Vanity tactics


Efe Ambrose looked a tad nervous at the start of last night’s game.  He wasn’t the only one.   Adam Matthews was pressed into an early return from injury, a forced change, but Celtic’s decision to deploy a more adventurous line-up than in previous encounters with Barcelona was by choice.

The result was 36% possession, heady heights compared to last season’s win and narrow defeat, but oh what a price.  When Barca went 4-0 up early in the second half I suggested “This could be our record defeat”.  My Dad said “Artmedia was only one more than this”.  I meant THE record defeat, not the record European defeat.  We were a few bounces of the ball away.

Results like this are always possible at this level if the game plan is wrong.  In the minutes before kick off on Champions League nights, when the stomach knots with tension, I tell myself there is no shame in defeat, but “let’s make sure it’s not 3-0 again”.  This must always be the priority.  There seems to be a couple of rules:

If we defend the 18 yard line, in numbers, we have a chance of winning Champions League games, but beauty will very much be in the eye of the beholder.

If we chase vanity marks, as we did at home to Juventus and Milan, and away to Barcelona, we’ll lose heavily.

Last season’s Champions League campaign was a textbook lesson on how pot 4 teams from weak leagues should tackle the tournament.  Spartak Moscow had more possession at Celtic Park than Barcelona had at the Camp Nou last night, but Celtic won both games against the Russians. There is a shout out loud lesson here.

Between now and the beginning of the next European campaign we have a great opportunity to build upon the type of football we saw in the last two domestic games.  If we do this well, we can prepare for next season with a more mature model, but venues like the Camp Nou should only see our bedrock tactics for the foreseeable future.

The Celtic Graves Society are commemorating the life of Peter Scarff, who died of TB 80 years ago this week at the age of 25. Peter, a teammate of John Thomson and Jimmy McGrory, scored 54 goals in 112 games for Celtic before contracting his fatal illness at 23. A short service will be held at Peter’s grave in Kilbarchan Cemetery at 11:30 this Saturday, 14 December. You are all welcome.

There’s a Celtic shirt signed by the first team squad available for auction on ebay in aid of the Wellburn Care Home in Dundee, run by the Little Sisters of the Poor. It’s currently going for a song, so get there and fill your boots.

“The centre of Astana very much had a western feel- vibrant, affluent with a splattering of large video screens on the buildings advertising top of the range cars to luxury apartments. With skyscraper office blocks and top-end hotels with marble kerbstones, this very much is one side of Asia.

“The stadium itself looked fairly new, the shape of it reminded me of Tyncastle, thankfully we were made welcome here though!”

From a trip to Kazakhstan page 136 of the 2014 CQN Annual, available here:

Puchase Options

Sean Fallon, Celtic’s Iron Man:

Select Delivery Option

Click Here for Comments >

About Author

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. ...
  10. 20

  1. That scoreline really hurt. But, if they players had given everything, and Barca still tore us apart by that score, then it would be different. But they didn’t. The worst part of the game, was the half hearted display by many of the players. Shocking and unacceptable.



    Since the time he has come in, I think Neil Lennon has done a very good job, and I don’t see any reason why we should be looking for someone else. It’s harder to see everything that PL or the board do, and I am sure there are ton’s of things we don’t get to know about. But, if they had 50M to spend, I’m sure they would, rather than just keep it sitting.



    Thats said, I think our signing policy needs to be looked at very closely. If we are signing players who ‘only come when they know the champions league is guaranteed’, then we will always have problems, especially with motivation when the going gets tough.



    We need to sign players who are happy to join the club full stop. We are in the position of pretty much having champions league or UEFA league/cup whatever its called now, guaranteed. I would only take players who are prepaired to come in, and play in the qualifiers, and be part of the team that qualifies, or take responsability for losing, rather than players who are prepaired to sit back and see. Kind of suggests what they will play like in hard games to me!



