pul great article and not easy with such sudden loss. I’ll miss Paul McConville’s insights which often kept my expectations weel in check especially in the Rangers/Sevco debacle. Sad sad loss.



    Disappointed to be out of Europe but not the overall performances. Some in my view would have been subbed/not in the starting line up but hey I’ve been wrong in the past.



    Let’s concentrate on Hearts then the league and hope we may grace the Champions league next year (qualifiers permitting).



    Hail Hail

  10. RIP to Paul and condolences to the Mc Conville family for what it is worth.



    Regarding last night, there are a few views I feel. A shot of Lennon looking p*ssed off on the sideline with Puuki and Balde sat behind him looking lost sums up the transfer window for me. How many crosses went into the box to nobody last night?



    While last season was great it was a team that took 2 seasons to build. Wanyama, Wilson, Hooper, Forster all were involved in many of the poor European displays in Lenny’s first two seasons.



    I also think we had a serious amount of luck in last years group stages. While we defended gallantly against Barca in both games we had slices of fortune and had Masserano not lost that cross we’d have drawn not won the game. Our qualification came down to a soft penalty v Spartak at the end of the day which we cannot overlook.



    Our poor defending was there to see V Benfica, Barca away and Spartak as well last season so it is not a new thing. Since Juve however we’ve not gotten away with it. This for me is the crux of the problem. If we want to dominate play like we did v Juve, Milan and others we will leave gaps and run the risk of this happening.



    Maybe 1 £5/6 million striker would have been better than Balde and Puuki but what would that do to the wage structure and those already at the top? Would they demand more? Would it unsettle the squad? We beat Barca last year without Hooper, Brown and Izzy, the team cost £8m or so. Spurs paid out £100m and got pumped 6-0 at the weekend!

  11. Dontbrattbakkinanger on

    O/Tim- sorry to have missed you. When I heard you’d been in to pick up your meds I thought that ‘s you , gettin’ ready to play.



    You would have put away the Kayal chance, no bother.



    Good luck next week.

  12. A self aggrandising re-post from last night about player and team value that will tell you nothing you don’t already know.





    00:16 on


    27 November, 2013


    As ever I can’t get sleepy after an evening game and I thought I’d look at the various values involved, as I maintain that in the majority of cases the most expensive team will win. Thankfully transfermarkt provides a consistency to this measure.



    So all the players that scored in our group:



    Messi – £105M – CF


    Pique – £31.5M – CB


    Denswil – £525k – CB


    Balotelli – £26.5M – CF


    Fabregas – £39.5M – AM


    Schone – £4.4M – CM


    Robinho – £6.6M – CF


    Busquets – £39.5M – DM


    Kaka – £7M – AM


    Zapata – £5.3M – CB


    Serero – £875k – CM


    Hoesen – £1.8M – CF


    Xavi – £8.8M – CM



    Forrest – £2.2M – RW


    Kayal – £1.8M – CM



    Our most expensive players in each of the positions that other teams scored from:



    Scott Brown – £4.4M – CM


    Temmu Pukki – £2.2M – CF


    Virgil van Dijk – £2.6M – CB


    Kris Commons – £2.6M – AM



    The values of each team’s squad:



    Barcelona – £525M


    Milan – £195M


    Ajax – £69M


    Celtic – £47M



    You see I don’t really think the difference is the lack of £5M striker, although it won’t have helped, I think it’s the relative cost of the other creative areas and that’s where we’re lacking.

  13. acoustamatix 11.36



    “Celtic have always been the flowing, entertaining, creative…”



    Really? Not much evidence of that since 2003.



    If you had said Celtic have traditionally been….



    That I could agree with!

  14. justafan



    The last goals I can remember us conceding from a corner due to zonal marking came against Athletico Madrid in 2011, very similar goal to the first last night as Falcao got a free header.




  15. 67Heaven ... I am Neil Lennon, supporting WEE OSCAR..!!.. Ibrox belongs to the creditors on

    setting free the bears supports resolution 12 & oscar knox



    11:44 on 27 November, 2013




    “BlantyreKev@11:26 on 27 November, 2013



    ABSOLUTELY SPOT ON, and, as supporters, it is our job to get behind (support) the long term strategy of our Club….



    May Paul Rest in Peace….

