Where did it all go wrong?


Out of the Champions League qualifiers at the hands of a team with a smaller budget than ours, for the second season in succession. Where did it all go wrong? Two shortcomings stand out: team planning and tactical strategy.

I’ll take the latter first. We had 60% possession last night, a remarkable figure for an away European game which was lost. We dominated possession, didn’t score a goal and conceded twice (for the fourth time in five games).

Let me take you back a few years to a Dominik Diamond TV interview with Martin O’Neill, then Leicester City manager, in 1999. O’Neill laid plain his tactical philosophy, “My teams have big guys who know how to defend, they have players who can throw dangerous balls into the box, and players who can get on the end of those balls and put them in the net”.

A year later, when Martin came to Celtic, it was like going to school as we watched the observance of these very rudimentary rules transform our club. His defenders could defend, he had wide players who could throw dangerous balls into the box, and strikers who knew where the goal was. Martin’s teams never dominated possession against a European peer, never mind a team who beat them so comfortably.

It doesn’t need to be explained that there was no team in the world who could score three times from corner kicks against the Celtic team of a decade or so back. Today, team planning has insufficiently focussed on a few fundamentals of the game: know how to defend, know how to translate possession into chances, and have a handful of players in the team who know where the goal is. This is the fittest, fastest, Celtic team I have ever seen, but we looked like busy fools last night.

Ronny Deila’s post-match comments about the team being scared was an instant reaction to the defeat, but it’s worth digging into what prompted this perception. There were actually many occasions when Celtic players showed for a pass, the Uefa possession and completed pass stats conform this, but what we never did was boss the middle of the park.

In yesterday’s blog I asked Celtic to own the park as I have had a worry about this aspect for a while. This is different from covering a lot of ground (we do that), or being able to make a pass (we do that too). We have Scott Brown (runner) and Nir Bitton (passer) in central midfield. I like both but we need extra bite in this area. Celtic’s most effective period over the last decade was when we had Wanyama and Brown central-mid. The role Wanyama fulfilled has been sacrificed for the player in the hole behind the lone striker.

Players of Wanyama’s calibre are not common, and we shouldn’t go 4-3-3 if all we have is a Kayal to fill the additional central midfield space, but Brown and Bitton are not enough in central midfield in Europe. It’s also clear that selection for the four advanced positions (the 3-1) has been so fluid since the start of the season we’re clearly not cohesive in that area of the field either.

For me, if it’s Brown and Bitton, and I think it should be, we need another Brown-Wanyama influencer. Think back to our last Champions League group to consider the prospect of playing a European game without Scott Brown. At the very least we need cover for him, but in Europe we need two in his position. Go 4-3-3.

So much for tactical strategy, what about team planning? For the third August since parting company with Gary Hooper we are hawking around for a striker. Gary’s not a panacea, so I’ll ignore him as a prospect for now, but while Leigh Griffiths has performed beyond the call of duty, we are, again, out of the Champions League without having any idea who our primary striker will be this season.

We are in a loop of mistakes, and frankly, the most likely next action is that we respond by recruiting an identikit of the many strikers who have passed through Parkhead gates in recent years. We know enough about this problem to be aware that it’s our primary challenge, yet we have been unable to overcome it.

In my State of the Club blog at the start of the season I cautioned that we’d swapped Gordon Strachan’s soft spot for recruiting from Hibs, for a desire to see stars at Dundee United. Ciftci, Mackay-Stevens and Armstrong have been our primary recruits for advanced positions in 2015. Only one won a place in the starting line-up last night, leaving us relying on players who struggled to get in the team a year (or longer) ago.

Ronny Deila may well be able to polish Dundee United players into top performers at Celtic, but we didn’t recruit the finished article. We should have known this, and should have been aware that our August cup finals would have made calls on bit-part players from recent seasons.

We will find the occasional Champions League player in Scotland, but you can’t raid a mid-table SPFL team and expect to leap to the very top table in the game. This team planning strategy always looked vulnerable and it’s proven to be.

On the money side, you know my views. Over any business period you pay what comes in, no more and no less. We’re losing to team who spend less than us, not more, and on this occasion a team who picked up a player we discarded.

On just as important matters………


The golfers among you have three days to buy a raffle ticket – for £1 only – to win a round of golf at the fantastic Aberdour Golf Course for four people! Check it out here on ebay.  Money raised (by Taggsybhoy) will go to the Foundation.  This important work, always needs to be done, win, lose or draw.

Click Here for Comments >

About Author

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. ...
  10. 18






    Btw,lazy journalism includes the assertion that we were unbeaten since February until last night.