    We are on a very tight budget, but spending 2-3M on players from Europe or even further away, seems to guarantee absolutely nothing. Its quite possible to sign someone who looks and is fantastic, or someone who flops spectacularly! I’m not interested in any ‘big’ signings, there will always be injuries and or suspensions, and you could lose your best players for the biggest game quite easily. I would be much more interested in having a big squad, genuine competition for places, and players who are motivated to go out and play their best.



    Just now, we have too many passengers, who know they will keep getting a game, and keep getting paid. Yes, we are missing a goal scorer, and a midfielder who can keep the ball and make things happen. But if we were to get these players, and still have people who are not pulling their weight, we will still lose the big games. But if we have a team full of players all giving everything, albeit less skillfull on paper, I think we will achieve more, or at least get to leave the stadium with our pride intact!



    Last night we lost that. It may well have been because we played a far better team, who have much better resources. But there was also something wrong, we got to see that, and it needs to change and quickly, or it will stay and fester.



    I hope we see some big changes to the team, in January and in the summer, and I don’t mean big money purchases. I mean hungry players coming in through the door, players who want to play and win and achieve something. Then who knows, we really might do something we can be proud of again!

  2. sheik yerbouti



    12:47 on 12 December, 2013,



    I agreed with some of your marks on the players but on the whole, your post looked a bit one sided :)

  3. sipsini


    12:54 on


    12 December, 2013


    sheik yerbouti



    12:47 on 12 December, 2013,



    I agreed with some of your marks on the players but on the whole, your post looked a bit one sided :)





    lol :)

  4. Barbara Berlusconi on last night’s violence / striscione on the Curva sud ———



    ” they are hooligans / criminals, they are not supporters, they have diminished the satisfaction of progressing from the group.”.



    Much comment in the Milan media re the ” astonishing ” drunkenness of much of the Ajax support. Much complaint from the citizens of Milan re people profiteering from the sale of alcohol to ” barbarians “

  5. I think there is a big difference between putting out a team with a defensive formation, designed to win the game 1-0, and putting out a team that is trying not to get beat 3-0. Personally, no matter what our tactics were last night, I don’t think we had enough quality players, or players with enough motivation, to win or even get a draw. I am angry at the performance of some of the players, but I would be absolutely livid, if we had simply tried not to lose the game more than 2-0.



    You learn nothing playing that way. Atleast last night showed who can and who cannot be relied upon. Some players didn’t play well, but might be worth keeping and coaching and working on. Some players aren’t even worth having for the remainder of the league season. I hope we can move these players on asap, and get motivated hungry players in their place. I couldn’t care less about spending a certain amount of money, it really doesn’t seem to mean anything. I want to see a certain type of player coming in through the door, thats what is going to make the difference for next season in my opinion.

  6. The real question is WILL sufficient work be done between now and and our next European game in July in a world cup year to have a team ready for THREE qualifiers?



    Now last year I banged this drum long and loud about having the settled team for the first game in the qualifiers and that full provision was NOT met.



    We got through by the skin of our teeth and then proceeded to make a complete mess of the group.



    Lacked a cutting edge in Milan, lost a self inflicted defeat against barcelona, luckily beat Ajax and the suffered one worse performance after another in a collapse of mega proportions.



    A tough group? Absolutely and when we got it I was dreading it because there was no chance we’d beat Barcelona two years on the trot, Milan may be poor but they are Milan and they have players who could hurt us and Ajax (who I thought were garbage) met Barcelona not trying a leg and won that game.



    Normally when Barcelona qualify the youth team come out (and I mean the entire team not one or two), well they didn’t do that against us and that performance in Amsterdam put paid to any notion they’d take us lightly but I digress.



    Celtic need a new midfield, a creative midfield, two goal scoring strikers and will probably need a new keeper.



    This is not going to come cheap and it is not going to come easily.



    1 Striker has been signed but is he another project? Lets bloody hope not because we’ve had 4 years of them with two actual successes.



    We need another REAL striker and someone who will put bums on seats and make Celtic worth watching/ excite the supporters. The boredom factor I think is keeping people away.



    If he costs 5 Million, BLOODY PAY IT and stop going in with bids of 2M Celtic.



