Worst in 58 years but we must reframe the pain


Since Dinamo Kiev inflected Celtic’s first home defeat in European competition, on what was our first European game after winning the European Cup four months earlier, last night’s shocker to Sparta Prague was our 36th and worst home reversal in Europe.

Three years ago PSG scored five, but, unlike Sparta, they did not hit the woodwork on two other occasions, and they are PSG.  Last season Cluj also scored four, winning by a single goal, but by any measure, across 58 years of home European ties, that is without shadow of a doubt, the low point.  We are now the team fans all over Europe point to and laugh, all the money, yet Cluj, Copenhagen, Ferenvcaros, Sparta.

What has gone wrong?

It is not the formation.  Without changing to three at the back, I don’t think we would have won the league last season.  This season, we tried four, then three, then four, then both defensive lines at different times of games, but the formation is not the problem.  It is possible to defend, control games and create chances with either line-up.  And as we have seen, a change in formation does not make a slow or clumsy defender fast and assured.  If only it were as simple as Scott Brown’s advancing years, or injuries and absentees; they are red herrings, this malaise is more serious.

Post-match, Callum McGregor and Neil Lennon spoke well.  The player admitted to humiliation, the manager walked that fine line of showing contained anger, but he was clear: a lack of application from the players was to blame.  What a thought to ponder.

I am fond of many in our squad; they have delivered success beyond my wildest imagination.  I am fond of the manager too, for the same reason – results are all, and his filled the well some time ago.  If I thought sacking the manager would safely resolve matters, I would tell you so.

It is Neil’s responsibility to put the players on the field in the correct frame of mind to compete at their best every time.  He is failing in this, his criticism last night is self-directed, but sacking him right now would be a Gambler’s Play.  It might work, it might result in carnage, anyone convinced they know how it would play out, underestimates the complexity of the question.

What I know for sure is that we stand at an historic precipice and no one is coping.  We need to reframe the challenge ahead, if we do not, the season will play out as you now fear.  Together, we have a great opportunity to record magnificent achievements, a fourth consecutive treble, 10 and all the glory that comes with it, but all you see are demands weighing everyone down.

This responsibility lies on Neil Lennon and the players because they are winners.  They have the Scottish Government hammering them while punching for Newco, they have 10,000 critics weighing-in online (which they read and are not helped by).  These are the wages of success, lesser mortals have six critics, let this fuel their engine.

After the game, Chris Sutton insisted Europe was still important to Celtic.  Chris, you don’t live in the towns of Lanarkshire.  Europe has gone this season; we need to reframe this too.  Our three remaining Europa weeks are an opportunity to develop the squad and rest weary legs, while Newco will have at least five competitive Europa games.  We must now think of this as an advantage; make the most of it.

We know how to win leagues and trophies.  We were on our knees at New Year but while others “bottled it” and we got on with the business of winning.  There are no white, saltire or union flags here, only green league title flags.  To the manager, coaches and players, what a privilege this challenge is.
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  1. I’m convinced I seen them hit post and bar in 1st half, then the post again in 2nd half , so woodwork hit 3 times


    Or was it 4 🤔

  2. Europe may not matter to some or all of us but performances, character, resilience and endeavour do and we ain’t seeing a lot of that just now. Neil has to go – Dyche or Steve Clarke get my vote from the ones I know or hear banded about but am open to anyone. Don’t have to be Celtic minded in my view, good managers do a good job whether it’s 1 in a row or 10.

  3. I agree that changing the manager is a risk and no, I won’t pretend to know how that would play out.



    But I’m now at the stage where I believe keeping with the status quo is a bigger risk and we are seeing before our eyes how it plays out. Yesterday wasn’t a blip…..it’s becoming a pattern.

  4. MURSHEEN @10.59


    Brilliant post and very positive, well done.



    My main gripe, and there are many, is why on earth do we continue playing guys who are not performing, why!!


    We appear to have a plethora of talent about the place. Soro for me MUST get some game time. I love Broony as much as anyone, but the faint hearts among us say he should always be in the team. With that kind of thinking, maybe Bobby Lennox could get a game. We simply must bring through the young ones.


    I’m old enough to remember when Big Jock started weaning the like of Dalglish, Macari, Davie Hay and the great Danny Mac. a lot of fans at the time were not happy, speaks volumes to me.


    Get Duffy back to Brighton


    Hail Hail




  5. Seriously still blaming the government???


    What an absolute joke, you stated worst result in 58 years!!



    This site is a parody of what it once was, maybe it should be called it was the government gov, now what is the question?