    Did we miss Celtic winning the treble?




    Oh,sent Philbhoy a mail earlier. Told him about The Icon and that I’d explain at a later date!


    Decided to hit the podium on a day of mourning,so you can all come out now-while I read the article!

  3. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on

    The picture of TCR on coorslads FB page shows football is but a game


    Get well soon Danny

  4. Thinking back to when we were blessed that the crossbar stopped us from going out against Karagandy.


    We got the CL money, and imo, it was wasted.


    Last season to placate the support, Gudetti and Scepovic were brought in, another waste imo.


    Money would have been better spent on a couple of old heads, pay them top $,

  5. West End of East End on

    From last blog…



    Paul / Winning Captains – I think after a defeat in Europe we need to have mods on here. Some of the comments after the game last night were shocking. I would imagine there were a few hun trolls on to wind us up but some of the comments from so called Celtic supporters were just as bad.



    Obviously people were hurting, but an irregular poster on here tried to make a joke about Eric Riley on the day it was announced he was stepping down due to Parkinson’s disease, sorry but to me you are a Celtic hun mate. To make a joke like that shows you up for what you are. No excuses even if you were mangled on a school night.



    Still sore but still woke up a Celtic supporter….


    – See more at: http://www.celticquicknews.co.uk/malmo-v-celtic-live-updates/comment-page-41/#comment-2663511





    My strong feeling about Darnell Fisher is that he is a defensive midfield cover.



    Hope he plays more regularly,and in that position.



    Bliddy shame it won’t be for us,for a while at least.



    Btw,his youth coach from Reading confirmed my opinion in April,in case any of you are wondering.

  7. Told the weemhan this morning we were going to the game on Saturday





    “woooooooooooooohoooooooooooo,Celtic Celtic ,Mum I’m going to see the Celtic”





    Not a mention of Malmo ,Champions league,What cup or league we are playing in just THE Celtic.





    As his life and edcation in the Celtic family continues , he is learning me as much as I am him.





    The innocence of a child with no conditions attached.







    BMCUW ,Well done


    BT Well said


    Hail Hail

  8. Paul67/winning captains



    I’m getting ikea pop ups on iPhone.. Just started 2day strangely. None at all before that..which I preferred. Just a heads up.

  9. I posted on previous blog just as Paul was posting , so can. I repeat my thanks to Eric Riley for his service at CP over last 20 years.


    Good guy who has helped us come a long long way

  10. so what are you actually saying in your last paragraph paul.



    Deila is clueless?




    the only way we can improve is with CL money.


    but we dont put a team in place capable of getting us there.



    lack of investment with no forward planning,


    leading to reduced revenue streams.



    the board (dermot stay away desmond) are at fault here, no one else.



    “we invest in the team as much as we can”…


    rubbish, some can actually read the last few years smoke n mirrors accounts.



    I am scunnered, our club has been driven into obscurity by suits and





    on reflection….



    we play 2 defensive midfielders and 1 striker




    rank rotten system




    and did we really pay 1.5 million for boyata…jesus wept.





    Wee Sean has just started school. But you’re the best teacher-and guide and mentor-he’ll ever have.



    And you won’t turn into somebody else every August!



    Have A Grand Dayoooot,spoil the wee man,wallow in the moment.

  12. Go tell the Spartim on

    Our issue(s) is/are thus


    No flexibility


    No flexibility in the business model, none at all, motivated by self interest


    No flexibility in the Managers tactics (as Gary Neville said bout Mourinho on MNF – about his Matic and Fabregas midfield regardless of opposition, smacks of arrogance – I actually like RD the man)


    No flexibility amongst the players, most cant play, adequately, in a variety of positions (In italian football if you buy a defender, he can play anywhere in the defence, Annoni being the exception)



    Lets hope the mediocrity that ensues, post VVD, keeps most of us going

  13. I heard he was dead on

    There are only two ways Celtic can be strong again –



    Develop a team or buy one (and that means going into debt to do it).



    One is slow and difficult to predict if it can actually happen and the other is something the people who run the club won’t do.



    This is our lot unless club policy changes – it won’t so fans are voting with their feet and it will get worse.



    Sadly next season the hype about playing the Walking dead will probably fill the stadium up again and we’ll be back to moaning about honest mistakes.



    These last 5 years are a real missed opportunity.





    IKEA POP-ups?



    Magic,grab them.



    Their usual s…e takes bliddy months to put together.

  15. I don’t think we dominated that game for 5 minutes,put Ronny in charge of Lennoxtown, developing young players. What’s Paul Lambert doing these days?

