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We won the cup, so what now?

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Neil Lennon will have learned enough on Sunday to give him pause for thought.  After wins over Lille and Kilmarnock, we shipped three goals, conceded additional good chances and confidence shattered all too easily the moment Hearts scored their first.

For me, the remainder of our season truncates into the next four games; four more cup finals, if you like.  The plan for these fixtures has to be right.

There is no longer a debate about our best defensive formation; moving Kristofer Ajer to right back gives the team a far better shape.  This means playing Christopher Jullien and Shane Duffy in central defence.  As you may have commented through expletives on Sunday, these two are not a partnership.  Not yet, anyway; they have three games to change that.

I vacillate on left back preferences.  Greg Taylor is currently the manager’s first choice, if so, play him in each of the four games ahead.  If Diego Laxalt gets the nod, give him the opportunity to settle into the position.

If the partnership between Jullien and Duffy needs work, the system the defence builds with their goalkeeper requires even more attention.  Neil Lennon opted for Conor Hazard against Hearts, whom he accepted had a degree of liability for two of the Hearts goals.  A more experienced keeper would have got his retaliation in first on Naismith and, as every experienced keeper in the business does, would have ‘bought the foul’ for the third goal.

It is time to put Vasilis Barkas in goal behind a settled defence.  He is 26-years-old, a Greek international goalkeeper with four seasons’ experience at a decent level, including Champions League football.  There is more to come from him than we have seen this season; playing behind a composed defence will establish this.

You, me and the manager saw two games with Ismaila Soro before the Cup Final, enough to demonstrate he is a player, not enough to convince you, me AND the manager he was right for the final.  As fans, we are guilty of recency bias: Soro played well recenly, Celtic played well, therefore Soro is the answer to our problems.

This can be true but it can also be false.  I fell into this trap earlier this season with Jeremie Frimpong.  He was our MVP in wins over Ross County, Livingston and Hibs, but opposing teams adapted, and he’s young, which means form can be variable.  St Johnstone had his number in Perth next time out and his gas has been at a peep ever since.

What we have seen of Soro is encouraging, especially the second 45 minutes against Lille, but we have not seen enough to bet the bank on him.

At 35, Scott Brown is a shadow of his former imperious best, which has consequences for Callum McGregor and how we defend, which is the reason there is a clamour to play Soro.  e HeIt is accepted that Scott cannot play two games a week for long periods.  Consult your textbook, and it will tell you players like this need to be used sparingly, which means Soro is likely to start tomorrow night and against Dundee United on 30 December.

Alternating Soro and Brown directly conflicts with my desire to see a settled team and partnerships establish throughout the side, but desire is a guideline and guidelines can be flexed in certain circumstances.

Playing Soro or Brown at Ibrox feels like a major call.  Thankfully, it is not my decision, because I can see jeopardy in both options.  If you think the answer is obvious, I suggest you have not considered the matter closely enough.  However, this is the kind of decision Neil Lennon is paid the big bucks to make and get right.

Successful teams have a settled defence, central mid and goalkeeper.  They vary their attacking players, often during games, so while it is important to get the four more attacking positions right, we do not need consistency of selection in those areas.  Neil can throw the dice there against Ross County, Hamilton and Dundee United.  We need to see more from on Odsonne Edouard, Mohamed Elyounoussi  and Ryan Christie, none are currently playing well enough to know their shirts will be on a hanger on 2 January.

We dodged a trauma on Sunday but the game was full of information about the team and how to proceed.  In this respect, Hearts did us a favour in not capitulating.  How we use this knowledge will determine the outcome of the title.

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  1. Tony Ralston is still at the club and has been on the bench the odd time, so Neil thinks he can still offer something, he’s a natural Right Back, play him! and move Kris back alongside Chris, :) they know each other well, and it has to be a more positive step than persevering with Shane, por cierto

  2. Back to Basics - Glass Half Full on

    Brilliant article Pablo and even better title.

     

     

    Respect.

     

     

    Still a bit drained from Sunday and more perplexed about a credible way forward.

