Another Abject Display Leaves Celtic With Work Still Do To Win This Title.

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There are two things here; there’s the game today and there’s the bigger picture. I’ll write about the bigger picture later, where the horizon is positively sunny and my disposition a hell of a lot better as I approach my task.

Right now, let’s talk about that display at Celtic Park this afternoon.

That was rank rotten.

It was, again, an inexplicably gutless display, just as the semi-final was. And it was worse than the semi-final because at Hampden we made them work for what they got, whereas today we sat back and allowed them to play football.

Where was the pressing game? Where was the intensity? I saw a Celtic team content to sit in its own half and let them have possession.

This is not a great Ibrox team by any manner of means, but they are dangerous and how often do we have to let them create chances before that sinks in? Why have we, twice in a row now, abandoned our attacking, front-foot philosophy to play like a team that hits on the break? It doesn’t suit us. It doesn’t work for us.

Has Ange and the coaching team bought into this whole “we’re playing Europa League semi-finalists here” guff?

Jesus, I hope not because that would be ridiculous.

But twice now we’ve played like a team that has bought into that hype, a team that believes it. Perhaps more than the Ibrox club itself believes it. Twice now we’ve shown them too much respect.

I am honestly pissed off about that today in a way I wasn’t angry a fortnight ago when we flogged the chance of a treble because we backed off them and let them control the game. I thought lessons would be learned, that we’d start on the front foot, that we’d put them under pressure from the off, that we would take advantage of tired legs and run them ragged.

I am shocked that for two games in a row we’ve played the same dire system, of allowing them possession and control, backing off to let their players run at us … with the consequences obvious considering what we endured at the national stadium.

If Sakala scores that one late – and we invited it, we encouraged it, we gave him all the time and space in the world again and again and again – we’d have been looking at a final game of the season scenario, and zero room for error along the way and nobody would have been able to point to anything other than that we did it to ourselves.

The manager has spoken after the game and said that they needed the win and that a draw leaves us in “a very strong position.”

True. Undoubtedly true. But worrying just the same.

That is the most concerning thing he’s said since he became manager, far more worrying than anything that he’s uttered before, because it strongly suggests that he thought that strategy of sitting off them was the correct thing to do today and at Hampden … and we’ve been damned lucky not to have lost them both.

It was a vastly greater gamble today to sit back and soak up pressure than it would have been to press forward and take the game to them.

The manager chose the wrong one.

If Sakala had scored he would have real questions to answer as to why he did that … and because that was so close to presenting us with a nightmare scenario, I don’t think he should avoid those questions.

That was abysmal.

We were lucky to get away with that.

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  • Michael McCann says:

    I agree with every word you say. Celtic have two teams, one exceptional on the day the other very poor. We saw the later today. Lost for words, Celtic had everything in their favour with 58 thousand supporters driving them on. Where was the energy, they were playing a team who had played mid-week. They certainly backed off always second to the ball. As the game went on Celtic got very sloppy TheRangers got stronger encouraged by Celtics lack of commitment. Hart pulled off few great saves but what are they playing at especially at the end. Instead of slowing the game up and calming things down Hart almost lost it a few times. I believe Celtic have won the title but Hearts will take heart from that game and have a go at Celtic. Or will Celtics other team show up.

  • Saulgoodman says:

    Hatate read ange love child – him + oreilly still living off 45mins 3-0 game – baffling ! Hatate 1 of slowest unskilled players I’ve seen in a few years , as for the full backs please never 1st team starts , remember when we thot we had riches in midfield ha ha – middle of the park needs major surgery – last 3 Glasgow derbys the huns be wondering how they lost the league to us ….

  • Kris says:

    You seem to think the game we can play against the rest of the league is the game we are entitled to play against Rangers. I’m not one for praising Rangers and I don’t care if they’ve got to the Europa semifinal off the back of penalties and draws etc, they are there! And like last season, it’s because their defence is very good. This isn’t Ange or the players changing the game plan, it’s just us coming up against a good team, like Ange said! Less hysteria wouldn’t go amiss.