  16. I was massively disappointed after last night’s performance, and still feel gutted today.



    However, come Saturday, the butterflies will start all over again as I settle down to watch the Bhoys against St.Johnstone !



    Celtic yesterday…


    Celtic today…


    Celtic tomorrow…




  17. West End of East End, I am the only person with access to comments. If there is a comment which needs moderation, please email me: celticquicknews@gmail.com



    The link you left was to an earlier comment you left. Please email me the link to the offending comment.



    BOBBY MURDOCH’S, he could be.



    proudbhoy. Will check it out.

  18. The Battered Bunnet on

    Posted earlier today on the roll-call of teams who have papped us out of Europe since WGS left. Ignoring Mowbray’s team being pumped by Arsenal, here’s the list:
















    *We lost these ties but the opposition were disqualified.



    Set against that, we’ve won through against Helsingborgs and Karagandy.



    There is a huge gulf between the level we aspire to and the level we perform at.



    Equally, passage to the group stages is fraught for all Champion teams from outwith the top 12 leagues, with 5 places available from 42 starters. Granted, some countries literally make up the numbers, but we have to recognise that we have no form of substance against teams from Switzerland (ranked 13th) to Bosnia (ranked 35th).



    That’s 5 teams from 23 runners. That we qualify around 1 time in 4 attempts shows we are performing no better than chance suggests.



    Whatever bucks we have, they ain’t doing much banging.

  19. the glorious balance sheet on

    Bada Bing-



    I`ve heard Paul Lambert being asked before would he come back to Scotland to manage and he completely rejected it out of hand, was of no interest to him at all. That was 2 years ago or so.



    He might look at things differently now after what happened at Aston Villa but I think Lambert is too shrewd to go anywhere near the Celtic job. In many ways its a hiding to nothing scenario. Win the league and its expected, big deal. No plaudits for that. CL qualification – fail and your name is mud. But while trying to qualify for the CL the key parts of your team have one eye on moves (VVD this year but Forster, Hooper and McGeady in previous years) with the transfer window open and the suits doing their deals.

  20. bada bing



    that is not a bad shout.


    since early last year ive had 3 people who are died in the wool celts


    say deila is a coach not a manager.



    put him in charge of development (like he was supposed to be before lennon rapped it)

  21. BOBBY MURDOCH’S CURLED-UP WINKLEPICKERS on 26th August 2015 12:13 pm –



    Aye, agreed pal. Unless of course it’s North Korean type lazy journalism…..



    Please pass on my best to Philbhoy and family.



    Regards & Hail Hail



  22. I don’t post often now, as the comments and the topics haven’t really changed much in the last 3 years, however-


    We need to end the Norwegian experiment, it really is that simple, get rid, one and all, I know that means Collins in charge, but its a price worth paying, Maybe the EL ticket sales will convince the board



    Best wishes and many thanks to Mr Riley, an excellent club servant




  23. oneofthe70percent on

    The selection again was poor,Mulgrew at left back culpable at both goals,izzy may not be the player he was,but he can defend much better than Mulgrew,which was what was required last night,With lustig still injury prone we let a smashing young player in Fisher go on loan,and also henderson,who should be playing regularily instead of that idiot Johannsen,as for boyata get ambrose in at centre half ASAP,Boyata is as big a bomscare,Scheidt was,the main fault lies with Lawwell as he appointed a useless cheap manager,with no idea of tactics,and who is obsessed with , fitness well the lisbon lions dodgy diet ,lots of booze were ten times fitter,we should stop buying Players from piss poor scottish teams,the utd trio have added bugger all to the team,after all they struggled to be really crap teams in europe for years,Lawwell has to bite the bullet and sack the manager,or the manager has to do the decent thing and resign.the idea of only investing after we qualify for the Champions league has failed yet again,we need good players in well before the qualifiers start,or wemay not even get to the europa cup next year.and exactly how much have we invested even when we qualify for the champions league very little,all this money saving is costing the club millions,I suppose season book sales will be less again next season,who want,s to spend big money to watch dull boring football from players that would not have got into our reserve team 5 or 6 years ago.time for a change.

  24. The Battered Bunnet on 26th August 2015 12:37 pm



    WGS was an anomally Euro wise. Before him we were also getting put out by teams we shold have beaten on paper.



    I find this notion some people have that we *should* be a CL quality team, as if at some point that was the norm for us quite interesting. Where does it come from?

  25. I’m applauding the Board when they do well.. but I’m not ignoring them when they are clearly culpable for failure on the scale of last night…last year… more ofetn than not in Europe..too often.



