Valencia draw gives Celtic a chance, lessons from Easter Road


Those suggesting Sunday was the worst Celtic performance of the season have short memories.  The campaign was full of days like this until the emergence of Ryan Christie and halftime in the League Cup semi-final at Murrayfield.

Brendan Rodgers acknowledged he got things wrong.  Three at the back works on paper when you are a few full backs down, but we simply did not know how to defend the flanks when Hibs broke with speed, which fortunately they didn’t do too often.

Every team has to compensate for absences, often with a straight choice: find a direct replacement but maintain the structural integrity of the team, or give the pack a significant shuffle in an attempt to shake things up.  Celtic’s away form this term has been such that Brendan cannot by criticised for wanting to try something new, but 46 seconds into the game it was evident the players did not know what to do.

So what did we learn?  Brendan will not deploy the same line-up/tactics combination again.  We know already we are heavily dependent on fast-thinking-fleet-of-foot players like Ryan Christie, with Callum McGregor in the deep playmaker role.  We know we need a striker to assist Odsonne carry the load – Brendan wants two.  We know energy levels are low with the squad facing two games a week, pretty much since June.

Valencia beat Manchester United last week in the Champions League, so will have no fears of travelling to Celtic Park in the next round of the Europa League, but this draw is neither impossible nor the easiest possible for Celtic.

The Spanish club are 14th in La Liga, a healthy five points above relegation, but will surely be more focussed on getting their domestic results sorted than hoping for Europa glory.  The teams last met in competitive action in 2001, when two home 1-0 wins saw the Uefa Cup tie go to penalty kicks, which Valencia won 5-4, with Larsson, Petrov and Valgaeren all missing for Celtic.

Valencia were also Celtic’s very first European opponents.  The teams met in the 1962 Fairs Cup, Valencia winning the first leg 4-2 before the teams drew 2-2 at Celtic Park, when John Clark missed a penalty.

The games do not take place until February, but Brendan Rodgers will be encouraged his team are in with a chance.  Practice penalties, please.

Click Here for Comments >

About Author


  1. SID



    Celtic do not pay the equivalent of some English league wages. EPL or Championship.



    Celtic ‘penny pinched’ and ‘dithered’ was invented by SMSM following the ‘biscuit tin years’ and are parroted on the internet by Celtic fans ( its embedded in the Scottish transfer style guide )



    Celtic remain the highest payers in history of Scottish Football outwith original Rainjurz in the fraudulent years of side contracts. ( How did that turn out again? )



    Celtic matched Aston Villa’s fee but the player headed south for big bucks like Gary Hooper, Victor Wanyama, Fraser Forster, VVD, and latterly Stuart Armstrong, to name but a few.



    Blaming ‘the board’ is so yesterday its pre Sevco.

  2. glendalystonsils on

    It would be unwise to think that Valencia will be more focused on their domestic season , just as it was unwise to suppose that Salzburg were winding down with only one more domestic game to go and having qualified from the EL group.



    I only hope we turn up against Valencia and avoid a repeat of the Salzburg capitulation.

  3. FAN-A-TIC



    Mikey Johnson got injured if I remember correctly which halted his first team progress, BR had brought him in and started him pre season etc…



    He’s very highly thought of at Celtic and again if I remember correctly Chelsea were sniffing around when Brendan got him signed up to a new contract..




  4. John McGinn .



    Saw Aston Villa’s Manager ( name escapes me ) on the tele berating him for his role in Stoke’s opener on Saturday past .

  5. I wasn’t bothered either way if we signed McGinn or not, had you put a gun to my head I would have said no as I didn’t and still don’t think he is good enough, just my opinion.


    What gets me is the selective revision about the deal, Brendan and John McGinn have both said the same thing, McGinn said he had his heart set on the move, two months along the line the deal was never happening so he was professional got his head down at Hibs and in came Villa, a far cry from we did everything to sign the boy.

  6. Brendan picked the team, laid the formation and called the tactics. He gave the team talk and the half time talk and made the substitutions.



    It was obvious after the first few minutes that the players were not comfortable with the set-up and this was obviously noticed by Hibs who then fancied it.



    Brendan has rightly got the plaudits for the teams good performances and also has to take the criticism when he gets it wrong.



    Celtic are in a title race which we still should win as we have a big squad full of better players than our rivals. it may come down to performances.




    2 wins in the home games against Dundee and Motherwell. At least a draw at Pittodrie and a must win game at ibrox and this would be enough to give us a health lead

  7. CORKCELT on 17TH DECEMBER 2018 12:55 PM


    Happy with the draw. Glad we missed the Brits.






    Spot on – in particular, Chelsea would have been the worst draw we’ve ever had in Europe for all the additional baggage.

