When we were kings


Our now-annual defeat against St Johnstone yesterday was a timely reminder of how close to defeat any team can be if they are even slightly off their game.  Despite fighting the urge not to be disrespectful to yesterdays’ victors, they are a poor team, previously without a win, bottom of the league and they had to cancel training during the week due to illness in their small squad.

But, they deservedly beat Celtic.

Kris Commons was a bright light among the largely disorganised looking team structure.  Tony Watt also did well, even if he is still beating himself up for passing up the best chance of the game in the dying seconds, but defensively we were turned over, the midfield singularly failed to control the ball and Gary Hooper looked miles away from scoring his first league goal of the season.

Did we need a sharp reminder of the level of performance required against Benfica on Wednesday?  It looks like it.

When we were kings

Don’t worry too much, a team with Fallon, Gemmell, McNeill, Murdoch, Auld, Johnstone and Wallace were turned over 0-2 at home by Hearts in 1969.  A few days later Eusebio and Benfica, who lost the 1968 European Cup final after extra-time, a year after Celtic won the tournament, walked off Celtic Park having lost 3-0.

Artur Jorge played for Benfica that night.  Apparently he still lurks in the corridors.

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  1. Sometimes, I think the better players are just that bit faster and fitter. There are guys in other lesser teams who have the same amount of skill but can’t do it at a higher tempo.



    Steven Gerrard would not be half the player he was were it not for his fitness then.



    Equally, those Barca guys have incredible conditioning.

  2. The Exiled Tim ———



    Italian teams do spend 8 /10 hrs a day at the training ground . They train and once that is done they dine together . Then they have a siesta , then they watch training videos etc …



    Boozing is very much frowned upon

  3. The Prince of Goalkeepers on



    15:49 on 16 September, 2012



    Sums it up for me, I’ve only just manager back onto CQN in the last 5 minutes .



    The player’s attitude was all wrong yesterday, with only one or two exceptions.



    Let’s hope its given us a wake up call for midweek.

  4. “Our now annual defeat to St Johnstone” LOL amazing what you get away with when you are the champions.


    I did expect I disjointed performance yesterday due to the match sandwiched inbetween the internation break and a CL night but I didn’t expect to lose to a poor St Johnstone team.



    For all their faults Samaras is still the one player that gives the team something extra and we create far more chances with Stokes in the team.

  5. Tommy Joad



    I recall Paulo used to spend extra time on the training ground, practicing free kicks and the like.



    Things are changing, but it’s still taking time to change the attitude, the influx of foriegn coaches have made the difference IMO.






    I read somewhere about the Barca players and their lack of alcohol intake, I paraphrase, we have years to destroy our livers when we stop playing the game.



    I accept that our players are nothing like they were years ago, but there are still stories about our players drinking on night’s out, it should be stopped imo.

  6. Didn’t Lubo also stay behind when all the other (or most) players had left after training?




  7. Watching Reading v Spurs, the quality of goalkeepers at Reading and Southampton (yesterday) is pretty poor.



    Amazing that Artur Boruc remains without a club. With a quality goalkeeper you’d have to give Southampton a fighting chance of staying up.

  8. StumptownBhoy-(ex-SanDiegoBhoy)For_wee_Oscar on

    To those starting to experience Champions League angst. Just remember participating in the groups stages is for us, in our current reality the prize. All those lovely millions being deposited into the Paradise coffers. It bodes well for the future.



    Any further progress will be the icing on the cake. Time for Lenny’s young guns to build on their Europa League form. I really just can’t wait for Wednesday!

  9. What are our expectations of this Celtic team this year?



    The ultra ambitious or plain delusional will ask that we win every game we play and collect every title and trophy we contest.



    The cautious will look for us to win the SPL and have a respectable showing in the CL i.e we do not get humped (our 3:0 record CL defeat is quite mild considering that Besiktas shipped 8 goals at Annfield and Basel and Roma shipped 7 goals at last 16 level) and have a shout at Europa league qualification.



    The bookies and neutral observers will probably side with the cautious. We are overwhelming favourites for the SPL and, even if Motherwell or Dundee United opened up a 10 point lead by December we would remain the favourites because they have seen us overturn similar early leads to better outfits than Well or United. We are seeded 3 for our CL group stage but no-one, outwith Celtic Park and Glasgow, will be too surprised if we finish 4th or qualify, such are the margins and unpredictability.



    So what does a poorish start to the SPL mean for us?



    I believe it portends absolutely nothing. We have done well in Euro matches when we have been in poor league form and we have messed up when we have been in good form (the 1967 Lisbon champs lost in the first round in September 1967). Of course it is usually better to feel positive than negative about your form but either feeling guarantees nothing.



