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. Emusanorphan



    Hiya Pal… Ages since we last Corresponded..



    Ye hiv bin Missed.



    Yes.. A Guy such as Ye hiv Suggested.. wid be ideal.



    We need.. Age.. We Need Experience.. which ,usually comes with Age..



    And.. when Ye come tae Think aboot it..



    It is Seldom that we hear the Phrase..



    “A Wise n Prudent.. Young Man”



    We Need a Mature Mind.. a Guy who has Seen it and Done it awe..



    Like.. well..



    The Chap ye hiv Jist Suggested..



    Nice Chattin’






  2. David Peter Deans on




    AS usual you talk a lot of sense and are right. I would still however like to swap the 4 players i mentioned who cost Approx £8 million for one really good striker for around the same money, who will at least play most weeks and be consistent in front of goal. Ther has to be a Vanhoydonk, Caddette or another Henrik out there somewhere.



    Hail Hail.

  3. TinyTim



    Couldn’t disagree more



    The system in which football operates is broken. Trying to reach the status of super rich immoral unjustifiable oligarchs does no-one in football any long term good. Football needs to look backwards not forwards to progress.



    ‘Football is a form of socialism’ Bill Shankley. I know he was talking about on the playing field but why should wealth equate to success in sport? Sporting success should be down to endeavour. All utopian nonsense of course but makes me sick thinking we, Celtic actually strive to sit among that kind of elite.

  4. notthebus



    17:17 on 12 December, 2013



    A lot of sad Huns and jealous English people voting I see, doesn’t really matter because next year we’ll be in it again lol


    That’s why we’re champions


    That’s why we’re champions



  5. LiviBhoy – God bless wee Oscar


    16:41 on


    12 December, 2013





    Would The Rangers be in it?









    EUEAF requires new companies to have 3 years audited accounts before that could happen……and you need to be SPL Champions (which won’t be any time soon :)

  6. Paul67 et al



    If Neil does not know now, he never will, that the Nou Camp is not the place to try out tactics that he alone appears to understand, with players who seem, six months on, to be getting a try-out. If that doesn’t work at Lennoxtown, it wont work in Spain. We played quite well against Barcelona at Parkhead, until we went down to ten men, and most if not all of us expected a similar approach to last night’s game, in that nobody expected us to outplay them.


    What we expected was as fit, well-prepared and professional team that we can put out, with a set-up to suit them, not the whims of our Manager.

  7. anybody passing or visiting a patient at the Southern General Glasgow I am in PDRU room 11 with serious dongle and hospitals own broadband connection help would be appreciated to keep up with the world.


    Still at your side Neil

  8. the long wait is over on




    ridiculous poll by Talksport.



    Questioning whether we should be in the CL after one (v v bad) result?



    Did they ask if Man City should be in the CL after their mind blowingly expensive team failed to make the last 16 last year when we did?



    Choobs as wee Alan Brazil would say…

  9. It’s not the tactics?Its vanity tactics!Wrong tactics?


    Or just poorly implemented tactics?



    The real problem is a coaching staff who seem unable to implement their tactical plan.


    Barcelona have struggled against teams who have properly implemented a 5/4 or 4/5 formation in the last third.This negates their crisp passing around the box and forces them wide and crossing into the box does not give them much success.


    While we tried the same our spacing was poor and to close so easily bypassed.


    Our poorly implemented tactics often leave acres of space for even the most limited opponents to exploit.

  10. Slabhoy - Duntocher is Green and White on

    hun skelper



    17:26 on 12 December, 2013






    17:17 on 12 December, 2013



    A lot of sad Huns and jealous English people voting I see, doesn’t really matter because next year we’ll be in it again lol


    That’s why we’re champions


    That’s why we’re champions







    Couldn’t agree more.



    I live in England ad listen to Talksport often, aside from Alan Brazil, they don’t care about us and mention us only when taking a swipe. Wouldn’t be surprised if the ex-Sky uber-Hun pundit is behind this poll



    Growling into my PC









    What a risk. What a blunder. A rookie manager type blunder. At some point in the near future Neil has to stop making rookie manager type mistakes. He is repeating the same errors way too often



    Well and bravely said, I hope you have your flack jacket on.



    Prepare to be blasted…………HH

  12. David Peter Deans on

    Celtic Mac.



    You are spot on with you comments. I could not beleive Neil Lennon slating all the players last night. Ok they were not good, not good at all, but is tactics and team selection must have baffled them along with all us Celtic supporters. More experienced coaching staff needed at that level.

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

    fan-a-tic – Good post. I remember only last year, when we had next to no possession, NL was praised for knowing how to spoil the Barca gameplan by forcing them to go wide rather than through the middle. By having two wingers as midfielders who don’t track back we had lost that tactical battle before KO.

  14. the long wait is over on




    Apart from Alan Brazil and Danny Kelly , and possibly Hawksbee and Jacobs at lunchtime , talksport is dreadful.



    Keys and Gray are cringeworthy , Adrian Durham is an obnoxious trumpet and the rest are non entities.

  15. Is it unkind to compare our relationship with Neil to that of the Sevconians with McCoist? It doesn’t matter how many mistakes tobehonestwithyou makes, they still love him. Seems we have a similar situation here. Not saying its right or wrong, just making an observation.

  16. Hamiltontim is praying for Oscar on




    I’m grand and devilishly handsome thanks to Mr Commons ;-)



    Hope you, the family and the grandwean are all well auld yin!!




    Its Adrain Durham, the master wind up merchant who id fuelling the “debate”.



    Listened to it for 5 mins and put it off. He argued the Champions League shouldn’t be for champions, it should be for football elite.



    Presumably re-titling the Premiership as CL would suit him.



    Erse of a man.