  8. Gerryfaethebrig on

    TET 1.37pm



    We all see things differently, I agree Brendan wanted him and didn’t get him, we matched Villas offer but less wages (I could be wrong, I usually am) but the bhoyhood hero had the choice, if the wages were so much better who are any of us to slag the boy …. but I still think Celtic should not be blamed for a player choosing to play with another team …. hopefully in January Brendan will get his targets

  9. Bad performance.Players no idea of how to play the system.To play 3 at the back,they must be totally tuned in to one another.There is no way this was possible yesterday.Ajer just back,Simo and Benkovic only played a couple of games.How Brendan could not see this after 20 mins,is a mystery.Ralston or Gamboa would at least have allowed us to keep our shape.To experiment,and expect Izzy to get up and down the wing all day was ridiculous.He does not have the legs for it now.Anyway,


    when are we going to get a break with the amount of injuries we are sustaining.It is incredible the amount of key players we are losing on a weekly basis.Griff,Christie ,Lustig,KT,all in a couple of days.


    Sinclair has had more than enough chances.Pittodrie and Ibrox,coming up.No place for passengers.



    He has been injured part of last two seasons but not long enough to explain his absence especially as the guy holding down the left side he could occupy has been dismal.


    A young player needs game time to develop and ours are clearly not getting enough.


    As i said it seems Brendan does not show belief in young Scottish talent which should be a major concern for the club.


    We are likely to lose the brilliant young talent Ewan Henderson perhaps because youngsters see no path to first team.


    With one fir striker why has Atchinson not at least been on the bench?

  11. Gerryfaethebrig on

    Turkeybhoy 1.43pm



    I think Gamboa has been really unlucky … he is not the worst right back we have ever had

  12. mullet and co 2 on

    We lost a first minute goal. We are susceptible to lapses in concentration. It’s been the case since MON left and we lost mental toughness.



    Having said that Easter Road yesterday had the look and feel off Fir Park all those years ago when we lost the league under MON. A feeling of inevitablity. The lose at Easter Road in April when we should have won the league was similar in feel but the Hibs midfield ran over the top of us that day.



    Yesterday we lost the game in the first minute as the zip and guile had gone out of legs. Only Brown looked urgent and certainly his slamming into the Hibs scorer warranted more than a yellow. Hibs game plan seemed very simple though we contrived to make it easy by handing them the ball. When the ball wound back to Simunovic or the other two Centre Backs they would play out to Ntcham who would come deep in front of the Hibs marker and try to turn into space to pass forward. Sometimes he would have to run further backwards with the ball to retain possession and this pulled Hibs forward leaving no space to pass into. The ball went back to a centre back then we started again. Sometimes Briwn would drop in deep to take the ball but no one looked to move into space when he did this. Simunovic occasionally forayed forward but no teammates seemed live to where to go to help him or give an option. Players generally laboured to make half a yard to pass or beat a man. Play then became ragged with passes behind their intended target or out of play.



    Brown tried a few runs up the middle but was blocked off and no one moving for him.



    Edouard delayed release of passes for a shade too long on at least 3 occassions.



    I don’t think Hibs exploited the flanks with our 3 at the back. The goals and general play came from players at best being unfamiliar with the usually mechanistic flowing movements of colleagues in their areas of the field. Playing as a 3 rather than a 4 leaves you short of passing options when our defence lines up to pass across the back too.



    What McGregor had brought to the holding role was the ability to lift a pass over the opposition and out to the flank or one of our midfielders lying just behind the opposition press. Christie brought the ability to break the lines by not sticking to one midfield area.



    I had thought in previous away games that there was a deliberate instruction to not get sucked in to the agricultural scrap… but yesterday Hibs looked more mobile over the two yards than we did. They weren’t lunging in or following through as Hearts and others do. They simply looked more mobile and accelerated through close possession battles.



    Next 3 games are crucial. Holding on to Forrest, McGregor, Tierney is essential. Bringing in a big hungry centre forward and playing Edouard on the left could be the making of Edouard.



    I would be tempted to swap out Rogic for decent money and a new number 10 with speed coming in though Morgan could do with a run of games.

  13. Think some on here have their own”Selective revisionism”when it comes to Mc Ginn.Celtic offered 2 million.Hibs rejected it,we offered more,they rejected it.Hibs then toldbthe world they wanted 4 million for the player.Now most people I know,told them to GTF,even James Forrest,on his blog was of that opinion,and that Petrie would never sell him to us.


    Villa came in with a last minute offer that we matched.Down to the player then.The rest is history,but dont let that get in the way.

  14. mullet and co 2 on

    Celtic were arrogant in the McGinn deal. They relied on MCGinn being a Celtic supporter to see them through a whole summer of poker. All for the sake of a few hundred thousand.


    Villa came in made an offer which was accepted and McGinn felt played by Celtic and Hibs.


    By the time Celtic were forced to bid it was too late.

  15. SOUTH OF TUNIS @ 1:36 PM,



    Interesting comments on JMcG…



    The last couple of times I’ve saw him it was in a Scotland shirt, it seemed to me the lad had along way to go… think he has the potential.



    That said, it is clear that McGinn wanted to go to Celtic at the start of the Summer transfer window, it is clear Brendan Rodgers wanted him (and others) in then. So for me it more to do with the systemic failure in our transfer procedures than the players qualities.



    We have Seen what McInnes managed to do with Christie and we’ve seen what Brendan’s team have done. What might they have done with McGinn?



