Unprepared Celtic


Shakhter Karagandy covered 5k more ground than Celtic last night, 500m per outfield player.  That’s 5.5m per minute, per player, or an extra meter every 10 seconds or so.  That kind of advantage means that when the ball breaks loose in and around the danger area, the more active team are in space – which happened at both goals.

Conversely, when Celtic were in advanced positions Shakhter players were there in numbers. The difference was not caused by exceptional exertion by Shakhter, in their match with Maribor last night, Viktoria Plzen covered 11k more than Celtic, or a clear 2 meters every 10 seconds per outfield player.

Despite enjoying the vast majority of possession the Celtic players were lacking in movement and ideas. Being short of ideas is one thing but lack of movement is altogether unacceptable. We have to prepare fitness levels ahead of the second leg meticulously; Inverness on Saturday is only relevant for those who need game time ahead of Wednesday.

The Mouhokolo-van Dijk novice partnership was a surprise; a lot of faith was shown in players few of us know much about.  Could we have held Kelvin for another few weeks?  Would it have been less of a risk to play Ambrose and/or Mulgrew in defence? Yes to both, I suspect.

We learned Georgios is not a striker in 2009.  He is one of our most effective players when away from home but not as a striker.  Anthony Stokes is a striker but his style is just as unsuited to the formation we played last night as Georgios’. We seemed to pick a team to combat Shakhter’s strengths which didn’t play to our own.

I’m not convinced signing a player one week before an important game is an ideal preparation but taking the money early for Hooper, weeks before Amido Balde (or anyone else) has settled and considered a viable starter, is a calculated risk which is now in sharp focus.

We should also show some respect to Shakhter.  The club are miles out of their depth at this stage of European football but they left with all the credit.  After the game, manager Kumykov played down his chances, “we are not the favourites”.  He’s a clever man who knows what he is doing.

It is possible Celtic will play as badly next week but it’s more likely that we will put on a vastly better performance. Between now and then we have plenty of opportunity to wallow in an embarrassing defeat, so knock yourself out, but I’ll hold fire until the tie is decided, which I expect to be in Celtic’s favour. Bring it on.

You got to love European football.

Penalty kick practice, please……
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  1. Stokes and Commons must start they are the two best creators of goals we have with Charlie Mulgrew a distant distant distant third.



    If you can also include Samaras, Balde, or Boerigter then that looks a potent front line to me.



    Can people please remember who we are playing here.

  2. leftclicktic oscar in our thoughts on

    Seen on twitter




    “Hard work only beats talent when talent isn’t working hard”.

  3. LiviBhoy-I agree i think we will go through, not “panicking” but we should be concerned over not learning from previous mistakes, and the massive gamble that is halfway to failure.

  4. jimbob71 is praying for wee Oscar on

    Oscar Knox is my Hero – RWE


    14:04 on


    21 August, 2013



    Well spotted! In my haste I forgot to include Stokes!!

  5. LiviBhoy


    You are no doubt right that it wasn’ t Neil’s decision to sell key players. But he could have insisted on keeping Victor and Kelvin for the CL qualifiers, or could have insisted on getting a replacement in for Victor. If we got 12 million for Victor, we could surely have got a decent player in for half that amount.


    3 goals and a clean sheet needed. Hmm, 2 goals against Cliftonville and Ross County, 1 against Elfsborg. This is a team that finds it hard to score.

  6. Barcabhoy-Paul’s article does not address PL’s and NL’s culpability contributing to last night’s result.Stats can be dressed up to suit an argument,let the ball do the work comes to mind.I enjoy your contributions BTW.HH

  7. 16 roads



    I’d say the issue is not how to get the ball into the box.


    Many ways of doing that, and competent players capable of doing so.



    The problem being, will there be anyone in the box?


    Every forward thinking player at Celtic has a tendency to think otherwise..



    I watched barca annihilate levante the other day.


    They consistently had 6 players in the oppositions area.


    They scored seven.


    Not directly comparable in any way shape or form.


    I’m just saying.


    Players actually in the box.


    It helps.

  8. See if we signed this Nigerian/Swiss guy.. Would he be the ‘innocent lamb to the slaughter’?

  9. Tricoloured Ribbon on

    There have to be big changes first and foremost against Inverness.