    Pukki is rubbish and I am calling this right now. He cannot control the ball, his hold up is no better than most SPL players (I’d say it was worse) and he has been an expensive flop. I am not basing this on last night, I am basing it on the fact he hasn’t scored since December and for a Celtic striker in the league we play in that is pathetic. Even big Balde has managed 2 in that time and he looks rather unprepared and a real project. I have more time for him and think he might develop. And lets not remember the legend that is Mo Bangura comes back soon as well. My God, what a collection of rotten strikers we’ve signed in the last 5 years.



    Stokes is SPFL level and has proved it this year. We need someone to score in that league and he will suffice for now. Maybe the big Icelander can come in and compliment him.



    Tony Watt MAY return with a better attitude. He has talent but like so many Scottish players wastes it with poor application, lack of professionalism and discipline. He is a wait and see.



    Which leaves Atajic – this boy must look at the guys supposedly in front of him and despair. He scored a great goal last week, give him some starts between now and the end of the season and see what we have there.



    In the Midfield –



    We need a real replacement for big Vic as no team ran through us with ease when he was there at home or abroad – Biton so far has contributed little to convince anyone he can do that and Kayal is finished at Celtic now as far as I can see. Scott Brown cannot do it and Joe Ledley is likely to head back to Cardiff now in my opinion.



    This leaves Rogic who wants to leave because of the World cup – another great signing and move from us which made no impact and yet we had Twardzik who looks the equivalent of Rogic at worst and young Henderson. I’d say see ya to Rogic and either get one of those boys in between now and the end of the season OR look for an alternative.



    Brown, Biton, Commons (our most intelligent player) and Charlie Mulgrew if he is now a midfielder will all stay I would imagine. They need reinforcements and they need a number 10 who can unlock defences and has the eye for a pass. Finding this player isn’t cheap but if we get it then again bums will come back onto seats and Celtic will be more exciting to watch and may even have a chance in Europe again. Nakamura and Lubo did not cost the earth just remember.



    The wide players –



    Samaras may be eyeing a decent World cup and a bosman move – Sadly I think his time has now come and gone. He was good, then bad, then awful, the useful, then inspiring then the talisman and now he is back to running into blind alleys and putting the hands on the hips when he loses the ball. Self life at Celtic may be up.



    ALSO don’t play him up front.



    Boerigter I don’t know what to make of. Lacks heart and from what I’ve seen he also lacks ability. Another great waste of money? He’s got 6 months for me.



    James Forrest – never progresses. frequently injured, often greedy and poor at decision making, , no final ball, no impact in Europe and occasional goals – Neil’s Green eyed Bhoy. This is the time for him to really step up and prove me and the doubters wrong. I don’t think we will be though.



    The defence –



    ironically after last night still the strongest part of the team. Lustig, Mathews (when fit) Efe, VVD, Charlie and Izzy have all played well in spells this season. Perhaps another left back to put pressure on Izzy and another centre half but no major tinkering.



    Ironically going out at this stage may actually help us hang on to VVD so every cloud has a silver lining.



    The Keeper will probably go and if we got an offer for him in January I would certainly take it when we have Zaluszka and the Fulham goalie on the books.



    The Manager –



    I think this could be Neil’s swansong. What else can he do with this team?


    His record in cups is patchy at best and he has no opponent in the league.


    Every manager has a shelf life and this may be the season for him to bow out with a league and hopefully a cup double and the menu may need changed.



    The only problem is who would come in?


    Would they work with the board we have and be the “company man” Neil clearly has been?


    How would this affect continuity?



    IMO if there is to be a change of manager this season will be the best time to do it.


    The new man will be guaranteed the league title next season more or less, can build his team hopefully with Europe in mind and with results and get a settled and strong team ready for Sevco to utterly pump them with a trophy or two already in the bag.



    Please understand I am not calling for Neil to go but I do think his time is coming to an end.



    I would categorize last night as the end of an era and when that happens there are usually a few goodbyes. Some players will go of that I am certain one way or another but I have a feeling the manager might be off as well. I could be wrong on that but I wonder how much longer he’ll see his best players sold and what appetite he has for a rebuilding job.