  • Damian says:

    We WERE playing against Europa League semi-finalists. That is just a fact. Why are you not entertaining the argument that what we’ve seen in the last two games against Rangers is an opponent that is in fact a good bit better than 6 points behind us? It is entirely feasible for such an opponent to take a game to us every bit as much as we can take it to them. Indeed, JucoJames’s analysis on this has been good. When you really analyse the games, like he analyses the games, Celtic have played all-out Ange Ball against Rangers ONCE this season: in the first game, at Ibrox. We lost.

    For what it’s worth, Hatate was miles off it from the first minute. Starting him and not switching him sooner we’re mistakes. But Rangers have strong players in the middle of the park. If neither midfield is particularly dominant (as neither midfield was, from where I was sitting in Section 438), the Rangers players can do more with the chaos that creates.

    That was a really good result for us today, against a strong opponent.

  • Don Cowie says:

    It’s like we have lost s great player. Abada’s stats for goals and assists is great but he is now constantly benched. I admire Maeda’s energy but he is simply not as dangerous as Abada.

    • Martin says:

      Completely agree. Not sure what he must make of it, with his stats and not getting starts past few months.

  • Johnny Green says:

    The league is just about done, all the hard work had already been done to get to this point, but we really should have finished it in style, we should have buried them today. We were a shadow of the team we can be and the support is understandably disappointed by today’s efforts, it was a poor display. Hatate had admitted previously that he was tired, but somehow he still gets a game, what is Ange thinking of. Even McGregor was giving the ball away cheaply today, not like him, and we were second to just about every ball. We are now limping to the Title and we will of course still enjoy it when it happens. However, right now I feel a bit hollow and let down after anticipating a full on celebration.

  • Smokey says:

    Correct Damian “Hatate was miles off it from the first minute” and not for the first time this season……
    Thank goodness we have Calumn in midfield but he needs help with someone who has
    more physicality……


    • John McNamee says:

      Truth is we should have buried them in the first half. However not to be, but we made them look good in the 2nd half because of missed chances in 1st half.. There’s a time and place for Angeball and we need to figure that one out. Harare is miles off the pace and we are desperate for an enforcer to free up McGregor to do what he’s goid at. Substitutions were a joke. We are limping to the title but these performances will see us buried in CL next year

      • Damian says:

        We didn’t play Angeball at all, at any point. Even in the first half. They didn’t let us.

  • Peter says:

    Thank you so much for these words today. I’ve listened in disbelief to acsom and Celtic fans TV arrogance around “the title is ours” minutes after being bullied and battered by Rangers. 433 doesn’t work every week but Ange can’t see it. The league is a long way from over

  • owen dolan says:

    Spot on James.Half time I said we should take off Hatate as he looked lost in the middle but for some reason we ended up changing almost half the team.Not a smart move and we almost suffered for it we got a point more by luck than anything else.I might be wrong but it looks to me that John Kennedy is interfering in the make up of part of the team.WHY do we have to alter the team on the field every single game and I don’t mean when we are 4 to 6 – 0 up ?.The greatest manager and the greatest team in my era Jock Stein and the Lisbon Lions won every honour in the game and Big Jock never altered the team week in and week out and I don’t want to hear the piss about all the games they have to play.I used to play with the boys guild Saturday mornong then with a local ametuer team Saturday afternoon and play five a side’s on a Sunday and we never altered the side’s in any of these games.

    • Rodders says:

      Owen, your assertion that Big Jock never altered the team week in and week out is wrong. In an era of smaller squads he frequently changed one or two players, even in winning teams, to keep the players on their toes, keep them fresh, nurse injuries, and for tactical reasons.

      However his man management was second to none, a genius in many ways.

  • Henry says:

    We got out of jail today. Very wasteful in front of goal and agree on the FB comments by others. Every time they try to play their way out of defence, you just know sooner or later they will be caught out.