     

     

    Was pure ragin’ during the game.

     

     

    But then thought Neil’s interview with Premier Sports was a good one. He talked well about the pressure to win the cup and the ten.

     

     

    It wasn’t completely persuasive but he did speak well (IMHO).

     

     

    What to say about the team & players?

     

     

    I genuinely see commitment, passion, talent and togetherness.

     

     

    I don’t see method, structure, clear processes to deal with specific in-game scenarios or attention to detail.

     

     

    I can’t see a 12 game winning streak.

     

    (if it happens the title race dynamic shifts dramatically)

     

     

    So will settle for trying to win the next game.

     

     

    Pablo – leading up to Sevco at Ibrox, I respectfully suggest your team analysis missed something?

     

     

    Tin hat time maybe.

     

     

    I’d drop Elyanoussi. Today.

     

     

    He is a threat, he makes things happen (sometimes). Acknowledged.

     

     

    But he takes the ball in close and slows the game down at the exact point we need it to speed up – approaching the final third.

     

     

    Plus his defensive work and tracking back look functional rather that vigorous (IMHO)

     

     

    Tavernier is a genuine attacking asset for Sevco …. but a truly awful defender.

     

     

    Our left side needs to be robust on 02 January.

     

     

    Shut down his space, put him on the back foot, stay in his face.

     

     

    Someone once said Tavernier and Sevco didn’t like this ?

     

     

    Err ……

     

     

    Oh, I’ve remembered. It was HIM !

     

     

    Ryan on the left to man mark (all game) and put 6 crosses into the box. Job done.

     

     

    Leigh upfront with Odsonne.

     

     

    Different skillsets. Both brilliant.

     

     

    Edouard can drop to spaces filled by Moi.

     

     

    Leigh can be a pain in the ass and the goal grabber.

     

     

    Cup final – watch his shooting leg come off the ground BEFORE Gordon saves Broonie’s header.

     

     

    Leigh’s brain occupies that same “⅒ of a second before the defender” space Paolo Rossi’s did.

     

     

    Hail hail

     

     

    Keep The Faith

  3. NORRIEM on 22ND DECEMBER 2020 4:36 PM

     

    —————–

     

    You can level similar critisicm at Laxalt.

     

     

    He’s a poorer defender than Taylor but slightly better at crosses.

     

     

    Though we only play 1 striker so what’s the point of putting in crosses in open play.

  4. Lenny saying that now the cup final is over and we won he hopes the pressure is off the players.

     

     

    Paul67 article, each game from now on is a cup final 😁

  5. SID1888 on 22ND DECEMBER 2020 12:39 AM

     

    Tontine Tim @11:07 Love your posts on old Celtic games but I’m afraid the one referred to above is bollocks. The fact that RM, his Mrs and kids are so feted by the Church is an embarrassment and utterly shameful imho but hey ho, right wing Catholic conservatives will approve, just ask our board… (-:

     

     

    *I never praised Murdoch or his family I merely stated that the papal honour he was given was through his Glasgow born ex wife’s contributions to charity.

     

     

    She and their 3 kids are members of the one true, holy and apostolic faith. Although he would attend Holy Mass with them he never converted.

     

     

    Personally I have no time for the former ally of the finchley female dug and I blame him, through Sky Sports, for the mess fitba is in, there are millionaires out there that couldnae lace the boots of those football greats that passed through Parkheid gates.

     

     

    He is also, through the Fox Corporation, a main contributor tae the downfall of American politics with their love affair with tangerine heid.

     

     

    As for American conservative Catholics, IMHO they are stuck in the 15th century and the Spanish Inquisition.

  6. glendalystonsils on

    So Naiscum is not to be punished for his deliberate stamp on Broony? OK , stamp away lads , elbow , kick , bite, whatever you like . A wee concealed weapon doon the sock? Aye , why not ……..it’s only Celtic .

  7. MELBOURNE MICK on 21ST DECEMBER 2020 10:26 PM

     

     

    O.K. only read back a bit, two questions.