  18. notthebus


    17:17 on


    12 December, 2013






    Is it only me who finds that poll funny :)



    Who else should have took our place ?



    Should it have been given down to England so they should have five place’s ?



    Should we have just given it to sevco so it would make up for there hurt feeling’s



    Silliest poll i have saw in a while .



    Still made me laugh at the mentality of some people who are hurting

  19. The Moon Bhoys@16:27



    “I’d hazard a guess that Neil told the players the pressure was all off so just relax and go out there and enjoy yourself, certainly to me that was how they played. Barcelona must have thought ya dancer, christmas has come two weeks early.”




    I’d hazard a guess that you’re dead wrong and I’d be willing to bet that if you were willing to ask anyone who was in our dressing room at the time, that was not the message issued.



    You up for that bet?

  20. Weeman67.



    I’m invisible around here, can say anything and no one takes any notice. Congratulation on being the first:-)

  21. the standard of Celtic’s play last night was very poor, the better team won. hopefully the players and the team, as a whole, will blossom over the coming month and will be ready and more able to preform in the C/L next year. I am sure they will have learnt from this season.



    if we NFL learnt anything this C/L campaign I hope it is that mulgrew is nowhere near capable of playing centre mid at the highest level and his delivery does not justify his inclusion, sorry Charlie.



    hopefully all those supporters that rate Mathews etc… higher than izzy at left back stop there mumbling and enjoy the best left back we have seen in many a year.



    hh, onwards and upwards

  22. Excleent as always from tictactic.com





    Looking for Goldilocks


    Posted on December 12, 2013 by admin


    It’s almost a year to the day that Peter Lawwell’s moneyball was posted on this blog. It’s a big read, but one of the major points investigated is Celtic’s recruitment policy, which has come under a lot of scrutiny after a very disappointing Champions League campaign.



    The “buy young, buy cheap, sell high” (to generalise to the extreme) has had its ups and downs. Take Adam Matthews, Mikel Lustig, Charlie Mulgrew, Joe Ledley (amongst others) bought for absolutely nothing. Or Gary Hooper and Victor Wanyama purchased in their early twenties to be developed into a combined £20m worth of revenue.



    These are inarguable success stories covering almost every area of the park. Almost every area, that is, apart from up front. Hooper and Kris Commons aside, Neil Lennon and co. have struggled to find a prolific 9 or the perfect 10.



    Since his first full season in charge, Lennon has signed no less than 13 players who fall under this category, while also surveying the viability of internal graduates Tony Watt and Bahrudin Atajić




    The record is underwhelming. If we take away Hooper, Commons and Anthony Stokes (successes), c. £8m has been spent on 10 or so forwards with a combined return of 13 goals in 125 games.



    There are a couple of convenient assumptions: either spend more on less, or simply, spend wiser. It all sounds great on paper – spend £5m of that aforementioned £8m on one quality poacher, he’ll happily sign on the dotted line, turn up in Glasgow and provide 30 goals a season.



    But… the reality. Celtic have to identify said player first of all. Celtic have to draw his attention away from some 50-60 financially weightier clubs in Europe – a problem given that the player employs an agent specifically to drum up attention.



    The club has to be willing to let go of an outstanding asset, while Celtic are expected to outbid rival suitors, and if this player really is of substantial quality, there will be a host of suitors. He needs to be young enough to offer sell-on potential, have a clean injury track record, and for a striker almost will certainly require a great goals per game ratio.



    It’s only once all this is pulled together that you can appreciate how difficult it is to find this “goldilocks” player. The right quality, the right price, with the right reputation from the right league.



    24 year-old Alfred Finnbogason is commonly held up as exhibit A in the case against a criminally frugal board. The Icelandic forward was on Celtic’s radar long before interest was noted in the mainstream media, after he narrowily missed playing against Celtic for his old club Helsingborgs: ”It is a bonus for us because he (Finnbogason) is a very good player and he was in good goalscoring form. I think a lot of Helsingborgs play went through him so he will be a loss to them.”



    Bear in mind, that this comment was before any transfer rumours, so it’s fair to suggest that Celtic were interested, but the deal to go to Heerenveen was already agreed. After less than a year in Holland, Augsberg of Germany had a £4.5m bid rejected and West Ham United, Sunderland, Everton, Aston Villa and AC Milan registered interest.



    For whatever reason, some continue to believe that Celtic were within a million or two of capturing Finnbogason, yet Heerenveen’s stubborn refusal to sell to anyone says otherwise.



    The truth is out there



    Celtic’s upper budget for a single player is not far from £5m. Wages tend to present more of a problem, as Celtic’s top pay (around £30k/week) is unlikely to attract that £5m showstopper.



    The argument that “they are out there” is flimsy without actually putting forward any suggestion. It is therefore without further ado, that the following list of ‘goldilock’ players have been compiled. Here are Europe’s best goalscorers this season with a transfer value (according to transfermarket.de) of less than €5m and an age no higher than 24.



    Please forward suggestions on to Peter Lawwell sanctioning tictactic’s all expenses travel and accommodation to scout each of these players over the next few months.



    List of players follows

  23. Idle titter tattle to take our minds of last night:



    Apparently MON banned a whole raft of foods previously allowed, and the worst offender for breaking it was NL, who would drink cans of coke etc.



    Henke was moody and would sleep a lot. was always brilliant with supporters.



    MON got rid of young dollybird type staff at CP as he didn’t want anyone distracting his players.



    MON was exceptionally polite and endearing to the CP staff, but merciless with the players.



    There you go – the inside track on the MON era

  24. Blast, SFTB has just found me out! You and I have a long standing agreement SFTB, remember? You scroll on by me, and I scroll on by you, works best that way for both of us.