    Those CQN posters who miraculously re-appeared this weekend foretelling doom for Celtic are serial failed Cassandras. Their predictions for Celtic’s season on the back of the 3:3 game at Killie went down the Swanee. Their surefire predictions that Celtic would not qualify for CL group on the back of some insipid form in pre season friendlies were shown to be so much hogwash and superstition that it seemed to cause their typing fingers paralysis for several weeks. Yet they are back expecting their predictions to be taken seriously despite their success rate.



    However, that does not mean the opposite is true either. Being optimistic or bullish about the CL matches does not alter the fact that Barca can lay claim to be the best club team ever, that Benfica have more players worth big money than we do, and that Spartak contains a player who used to be our star but he is one of many within their ranks.



    Next Wednesday, we will find out if Celtic are good enough to surprise the cautious and vindicate the bullishly optimistic or whether we are out of our depth and long overdue our first proper CL humping.



    If the latter, we can concentrate on the favourite pastime of shouting at the non-players of the Board.



    If the former, well……. then we can concentrate on worrying about Moscow away.



    I am willing to accept the price that treating this as a transition year, an opportunity to blood youngsters in the SPL, is we will lose more points now in order to be a better team in future. I am willing to fall behind in order to give the team the best chance possible in the very difficult CL competitive arena. I am willing to bet that we can haul a league points deficit back once we do not have Europe to occupy us.



    But…… if we make it all the way to the CL final in London or the Europa final in Amsterdam, then we might just lose this league.

  10. A ‘drinking culture’ still seems to exist in Britain – but only, or mainly, with players from the British Isles. It is, possibly, not as widespread as it once was – but it still exists.




  11. I remember a couple of things re Italians and training.



    When C4 started covering Italian football Ravanelli was at Juve (I think) – the point being when interviewed one time he talked of playing a midweek game then the team being bussed away to a hotel with training facilities until their next game on the Sunday – there was no down time – the next game was everything.



    I heard a rumour/story about DiCanio, which allegedly came from Tommy Burns saying that the extra training Paolo did whilst at Celtic was a) phenomenal and b) unheard of in Scottish circles. He trained with the team (standard) then stayed behind and went through a full programme of his own.



    In fact didn’t Tommy revolutionise our training by increasing what players did on a day to day basis?

  12. The Brit attitude to training was what did for Dr. Jo at Villa.



    It’s a pity that we couldn’t land del Piero.



    I don’t understand why, after all this time, we haven’t adopted the Continental attitude to training and fitness.



    Is it because the Brit type players won’t accept the discipline?



    I believe that until we change this attitude, we are wasting our time in youth development, as we will, at best, be producing players who are really only fit for the home market and will get found out in Europe.



    Skill is not enough.



    Bring back Dr. Jo, or similar and chase anyone who doesn.’t sign up to be a modern, professional footballer.



    Lead the way, Cetic.

  13. Paul, a week ago you were saying it would be better if Celtic faced a sterner test than St Johnstone. :-)


    Using examples from the past is good but the Celtic team in the late 60s were already renowned for lifting their performance for European games.


    I would expect an improvement on Wednesday but the away game following international breaks is becoming a regular banana skin slip for Celtic and the fixtures list shows a few more to come! :-)

  14. Spartak ?



    Watched the highlights of yesterday’s-



    Kuban 2 ———– Spartak 2 .



    McGeady scored the first .



    Spartak look to be better at attacking than they are at defending . The Brazilian forward – Ari —- looks like a football player .

  15. The truth is Celtic are not strong enough yet to compete in the Champions league.



    Of our current squad only 3 players have been there before – Brown, Samaras and Kayal – all of them are unlikely to play every game and two won’t feature this Wednesday.



    We do not have the quality of the ONeill or Strachan teams in this competition (Yes Strachan had Naka and Boruc remember) and I cannot see us getting any higher than third.



    You cannot turn form on and off like a tap and our players were not interested in the main in competing yesterday.



    This year should be a learning curve and we should not expect progression from the group. Those are reasonable expectations in my opinion.

  16. We are over-coaching Hooper, trying to turn him into an all-round player, the corollary of which is that he’s now not the player who comes alive in the eighteen yard box. He needs a partner (a co-worker – Miku showed signs) to do the ugly side of forward-play, the holding-on to the ball, the ariel battles with the centre-backs, the tracking back. Same reason why we can’t play two wingers – Commons doesn’t track back and Forrest is rubbish at it (Commons is out of position, Forrest learning, but both need to work!) – so our full-backs are both rubbish just now – they need co-workers and they don’t have them. If NL is to persist in the nonsensical 424, it needs a Ledley or a Brown wide to act as co-workers to compensate for the defensive deficiences of our attacking players (let’s call it laziness). This is also why our midfield was over-run and why Kayal is a liability in Europe – he lacks the positional and tactical discipline and needs a co-worker in Wanyama to compensate.