     

     

    Whats happened with GFTB ?

     

     

    _______________________________________________________________

     

     

    He had been taking a lot of flack for his pro Neil Lennon stance from different posters, then Saturday night / Sunday morning Hamilton Tim had a go at him for something and he more or less said thats enough for me I’m offski. It’s a shame because we have plenty of anti Neil posters and not too many pro Neil posters.

     

     

    Of course there is a reason for that🙂

  8. THE_HUDDLE on 22ND DECEMBER 2020 4:52 PM

     

     

    Lenny saying that now the cup final is over and we won he hopes the pressure is off the players.

     

     

    _______________________________________________________________________________________________________

     

     

    Maybe he was joking, the pressure will build and build until either we are in front of Sevco in the league table or he is mutual consented, cant see any other outcome, the 10 is still and always has been Top Priority.

  9. The Blogger Formerly Known As GM on

    After his performance on Sunday I’d have put money on the giving the game at Mordor to Beaton.

  10. Radio Scotland, they dont half like negative stories about Celtic, and then there is their match day commentary of Celtic games where they talk up every possible Celtic negative and relish every positive the opposition can provide.

     

     

    If their intent is to make all listening Celtic supporters feel uncomfortable then they succeed every time out, They are virtually unlistenable if you happen to follow Celtic. Packy Bonner should be decking a few of them, thats the only way he will ever get his credibility back.

  11. RTB said:

     

     

    “Radio Scotland, they dont half like negative stories about Celtic,”

     

     

    I feel all the MSSM are guilty of that ( apart from a very few individuals),

     

    The Big question, which i have commented on quite a few times in different ways is:

     

     

    Does this influence Celtic supporters`views?

  12. First of all, since it’s the first time I’ve been on the blog since Sunday, let me congratulate the club – directors, management, players and back room staff for the world record achievement of 4 x consecutive trebles. Well done Celtic. Like Shankly’s words to Big Jock, it is an immortal achievement. It is unbeatable and it is also shameful but predictable how little focus has been on this by mainstream Scottish media.

     

     

    But onwards we go and hopefully upwards as regards league form. But if so, things have to change.

     

     

    We have to change our defensive strategy & shape. Defenders have made several poor individual errors this season, but it would be a mistake to think that getting the 4 at the back right solves the problem. We do not defend well throughout the team. Our midfield tends to be overloaded with attacking minded players and along with whoever plays up front, we do not press and harass the opposition like we used to.

     

     

    Are we fit enough to do so? I do not think so – we have lost a plethora of late goals this season and regularly perform more poorly in the 2nd half of matches.

     

     

    We have not had a ball-winner in midfield to assist Broony for years now ……”ball-winner” is probably an outdated term….it’s not about winning 50-50s (although we regularly lose them as well), it’s about anticipating where the ball is going and be able to intercept and pass to a team-mate, it’s about closing down sensibly (not diving in at speed and selling yourself) and it’s about getting a foot in to nick the ball away – Without Fouling.

     

     

    It was not a noticeable failing under Brendan and initially under Neil because our fitness and work rate was so good that even though we didn’t have naturally defensive midfielders, our closing down and pressing was so effective along with our ability to win a ball back when possession was lost.

     

     

    The fitness and work rate have dropped therefore it’s more noticeable. I’m not convinced it will return under Neil and I think this is at the root of our problems.

     

     

    Soro needs more games to properly assess him but he must’ve made more intercepts, decent tackles and effective pressing forcing opponents to lose possession or pass backwards than CalMac/Christie/Rogic/Elyounoussi/Ntcham have made all season. These excellent attacking players are terrible defensively and that includes CalMac & Christie.

     

     

    I would give that wee man an extended run – it will help defensively but until we are properly fit as a squad, we will continue to struggle.

  13. Does anyone have a link to Naismith`s stamp on Brown?

     

     

    Does anyone have the Stats for Neil Lennon`s standing as a Celtic Manager compared to others such as Stein, O`Neill, Rodgers??