  16. Blantyretim.



    I was only in the lounge for five minutes,went back to my seat with a coffee,The Manager and players don’t seem to realise how they must upset us all, with performances like that.



    I agree wholeheartedly with Estadio National. I’m saying no more as I don’t wish to fall out with the posters who don’t agree. I’ll struggle to return to Celtic Park with the present incumbent in place.

  17. In the 2011-12 season Manchester City’s wage bill was £202m (up from £174m in 2011) – the highest in the EPL. Tottenham’s wage bill was £90m (down from £91m in 2011). They had 6th highest wages.



    Swansea City had a wage bill of £35m in the year to 31 May 2012 (up from £17m in 2011). They are committed to competing with style. They have been very good to watch for several years.



    Our wage bill for the year to 30 June 2012 was £34m.



    I would be very happy if we had the same value for money as Swansea.

  18. I came on here this morning ready to unload my frustrations of last,night only to read of the sad passing of Paul McConville.



    What a shock,what a loss to both his Family and those of us who read his Blog for a bit of insight and common sense.



    My sincere condolences to his Family and friends,I will ensure I remember him in my prayers.



    Cant remember the other stuff now it really does not matter any more.

  19. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on

    Cubist funk.


    Swansea picked up some players on bosmans from la liga..


    Surely we can compete on bosmans…

  20. justafan


    12:22 on


    27 November, 2013


    Derk’s left boot…



    Other than last night exactly how many goals have we lost through zonal?





    Aberdeen on Saturday for starters. I was looking at how the players set up before the corner, and said to the chap beside me “This has got goal written all over it”. The very same thing happened last night. Once again at the 1st corner I was looking in the box at how the players were positioned. Different chap next to me, but he heard the very same comment, and Boom!



    I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure zonal was in operation in the near debacle that was Karagandy!



    Any decent ball into the box must be an immediate advantage to the attacking team, as they are not in a “standing start” position (as the defence is), and can therefore leap higher, and have more mobility when they track the balls oncoming path.




  21. Good afternoon, sad to hear of someone so young passing away, did not know the man but he will be missed by them that knew him.


    Re last nights match, it kind of irritates me that I am not so fussed, but I knew when we scraped by Karagandy we were in for a rough ride, the last minute goals from Ajax and Milan also scarred me. Last nights goals conceded should scar any coach for months.


    I am not on here to decry NL , I was vocal about his ability at Kilmarnock when we were 3 down at half time, look what happened thereafter. However I still feel that even with the limitations he has placed on him we could have performed better last night, I do not find many plus points when I look back.


    Sure Kayal going off was a bad thing but we replaced him with a guy who thinks he is worth a new deal…..on that showing not a chance. VvD missed a sitter, Mulgrini fluffed a shot………not any of them are known as goal scorers. We have to face facts and assess our options , as a wise politician said ” when circumstances change I consider my opinion, when the facts change I change my mind” As things stand we were always the pot 4 side and we played like it, giving away posession cheaply ,defending poorly and being ponderous when we tried to break forward.


    So what can we do, we the supporters can get behind the team on Sunday, the players are hurting,they know they have been hosed and they did not perform but they did try, some harder than others. We, the club can give the supporters a platform to grow towards the qualifiers next July , our 2/4 biggest games in 2014. Get the contracts sorted now, clear out the 21-23 year olds who will not improve, decide if the Balde /Pukki project should be progressed or terminated, let`s see what Biton, Rogic etc.. can do.


    We may find another Izzy or VvD or even a Wanyama?


    Forget about last night and move forward , with regard to our coach….I am uncertain and I am sure there are others thinking the same. His passion and enthusiasm are unequalled but last night he was found making the same mistakes he made against Juve as did our players. Would a Brown/Ledley axis have made a difference , should Forrest have played should Bo even be considered a player?


    I am not clever enough to have the answers, but he had a limited number of weapons at his disposal last night and he was not found for lack of effort or preparation.


    Roll on Sunday, the Diet Huns will be waiting with the sleeves and trouser legs rolled up.


    Hail! Hail!

  22. Cubist Funk


    12:32 on


    27 November, 2013



    I’m not certain but I’m sure the difference is that we are having to pay a premium on wages to attract players to the SPL. So they might be getting a £25k/week player for £25k, whereas we’re getting a £20k/week player for £25k.

