Transformational day but poor performance


That was the latest instalment in a long running series of Behind the Couch Celtic away performances in Europe, with the wonderful exception that after Hapoel Be’er Shiva had us on the rack in the opening period of the second half, Celtic put five at the back and closed the game out without any stressful incidents in the final 15 minutes.

There are a few moments worthy of comment:

Hapoel’s penalty came as a consequence of Celtic pressing high up the field for the first time in the game. The home team dropped deep as they were temporarily reduced to 10 men, but when Celtic pressed high to take advantage of an opponent receiving treatment, they easily passed through us, switched the ball left and gave Saidy Janko his first difficult moment of the night.

More on Saidy in a moment, but we cannot allow teams to pass through us so easily.  We should never have been caught so high up field. Our alertness, interceptions and tackling were not good enough. Craig Gordon’s block at the penalty was priceless (or at a price of circa £26m, if you’re being picky).

There’s a reason teams who mark zonally at corner kicks don’t mark the penalty spot. It’s because headers from the penalty spot need to be exceptional in order to beat the keeper. Sahar’s goal wasn’t an exceptional header. It bounced before passing Craig Gordon three feet inside the post. It should never have been a goal, and although Craig’s mistake for the second was more evident, the first was as worrying a goal to concede.

We’re fond of talking about “schoolboy errors” in football but Saidy’s lack of awareness of his direct opponent and goalkeeper at the second goal was a classic error from the 9-year-old’s game.  I’ll be generous and say he’s not ready for a game at this level.  Craig Gordon doesn’t have a let off for this one, either.  While his fullback made a mistake, an alert keeper would have prevented the goal and knocked Saidy into next week. Awareness concerns exist for him too.

Whether it’s Craig’s self-confidence, or that the defence don’t have confidence in him, goalkeeping mistakes came perilously close to seeing us drop out of the Champions League last night.

Not that Craig shoulders all responsibility for what was a weak performance. The middle of the park was experimental and looked it. On the back of one of his best games for Celtic a week ago, Scott Brown’s passing, control and influence was miles off the pace.

Scott, Callum McGregor and Nir Bitton were swamped in midfield. Too few Celtic players were showing for the ball, which was thrown forward aimlessly whenever a Hapoel player closed us down. If central midfield is right, your defensive and goalkeeping frailties are less evident, but we were exposed too often at the back last night. There was a period in the second half when watching on TV made it impossible to know where we were going wrong.  After a Hapoel chance, we would see a replay, and before it cut back to live pictures, Celtic had lost possession and were again under pressure.  This happened repeatedly.  Central midfield was the major problem with the performance, if not the result.

Don’t let any of this dampen your spirits. We’re into the Champions League group stage, a fact which will see us break through the £80m turnover mark for the first time. By comparison, turnover was £51m for 2014-15, the most recent season accounts are available for.

Despite the increase in expenditure this season, we’ll pay our bills without increasing borrowing or selling players. We’re on the circuit again, which means we’ll find it easier to attract talent going forward, it means we’ll find it easier to attract commercial deals and pretty much every KPI at the club will become that bit more attainable.

Last night was a transformational day in the life of your football club. We’re back, enjoy it!



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    Right, back to ZTP mailing duties, no rest for those who want to wind up the hun arseholes.




    FREE, SAFE and EASY as KCUF. Just mail me at acgr@outlook.com




    Hunners and millions ready to send





    Ha ha, they wont like it when your phone rings.

  2. We got there and that’s the main thing. Bit of a reality check though and we need to strengthen. I’d like a RB, DM, AM and another CF

  3. My God, that was as tough and uncomfortable a watch as I’ve ever experienced I think. Right up there with watching the 2nd half of St Johnstone game in ’98 before Harald (God Bless him always) scored the 2nd and we could comfortably sing “Cheerio 10 in a Row”.



    We certainly weren’t singing it when George O’Boyle was hitting the bar with a header not long before Harald’s second.



    Anyway……we did it and the feeling of relief last night has morphed into a fantastic sense of excitement & happiness today.



    Couple of things that I reflected on:



    • I do not believe we would be in the CL if Brendan had not brought Eric on and changed the defensive system. He is clearly not afraid to change formations in a major way during games and once again it paid off big time last night.



