The Good, The Bad … And An Unusual Night For Celtic In Europe.

Image for The Good, The Bad … And An Unusual Night For Celtic In Europe.

Well, that was a strange one.

Strange in that I’m sitting here after another defeat and not for the first time this season wondering if what I’m seeing is really what’s unfolding in front of my eyes.

Is this really a Celtic side which is getting better or are we imagining that in our wish to see something that isn’t really there?

And the answer is that we’re not.

We are not imagining it.

This is a different Celtic team, a better Celtic team, one with more to it than any Celtic side we’ve seen in a while. Ange’s style has made us a better attacking force. This is not an illusion, and nor are we incorrect to be confident in the future.

There are worries, sure there are.

People who want to be cynics are going to say that it’s another away game and another defeat.

Legitimate. Statistically.

But absolutely meaningless nonsense.

Tonight we played in Spain where no Celtic side has ever won.

If people want to talk about the away record they can do so on Sunday night if we’ve not won.

Better yet, they can do it at the end of October when we’ll have visited the grounds of every one of the sides we expect to finish alongside us in the top six; Hibs, Motherwell and Aberdeen. If I were a betting man (and I am) I’d wager that we’re going to be pretty happy with how we come out of that run, because no team in Scotland will live with us going forward.

And here’s the really important thing; no Scottish side, including the pretenders at Ibrox, is going to have the quality in their ranks that we faced tonight. But for all that quality here’s the undeniable truth; our wounds were entirely self-inflicted.

This was not, as we’ve seen so often, a Celtic team that went abroad and got comprehensively beaten.

We were well on top for the first 35 minutes, and then two defensive lapses inside a 180 seconds cost us.

We foolishly allowed the same thing to happen in the second half; two goals in a horrible minute and a half.

But we were not outplayed our outgunned.

We simply came up against the kind of team which punishes mistakes.

And what were the mistakes? The first is simple panic in the backline and a failure to clear the ball. The fourth goal is a bad one to lose, but the kind you see teams score every week. I’m not going to pull my hair out over it.

The second and the third are the genuinely troubling ones from the point of view of how we play.

Their second was our attempt – our failed attempt – to play the offside trap.

The third is down to Ralston being out of position when the guy goes marauding down the right.

He has had an excellent season so far; it is a shame he picked tonight to make such basic mistakes at the back.

Here’s the thing; those goals were preventable with simple reminders to people as to where they are supposed to be. This wasn’t a case of wholescale defensive calamity. We made basic errors punished by the kind of team who will do that to you.

There are a lot of our fans who ought to watch more football. I say that with the greatest respect, but a growing sense of frustration.

Because I’ve seen Ralston getting blasted for his display tonight which was generally good but for that glaring positional error for the third goal.

I’ve seen Soro getting blasted. Why? Because he’s this week’s whipping boy.

He was excellent before being subbed; his booking apparently gave some people nightmares, but watch his performance. He never shirked a single tackle. He continued to play his role. That boy has the bottle (and the discipline) to play the toughest role in the team and in all of football.

Ajeti continues to offer answers to his critics; we’re seeing the footballer, at last, that Lennon paid big money for but couldn’t manage to inspire.

We should give that guy the clean slate he deserves.

Nobody got pass marks in that dire campaign.

If you were looking for proof that this is the “same old Celtic” losing daft goals away from home in Europe, it’s there to be found.

But look closer.

Can you imagine what would have happened to a Lennon team which conceded those two early second half goals?

They have fallen apart and we’d have been on the end of losing six or seven.

We saw Rodgers’ team collapse just like on several occasions, and we did lose by those kinds of margins.

But this team kept its cool and kept trying to play football. That we scared the home side into a 2-0 lead in the first place is telling of what these players can do.

It’s amazing to be sitting here after a game against a side as good as this and cursing three minutes of defensive lapses that have ultimately deprived us of three points, rather even than one, but that’s where we are tonight.

We scored three times in Spain; that’s an amazing feat for a team missing two of its best wide men and two of its three strikers.

We also missed our first choice left back and our captain.

So there is mitigation even on a night when I’m actually pretty impressed by much of what we witnessed.

So it’s another defeat and if you’re a cynic (or an enemy of Celtic) you might be looking at that and thinking “this team isn’t doing terribly well, is it?” but from my vantage point I see real things to be optimistic about, real signs that Project Ange is coming along nicely.

Share this article


  • jrm63 says:

    It is far too early to judge the current manager granted, But how does this game differ from say the Partizan Belgrade game at Parkhead decades ago? Glorious failure. Better times may be ahead but that was same old same old. Two goals in each half in 90 seconds? Progress?

