Posted on Sunday, 10th March 2013 by admin
As Celtic conspired to lose a two goal lead to deservedly lose by three goals to two at Dingwall yesterday, it struck me that Celtic are stuck in a malaise. The team hasn’t been playing well but the focus has been on Europe, but now that has ended the focus has to be on domestic matters, and for the last six weeks the form has been poor.
The problems have really stemmed from the fact that the team has been changed so much. I know this is often down to injuries or wanting to give squad players game time, but Neil Lennon should learn to pick his players in their best positions. Case in point – Charlie Mulgrew. Mulgrew won player of the year last season as a center-half, but this season he seems to have been deployed everywhere but defence. Our best defensive partnership seems to be Wilson and Mulgrew, but they rarely play together.
Another problem is Gary Hooper. Since the January transfer window ended Hooper has scored a grand total of two goals. Things just don’t seem right with him. He was obviously kept for the Juve games but in all honesty didn’t contribute that much. Celtic’s transfer policy is based on the policy of buying players for cheap and selling them for a profit. in that case the ideal opportunity to sell Hooper would have been in January. But come the summer he will only have 12 months left on his contract and it’s highly unlikely we will get as much money for him as we would have in January.
The treatment of Anthony Stokes is something which has to be dealt with. He did make some mistakes off the pitch, but he’s rectified them by playing well since he came back from injury. But as usual he is nowhere to be seen at the ‘big’ games and the partnership of Hooper and Stokes – which has produced some great football – has rarely been utilized. It wouldn’t surprise me if Stokes left at the end of the season, which would be a shame.
However, the biggest problem currently facing Celtic is I’m afraid to say the manager. He doesn’t seem to know his best system or team and he has been manager for almost three and a bit seasons. After every defeat he says the same thing – ‘I’m furious, I’m raging, I’ll sort it out’ – but nothing really seems to happen. We go from one extreme to the other, from playing very well (against Barca or Spartak for example) – to playing dreadfully (any of the last three trips to Hampden). He has to find a system and stick to it – 4-4-2 is the one we used when played our best football back in 2011. Keep the spine of the team – Forster, Mulgrew, Wilson, Wanyama, Hooper, Stokes – the same as often as you can. Also, Lennon does seem to have presided over some very poor results as Celtic manager, but seems to escape criticism mostly because of our admittedly brilliant European run, but the well is beginning to run dry, and poor results such as Saturday’s can only be excused for so long. Lennon and the players have to put their heads together and sort out the issues, as this season is in danger of petering out to very little. The semi-final against Dundee United will say a lot about certain players at the club, and the manager.