  23. This is the first week we have conceded from a corners his year. Almost 11 months. Over 160 corners.


    Copied last night from SuperSutton (i think!) ,he has posted lots of stats re zonal marking.

  24. While the inquest concentrates on the loss of 2 preventable goals last night – the real malaise lies with midfield to front; lack of pace, invention and clinical execution.



    Time and again its been proven that 2 wingers + 2 CMs doesn’t work – even when we get the majority of possession in the SPL where we can; take 2/3 touches, play square balls and recycle.



    Our current midfield is at least; a yard short on pace, two yards short on reaction and three yards short on invention. We got away with it last year by playing 3 defensive CMs – akin to 2 banks of defenders. It probably worked for two reasons – opponents found it difficult to play through us but a point frequently overlooked – our limited possession stats actually worked in our favour. The less we had the ball – the less we were; caught out, overturned or were open to counter-attacks. Sammi as an out-ball and a decent return from set-pieces got us results.



    We took to the field last night with probably the best defence (2 howlers aside) that we’ve had in years and stuck a tactical makeshift collection of players in front of them. 3/4 players who have not been fit (little game time), Sammi played through the middle who time and again has shown that he can’t handle that role (+ as stats show concedes most fouls) and Commons lacking the pace to close-down up front (+ an inability to tackle).



    2 unfit wingers?? Neither track back – nor tackle. JF gets past full back – looks at ball – looks where to put it – goes to execute and in the time its taken him go through that thought process he gets closed down/ doesn’t get it past the first man. Derk needs the ball played in front of him (to use his pace and get a cross in) – but how many times was it played to his feet (when not facing goal) – result, he checks, plays it back or comes inside and the move is stifled?



    2 midfielders; ponderous on the ball, frequently flat-footed, swamped when AC broke – both unsure of their defensive role and lacking in inventive attacking ability. Not for the first time (pick any combination this season) – woefully undermanned in the engine room.



    Striker(s) – non-existent!



    Tactically this wasn’t Plan A – this was Plan Cobbled Together and it got progressively worse. Player turnover aside – we should be deploying a Pot 4 Team (with our resources) that at least has a semblance of organisation about it on the field.



    Listened to the post-match interviews – far too many excuses for my liking!

  25. 67Heaven ... I am Neil Lennon, supporting WEE OSCAR..!!.. Ibrox belongs to the creditors on

    blantyretim is praying for the knox family



    12:35 on 27 November, 2013



    They won’t come to Scotland..

  26. We are fourth seeds in the group. We had to play three qualifying rounds to even get into the group stages, two of these rounds were tight to say the least. We lost home and away to the second seeds – we possibly did enough to earn a point in the away game. We lost at home to the top seeds and have to play them away, with little real prospect of getting even a point. We beat the third seeds at home and lost away by a single goal, the same margin of defeat the third seeds inflicted on the top seeds at the same venue.



    So this group as far as we are concerned has pretty much gone to form. The bookies probably would have given us a half decent chance at home to the third seeds and that is where we got our three points from.



    The fact is that even to get through to the Europa League we need to punch above our weight. At present fourth in the Champions League is our level and we have a team that is at this level and no higher. To go higher we need to take the risk that signing new players we think will take us up one or two places will work. If we are going to do that we need to sign them in the January window and not wait to the summer because we have established the fact that signing players in the summer to make an immediate impact doesn’t work.



    So where we will be at the end of November 2014 could very well be determined by where we are on 31 January.

  27. justafan



    The concept of zonal marking isn’t at fault. Simply players not doing what they should and attacking the ball when it comes into their “zone”.



    Utilizing man to man marking fares no better as players just as likely to not do their job.



    In the main we are usually very good at defending set pieces which makes last night’s two goals all the more disappointing.




  28. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on




    If they are out of contract they may have no option..


    Michael Laudrup does know the Spanish market and players bettrr than we do also..

  29. Celticrollercoaster supports the Dambhoys on

    As said last night, condolences to the McConville family, really, really sad news.



    Don’t know if you picked up on some positive news, but the Dambhoys bucket collection yielded an incredible £26,300.



    Not bad for a week’s work. Show’s you what the Minx can do, when she puts her mind to it :-)







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