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:

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Sean Fallon, Celtic’s Iron Man:

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  1. auldheid



    13:15 on 12 December, 2013


    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.




    IMO better players always appear fitter and stronger , even if they are little lhads.



    It’s just the way it is …




  2. bamboo & sipsini



    Rather than raise questions about the opposition energy levels


    and possible doping I think we should look the guy you mentioned.


    Andy Murray.


    A work ethic,dedication, hours of practice and the proper coach


    brought out the best in him.No settling for second best.HH

  3. I think what the Barca players are on is a pride and appreciation of what they get paid to do.



    We will never be as skillful as them as a team but we can be as professional and as fit as them and that is what we have got to try and learn from last night.

  4. DeniaBhoy in awe of wee Oscar’s Courage



    13:25 on 12 December, 2013



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






    Some of us suspect that whatever strategy the Celtic Board have to spending (which appears to resemble the Peace of God in that it passeth all understanding) is inextricably linked to what takes place down Govan way.

  5. LiviBhoy - God bless wee Oscar on

    Talking of fitness. There is one man who will get players fit and introduce a more continental approach to our club and he was sitting in the studio last night watching our game. I have no idea why the club don’t give John Collins a role. He was pumped out of Hibs because the players said he worked them too hard. I don’t know why Celtic aren;t tapping into this guy. He should be on our coaching staff. If you aren’t the best being the fittest helps. He has good contacts abroad and would be a useful addition with the young players too.


    We need new players on the pitch but maybe a slight change in the backroom staff helps as well. John could well be a future manager. He has all the attributes. Get him on the payroll. He has something to add to our club.




  6. Steinreignedsupreme on

    savo01 13:36 on 12 December, 2013



    Efrain Juarez £3m


    Kris Commons £300,000









    Francis Jeffers £8m


    Ian Wright £2.5m




  7. bamboo



    13:30 on 12 December, 2013,



    If you read back, it was posted earlier.


    I mind reading about the judge ordering all specimens to be destroyed a while ago.


    Just to reiterate, I’m not looking for a reason for a bad performance but seen as it was flagged up… I felt I had to comment.


    Nothing would surprise me in regards to sport nowadays, there is too much money involved and sadly greed has taken over.

  8. Marti Sandino Supports Wee Oscar





    12:32 on



    12 December, 2013



    pabloh_AKA_NEIL LENNON



    “Still not seen anything from Boerrigter or Pukki, wondering if that’s 5m wasted.”



    In my opinion it is 5 million wasted. Derk has looked no better than other players in the same position playing in the SPFL. Pukki tries very hard but just hasn’t got what it takes, on all evidence we have seen thusfar.








    Agree. A major additional problem is that signing someone like Derk holds back promising players like Paul George getting first team experience. Similarly signing Biton, who I understand is younger that Jackson Irvine, has held back Jackson and the likes of Calum McGregor from getting first team experience with Celtic.

  9. Hamiltontim is praying for Oscar on




    Do we really need a guy in to coach the players how to be fit?



    I didn’t particulaly like Collins as a player. I like him less as a man and wouldn’t have him anywhere near Parkhead.

  10. Share prices are very relevant to people who like to play the long game and the short game simultaneously.



    Share prices are very relevant to people who like to play the can I borrow now and pay you back later ? game.

  11. John Collins? Naaaaaa, no havin that sorry, I have met the guy in Vegas stuck up pompous and arrogant, I won’t bother going into the conversation he had with some one, but Masty was there he will back me up, and as I was first to mention this morning, I now honestly do think they are on some thing, whether it’s legal or not, can we have some please, Barca that is. Right am off ti my party, Hail Hail, .

  12. angelgabriel



    13:38 on 12 December, 2013,



    I didn’t mention Andy murray.


    It was mentioned earlier about Nadal’s specimen being destroyed as was many, by the order of a Spanish judge.

  13. pabloh_AKA_NEIL LENNON on




    Exactly – Ajajic sounds like he could be a prospect but is he going to get game time? We have young talent but buy diddies for 2m a time and kinda don’t play them either – Bangura, Balde, Pukki etc. Granted we will buy the odd ‘money maker’ like wanyama or van Dijk (I imagine he will make us many million in the future) but it’s all a bit of a mess. And what about big Balde? What was the point in signing him?

  14. Paul67



    Adventurous would have been to go with the fluid 4-3-1-2 featured in our last 2 domestic games.



    Celtic played 4-4-1-1 last night (4-5-1 2nd half), as they did at home v Baca, as they did in last year’s 2 matches.