    • Lots of talk about getting a new right back in, but the top priority should be a defensive midfielder. We have a decent right back (Lustig). He is injury prone and we should probably look at a better level of cover than Janko, but the reason Janko played last night was injury and lack of match fitness with central defenders – which is a soon-to-be-resolved issue. The problem with us being far too light in midfield is staring at us in the face and has to be resolved asap. A good defensive mid player wins the ball and retains it, taking pressure off the defence and the whole team. We beat Barca with Efe & Kelvin Wilson in central defence and the main reason that night for the victory was the defensive midfield cover provided by Wanyama. We will struggle to get that quality but we sure as hell need a competent player in that role.



    We are in the Champions League – Deo Gratias – what a feeling.

  4. TONYDONNELLY67 on 24TH AUGUST 2016 12:10 PM


    Acgr thanks for the ring tone, but just as I thought, first step, bank details, not happening, worth a shot but thank anyway.

  5. cathedral view on

    I can only agree with your analysis of midfield Paul, whether it’s the combination of certain players or a tactical reason I don’t know but we were back to the same old story of neither covering the defence nor supporting the attack from midfield.



    I would be delighted if Brendan spent his entire budget on just one player. A Champions League level central midfielder.




  6. Thought we got our tactics wrong to begin with. We should have been more compact from the off. There was far too much space for them to play in with our full backs and midfield badly exposed. Too many of our players were commited ahead of the ball when they should have been shuffling from side to side. I thought McGregor’s booking was fairly simptomatic of the entire performance, he was caught wrong side when all he had to do was get goal side and hold his position.



    Janko and Lustig will be badly exposed at CL level for a variety of reasons and we need a midfield player with composure on the ball and tactical awareness. The time has come for Kris, Efe, Stefan, GMS to move on. At least 3 in and 4 out would be desirable.

  7. I’d be interested to see Efe Ambrose being given a game or two in defensive midfield – preferably in a game where we think that we will get the points. I suspect he may play well there, but he has a bit to prove before risking in a big game.


    Last night is producing an almost universal reaction amongst my Hoops pals- a puff of the cheek and the liberal use of the ‘F’ word!



    Janko will be last night’s Efe for many. However, at least his mistakes came because he was having a job to do. McGregor on the other hand simply hid. He was anonymous. What does he offer? I can only presume that BR feels he presses more than Tam Rogic. However, he doesn’t actually win the ball- simply gets into position when we are defending and the ball is played through or past him. He is positionally lost when we go forward. Somewhere between midfield and attack whilst not actually showing for a pass. Rogic is infinitely better on the ball. He has a better shot. He is a better tackler. He is more composed. There is no way that McGregor should start another game of this magnitude.



    Whilst BR eventually did the right thing tactically, it was concerning that Janko was permitted to stay on the pitch and that the changes took so long. Janko should definitely have been hooked at HT. His confidence was shot. He looked lost. The obvious flaws in his performance were surely visible to all of the management team.



    Gordon was iffy, at best. Penalty was poor, thankfully. He cannot be absolved for the howler, though. This idea that he didn’t see Janko doesn’t wash. He should have been aware of Janko, in my view.



    Young KT will have his feet firmly on the ground after that performance. Still a bit to go, but our best homegrown prospect in years.



    JF didn’t have much opportunity and was pretty poor with the limited possession he did have.



    SB had a huff ‘n puff performance. But still looking better than last season.



    Leaving aside the above, Kolo is looking like a great signing. He was composed, demonstrating experience and leadership.



    Sinclair is direct and confident and brings a dynamic to the side that only Roberts (and Rogic sometimes) brings. He could prove to be best signing in years.



    For me, we should be getting rid of;




















    We should break the bank for Roberts, if only to sell him in 2 years. There is no way we would lose money on him, injuries aside. We need another CB and striker



    There is still a lot to do and loads of room for improvement, but we are there, thank God.



    Roll on Thursday’s draw (and can we please get teams other than Milan, Barca and Ajax?!)

  9. Billybear



    Anyone like currant buns?





    Pfft, Sno Ball’s chance of finding anyone who’ll admit to that…

  10. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    McGregor getting a slating for last night, but he wasn’t helped by the way we set up. The defence sat deep (fair enough), with the two DMs (especially Bitton) very close in front.


    Forrest and Sinclair were (presumably) told to stay wide to help out the full-backs (didn’t quite work too well!). Griffiths was way up front.


    All this meant McGregor ended up in a no-man’s land with nobody close to him – north, south, east or west!


