When James posted his article about the leaker on Saturday he points out that he didn’t bother to complain about the team-sheet because there was no point.
The match was an hour away, and there was damn all that could be done about it.
It’s also true to say that he was perhaps more relaxed about the opposition than he ought to have been.
I was pretty stunned at the team myself. I usually only do transfer rumour articles, but since we’ve got no more of those to write and I wanted to comment on the game I am grateful for the opportunity to do it. I saw the team-sheet and feared for us.
The mood online was febrile; I’ve rarely seen such total disbelief at a starting line-up in my life.
Most of the people I spoke to in the hour between that being announced and the game kicking off were absolutely astounded, and most were deeply concerned.
Speaking to James the other day, I agree with him in that we were still expected to show up and compete. The kid Welsh aside, there was still an argument for saying we had a capable team on the park full of proven players who’ve played at a high level.
The three at the back suggested two up front and the midfield five, and it was there he expressed some surprise; “I felt certain,” he said, “that with the situation as it was we’d have gone 4-2-3-1.”
There is no universe in which it was not anything but a momentous risk to play a back three utilising a kid who had only made one first team appearance.
Playing Klimala up front, effectively on his own, when our two finishers were on the bench was absolutely self-defeating.
To play Laxalt at left wing when he’d never even kicked a ball with the rest of the squad seemed almost madly daring.
Playing Elyounoussi up front when he has never looked remotely comfortable there would have been unbelievable, except that this was the Celtic manager who played Lewis Morgan as a striker in the League Cup Final against the Ibrox club, which I thought, at the time, and still believe, to have been an act of almost moronic recklessness.
The question I had for James was this;
“Why don’t you think Lennon went with the 4-2-3-1?”
He had no answer and I have no answer. It would have brought more balance to the team, it would have played players in their proper positions, it would have made sense.
With the situation facing him, nobody would even have questioned it.
Instead, we got lunatic risk-taking in a massive match, and not for the first time.
So, of course, the reaction of our fans was shock.
Today I read that Connor Goldson had been sent the team by someone in England about three hours before kick-off and had frankly refused to believe it, and to me that speaks volumes in itself.
It suggests that players and doubtless coaches within Ibrox simply did not take that team seriously because they could not imagine Celtic lining up that way, and to me that says it all; it’s as if they read that text out to each other and said “Lennon couldn’t possibly be that stupid, could he?”
Imagine their elation when they found out he was.
I am not ready to join the chorus demanding the manager’s head; not yet anyway.
But in the last 18 months he has, time and time again, showed a kind of maniacal tendency towards risk-taking in those games where we can least afford it. Goldson certainly can’t be alone amongst those who’ve come up against us in that time to look at our formation and line-ups and thought “Well, the Celtic manager has sabotaged his own team here … we’ve got this one.”
Callum McGregor at left back, anybody?
Ryan Christie as sole striker against Ferencvaros?
Those are easily decisions on a par with Lewis Morgan up front in a cup final … and young Welsh against an Ibrox team which was already pretty confident of scoring goals.
I dread the publication of the team-sheet these days, whether it’s an hour before the game or something that leaks online in the days before. There have been times when I’ve gotten a leaked team and hoped against expectation that it was just someone taking a punt, after dropping acid or something, and then been appalled to see that it was real after all.
Had I heard Saturday’s team on Friday night, I can honestly say I’d have been tempted to find something better to do with my afternoon.
Had Gerrard got his hands on it that early I believe he’d have laughed it off as a scam, as Goldson said everyone at Ibrox did when they got the leak early on Saturday morning.
That’s a problem for me, because when the opposition openly mocks a leaked team as being so unlikely as to label it funny, you wonder just what the Hell Neil Lennon is thinking.
The Rumour Guy is a Celtic fan and blogger from Scotland, who cannot believe our manager’s decision making at times …
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