    This is a huge opportunity to completely overhaul the football side of the club. the one thing we have a lot of is time but if it is not used properly or wisely how many season ticket sales next year?



    And that’s before you get to the banners, the bans and the bams.

  7. The morning after the night before and typically you wake up to the usual questions.


    “What the hell happened and who has to apologise to whom?”


    Answers are varied, nebulous and questionable.

  8. Last night hurt, no doubt about it. But ask yourself was it a worse defeat than Utrecht 4-0 or Sion 3-1? Last seasons team took 2 and a bit seasons and many set backs to become the team they were. We also had decent slices of luck which we didn’t seem to get too many of this year. A season in the Europa may have been better for us in the long run but that is gone now and we were delighted with the CL. We have given this team a 12 game run in Europe and you would hope that it can be built further towards next year. Rogic, Biton, Pukki, Derk, Balde all have a lot to prove but we’ve got a good 7 months to do that in and hopefully mould a style of play which we are showing signs of to hit the ground running with. If we can wrap up the League before the split i’d give the 1st team a rest for 6 weeks and play the kids to ensure we’re fresh for the qualifiers. Talk of sacking Lennon is silly in my view. We’ve been gubbed by Barca and AC Milan here not Sion and Utrecht. We learn, we build, we move forward, we win. This is where celtic are at right now due to our economic climate. we must survive until we get a bigger TV pot via the Atlantic League, EPL or European Super League. Or a Motherwell born billionaire coming riding in with wealth off the chart!

  9. ....PFayr supports WeeOscar on




    What happens when the Ajax guys don’t have their herbal chill out material



    Barbarians…….hardly a word for the Dutch

  10. To be fair to NFL and the players they certainly tried their best to inject some meaning into a meaningless game. Just in the wrong way.



    We were overdue a skelping from Barca and that was it.



    We move on. Onwards and maybe upwards, but more probably downwards.



    Players will leave so we’ll start next season once again starting from scratch.



    Ho hum.



    And while the score is a bit embarrassing, and won’t look good in the record books, I don’t feel nearly as bad as after losing the league at Fir Park or Inverness.

  11. The Honest Cover-up on

    Of Barca’s six goals last night I think only one or two were down to the brilliance of Barcelona. The others were down to our sloppy individual errors and disorganised defending.


    I shudder to think what would’ve happened had Barca been at their dazzling best with Messi and co in sparkling form.


    Our consolation goal was a brilliant set piece. Our CL campaign should be defined by that type of play. Any top team would struggle to deal with our height when the delvery is of that quality.


    Our last 3 CL games have been frankly dismal. Poor organisation, poor work ethic, poor concentration. Ultimately we have finished in the group where our seeding and budget suggested we should have but we have not done ourselves justice this year.

  12. Why is it that a team is beaten by a large margin the focus is on how bad the beaten team are rather than how good the winners are. With the exception of the supporters of the winning team.



    Our recent large margin victories were commented on by the commentators and pundits telling how young / poor the opposition were. Whilst we revelled in how good the team played.



    Last night was the same. In reverse.



    I’ve watched football a long time. I enjoy the game. I’ve coached football. I’ve stopped at parks to watch youngsters play in organised games and I’ve paused during walks to enjoy the sights of those using jumpers for goals.



    Last night there was a team playing brilliantly. The flicks, back heels, nut megs, slide rule passes and movement were a joy to behold. And they had the rub of the green too.



    Rather than criticise Celtic players, tactics, formations or commitment I prefer to applaud Barcelona.

  13. setting free the bears supports Resolution 12 & Oscar Knox





    11:49 on



    12 December, 2013





    We lost and we lost badly and no words are going to salve the pain that a drubbing like that brings. Even though many of us have long foretold that it was coming, it really did not make it any easier to cope with. I have been adamant that better and more expensively assembled teams (Roma & Galatasary) than us have suffered them. Basel lost 7:0 just two years ago at this stage. But they are not Celtic and it does not hurt as much when it is them.