    I’ve called it co-worker – Strachan called it ‘a good team-mate’ and was derided for the phrase. When the luxury players and the co-workers (Ledley is one of our best) align, we play our best football. When the luxury players switch off and frankly, chuck it. we struggle. I am fed up with the phrase ‘young team’ – a bundle of them are taking a while to learn.



    When you have a team who are lazy and not up for it in every sense, a game becomes one of fine margins. We looked yesterday like a team who’d been all over the world in a fortnight and who have a key game approaching. Let’s just call it ‘not firing on all cylinders’. The key variable then becomes the referee. We’ll leave aside Mackay ignoring the ball being thrown to him for a throw-in and Tade and others kicking the ball away having conceded set-pieces – they were allowed to by a weak-willed imposter of an official. It was a penalty first-half, extraordinary to miss it, and Norris went on to ignore free-kicks around the box, instead choosing to give us them within ten yards of the centre-circle – y’see, he does give Celtic fouls. Norris was the dictator and the arbiter of the fine margins yesterday. We were awful, worryingly so. But that’s a ref to keep an eye on.

  17. Tallybhoy


    16:25 on


    16 September, 2012





    Felt a bit sorry for John Fallon because he came into the side after Ronnie Simpson dislocated his shoulder in the League Cup SF replay against Ayr. ‘Faither never played for us again. Big Jock signed Evan Williams shortly thereafter.



    Fallon played against Basle in the 1st round and against Benfica in the 2nd, and then lost his place to Williams.







    I remember Ronnie doing his shoulder in against Clyde at Shawfield. It was a midweek game played during the day.(Don’t know why) I think Tommy Gemmell replaced him in goals. (Late 60’s)

  18. prestonpans bhoys on

    Snake Plissken


    17:07 on


    16 September, 2012


    “You cannot turn form on and off like a tap and our players were not interested in the main in competing yesterday”



    Bang on the button mate. It was obvious to me after 15 mins that was the case, they would lose the ball and were not interested in getting it back, Hooper in particular.

  19. Big Georges Fan Club on

    Re: being in a bad mood after a defeat – me and Mrs BGFC are nearly at the divorce stage today (again) because she’s, apparently, sick of me and my Bhoy who’s face was tripping him at mass last night after yesterday’s debacle.



    I had a good sleep on the couch last night, though ;-)




  20. ***** Barcelona Hotel Advice ********



    I know it’s been asked before and answers given but anyone give me afew recommendations for a hotel for 1 night , preferably in centre or if not a short trip outside.



    Cheers in advance




  21. sftb



    Good stuff as ever.



    I have to disagree on 2 small points, more like nitpicking really :>)



    Were we not 4 th seeds in the CL group !!



    IF we go on a euro run, I still think we will win the league !!

  22. Reilly1926



    You are quite right. What I should have said was that Ronnie dislocated his shoulder AGAIN in that match against Ayr United. Was at the game and he was replaced in goal by TG.



    The Cyde match was the previous season – 68/69 – and was a Scottish Cup tie. I Wasn’t there.




  23. Fact – Regi Blinker used to stay behind after training to practice free kicks, over and over again he would strike the ball wide of the target clean out of play, thankfuly the good doctor would be watchin and never let him take any.

  24. SFFS



    We stayed in a great wee budget hotel – The Santa Marta – next to Barceloneta tube station. Great wee hotel with its own bar and a great bunch of local worthies – leg of jamon on the bar sortova joint, cava by the glass. Rough and ready but great and 5 mins walk from the heart of the city…




  25. reilly1926,



    You are correct. It was aScottish Cup tie. Not sure why it was daytime.



    He was injured in a clash with on loanCeltic boy,the late Jimmy Quinn.

  26. prestonpans bhoysBang on the button mate. It was obvious to me after 15 mins that was the case, they would lose the ball and were not interested in getting it back, Hooper in particular.




    NL will not be able to justify picking Hooper ahead of Watts for much longer. When Gary Hooper feels like it and defends from the front he is excellent. This doesn’t happen nearly often enough.

  27. 67Heaven ... I am Neil Lennon..!!.. Ibrox belongs to the creditors on




    17:17 on


    16 September, 2012



    Good game ……no numbers on mine ……try ‘back up’ …?

  28. TET



    That’s not nitpicking. That’s a bang-to-rights factual correction. I still derive the same deduction from that correction though. Nobody would be greatly surprised to see us finish at positions 2, 3 or 4. Though Benfica and Spartak are ranked and rated as better teams, they are not so far above us as to be major shocks.



    You’re second correction was on a tongue-in-cheek part of my post. I think it will be a major shock if we lose this league but I won’t be shocked if we are not leading all the way. I cannot see Well or United having the depth of squad to survive the natural injuries and suspensions that a season brings.

  29. Harte has been awful for Reading.



    I get the numbers on the screen as well, it’s on all the channels on Virgin,

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