  • Neil Smith says:

    Folks … Give Ange the time and for our board difficult the funding we will/could win it all domestically anyway

  • John says:

    We need to be more clued up defensively for these big games.I would rather have a scrappy 1-0 win in these Europa games than another glorious failure having scored three goals away from home and conceding four. At the end of the day its three points shipped after being in a great position.
    Soro is far too rash with his tackling. Picks up far too many cheap yellow cards. I like him but he has a lot to learn in defensive discipline.

  • Peter cassidy says:

    Really poor defending but early days players need time to get know each other on their positives and negative play going forward good but defending letting us down at present a defeat is a defeat but I hope ange can sort it out when your 2 up just hold the line don’t need to keep attacking so disappointing again.

  • Thorinor says:

    How will Soro learn if not played. Also when was the last time away form home we had the most percentage of the ball. We are heading in the right direction. It’s only the second game CCV and Starfelt have played together and one transfer window for the manager. At least tonight I felt proud of the team rather than the despair and embarrassment of last season.

  • chasmac says:

    We were 2-0 up after the first 27 minutes but 4-2 down after the second 27, a bit like AC Milan last year. The goals we gave away were bad ones and we looked wide open, with the midfielders not able to give any defensive cover, and the defence looking shaky throughout. Yes, we were weakened by injuries but the goals we lost were bad ones, they weren’t the result of brilliant play by Betis. Hard to be positive about any of that.

  • James hughes says:

    James, totally disagree, the game hinged on a poor performance from Soro. An early yellow card reduced him to a bystander.
    He made one tackle after his yellow card and was unlucky not to be sent off. He also got involved in a skirmish which was naive in the extreme. At the first goal he shirked a tackle (due to yellow card), he gave the ball away several times under no pressure and ralston
    told him at the third goal where to go at the but he ambled along and allowed the cross.
    The manager takes the blame as he should have been subbed after the first yellow card as he was ineffective after the this. Anyone would have been an improvement, although McCarthy probably shoots my argument down.

  • John says:

    I am certainly not a cynic and regularly visit this site. But this is as much about tactics as it is about players and I do worry that we will drop too many domestic points to our cost.

  • John McGowan says:

    The goals we lost tonight were due to the fact that we are still trying to “bed in” comparatively new playing partners. Once we have a full complement and a reliable understanding of each other’s roles we will become very difficult to beat.

  • Peter cassidy says:

    I see the super dooper scottish champions got out fought out played tonight god those pundits on bt sports pig sick making out lyon are a fantastic side what I saw they are not a bad side but nothing special to good for the bigots could have been 5 nil had they took their chances the bigot fans stuned into silence most of the match lovely ps lardar#e total $hit.

  • Mark B says:

    Happy to give Ange time. He must fix our defending we need a left back and another centre half and we need a defensive midfielder. Scottish sides won’t live with us going forward ? Really? . Hearts did and we were nullified at Ibrox. We have to stop leaking goals or we will not get near the title. And we need to figure out how to beat Rangers. You cannot just dismiss statistics how many defeats so far this season ?

  • mustersdp says:

    Disagree on Soro, he’s constantly putting himself in bad positions where he needs to commit fouls. Their 1st goal was entirely down to him being wrong side and unable to challenge. I can’t believe he wasn’t hooked after his 2nd (arguably) bookable challenge.

  • Iljas Baker says:

    “And we need to figure out how to beat Rangers”. The corollary of that Mark is we need to figure out how to make sure they don’t keep nullifying our wingers – its six or seven games now.

  • P8ddy says:

    I’m actually more confident of the team now. The key thing I’ve seen from this side is an ability to *learn*. That’s all important. Sure, we’re not finished article but there are definite improvements in both how we play amd in the players understanding. It’s no surprise that the mistakes by and large happened between Starfelt and Carter Vickers. They’re finding their feet playing together. Starfelt has already improved night and day, and the understanding will come.

    We have an issue with concentration – we look shaking in the aftermath of losing a goal. That suggests two things – firstly, as the players get used to playing together, the positional intelligence between the players will improve. Secondly, confidence – as we get more games, the confidence will increase and this new style of play will become second nature, rather than the players still needing drilled. And they do still need the drills. It’ll come.

    We’re improving. That’s the key thing. Another positive is that we’re showing some strength in depth – we were missing key players last night. Did we miss them? I’m not sure the score would have changed any and that’s another positive. I’m sure a fir McCarthy would outplay Soro, so again, reasons to be confident.

    We dismiss Rangers at our peril, but if we take them seriously, afford them the respect they’ve earned (as a team, not as a club) and don’t make daft assumptions about leathering them, I reckon we have enough firepower to beat them. Carter Vickers also gives us a great deal of muscle and heft not seen since the days of Bobo- it’s a welcome return.

    Finally – Sevco descending into swivel eyed lunacy banning commentators and refusing quotes to the media will bite them, and bite them hard. They’re making avoidable mistakes. If our board could stop navel gazing and get over their utter arrogance, we could make real strides. Sadly I don’t think the board are as promising as the football team.

Comments are closed.