    We will all trot out our favourite theories as to why it happened, and I will be no different in that respect.



    Should we blame the players? Yes of course, they should have done better but, even if they had, we would be looking at 3:1 or 4:1, not really much comfort, if Barca decide and are capable of turning it on.



    Should we blame the manager? Of course. he was the guy in charge when this disaster happened and he deserves his fair share of the blame. But no tactics or selection was responsible for last night; individual performances were. tactics and paper selections win you nothing. A series of individual battles have to be won by players all over the pitch, regardless of formation.



    Should we blame the board? Again yes, if they had sanctioned other better buys than the ones we got, then there would have been more VVDs and fewer (insert scapegoat of choice here). But I do not know a Board or manager anywhere who only buy good players and never buy duds. Does anyone know one??



    Now , after fixing the blame, how do we fix the problem.



    Should we replace the players? Of course. Even if they had drew or won last night, we will be replacing players. Some of them are running down their contracts and have no intention of resigning. Some of them are in demand and will be sold if a big enough bid is received and some of them are not good enough and will have to be moved on. Team rebuilding is a constant everywhere in football, even at the top teams. No starting 11 stays the same for a complete season, far less 2 seasons in a row, at any club. We will continue to have to re-build.



    Should we sack the manager? Don’t be daft. Despite last night’s drubbing, Neil is still a manager in demand, maybe not for a top job, but for one that will pay him more than we pay. Neil will go when he is good and ready, in his own time, saddened but understanding the restrictions we operate under here. I hope we are as lucky with his replacement when it comes but I fear fans everywhere will drive managers out after 3 to 4 seasons. Tis the X Factor/ new bling mentality of modern life is rubbish.



    No new manager is going to make us regular last 16 participants unless there is a change in the balance of financial power soon. Mourinho, Swalex, Pep and Cloughie operating as joint managers would not make this happen without such a change.



    We are where we are because of trends we cannot buck. We had a last 16 experience last year and we have had 3 in the last 8 years. We got these with managers that we wanted sacked. No one can satisfy an insatiable and unrealistic demand.



    Not fan ownership of the club.



    Not a sugar daddy owner.



    Not a new superstar or two.



    But we will live on as a club and we will have better days and worse in the future. That is all you can guarantee and for me, hurt as I am this morning, knowing that we have a fighting chance, to live and take our chances again, is more than enough to keep me going until the world comes to its senses and we get back to a fairer system where clubs of our size and support are not handicapped by the financial doping from TV in the big leagues.







    I thought this worth bumping forward.




  14. One good thing about last night .



    30 minutes of great skill and vision from Napoli’s Insigne . A Number 10. A future star.

  15. The Honest Mistake loves being first on



    Sammy and balde.


    1-1 is the score after 6 weeks.


    It’ll be a long season.

  16. If we chase vanity marks, as we did at home to Juventus and Milan, and away to Barcelona, we’ll lose heavily.



    Paul . Nail on head.



    Last season against Juve NFL played a James Forrest (who I like) for 90mins


    when not nearly match fit. Same last night with Matthews.


    Vanity tactics + unfit players v superior opposition = a gubbing.



    How often will we make the same mistakes ?

  17. One thing I would be looking at is why the energy levels were so different between the players. That and why Barca players were winning the ball more in tackles or when ball was a contested one on one.



    Is it diet, training, attitude,positioning?



    I think this is an avenue worth exploring to get more out of each of our players.

  18. McDowellcelt god bless wee oscar on

    Snake plissken @ 13.02


    Amen to that!! One of the best posts iv read on here!

  19. Ernie Lynch 13.10



    No offence , but today more than any other I could


    not give a Bombay Duck about the Sevco share price.HH

  20. NL time not coming to an end- I’d like to see us, if we are going to play Moneyball (buy low, develop, sell high), to raise the stakes.



    Instead of a £1.5 million project, hoping to shift on for £5m, I’d like us to buy £7-8m prospects to make an impact in the CL, then sell for £20m. I know its difficult playing in SPFL but the valuations of players are set by CL performances, not by SPFL.