  6. Bottled it, Paul.



    When you get round to writing the article on what went wrong this season – save a paragraph for prominent Celtic men like yourself, Sutton and Hartson, men who refused to echo the demands for managerial change of a fan base locked out of Celtic Park.

  7. One scary thing – very scary – is that this isn’t a good sevco opponent.


    Decent squad. Little flair or top class talent. But structure, tactics and cohesion. Little more. Not huge creators of pressure on the pitch, compared to their tax free predecessors.



    The reality is that the lack of crowds may well have reduced the pressure felt by players. If anything, a sense of pressure and the adrenaline reaction that it provokes, is precisely what’s missing from this squad. And that’s unlikely to be changed by a manager whose only activity on the touch line is to put more snus in his mouth.



    The most striking ‘reframing’ offered here is to once again partly blame wee Nicola for our demise.



    What? Did a wee lassie from Ayrshire come and steal our midfield?



    HH jg

  8. Take it this means Peter wants to keep his guys in the dugout?



    It’s time for the car park then.



    Back the team! Sack the board!

  9. jamesgang on 6th November 2020 12:20 pm



    Sorry to butt in but you had a typo there:



    What? Did a wee “protestant” lassie from Ayrshire come and steal our midfield?



    There that’s what they really mean. Paranoia reeking from every pore.

  10. The Blogger Formerly Known As GM on

    If you’re going to panic, panic early.



    Of course appointing a new management team is laden with risk and guarantees nothing, but I do not think we’ll win the league with the current management team.



    Appointing a new one is therefore a risk worth taking: the worst case is an outcome that is probable by doing nothing.

  11. DEFLECTION: This responsibility lies on Neil Lennon and the players because they are winners. They have the Scottish Government hammering them while punching for Newco.


    I did not see Nicola Sturgeon scoring for Sparta last night.


    The blame lies with the players and Lennon. End. Of. Story.

  12. I don’t see Lenny turning this team around. They’re too slow going forward and terrible at defending. It’s the same garbage every week. I’m not sure how many players still believe in Lenny but it doesn’t look good. I’d get rid of him now and see if Gordon Strachan would take it till the end of the year at least. That way you get a sharp tactical mind and he’d sort the lack of structure straight away.



    But there’s also a club failure of strategy here. If our model is one of developing young players and selling them on for a profit why did we appoint a coach who doesn’t develop players? Everybody has gone backwards this season.

  13. glendalystonsils on

    We have earned the ‘privilege’ of this ‘challenge’ by failings and incompetences . Doesn’t feel like much of a privilege .

  14. TIMMY7_NOTED on 6TH NOVEMBER 2020 12:16 PM




    ‘ They have the Scottish Government hammering them while punching for Newco’







    It is true though, isn’t it?

  15. Back to Basics - Glass Half Full on

    Hi Paul.



    Reasonable enough summation with some strong points ………



    ….. particularly around turning the remainder of our Europa League mess into an opportunity ……..



    …. but I suspect other parts might trouble many on here (myself included).



    “It is Neil’s responsibility to put the players on the field in the correct frame of mind to compete at their best every time. He is failing in this, his criticism last night is self-directed”



    I like Neil.



    I’ll rephrase – I’ve never met him but I like what I think he is.



    I believe he is very well intentioned and reasonably intelligent.



    I certainly am not in any position to evaluate his capabilities.



    But I’ll make one point.



    Anyone who has done so knows delivering cultural change into a large and/or complex organisation is the hardest thing for a leadership team to do.



    Changing strategy, structure, people or process is easy by comparison.



    Culture forms over years.



    To suggest culture can be significantly changed over the next few days is, IMHO, naive.



    Hail hail



    Keep The Faith

  16. Poor Fayre. There is a malaise at Celtic that a mediocre Huns team ‘deflected’ us from.


    It wont work anymore. Its over. Move on. Now.

  17. CHAVEZ on 6TH NOVEMBER 2020 12:25 PM


    ‘I don’t see Lenny turning this team around.’







    Depends. If the players realise that they can’t get him sacked they might, even if only out of self interest, adopt a different attitude.

  18. With last night’s MOTM currently sitting on 2 votes it’ll be a short update at 10pm tonight!

  19. The two managers Dermot spoke to must have knocked him back.



    If you believe anything these days.



    What a sorry state of affairs. Not entirely unexpected. How many actually wanted NFL to get the job on a permanent basis?



    Not many that I know.

