Well that wasn’t what we expected at all.
Maybe that’s why it happened.
Because I didn’t feel at any point tonight that we were the better team or likely to get anything from it.
Our chances of qualifying from the Champions League Group went by the boards the second the German’s opened the scoring; we didn’t look like we had two goals in us. The chances of us making it to the Europa League may well have ended when they scored the second.
That was poor tonight, if we’re being generous.
It was flat, insipid, and full of errors great and small. They were an organised, disciplined unit. At times ours was all over the place. It lacked the aggression and passion and imagination of the Manchester City performance and yes, it was hard to take. It was bloody hard to take.
Are they a top class team? I don’t know. We didn’t test them tonight. We didn’t get out of second gear. They did well in the Bundesliga last year, and that’s a truly difficult league, but I never got the impression that they were unbeatable, and whilst nobody was counting their chickens and assuming six points out of six we were entitled to think the home game would have delivered a better display than this. If we’re really going to turn Parkhead into a fortress these kind of performances will absolutely not do. Not by a distance.
Listening to Kolo Toure after the game was actually more refreshing than what I watched during it.
Toure was to blame for both goals, although I’m going to say that he shared responsibility with Gordon, who appears sometimes to be bullet proof when it comes to getting stick, for reasons I simply cannot understand. He ought to have kept the first goal out.
But Toure was excellent in the interview; he looked genuinely pained at the errors and whereas I’ve heard other players (at our club as well as elsewhere) make excuses and blame other people, he accepted the criticism in a way that was kind of brilliant. He knows this is the wrong time and place for a performance like that; he will work harder than ever. You can see it in his face. Scott Brown, who was standing beside him, actually said that Toure was not the only one who made mistakes; I am glad he said that too. He was right, of course.
There are players in our team who aren’t good enough. The days when we were going to get big money for Nir Bitton are gone; this is a recurring commentary amongst the Celtic support that this guy is lacking something that we need on nights like this. No-one will mourn if the big man leaves us this season or next. He’s been at Celtic Park for a few years now and isn’t visibly improving. The player we thought we had and who some assured us was there isn’t revealing himself. I still think his partnerships with Scott Brown slow us down and this is a criticism that goes back to last season under Ronny. Brendan needs to suss this fast and act on it.
Having just watched Brendan talking, I am cheered by the fact there was no whining, no kidding himself on, no trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes.
He gave the full credit to the winners, who deserved it wholeheartedly, and said we simply have to move on, but he’ll know we weren’t up to speed tonight and that our European adventures will probably end in Manchester next month.
He will know too that some of these players aren’t going to cut it, long term, and as he puts the pieces of his own team in place a lot of them are going out.
This has been a thoroughly disappointing evening, and I know that elsewhere others will be taking enormous joy in it. That just shows how utterly numb-witted they are. We looked flat tonight, and what annoys me most is knowing they had another gear in them. I fully expect to see that Celtic team hurting and furious and determined on Sunday.
Let’s face it, on a night like this the only way is up.
And fortunately, we have an upstart mob of mouthy gits to play at the weekend.
Just the job for getting all that regret and frustration out of our system.
In Brendan We Trust.