    We are a club of this size. Our board are well renumerated to make this raising of stakes a success. We do deserve better. Oh for Chris Sutton, Tommo, etc

  21. I dont believe our players are suddenly as crap as they looked last night . They were sent out to play a certain tactics that just didnt work and it left them looking like complete duffers.


    I mean our 3 offensive players plus brown were feebly trying to close down the barca defenders and goalkeeper. They were just wasting energy and leaving us way too far open to the counter attack from what seemed to me to be a second string Barca team.

  22. DeniaBhoy in awe of wee Oscar's Courage on

    angelgabriel +1. I cannot see what interest anyone has in their sliding share price. What does it matter to us?

  23. Auldheid 13.15



    I posted a similar question late last night.



    Is Lennoxtown being used to full capacity ?



    What hours per week do the Barca spend at their complex


    working on tactics,technique & fitness compared to Celtic ?



    I,m not accusing laziness, I would like to know a comparison


    with teams like Barca Bayern & Arsenal on time spent working


    to improve all aspects of our play. HH

  24. The Honest Mistake loves being first on



    Call me cynical but I wonder how many football players blood samples are in the lab of Eufemiano Fuentes or whoever replaced him.

  25. joe filippis haircut



    13:19 on 12 December, 2013,



    You are probably right, still find it amazing how a team struggled in their last two games and all of a sudden they were world beaters with half a team.



    Maybe it was the old greyhound trick and our players got fed with porridge!



    Ok, I know, they are a far superior team skill wise and probably that’s why our players looked like cart horses next to them. HH

  26. sipsini



    There was the recent Spanish doping scandal where the judge decided the bin key evidence and results of blood tests?. There were rumours that top Spanish sportsmen were implicated.


    I know Andy Murray was highly sceptical about something dodgy going on.


    Whatever the Barca players were on we could have done with some of it.

  27. setting free the bears supports resolution 12 & oscar knox



    12:15 on 12 December, 2013


    Nat Know



    replied to you on last thread






    One of the problems in pursuing the 6 or 7 man constant defence tactics in order to achieve Euro points is the question of “when do you know you have outgrown that stage?”.



    If you never try a more expansive approach, how will you know if you are ready to grow beyond being a purely defensive team? What better time to attempt this than in a dead rubber where it did not mater whether we lost 2:1 or 6:1?






    Agree 100% , we now know we are not ready.



    Part of the solution is to use the domestic to go full throttle , encourage 1 , 2 touch football and to actually play the ball to men that are marked and trust our ability on the ball. This approach will mean over time we have more players comfortable on the ball and the skill factor in the team will be increased.



    At a higher level , we have plenty of runners and markers but few cheeky / crafty players who can take the ball , give and go, and draw a foul where needed. The opposition recognise this, so for example, Milan went very tight on Jamesy and Kris , they knew Chas , Scott and the others were much less of a threat. Last night the Barca hounding of the man on the ball seemed to scare us , there were very few instances where the man on the ball trusted himself to dip the shoulder and leave the Barca man who normally had fully committed to the challenge.



    Never nice get pumped , but the management and players need to take the right lessons out of it rather than write it off as a bad night. I suspect the reason publically given will be somewhat different to the more mature conversation behind closed doors.




  28. Steinreignedsupreme on

    While there is obviously no doubt Celtic’s many detractors enjoyed last night’s goal-fest from Barcelona, most of them will be as upset as we are.



    Sammi’s goal may seem like a consolation, but you can bet your last penny that the records books were been poured over and copy written in advance on how it was the heaviest defeat by a Scottish club in Europe’s premier competition and also the worst defeat at that level for a Scottish club against Spanish opponents.



    Had the match ended 6-0 it would have been an unwanted joint-record on both fronts, with the other team unlikely to be named in the media, just Celtic.



    As it stands some team called Rangers, who are no longer with us lost 6-0 to Real Madrid in 1963.



    Yet another world record for the Zombies, who follow follow club club, to be proud of. That should cheer them up ahead of the Sevco AGM.

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. ...
  10. 20