  20. Oh my days, Paul! In a nutshell you’re saying the key to our current ails are:


    1) Expensive recruitment of fragiles


    2) Lacklustre application given by first teamers


    3) Coping mentality crisis, because the stakes are historically high and, also,


    4) Online forum posters and political parties heaping on fresh levels of pressure ?


    But it’s not that we’re out-thought and out-fought by teams with a fraction of our resources? And it’s not the chaotic or impotent way we approach game management either? Nor the downgrading of our coaching bench?


    Still; least we can console our selves that Sevco may advance in Euro creating a domestic advantage for us eh?


    Faark, I thought I was pissed off last night but after having read the piece and caught its well-seeded drift…


    Still love Lenny and my fellow Celts but let’s get real madrid here!

  21. onenightinlisbon on

    Bunker mentality then Paul?



    Blame the bad guys – the government, the players, our own support who would dare to express concern about the way our club is going.



    Will you still be saying that when the ten has gone?

  22. The idea that this just turns on like a light switch and we swagger to ten, is, let’s be kind, a bit naive.



    We’re in November, we’re unfit, we’re playing clinically overweight players, we’ve no organisation and no idea how to change a game in play. We can’t defend set pieces.



    How anyone can claim they don’t think a new manager could improve this side has left me lost for words.



    Keep the faith, eyes on the prize, blah blah blah.



    You’re part of the problem with our Club, P67.

  23. Another cracker Ernie, keep em coming.



    It was the government CSC.



    When the huns won 9 in a row, whose fault was it then?

  24. Paul 67


    Is this your opinion or are stating what Lawwell told you to say?


    A wee puff piece and nothing more,.



    Any manager with pedigree states his tems on how he is in charge, with total control.


    He also picks his own backroom team.


    Therein lies the problem.


    Look what happened with Brendan.



    Your/Lawwell’s header today is load of nonsense obviously, but Lawwell will be hoping the gullible swallow it.


    Only the gullible will.

  25. The Battered Bunnet on

    I was wondering how you were going to pin the blame for last night on Nicola Sturgeon. Well, I wasn’t, I was having a wee chuckle to myself. And there it is.



    Neil’s failing. It’s a great pity, but it’s quite clear. Do we allow him to fail, or act now?

  26. BENJYBHOY MUL on 6TH NOVEMBER 2020 12:24 PM




    ‘End. Of. Story.’






    1. Why doesn’t the blame extend up the food chain to the board and owner?



    2. The SNP government’s pronouncements on Scottish football are relevant. They affect matters. They are intended to, that’s why the pronouncements are issued. They have been lopsided, even the thickest of nats know so, though they have to deny it, because, you know, that’s how cults operate.

  27. onenightinlisbon on

    So Paul, if the unthinkable happens on Sunday and we drop points we “keep the faith”…..

  28. Forgot to add, this is all about control, and Lawwell knows he has this with Lennon.


    He would have to give that up with a Brendan like appointment.

  29. I take it, Paul67, that the manager isn’t being asked to step aside. I think that is simply wrong. He needs to go now. I would imagine we could persuade Gordon Strachan to stand in until we can appoint a new one. We cannot go on going backwards, as we are now.



    ”I was wondering how you were going to pin the blame for last night on Nicola Sturgeon. ‘








    You know that’s not what the article is saying.

  31. P67 — very PL friendly article.


    Well off the pace regarding dealing with last night’s shambles.



    What we saw was just another step down the road towards league failure and support disengagement.


    We will not win the league this season — our only hope is that others lose it.


    We are not a front rank football club anymore — we are a glee club for a CEO’s incompetence.


    The issue of our falling performance is not the fault of NL — the blame goes higher.



    NL was offered a job he could not turn down.


    He should not have been offered the job as he was the past and not the future.



    We have played on his loyalty towards the club to put in place a cheap pliable football department so that PL can play his favourite game of real Championship manager without anyone telling him how crap he really is.



    We are in a bad place today — football wise and at a corporate / financial level.


    Given where we were 28 months ago that is a fall of biblical / Carthaginian proportions.


    We need to make big changes now and change the whole attitude / business ethos of the club.



    We have huge potential but we seem to want to wallow in past glories and parochial SPL grudges.


    Having lived through 74/75 I am not a SPL pot hunter — ten is just a number to me and little else.


    However I do want to win the league and this year is no different — just a case that we are making it hard for ourselves to the point that the TFOD2 probably can’t believe their luck.



    PL needs to go / NL needs a new job.


    Change will happen because things are not going to get better anytime soon without it.

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