A couple of things before we start.
- It would not surprise me in the slightest if we won the second leg 4-0 next week and carry on into the Play-off round.
- I am writing this, as a first, having only experienced last night’s game via Twitter, some of it on Radio Scotland and a couple of Vines. So still better than when Sportscene!!
It seems to be something of a pre-requisite now for Celtic managers that your first venture into Europe has to mean an embarrassing defeat. Bratislava, Utrecht, Sion to name but a few! But for Ronny Deila and John Collins, last night’s defeat to Warsaw seems to be one of the coffin nails for many supporters. Up have come the usual criticisms of the board, the players and the “inexperienced” manager.
*Note: Experience = We’ve heard of you
I must admit when Ronny came in I was a hopeful sceptic. He was saying all the right things and looked to be a fresh break from the normal “Sellickman” types we have gone for in the main. But there was something eating away at the back of mind. Didn’t Tony Mowbray have a reputation for liking to ‘get the ball down and play’? And unfortunately it would seem that we are heading for that sort of start.
Tika-Taka or whatever way it is to be described, is a style I cannot abide and the prospect of Celtic trying to inflict death by a thousand cuts on teams scares the hell out of me. Xavi Mulgrew and Beram Pirlo are always going to be 1 slip in concentration away from blowing the plan.
We also seem to lack any kind of top level finisher. This is a major flaw. You can be a bang poor side, but having someone who can turn half chances into goals can make the world of difference. Just look at Kilmarnock last year. Kris Boyd kept them up, of that there is no doubt. Had he been at Hibs, or possibly even Hearts, I think they would have stayed up. I’m not for a second suggesting Kris Boyd would have been a realistic target or even a considered one. (Although he probably would still be better than anything we have) The point is a number 9 is a definite requirement.
So, that’s the state of play. And last night’s embarrassment proved to us all just how far away we are from the fairly recent days of Wanyama, Hooper & co. But I tell you what sticks in my throat more than anything this morning. It’s not our lack of goals; we know we are short there. It’s not Efe Ambrose’s Tebily like implosion, again we know he has that in his locker and if Burnley are seriously interested, I’d happily talk.
No, for me, the worst thing this morning is the way in which the Celtic support cannot wait to dust off the usual bullets and start slating Peter Lawwell & Co. And front and centre of the pack is 1 Mr Neil Lennon.
This morning we have Neil on the BBC (seems to have been a strange cosy little number he has himself there) firing out why he left, saying that poor investment and a lack of motivation caused him to leave, that this result was on the cards.
Cheers for that. The corpse isn’t even cold and the 1st vulture to dive in is one of its own.
A wise man said to me back in the summer that if Lennon left Celtic because of a lack of motivation then it was nothing short of a disgrace. If winning trophies at a club you love isn’t enough to at least keep you entertained, then it’s a slap in the face to all those who idolise you. And I really couldn’t agree more. Don’t get me wrong, had Lennon left for a job in the land of milk and honey, I would quite gladly have accepted that and had no problem. But clearly it’s not the case. He’s hardly been batting admirers away since leaving, instead now acting like the lassie that dumped you, but can’t help Facebook-stalking your new girlfriend.
For him to be commenting on this, given that the team last night had only 2 players in the 18 man squad which weren’t there last season, I find a bit hard to take. 1 of those players is the only to gain pass marks from the performance, and I reckon we could all agree would never have been given a chance this season had Lennon still been in charge. This was his squad, his team. 9 of the starting 11, signed by him, as were all 3 of the subs who came on. People in glass houses and all that….
However, last night cannot be blamed on the old guard. Deila has been in long enough to surely see that Mulgrew couldn’t trap the proverbial bag of blue circle, that Ambrose is an accident not just waiting to happen, but actively instigating trauma and what a statement about your strikers when you leave them out for a guy that is so new to the workplace, he probably still doesn’t know which shelf in the fridge he can put his packed lunch. It does perhaps say more about the depth of the squad that these mistakes can be made time and again, which is something we all hope he can address.
This takes me onto rule 1.01 of “I’ve played Football Manager so I know its aww the board’s fault”:
Celtic haven’t signed a £6m Jermaine Defoe so Lawwell is taking the piss.
I’ve said before on the site; some fans seem to think the cash at Celtic is the kitty on a night out. At the end of the season the guy holding what’s left just pockets it for his kebab and taxi up the road.
If Celtic did have £25 million just burning a hole in the biscuit tin, what benefit would there be in not spending it? We can only attract a certain level of player and as shown last season, spending money does not guarantee success. Indeed, there is a chain of thought which says we are not spending this year given that last season we spent in the region of £7m on Boerrighter, Pukki and Balde.
So what if we do so again and spend 8 million quid and we make the group stages. By the time wages are paid, the £15 or so millions that come in, only really serve to break us even. Now imagine that the money is spent and we don’t make the groups. We end up losing money!!!
It is in no way sexy, but it is sensible to be prudent and it is why the business model is to live well within our means. If Forster and/or VVD go, then I would expect money to be spent on replacements. But no more than 50 or 60% of the income. If we do get into Europe’s big time, then perhaps another £3m. Transfers and Champions League are our only main income. TV revenues are poor as we know as is domestic prize money. We can’t keep up with the Jones’ on a Giro income!!
And that’s my main point. We have been spoiled in recent years. We are a 4th tier European side who every now and again punch above their weight. We’re the guy in the work who, although a fairly ugly sod, still every now and again pulls a stunner just cos his patter ain’t too bad! And as a result the support think we belong there, like we have some absolute entitlement. We don’t. And the sooner as a support we realise that, the better it’ll be all round. I’m not saying we can’t aspire to be better or dream of over-achieving. Absolutely not. All I’m saying is that let’s not go getting all ‘Kevin & Perry’ when it doesn’t go the way we want!!
If I’ve learned anything in recent years it’s that judging a manager on his first Euro campaign is pointless. 2 managers have reached the last 16 with us. Both had horrendous starts. And it throws up that long asked question: As a fan would you take 4th in the Champions’ League group stage, or beaten semi-finalists in the Europa League? I wonder if a run in the second tier cup could be more beneficial than an arse whooping 6 times off the bigger boys!!
Anyway, all of this will be insignificant next week after we knock 6 past this poor side that showed us up last night!!! (And then re-sign big Georgi)
But no matter, cos we’re all faithful through and through eh…….?