    I think Griffiths could have helped by coming back a bit. That would have drawn their defence forward and given space for our quick players to run into.


    We allowed the pitch to be far too big.


    Could be that 3-5-2/5-3-2 is the way to go in these games.


    Although whichever way we go we will need players who can make decisions for themselves during games.

  11. We had nobody in the middle of the park last night, they swarmed all over us from the start, they knew Bitton would try and dictate the pace of the game and stuck someone right in his face. Their manager knew how to play us after last weeks skelping. Fair play to him, unfortunately his team lacked that bit of class that


    it requires to get to the group stages.



    We were fortunate that we could introduce Erik and Moussa as a wee bit of class to see the game out. Jako was poor but JF offered him nothing in the way of support and KT was also under pressure the whole game from being left on his own.



    I thought Lustig, Toure and Gordon did enough to see us through. Sinclair was the best of the rest and is a real find for us. i can see why Brendan was so keen on getting him in, works his socks off even when things are not going well for him. There’s a few at Celtic Park who should be looking to learn from Roberts and Sinclair about work ethic in the 90 and if you can’t reach that standard probably best you move on.



    This is just the beginning for Celtic under Brendan, a classy tough midfielder would be my priority..




  12. Nice to see JJ (not our JJ) attempting to fund himself off the back of the solidarity event at Celtic Park.



    sitonfence says:


    August 23, 2016 at 5:36 pm


    This article is not about the conflict between two implacable foes. I could devote 30,000 words to this topic and only scratch the surface. A lot more research went into this article than may be readily apparent. Despite this I did not receive any donations whatsoever. Not even a £1.







  13. traditionalist88 on

    We’re on the circuit again, which means we’ll find it easier to attract talent going forward





    Hopefully our path isnt blocked further come the new TV deals in about 3 years…




  14. traditionalist88 on

    Transformational day but poor performance >>>>>>>> Poor performance but Transformational Day!



    EndOnAHighCSC :)

  15. I only got to see the 1st half last night, I was playing 7’s at 9pm, bad planning.



    2nd half wasn’t long started, I arrived at Ravenscraig and the 2nd goal went in. Jeez, panic hit me!!


    Went into football and a few undesirables were rejoicing the 2nd goal.


    Cue a long hour of mind wandering to Celtic. 7’s finished, checked my phone and my cheer and GIRFUY shouts let the undesirables know we were through!


    Shame really that one of them is my best mate!!! :-)

  16. I accept Calum McGregor didn’t appear to have a good game last night however we do not know what he was asked to do, to be honest I don’t think Tom Rogic offered much either when he came on, with Tom I feel he is either really good or really average when he plays. Only a few got pass marks in my view.



    The two goals we lost were as we know really poor goals, I feel Craig Gordon is still shy from physical contact, the goal we lost in Astana is another example were he should have went through the man to get to the ball, I think he wanted to avoid Tierney last night more than he wanted to clear the ball. The problem is he is never going to change.

  17. ANAL-ISIS. (arse-terrorists?)



    Gordon – Solid. Saved crucial pen. NOT at fault for 2nd. SHOULD have cleaned out everyone and taken the ball but you cannot account for Janko colliding. ‘One of those things’, rare calamities that kill you. 7/10



    Janko – slaughtered, but was overloaded on. Damned if he stepped out, damned if he didn’t. Tactics isolated him and they exposed the flaw. Despite the pressure he DID keep on keeping on – never hid, constant engine; showed good mental strength in the face of adversity. 6/10



    Kolo – A rock; massive benefit of his experince came to fruition last night. Some vital interceptions and blocks and his organisation of the backline subdued their late attacks. MOM for us. 9/10



    Lustig – Total commitment from Mick, worked his arse off along the line, throwing himself on grenades. no argument here about his contribution. 7/10



    KT – Another accomplished performance. Cool head, taking direction from his experienced backline, no panic when under the cosh. Great young player we got there. Last night’s experience worth fifty SPL games.





