Well that was awful in a way that matches prior to it haven’t managed to be.
A first half in which we were dire gave way to a second half where we found the real Celtic, but then conspired to wreck our own hard work … in a way it was worse than watching us lose last week without anyone trying a leg. Today we did that to ourselves, and it was grim viewing.
Where does it leave us? In a position where we absolutely did not want to be, trailing now in the league race and under serious pressure for the first time. We are playing catch-up in a real way. It’s still very much in our hands but life got a little bit harder at full time just then, and our hold on the title a little looser.
The reality is that we’re not in a good place.
Everything that can go wrong is going wrong at the moment.
Let’s talk about the performance in the first half before we go on. It was shocking.
The personnel may have changed but the tactic of getting the ball out wide and trying to cross it into a packed penalty area remained our default and it was not going to work. How often we’ve seen it, how often we’ve lamented it here on this site … and it looked like dooming us.
But the second half was far different. We played football on the deck. We ran at them and passed it through the middle, and when we did they simply had no answer for us at all. The team hauled themselves back into it with Real Football … at 1-1 I’d have put money on us going on to win the match by a right few goals.
Then the suicidal tendencies started to reveal themselves in our play.
Shane Duffy. What is there to say at the moment? Another error strewn performance, stupid fouls, slow to react at times … who is this guy right now? Because he doesn’t look like a player who did more than competently against EPL footballers. If we’d had options on the bench and not just a raw young kid who’s been exposed to enough horror this past week, I’d like to think we’d have hooked him rapidly and reputation be damned and let the lesson sink in.
The second other players are fit this guy will have a fight on his hands to stay in the team. Forget all notions of a permanent deal for him on this kind of showing; cutting short his loan and sending him home in January looks more appropriate right now.
His mistake for the second goal is horrendous. He could have kept it simple, but instead tried God knows what. He was suspect the whole game.
Lennon has to answer for his failure to sort our defending out.
Three times in that game bad defensive mistakes cost us goals. Ntcham’s mistake was terrible, but what’s he doing having to make that challenge in the first place? The second penalty comes from a Callum McGregor tackle … why are our attacking midfield players having to make those challenges?
In the last ten minutes of the game, we seemed to stop playing football, we all sat back and invited disaster. Aberdeen should have scored before the penalty when another moment of madness amongst the back four let Cosgrove go one on one with the goalie … on another day he puts that in the net and then the last few minutes is an even bigger sweat.
What we saw today was entirely self-inflicted, and I don’t even know who to be pissed off at. The manager made the right team selection at the start. He got the substitutes broadly right, although I’d have had Griffiths on for Elyounoussi rather than Ajeti and gone 4-1-3-2 as Elyounoussi was giving us nothing anyway at that point.
On top of that, the manager ditched Plan A at half time and stopped us from playing those stupid and totally ineffectual cross balls … that made a huge difference and we scored three times in one half, and on another day we would have had more.
The midfield gave us more than they have in a while, but ironically it was two midfielders who conceded the penalties … our defence was terrible so consistently in that 90 minutes that you never quite felt that we were safe.
At 3-2 I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.
One last thing … Sky’s coverage was a flat out scandal. How many times did the Ibrox club get mentioned in the course of that match? It was non-stop.
The record of us not having lost three in a row for eons was repeated over and over again until we were 3-2 up and we rendered it moot.
And from the kick-off they had picked their Celtic player to target; when he came off, Andy Walker pronounced Albian Ajeti “terrible today” as if this was something that had only dawned on him and his co-commentator late on.
In fact, they had Ajeti’s card marked from the earliest point in the match when after 15 minutes they identified him as the player who’d had the least number of touches on the pitch, and then showed a graphic of where his touches had been on the pitch later in the game.
It was a sterling example of marking a player out before the match kicked off, to give him special attention, in order to find something negative to say about him. Ajeti was no less poor than Elyounoussi because a striker is only as good as the service he gets … Griffiths had a single moment to shine in the game, but he was in the penalty box when he got it.
Which isn’t to say it was an outstanding finish … but to focus on Ajeti is Sky at its absolute worst, and Walker’s comments were a bad joke.
That was a horrible 90 minutes, doing nothing good for morale or for our chances of winning this league. We shot ourselves in the foot today, proving again that when it comes to making life hard for this club we do a better job of it ourselves than anyone ever could.
Where we even go from here I do not know. The football on the deck made a stunning, and welcome, return and we scored three times … but this team is not playing as a unit and it is not focussed and it is not looking like one that is going to win things.
I cannot believe I’m writing that … but then I cannot believe what I just watched either.