    The difference lay in the attitude and ability of the players on the night, and the fact that there were many players unused to each other in those positions.



    It wasn’t an adventurous line-up, it was just a rubbish one.

  15. Today is the last day for the petition born out of the deaths in suspicious circumstances of Annie Börjesson and Colin Marr.



    Assumed suicide led the step-dad of Colin Marr to petition parliament http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/GettingInvolved/Petitions/thevictimslastright



    AND stand for election to the Scottish Parliament in the coming by-election in Dunfermline!





    The petitioner has no hope of having his son’s case or that of Annie revisited and that is not the intention of the petition which is aimed at others not having to go through the hell that they have been put through and still no closure.



    Please consider signing and/or passing on to friends.



    Thanks and H.H.

  16. For quick summary/comparison of Celtic’c overall place in European Champions League status terms see below. Note: there is no information provided on the amount of money spent by these other clubs either this season or recent seasons (which may have influenced teams’ performances).




    Final Champions league placings (fourth place)



    Group A 1pt Real siciedad


    Group B 4pts Copenhagen


    Group C 1pt Anderlecht


    Group D 3pts CSKA Moscow


    Group E 3pts Steaua Bucharest


    Group F 0pts Marseille


    Group G 5pts Austira Vienna


    Group H 3pts Celtic

  17. Does anyone know what the day to day lifestyle of a Barca player is like compared to ours?



    I suspect it’s a lot more rigorous, dedicated and self denying.

  18. Too much attention on last nights meaningless fixture and not enough questions being asked of the games we could have won against Milan and Ajax…

  19. Livibhoy.



    You make a pertinent point about fitness and JC.


    Manager ? Not at this point. We could do worse than


    offer him a place on the staff.


    I remember Billy Dodds (sorry) being asked about when


    he was at his fittest during his career.


    He stated that was an easy answer which was when


    paying under Alex Miller at Aberdeen.He hated working


    under him. Why ?


    A.Miller had spent time at Monaco studying A.Wegner


    and his methods when JC was there.


    Miller implemented the double training session which


    were the normal in Monaco.


    A.Miller did not last long,the players resented his methods


    and results suffered.


    See Paul Le Guen at the huns for similar fate.

  20. Ernie Lynch



    I agree Celtic long overdue a doing from Barca. Only a matter of time.



    Re Barca player lifestyles – they are literally schooled from the age of 9 on how to live like an athlete..

  21. Steinreignedsupreme on

    DR M 14:00 on 12 December, 2013



    “I dont know but if we were half as fit as Barca maybe we would have beaten Milan & Ajax.”



    Celtic beat Ajax and Ajax beat Barca – what do we take from that?

  22. LiviBhoy - God bless wee Oscar on




    People were talking about fitness. Collins is a fitness fanatic.


    It was a point I thought I would make.




  23. Hamiltontim is praying for Oscar on

    It’s not just their fitness, their strength is far superior to our players.



    I’ve lost count of the number of times against Barca that even our physically ‘big’ players are out muscled by smaller opponents.

  24. I’ve read a surprisingly (imo) high level of support for retaining NFL as manager despite our record Euro defeat last night on top of last season’s record Euro aggregate defeat. Could someone please explain to me what they see in NFL that supports the notion he should continue as manager?



    I suppose we could keep him to see if he can get a hat-trick and bag the club’s record Euro defeat at home. He’s only the joint holder of this one.

  25. angel gabriel



    “A work ethic,dedication, hours of practice and the proper coach


    brought out the best in him.No settling for second best.HH”



    Most important of all, he also went to Spain at an early age as there would be no useful regular competitive practice for him within the UK. That is an option not yet available to us.

  26. Thats football but you give yourself a better chance if you take your gift seriously. If i was lucky enough to be born with the gift of being a good footballer and then found myself being even luckier playing for Celtic then i would stop drinking, smoking and do whatever it took (within the rules) to be the best i could.

  27. m6bhoy



    Neil got us to the last 16 of the CL last year. He is not much different as a coach now than he was then. Last year we over-achieved. This year we punched our weight and it is not a nice reminder to be told what our weight really is.



    Sport is a cruel mirror. In our mind we see ourselves as handsome well-muscled lads; the sporting mirror shows us up as the wheezy skinny runts we are.

  28. livibhoy – god bless wee oscar



    13:41 on 12 December, 2013,



    I have noticed that John Collins is defensive of Celtic when on a panel and he does make a lot of valid points.


