It’s a fickle old game nowadays, for better or worse – well, most definitely worse but that’s the nature of the beast.
After any defeat, there’s usually a binary reaction from the majority of people – those willing to excuse the defeat and those who are looking to blame someone/anyone for what transpired. There is a small group in the middle, like myself who are lost in the mix who can see shades of grey, knowing criticism is warranted but refusing to drink the from the hyperbole fountain.
One man who has been absolutely pounded for his performance last night is Stuart Armstrong.
The Scot, who Celtic fans were begging to stay just a few months ago has had a torrid time and barely lived up to the standards he set himself last season, not just last night but in general
That’s why there is credence to some of the criticism aimed Stuart’s way today and why he was rightfully hooked at half time in favour of Olivier N’tcham. The Frenchman is another free example of the fickle fan, he was written off a few weeks back now he ‘looks the part’ again, but I digress.
Stuart Armstrong looks jaded and disinterested – his body language said it all. There were a few times last night when I could see he wasn’t giving it his all. Was that because the players knew that they didn’t have to win? Maybe there’s something to that but it’s not acceptable in front of a packed Celtic Park to not give everything you have.
Having only signed a new two-year deal in the summer, the question was always ‘Why didn’t he sign up for longer?’. We believe the player was convinced to stay for one more campaign with Brendan Rodgers before heading off to the land of milk and honey. I have no qualms with that personally, Armstrong is not a Celtic man and wants to make the most out of a short footballing career.
The midfielders exit might now be hastened if Brendan Rodgers has identified the player as someone in his squad who isn’t “Champions League ready”.
The Irishman looked dispirited by his team’s performance, but it was good to see he wasn’t playing favourites when he hooked Scott Sinclair at halftime also -another player struggling for form.
On social media, I have seen a lot of silly things being written after last night. I even seen a ‘Back the Team, Sack the board banner’ surface as the club booked their place in the Europa League; Outlandish behaviour! However, when it came to some of the criticism of Stuart Armstrong, well the measured criticism, I couldn’t help but nod my head in agreeance.
Players can always lose form but if he has in his mind that he wants to go and that’s my hunch, not a fact, then January would be the best time for him to go.
In a way, it feels negligible to tamper with a side who perform so well domestically but Celtic have to go through growing pains at some point if they’re to reach some sort of parity with the more teams in Europe.