There is some amount of nonsense being written online today about what has “gone wrong” at Celtic Park.
Clearly, we are not the team we were last season but last season was an exceptional campaign in our club’s history.
What that team did has never been done before.
It will never be done again, certainly not in our lifetime.
There was no way we would scale those heights again. That just doesn’t happen. Those players found something inside them last year that propelled them to a monumental accomplishment. All the credit belongs to Brendan for finding it in them.
Yesterday we were awful. Some of the most ignorant people in the western world work in our sporting press, but those who have said we’ve become predictable in our approach to games surely can’t have noticed that we’re playing an entirely different tactical system at the moment? I argued a few weeks ago that our inflexible approach to games was a problem; Brendan was obviously well in front of me, and the system has changed.
Ergo, we are no longer predictable in our approach.
Which part of that aren’t they processing?
This has nothing to do with being predictable; some of our players have lost that focus from last year.
It would be dangerous to over-react and start talking about a cull.
This has nothing to do with players who are unhappy or want to leave either. Something has dented their confidence or sapped their strength.
This is still a very talented squad. But yesterday we spent far too long playing a cowardly, negative game which involved passing the ball ever backwards. Have the players lost confidence going forward? I don’t see how they could have. On our day we’ll beat anyone.
The problem wasn’t poor defending, bad tactics or a predictable team selection yesterday; it was the awful football, the dreadful shuffling forward a foot before putting the back ten. We had one shot on target; the whole game is summed up thus.
Yes, the manager wants us to move the ball from the back.
But that means putting it forward, which means players coming looking for the ball, moving into space, helping the guy who has the ball by giving him options. A player who just stands in his spot lets opposing players position themselves in the path of the football … that’s why our players pass it backwards so frequently. They look up the pitch and see static team-mates, surrounded by the other team’s shirts. Some of the players in our attacking positions are just not working hard enough.
Brendan was angry after the game yesterday. I thought he was too kind to the players in the aftermath of games earlier in the season, but he knows yesterday was just too poor to even try and spin it. He let his players know it wasn’t good enough.
It was the worst domestic display we’ve had since he arrived.
It is his job to refocus them, to get them playing football like only we can. Yesterday was a bad day, perhaps the worst in a while.
I don’t believe we’ll see a repeat of it during this campaign.
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