Posted on Sunday, 30th October 2011 by lordofthewing
This is part 4 of Justshatered’s look at the state of the nation.
In another strange quirk of football fate he has a look at the strikers who misfired and disappeared yesterday.
The fact that after 82 minutes we were bringing on Sammy to save our season gives the impression that something is up and sums up the lack of quality we have.
Here’s some quality Sunday reading for you.
In my last article I will deal with the forward line at Celtic. This is the business end of the game where it doesn’t matter how bad your defence is (and my god is ours bad) if your midfield and forwards are scoring more than you are conceding then you’re alright …….. well that’s the theory anyway.
For Celtic fans the forward line has always been something that made eyes mist over with bygone images of famous days and nights of glory. Recently we’ve had Larson, Sutton, and Hartson. A few years before we had Van Hooijdonk, Cadete, Di Canio. Going back to the eighties we had McAveney, McGarvey, Jonstone, McGhee, McCluskey, and Nicholas.
The above playes scored some sublime and wonderful goals and it is these names that our current strikers have to emulate or overtake.
According to the clubs website we have five forwards, this does not include Murphy who is on loan. The lucky five are Samaras, Stokes, Bangura, Keatings and Hooper.
Of the five one is relatively unknown to me; Keatings. I know he has done well in the under nineteen league and scored a few goals but other than that I have no knowledge of him.
Of the other four I’ve seen a lot, a little, and in one case, far too much.
Of our current crop I think most people agree that Hooper and Stokes are the best partnership. They link relatively well and can play close passes that sometime unlocks defences or allow other players in. Hooper last season was a revelation.
His close control, quick movement and ability to find space where there was none was a real asset to the team. This season his first touch has been appalling. To try to recover the situation he is ending up in tackles and picking up knocks. I believe that he has not, like a lot of others, started this season well.
Continuous improvement and desire to win should drive players to achieve higher standards year in year out and while I’m writing this in relation to Hooper it might easily apply to others in the team that are seeking to leave. Improve at your current club, get noticed, and move on to a bigger stage with the best wishes of everyone.
Stokes I think has played well from the start of the season. He has scored goals and linked well with his team mates. He still has the tendency to try a fancy little flick when a simple side foot pass would work. However, like Ledley, he always seems to be the first to get the hook.
Both Hooper and Stokes can finish and they could go on to be thought as good as the guys above but I believe that depends on there mental attitude.
Bangura is a bit of an unknown quantity. When I first saw him I didn’t like what I saw. He looked cumbersome and erratic. He was caught off-side three times in the ten minutes he was on the park. I was not impressed. I’ve seen him once since then and I think he looks more comfortable but he must, like our other forwards, be more ruthless in front of goal. Essentially the jury is still out.
Where do I start with Samaras? I should really thank him as it was his performance against Udinese that first prompted me to put down in words my feelings. “The Celtic jersey does not shrink to fit inferior players” is a phrase that is displayed in the tunnel at Celtic park.
In Samaras the jersey has not been shrunk but woven on a thimble. We as fans are too loyal but loyalty should not be confused with blind obedience. Players at Celtic are not booed after five or ten bad games but the high teens. This individual has tried the patience of the fans now virtually since he arrived. He is simply not good enough and to continue to play him in the hope that he will have a good game is no longer good enough.
I would rather see Keatings given a chance over some one who has been given umpteen chances. At least with Keatings you would be able to determine whether he can cut it and has a future or is he going to be ‘another one for the future’ that we never see.
I think there is no strength in depth to this forward line. There is simply not enough threat coming off the bench to trouble teams.
Now on to tactics. There has been a strange tactic this season of playing Stokes in a wide left position. This leaves him too remote from Hooper to link with and, judging from where I sit, it is plain that Stokes is not a winger. I could understand this tactic if it was creating space for a fast breaking midfielder who was getting up to support, or even getting beyond, the forwards but we’ve not had one of them since Robson left or, if you want, Petrov.
As I said in my last post; when I watch the team I’m not convinced that there is sufficient coaching taking place with regards to runs players should make or movement required to create space for team mates to utilise.
I once saw a game where play broke down in midfield and like lightning the two forwards started diagonal runs heading towards the corners of the eighteen yard box. The purpose of these runs are simple; at some point they cross, generally about thirty yards out, and the central defenders do no know who to follow.
During that indecision the pass was played. One of the players got a shot in because he got the run on the defender when he was frozen for a split second and despite the keeper making a good save the other forward, who had continued his run, knocked the ball into an empty net. For those of you who don’t remember it I’ve just described a goal scored by Ally McCoist against Celtic in a Scottish cup semi-final in the early nineties.
I have no doubt that this movement was coached and we should be under no illusion that across the city it is being drilled into players now. Just look at Naismith’s improved movement in the last season. This coaching is fundamental if players are to develop an understanding with each other.
I think there is a current lack of movement throughout the team. With the exception of Ki too many players seem to be caught on there heals when passes are played or opponents miss control the ball. When we are in possession players, particularly forwards must be in perpetual motion. This drags defenders out of position or creates space for team mates. The easiest player to mark in football is one standing still.
I don’t understand our current tactic of having no one on the half way line when the opposition has a corner. I believe this displays a lack of confidence in our defence as we pack our eighteen yard box to deny our opponents space. The problem with this is that when the ball is cleared there is no one there to pressurise our opponents which means it’s going to come straight back at us. By having one man on the half way line our opponents have to have at least two players back. This in turn means there are two less players to score in our box.
My previous posts should not be viewed as a knee jerk reaction to our start to the current season but more a considered view that has been formulated over the last year or two. I do believe that if three or four of our players up their game by fifty percent, as I think they can, then I’m sure the other players will respond.
This in turn will feed to the support in the stands which in turn may begin to bring the thunder back. We do have a game in hand and the season is still relatively young. I believe that all is not yet lost. A winning run will improve confidence both on and off the park but the management, players, and support must be ready for the fight.
Let battle commence.