    JF – Unfairly subbed at HT, I thought, though assume it was injury/tactical – showing much more confidence and desire this season; energised by BR? His pace is rare and a good fit for the CL. 5/10



    McGregor – Nope, just can’t see the level of class that has him running about a pitch at this level. Looked lost last night and wa sa burden to us in ana lready overrun midfield. 4/10



    Bitton – Lazy big bassa; too deliberate, too flat-footed, and was unusually wasteful. Stood there like a stupefied belisha beacon as the traffic raced by. 4/10



    Broon – Chasing shadows, beaten in the air for their opener, but he’s the captain for a reason – barking, urging, scrapping, ultimately victorious. In Broon we trust. 100% every game. 7/10



    LG – Thankless task of chasing poorly-placed direct balls all night. Cannot recall him getting any decent service, though he nearly notched one up with a whipped shot that could have gone anywhere but on a night like last, went straight down the keeper’s throat. 6/10



    Sinclair – Class. The bhoy’s got it. Great feet, silky manouevres, and workrate – surprised at the last; given his rep for petulance, he ran himself into the ground for the cause last night. Could be a stunning signing if he can keep that up. 8/10



    Erik – Another bit of class; fine leader to bring on and shore up the defence. Note that once he was in there with Kolo and Mick, they barely got behind us. Formidable 5 they formed; may need it often in the group games. 6/10



    Moussa – Almost scored a belter; looks like he could grow into a fantastic player for us. Confidence and refinement will come. 6/10



    BR – Looked like he got everything wrong; The set-up. The tempo. The gameplan. We cannot play the containment game – there’s not enough game-knowledge manifesting among our team to handle a dynamic European opponent.


    We NEED to go at CL teams with a HIGH tempo; it’s how we won the first leg (twice!). give our players too much to think about at that level and confusion reigns, then we fall apart. To cope, we could do with some high-quality midfield experience (Mr.Xavi, yer private jet awaits…)



    Yet we won, and BR got us into the promised land against the odds at the first time of asking after only a couple of months in the job. Lucky? Every successful manager needs luck. It’s part of their make-up.



    And who’s complaining? Oh, yes – you. That’s right- you, ya lurking Huns. Yer tears taste of bitter orange. And yer wails are sweet music to my ears. Remember what John Lydon told ye – Anguish is an energy…

  18. The Green Man says SACK THE Board on



    New RB














    New Midfield General










    Conquer the fear.




  19. A Ceiler Gonof Rust on

    BMCUWP, cheers buddy.



    Old ZTP is flying offthe shelves.




    TD? No idea what you refer to re bank details. Its a WAV file I send out and you should be able to load it straight to your phone.



    Can a tech savvie iphoner help with load instructions. I hate to see an unhappy customer…………….:_)




    acgr@outlook.com for your free ZTP tone. Only six million left get tum in quick!!!!






  20. traditionalist88 on

    McGregor – Nope, just can’t see the level of class that has him running about a pitch at this level. Looked lost last night and wa sa burden to us in ana lready overrun midfield. 4/10








    McGregor can pick a pass and is a goal threat. He is a good squad man, his actual influence on general proceedings is low and he becomes a passenger when the going gets tough. But he has something to offer – its whether BR feels he can get a performance out of him when we don;t have it all our own way.




  21. A Ceiler Gonof Rust on

    Jimbo, no bother bruv, the more the merrier.



    Already about 230 happy zadokers since the final whistle last night………:_)



    Right time for some proper work or I’ll be getting my jottirs.

  22. We don’t have enough quality in midfield . Last nights midfield was very poor . I can’t ever see. Broony and bitton hitting it off together , and McGregor ,sorry not for me . We don’t have any players with the attributes of the men on the panel last night .and the man commentating . No steel of mjhalby (sp) craft of strachan . Or toughness of Sutton and hartson ,add Lennon , and it’s there for all to see what we dont have . I posted earlier that we have an over abundance of Average players who need moved on , which will be hard as I can see anyone wanting them .

  23. The Green Man says SACK THE Board on

    James McCarthy and Xavi should do it, and a rough, tough Right-Back.










    COWIEBHOY fired in a few reminders too.



    HH ya perra guid Tims!

  25. traditionalist88 on

    Agree with the comments about Gordon and the mistake for 2nd goal – the priority is holding the ball not worrying about whether you might bump into Saidy Janko. Was hardly going to be a high speed collision anyway.



    As a goalkeeper its worrying he didnt realise that.



    Ball first everything else is collateral damage.



    Too many bad injuries have left Gordon a little bit afraid.




  26. If BR wants to put an end to these calimity away performances he only has to look at Lennon’s set up. Swamp defence and get a decent defensive midfielder with Dembele playing the lone striker role. Delighted we’ve qualified but now I want us to put in a good show. 3rd spot is a realistic aim but let’s see what group we get.

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