    Attendance figures don’t lie…

  26. “Team Planning”



    May not have been Pul but I’m sure I read on here a few weeks back about us having some exciting players lined up for if we qualify & another list of players for if we failed?



    “On the money side, you know my views. Over any business period you pay what comes in, no more and no less.”



    How does this work now? Punt VVD and spend the full £10 mil before the window shuts?



    It’s clear we had no plan other than to take a punt on qualifying with the same set-up that failed us last season. Hoping to get over the line before throwing a few quid at a couple of has beens, like Michu & gambling they would do us a turn in the group stages. There was no long term planning none at all that much is clear or players would have been lined up months ago.

  27. I’m sorry Lhads and Lhassies but for the moment this is our Lot in Life, until atleast one of 3 things happen


    1) We move from either/both the Scottish (Only) game / being a Winter League


    2) The finances / borrowings in England return to normal – BT have shellacked that one for a few years or so by the look of it (or financial fair play (haha) kicks in


    3) We re-invest gains in player development back into more sure things



    Lets take Pauls point about the Martin O’Neill era team – leaving KoK out for a moment – what chance would we have of signing Hartson or Sutton (at the age’s we signed them) now? Our max player signing fee ratio has gone from being comparable to mid table EPL then to mid championship now (at best), the wages we offer are probably at the same ratio – European football and a packed 60,000 seater every other week were our 2 carrots – neither carrot has been in full bloom for a while.


    Not only that we now have major competition for young potential and experienced hands from America, Middle East, China and even Australia.


    I said it last year – where are the red lines and when should they be examined? Does Ronny have to perform in the Europa Group Stages or be out by Christmas? Does he deserve another Champions League Crack next year – what would failure cost us? By then we’d be down what 50-60 million (at least) over the 3 years on where we could have been. Could we find ourselves asking the exact same questions in a year – Could Craig by tempted by an offer form a bigger league? The striker situation is really the most difficult for us – why? because anything anything above £4-6 million will be on a lot of radar’s, lets say we had a homegrown trio of Hartson, Sutton and Larson (all mid 20’s all had a few successful season in europe) what wages would our competitors be offering (2,3,4,5 times what we can)

  28. Paul Lambert no thanks bad manager.at villa and Livingston. and you would need a interpretator.to tell us what he is saying.could never make out what he was saying at media conferences.and I’m not being cheeky.

  29. Joe Filippis Haircut on

    In my opinion Ronny deserves another 12 months but if he fails to take us into the CL proper next season I would then remove him.Who would I replace him with well thats not my job but im sure there are plenty of managers who would like the job.Ronny the clock is ticking fella you need to get it sorted out last night was a disgrace.H.H.

  30. Hugh Bonkle fae Dallas on

    Paul, you are using MON’s team as some sort of yardstick here but if ever there was a time when we did stick to your mantra of spend only what you earn it was then. Buying Sutton, Hartson, Valgaeren etc didn’t come cheap.



    The message is slightly confusing, are you saying that the days of us regularly competing in the CL are over because we won’t return to the quality of the MON era.



    If so it’s a very depressing future being painted for our club.

  31. I was, admittedly, pretty knee jerk in my response the last nights performance.



    Having slept on it i still think Ronny’s time may be up.



    I’ve noticed in a few games last season that teams who looked to prevent Craig Gordon from playing out to VVD or Denayer, or sit in and close down the spaces for Armstrong and Forrest to operate in, would cause us problems – we have no physical presence up top at all.



    Now, with us looking to be without VVD and Denayer, we look like having defenders who are nowhere near as comfortable on the ball.



    If we can’t play out of defence effectively and still haven’t addressed the lack of physicality upfront i can see more dropped points in the SPFL.



    And looking at the start to the season, even the Dukla game raised major questions about our team shape. Last night, how many times did Malmo take a throw in which saw one of their players in space in the box?






    I wanted (want) Ronny to succeed. His ideas all sound great on paper, but 12 months ago i could argue on here that we had to give him time, now i am not sure whether we can give him any more.

  32. What went wrong?



    Were do you start with that one?



    Ok. I’ll have a go…



    We are soft, weak, second to most challenges, second to most second balls, have poor cover for injured pro’s, when pro’s not on top of game replacements far and few between, we but young potential, we have no balance when it comes to investing in talent over potential, we are a trainning ground for EPL wantabees…



    We will win the SPL though.



    Oh goody. Again. Yipeee.



    MWD said AYE



    Good luck and Best wishes to Mr Reily

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. ...
  10. 18