    Boerrigter,Matthews,Stokes,Balde and even Watt should be given serious game time and not a paltry 7 or 8 minutes near the end.The blind devotion shown by the manager to the blue eyed favourites surely must now be binned once and for all.


    The turgid,boring,going nowhere square passing really has exasperated us all.Is it too much to ask for speed,craft and flamboyance in the great Celtic traditional way.


    We can still turn this tie round,but if it’s Mulgrew in midfield and Samaras through the middle we are doomed.The team selection at 6-45 next week is going to be absolutely crucial the the outcome of this tie.

  10. I was tempted to comment following Paul67’s earlier post on the club’s transfer strategy, but kept my powder dry. Now seems as good a time as any to get this off my chest.


    Whilst I agree with the general strategy of buying unknown, cheap talent and selling on for a profit, the club aren’t enacting it in such a way as to prevent seasons like this one is shaping up to be.


    Clubs with success in this way, e.g. Porto, Ajax, Lyon (before they changed thier strategy to buying known players for big money) always ensured that they had a replacement on the books before selling a player. So Lyon sold Essien knowing that they had Diarra already there to step up, having settled into the club for example.


    Celtic on the other hand haven’t done this properly. We have known since last summer that Hooper wouldn’t see out his contract. We may have made token efforts to bring in his replacement before he left (Miku or Lassad) but they didn’t work out. As such, we knew at Christmas that Hooper was for the off either then or now at the very latest. If Balde was the preferred replacement, we should have bought him then, giving him 6 months to settle. As it is, we’ve waited until the same time to sell a player and buy a replacement – a replacement who isn’t ready yet.


    Similarly with Wanyama – we sold him, haven’t replaced him, and don’t look like doing so any time soon. On the other hand, we brought in Wanyama, gave him a season to settle and sold Ki to make space for him when he was ready. A superb season later and he’s off for £12 million odd. But last summer we didn’t replace his “development” spot in midfield.


    Basically, what I’m saying is that for the strategy to work properly (ie to develop players and sell on, but maintain performance) Celtic need to be buying players now with an eye to them being in the team by Christmas or next season. At that point, we can sell some of our “established” players who are of interest. By failing to do this last year, we’ve ended up selling the spine of our team, but not brought in replacements in sufficient time to soften the blow e.g. Balde in August, Hooper out August; Virgil in August, Wilson out August. Doing it the way we have done inevitably leads to fallow seasons whilst the new players bed in, develop partnerships, etc.


    I think, if this is the strategy we are looking to follow, we do need to accept that this is our fallow year and we should be building for next year, although I’m not sure which current players would be “sellable assets” – we’ve already sold those who were in Wanyama and Hooper. Balde, Virgil, Derk may well be, but probably not until the summer after next.


    It also doesn’t help that we don’t really have an identity as such – we seem to play a different system every game, with often the same players shoe-horned into different positions – e.g Chas playing centre-back, left-back, centre-mid, left-mid depending on the system. Forrest playing right wing, centre mid, left wing, etc. This lack of a settled identity, and the manager’s tendency to keep playing the same players regardless of form (I’m looking at Forrest here – especially his tendency to just throw his arms in the air and stop moving when he loses the ball) means we often look slow, sluggish and turgid.


    I’m confident we’ll win next week, but less confident that our win will be enough to go through. For what it’s worth, my team for Wednesday (and probably against ICT – fitness permitting):





    Lustig Ambrose Mou Izzy



    Brown Ledley



    Derk Commons Sammi






    With Stokes coming on in the second half – his technical ability might be really useful once Balde has softened up and Derk/Kris/Sami have tired out the Khazaks.

  11. 16 roads - Wee Oscar the Celtic warrior. on

    Nottingham Forest needed Wilson for the start of their league campaign.



    I think that they had already played three league games before our game last night.



    Let’s be fair here.

  12. All the various team suggestions for next week are fine but there is a bigger picture, why have we weakened the team for a quick buck?



    Someone is guilty and it ain’t the players or manager.

  13. glendalystonsils on

    When does a calm ,possession game become a “whit’ll I dae wi the ball there’s naebody tae pass it forward tae?”



    Last night was meaningless possession . Patience is fine but it’s no good if you haven’t done anything with it by the time the final whistle blows.

  14. !!Bada Bing!!