  14. Probably not a popular comment,but I did not think Turnbull was as influential as the “drop Broonie” brigade anticipated.

     

    Hopefully he will come good,however I thought Brown done exactly what we needed,and had we dropped him Hearts would have been delighted.

     

    Still delighted,so bit surprised with lots of negativity on here,anyway to each their own.

     

    HH

  15. I don’t think Naismith’s connection with Broony was a stamp. I think he could have avoided doing it and chose not to, but he was clever to make it look just clumsy and not intentional. Not surprised at the decision to let it go.

     

     

    His foul on Connor for the 3rd goal was much more blatant. How 3 officials can miss this is a joke. I’m not a big fan of VAR but we need it in Scotland to nullify the bias that’s too often shown against Celtic.

  16. Message management,

     

    meeja management – an art form………………………..

     

     

    In scoddland, with fitba’ in mind – a dark art-form.

     

     

     

    Oh aye.

  17. Friesdorfer 6.15.

     

    Thanks for reply.

     

    I must have missed that,will have another look,hopefully wont be an absentee tomorrow.

     

    HH.

  18. MNCELT on 22ND DECEMBER 2020 6:07 PM

     

    I don’t think Naismith’s connection with Broony was a stamp. I think he could have avoided doing it and chose not to, but he was clever to make it look just clumsy and not intentional. Not surprised at the decision to let it go.

     

    His foul on Connor for the 3rd goal was much more blatant. How 3 officials can miss this is a joke. I’m not a big fan of VAR but we need it in Scotland to nullify the bias that’s too often shown against Celtic.

     

     

    ————————————-

     

     

    But would VAR up here just give them even more opportunities to penalise us?

  19. Adi.

     

    Red Imps did do it, a big however coming up, though.

     

    Football in Gibraltar wasn’t recognised by FIFA, at that time.

     

    I never listen to Clyde, so I hope that it’s clarified that in FIFA’s eyes, Celtic are the first.

  20. RTB- to be fair, Hamiltontim was correcting him re some issues with the Celtic Trust, which he’s involved in.

  21. The Blogger Formerly Known As GM on

    Let’s look at the Naismith incident differently: what would the reaction have been if the roles were reversed and Broony had done it to Naismith?

  22. garygillespieshamstring on

    MNcelt at 6.07

     

     

    VAR up here would just be another 3 huns in a studio backing the ref where we were on the receiving end of a bad decision and taking every opportunity to do us over if there was any possibility of getting the ref on the pitch to reverse a decision to give our opponents an advantage.

  23. If VAR could correct a hunned-up mindset I’d be all for it…………………

     

     

    In scoddland? Nae chance.

     

    Sadly.

  24. HOT SMOKED on 22ND DECEMBER 2020 5:45 P

     

     

     

    Influences me to switch them off and find an alternative commentary 😆 Celtic TV much much better.

  25. !!BADA BING!! on 22ND DECEMBER 2020 6:53 PM

     

     

    None of my business of course but it seemed like that particular exchange floored him, hopefully he’ll be back on soon.

  26. Martin O’Neill June 2000 May 2005 75.53

     

    Neil Lennon February 2019 Present 71.58

     

    Jock Stein March 1965 August 1978 70.14

     

    Neil Lennon March 2010 May 201 70.04

     

    Brendan Rodgers May 2016 bruary 69.82

  27. JJ

     

    Trying to compare managers stats is like comparing apples and oranges, it’s pointless as you well know, different times etc.

     

    Also all the we have won twelve pieces of silverware IAR is not really looking at things objectively, we should have won them given our financial position, yet the suits, especially Pedro is praised for this, mind boggling, what has happened in the past couple of seasons is what IMO supporters should be looking at and getting worried about.

     

    Brendan Rodgers took a team that was floundering and turned them into invincibles and took us to the CL twice in a row and made serious millions for the club, Lenny has taken that team and turned us into an effin shambles, that’s the worry from where I am sitting.

     

    HH

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