    For some reason I think he has an agenda, were be it a job or tv money!


    All I remember is he was a good player and never had Celtic in his heart the way Paul mc Stay had.


    Too little too late.

  29. Re fitness levels….


    Not sure this proves anything but I recall doing the Nou Camp tour with my sons in 2005 and we were amazed to see all the players drive away from the stadium at almost 4pm – nit in fancy 4x4s but in family saloon cars. (Club ethos apparently not to be overtly flash)



    I mentioned my surprise to a local who looked at me with a puzzled expression.



    I told him in Scotland the players training routine was probably 10 to 1pm.


    His was amazed and then said No wonder you Scots are useless ( said in a slightly more delicate way) but you get the drift.



    He was genuinely staggered that a professional athlete would do such little work.

  30. setting free the bears supports Resolution 12 & Oscar Knox @ 14:09 on 12 December, 2013



    I know what NFL did last season but this is more than outweighed by the Euro disasters this season. You still haven’t explained why we should retain him.

  31. LiviBhoy - God bless wee Oscar on




    Collins is a Celtic man. He is no Paul McStay but when we win you can see it in his face.


    He left us in poor circumstances to go to Monaco but he was looking after himself. Times have changed though and if the guy is available and can give us something different then he should not be ruled out. He was a consumate professional and if my kid was starting out in football he would be a role model I would point out to him. JC was never blootered midweek or eating badly or staying up late before games. He was Mr Boring of the football club and gave 100%. He was not blessed with the greatest ability although he was a fine player he was no McStay. He couldn’t run a game. he made the most of what he had by honing his skills on the training ground and looking after himself off it. This not what most of us are striving for?


    I’m not saying he should be manager but would surely be useful. We have replaced Thommo with Danny McGrain but maybe there is a place for JC. Just adding another name into the mix.




  32. I watched and listened to John Collins last night.



    There was a man who was hurting – firstly because he is a Celtic fan and secondly because he understands that there were problems there that could be tackled and are not being addressed



    My biggest bugbear – we cannae take a shy



    There is never a player in space or a player not in space who will collect the ball and move it on to a Celtic player


    JC is more than a fitness fanatic he understands the value of the ball – if you don’t have it you won’t do anything – if you get it you must have the ability to hold on to it as a team



    He could do a good job coaching at Lennoxtown personalities aside – I would call him in and get him to work with the players and get his assessment – maybe also get his assessment of where the current coaching seems to be failing on the basics



    I don’t care if he’s ‘not a nice guy’ – not part of the job requirement

  33. Steinreignedsupreme on

    m6bhoy 14:04 on 12 December, 2013



    Sounds like you think Neil Lennon should have attained decades’ worth of experience in less than four years in the job.



    As I posted earlier the likes of Jock Stein, Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and Guus Hiddink were all making mistakes after more than 10 years into their careers in management.



    The gap between the elite clubs in Europe and the rest is widening every season. Despite that, all the unwanted European records are held by another Scottish club, who no longer exist.

  34. Last 15 in the CL:



    England 4


    Germany 4


    Spain 3


    Italy 1 (poor considering the financial position)


    France 1 (thanks to Qatar Investment Authority – Monsieur Platini sends his regards)


    Russia 1


    Turkey 1


    Greece 1



    Well done to Olympiakos. The others are all big money clubs in big money leagues. Germany on the way up, Italy in decline. No Portuguese team in the last 16 this year.


    It’s now 7 years since a Dutch team reached the last 16. Bring on the North Atlantic League!

  35. Steinreignedsupreme @ 14:16 on 12 December, 2013



    Sounds like you think Neil Lennon should have attained decades’ worth of experience in less than four years in the job.



    As I posted earlier the likes of Jock Stein, Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and Guus Hiddink were all making mistakes after more than 10 years into their careers in management.



    The gap between the elite clubs in Europe and the rest is widening every season. Despite that, all the unwanted European records are held by another Scottish club, who no longer exist.





    None of which explains why we should retain NFL as manager.

  36. mighty tim supporting wee Oscar on

    For the bhoys saying that NFL should go who would replace him. Why if PL and the board are gonnae control what you can buy and sell and what price range you can shop in who would take the job. Would they do any better than NFL without trying to bankrupt us. Only asking as I personally cannot think of anyone at the moment who fits the bill. I know there are better managers throughout Europe just not sure they would come to Celtic as the SPFL would not challenge them enough.



    sipsini sent you an email mate.








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