    14:56 on


    21 August, 2013


    Kayal33-we have quite a big squad ,yet some guys get a game even when they are not playing well over a fair few games.This possibly shows through a lack of urgency from some.






    We do have quite a big squad, but in my view the quality isn’t really there, especially central midfield. It could be that guys like Rogic do have the requisite quality, but we don’t really know as he hasn’t had much game time.

  15. masty is neil lennon and both of us are supporting wee oscar on

    16 roads – Wee Oscar the Celtic warrior.




    15:14 on 21 August, 2013




    Nottingham Forest needed Wilson for the start of their league campaign.



    I think that they had already played three league games before our game last night.



    Let’s be fair here.





    spot on mo chara,, forest NEEDED big kelvin and went ALL OUT and got him, same with us we NEEDED a striker but unfortunately the coaching staff identified 3 but the BOARD FAILED to deliver…

  16. johann murdoch on

    Games are won by the amount of times you put the ball in the net..when the result is published it will say nothing about the amount of possession you had.



    Celts v Barca? anyone

  17. CultsBhoy loves being 1st forever & ever on

    I see Di Canio has banned Steven Fletcher from laughing at training and threatened to help him find a new club.. He could come to Celtic and die laughing at some of the players we saw last night…



    I’d take him now..

  18. Spidey-agree posted similar earlier- Tricoloured Ribbon- Not posting through hindsight,if Watt had been given proper game time last season instead of Miku ,Lassad ,we could have put him in last night.If young guys can’t get a game in this league,when can you blood them?

  19. Why am I pessimistic? Bate Borisov, a team that managed to beat Bayern Munich last season, couldn’t score against the Kazakhs over two games.

  20. I suspect whichever centre half combination starts against ICT will start again in the 2nd leg. I felt the problem was mostly with Moyoukolo being troubled by the bounce on the plastic pitch.



    We need to have as many goal threats as possible in the team for next Wednesday. Virgil looks a genuine goal threat from set pieces.

  21. Dontbrattbakkinanger on

    Twists- yes, we should.



    if we can’t get past the Shakhterboys we don’t deserve to be in the competition.



    We have made things harder for ourselves than necessary , in true Celtic style.

  22. This talk about Innocent is another red herring. Plant by Celtic to look like we’re doing something (all it looks like is we’re going further and further down the list). He’s part owned so any transfer would be messy. A loan is the only likely outcome.



    Fed up CSC

  23. masty is neil lennon and both of us are supporting wee oscar on

    I actually thought the 2 centre back played well last night….

  24. saltires en sevilla supporting wee oscar on

    In the cold light of day



    a few lads on blog yesterday suggesting Balde was bought as a replacement for ghoops.



    a few lads doubted that



    now we know he wasn’t -at least in the opinion of our manager!



    so why are more on today suggesting we play Balde up top next wed as a solution to our increasingly worrying lack of a centre forward – one that lenny is confident enough to play in important games?



    last night was our 2nd most important game of the season- next wed is the most important by a country mile, with potentially 20m income at stake,



    we are pushing our luck and someone needs toed in the hawmaws if we cannot bang in 3 goals without reply



    I asked earlier when was the last time Celts took the field without a recognised CF – 2 games in a row



    Lenny clearly doesn’t fancy Balde or Watt for the role as they were on bench last night – Sammi is not a CF



    That leaves Stokesy …if he is fit.




  25. My initial post after tge final whistle yesterday said that if you dont win the bulk if the 50-50 challenges, defeat is deserved. We were trying to be too cute in the challenge at times, guving the ball away too often. We didnt win enough of the head tennis that was going on in midfield due tp the plastic pitch.



    Working a whole lot harder is the first thing we need to do.

  26. 16 roads - Wee Oscar the Celtic warrior. on

    Why do our strikers always seem to have their back to the opposition goal when they receive the football?



    Are we that slow in the build up?



    All that sideways passing and going backwards,all very admirable and patient – if you have footballers that are comfortable in possession that is.



    How often do you ever see a Celtic striker clean through,one on one with only the goalkeeper to beat these days?



    If we had Robbie Keane back at the club – would we hit high balls into the box?



    Or do you play simple,first time balls straight down the middle or over the top?



    I suppose we would need a playmaker in midfield.