    No7 GG seemed more interested in fouling than playing and hopefully NIr Biton’s time is coming to an end. God knows why we signed McCarthy on a 4 year deal, (though I suspect this one was down to the scouting staff, not Ange. He hasn’t played a good game in about 8 years. Major surgery required for next season after we limp over the line.

  • kellybhoy says:

    lookin at these comments oan here and shakin my heid in disbelief.
    This team has won the leauge by a margin, no by some poster bamstick tellin us the leauge is foar fae ower, eh!
    Hatate miles aff the pace, and he wiznae that great the day btw, but Ange picked him in he’s the Celtic manager, Celtic bullied and battered, aye right,whit wiz the score again?
    We are that bad the animals wull be wonderin how they loast the leauge tae us, six points clear wae three games tae go and some kiddie on Celtic supporters sayin we ur limpin!, aye that’s right, limpin tae the title. A see big John Kennedy is at it again eh, bullyin the big Ange in tae how tae run the team, subs wur a joke of course, that Ange guy disnae know whit he’s daein, and btw don’t alter the team because we didnae dae it in the bhoys guild
    Aw teams should jist come tae Celtic park, roll ower, let Celtic tank them and no gie’s a game o’ fitba.
    Celtic wull improve immensely next season withoot a doubt, but if we wir tae win the tiltle next year with the same points gaun in tae the last three games i wid be ower the moon .So tae aw youse lurkin huns and real Tims there’s only wan hing i cin say, altogether now ” I’m on the top of the world lookin down on the rangers and the only explanation i can find” go oan. gie it a try, be happy,it’s great to be a tim. Keep The Faith

  • David Tolmie says:

    I’m concerned that we missed all those chances in the 1st half should be concerned because its a Patern missing chances in big games should have been another 3/0.HH

  • Michael McCartney says:

    What a negative attitude some Celtic fans have. We didn’t play as well as we can and the last 10 mins were a bit scary. In the first half we should have gone in 3-1 in front taking chances created by both teams into consideration.
    This Sevco team are no mugs most of them have played together for around 3 years. Their midfield are physical and energetic. Whilst we are definitely a team in the early stages of development. For us to win the League this season will be a great achievement.
    Since the turn of the year there have been 4 Glasgow Derbies we have won 2 drawn 1 and lost one in extra time, not to bad. Sevco have reached the Euro League Semi-Final on merit and have been really competitive opponents. I am chuffed at this League win and I think some of the negativity is a bit harsh.

  • John S says:

    In the last three matches against the new Glasgow club, Celtic have ‘lost the second-half’. The triple substitution today halted the momentum.

  • Donald Macintyre says:

    I agree whole heartedly with this piece, the press and intensity of play has stopped and its more the football of the ginger whinger ?. Hatate should be sent on holiday right now and told to come back when preseason is starting.
    There was a situation in the 2nd half were Joe Hart ran to edge of box and Carter Vickers can be seen saying no, this didn’t happen before and it is not acceptable now.
    We will cross the line but it’s taking longer than it should

  • Iljas Baker says:

    I think the last two or three games against rangers show that they are a better team than Celtic fans give them credit for and Celtic are not as good a team as we fans think it is. Given rangers’ exertions in Europe and our opportunity for rest Celtic should at least have tested them more than we did. Of course there are mitigation factors but still these last few performances show there is a lot of work to be done before and CL matches take place.

  • DAN DWAN says:

    Poor second half performance yesterday no doubt about that & should have taken a couple of big opportunities in the first half to punish them when we were on top albeit for only 25 mins of the game. Ive raised this point before but we are getting bossed in the middle of the park by them for long periods same again yesterday.. and how Hatate wasnt hooked at half time is a mystery, to be honest he hasnt been at it the past few weeks and im surprised he started. Kyogo v poor hasnt looked the same after returning from the long lay off but he will come good. Ange is going to have to get 4-5 top players in this close season not to mention us retaining CCV & Jota.

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