    Maybe if the Aston Villa Manager has his way we’ll find out;)))



    Hail Hail

  16. Fan A Tic



    So Mikey didn’t get injured after he had broken into the first team and is now making his way back??



    Your dislike of Brendan as a coach is starting to blind you to reality mate:))




  17. Bournesouprecipe



    Celtic were in talks with McGinn way before any Villa interest.



    I’ve followed your posts with interest, your all over the shop.


    First you were criticising posters for criticising the shambolic summer window.


    I then saw posts where you were criticising the summer window, i thought fair play he’s learning.


    Now it’s back to sniping at supporters who are frustrated because they seen this coming that because we wouldn’t adequately strengthen we would decline.



    Remember in the summer you were also adamant the Huns hadn’t got any better, you then dropped that, you even pulled me up for rubbishing a poster who said the Huns wouldn’t finish in the top six .


    Keep it real delusion is for Huns, be objective, praise when it merits , criticise when appropriate.


    Happy to re post my delight at winning league cup just for you, because that’s your easy cop out. HH

  18. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Fan-a-tic 1:20


    I really do find it worrying. Obviously Brendan and the other coaches see the young players fairly regularly, so either they feel they are simply not good enough or maybe just feel it is too big a risk.


    But if you end up throwing in a bench warmer who hasn’t played for two months then you’re not going to get much out of them either. I’d rather go with a youth player.

  19. Ridiculous situation yesterday where Celtic fans on CQN really struggling to get tickets for Easter Rd while whole areas of the stadium remained empty.



    Celtic rightly commented on this farcical situation using Jock Stein’s “football without fans ” quotation.



    Hibs again have treated Celtic and her fans with contempt. How should we retaliate, because retaliate we must.



    To assist the club with its thought process. Our fans presence at away games have not made much impact on our results. ( No blame to the fans intended )



    HH to all, the journey continues to Valencia, where with work a result is within our grasp.

  20. Gerryfaethebrig on




    Am not enabling java script :-)



    Do you think John McGinn would improve our first 11 ? I don’t



    But I do agree if Brendan wanted him he should have got him

  21. Gerryfaethebrig on

    Rafa Holenstein (sic) German journalist “nobody wants to draw Celtic, their fans are like 2 goals of a start”



    You won’t hear that fae a Scottish journalist :-)

  22. Gerry


    So why are you still saying stuff that is patently untrue then, the boy has said what happened, Celtic dragged it out and a deal wasn’t getting done, he had his heart set on a move to Celtic, Paul even said if we wait we will get him for free, Celtic dithered and Villa came in for him, bottom line.


    No I don’t think he is good enough, and yes Pedro should have bought him if Brendan wanted him, we may well lose the best manager we have had for many years cos of this deal that didn’t happen and should have happened, the unrest has stemmed from there, everything was fine or seemed to be before that imo.

  23. Gerryfaethebrig on

    Bhoylo83 2.11pm



    Just asked the good lady if she fancied a wee valentines trip to Espana… canny print the response on here



    Enjoy your trip

  24. Gerryfaethebrig on

    TET 2.12pm



    We had a terrible summer (Boyata situation being the worst) the boy fae Hibs that went to Villa could have still choose his bhoyhood heroes … if not the money situation did he choose Villa because Steve Bruce made him a lovely dinner :-)



    By the way Boyata has been brilliant since he made himself available for selection

  25. Gerryfaethebrig on




    We may well lose our best manager ? So is Brendan telling untruths when he has continually stated he is happy



    It’s easy to post things that suit your own opinion …. (we all do it :-)

  26. glendalystonsils on



    Rafa Holenstein (sic) German journalist “nobody wants to draw Celtic, their fans are like 2 goals of a start”



    Aye , that’s the old Celtic though.


    The fans roared them on in Thursday’s game to no avail.

  27. FFS Gerry, you are still saying he could have chosen us, he couldn’t cos we couldn’t close the deal.


    Every manager, player, will say they are happy, if they don’t, they don’t work, simple really.

  28. SMSM transfer style guide to Scottish Football



    Rule (22)



    Whilst calculating the cost and time to make a deal and strike a deal, Celtic will be reported as ‘dithering ‘



    ( should the signing target eventually sign elsewhere on much better terms on offer from Celtic it will still go down as dithering as the cause )



    Plus ca change CSC

  29. Gerryfaethebrig on




    I disagree … we were in today’s draw so am afraid we are in the same place that Salzburg ended up …



    Competition football is all about staying in the competition, naw ?

  30. How did we “dither?” By not paying over the odds and not matching Hibs’s valuation when it didn’t look like anyone else was in for him, for a non-essential bench player with a year left on his contract?



    Hibs were quite right to hold out for top dollar in the hope that someone would come along and push his price up.



    We always seem to see these things from our perspective, like it’s all within our control and if things fail it’s always down to our failings. There are other parties involved and circumstances beyond our control.



    It all worked out ok anyway, if we had signed Mcginn it’s unlikely Christie would have got his chance, I doubt mcginn would have had anything like the impact Christie has had