Celtic have had a blistering start to the season under Rodgers guidance, however, the last two games have seen the breaks been put on just a bit.
The Barcelona defeat, while sore can be excused as the Irishman looks to change the mentality and style of the team.
Yesterday’s game was an avoidable result and Rodgers knows that. While he has the attacking side of his team ticking over nicely, the defence is letting everyone down.
When I say defence, I’m not just talking about the defenders and goalkeeper who played their part in the two goals conceded in the Highlands. Midfielders whose ball retention is questionable putting the defence under so much pressure at times plays a key role.
Callum McGregor for instance, is great at picking a pass, threading the ball through, contributing positively to attacking passages of play but as an overall midfielder in the centre of the pitch he is lacking defensively. It was never more evident yesterday when he needlessly gave the ball away late in the first half. Erik Sviatchenko was put in a no-win situation and in all honesty should have walked when he brought down the Inverness striker. Other than that flash point Celtic can say they were very unlucky to drop the points, with an inspired second-half goalkeeping masterclass by ICT keeper Owain Williams who ultimately earned their side a point.
What comforts me though is Rodgers isn’t blind to this deficiency. It was no secret in the dying embers of the last transfer window Celtic were in the market for a holding central midfielder. Someone to take the pressure off the defence when Celtic are subject to heavy pressure. We didn’t manage to pull anything off so Rodgers and Celtic go forward with what we have for the moment.
The one thing I’m still unsure of though is his choice of goalkeeper. Celtic have really been spoiled for keepers since Artur Boruc came along. You had the Pole, then Fraser Forster followed by an in-form Gordon at the start of his Celtic career, does De Vries hold a candle to these guys? I’m not so sure. I just hope we’re not heading back to a scenario where we have a top team with a weak goalkeeper. Under Martin O’Neill the man who wore the gloves was never someone Celtic fans could put their 100% confidence in like they did with an Artur or Fraser – both who had their faults but overall were great for the club. I hope De Vries shows more than he has at the moment but if he doesn’t then Rodgers cannot be blind to that fact.
It’s still very early days in his reign and there is a lot more work to do before we can say we’re a good team again. He’s building the foundation, with players like Tierney, Sinclair, Roberts, Griffiths and Dembele it’s only a matter of time before we are turning games like yesterday into four or five nothing games. Everyone is learning, including the manager.