Celtic’s Second Half Pre-Season Slumps Are Easily Diagnosed And Not Worth Worrying Over.

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So what’s the secret to Celtic’s schizophrenic pre-season, where we’ve combined beautiful, beautiful football with nerve shredding inconsistency, and why shouldn’t that be a cause for concern for us all as we go forward?

Well, tonight gave us the reasons, as if we needed reminding of them.

What Ange has done in the past couple of games is give us our strongest side in the first half and replaced almost every player for the second, with those who are their understudies and backups. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to put these pieces together; of course your second string will not be as strong as the first team is.

Now, we have the advantage at our club of a second string which is still pretty strong, and tonight we were able to bring on Turnbull, Jota and Kyogo in the second half. When the whole squad is fit you can add Giakoumakis, Starflet, Mooy and Lenz to them.

But we know, to a degree of certainty, that at no point during the coming campaign will we line up in a competitive game with a midfield featuring Ideguchi, McCarthy, Turnbull and Mikey Johnston, and not necessarily because they are bad players.

The real issue is that because you’ll never play all these guys together they lack the understanding of a team that plays together every week. That’s why they seem disjointed and disorganised. Because they aren’t used to playing and operating as a unit … that only comes from being drilled together and going through games side by side.

It isn’t that these guys aren’t up to the job; put any two, of them into a team with nine other first team regulars – hell, put three of them into the team at the same time and you’d probably get away with it – and I guarantee you won’t see a significant drop off.

But friendly matches encourage you to put them all on the pitch at the same time. When the last time they were all on a pitch together at the same time was the last time we played friendly games. What do you expect them to produce? What do you expect, but a dip in the overall performance levels? How do you fix that?

Well, you could fix it by mixing the squads up a little. But then you might get two disjointed performances for the price of one. So you obviously don’t want to do that. Every other club in Europe does it this way, and this is one of the reasons why.

So I don’t concern myself much with the negative aspects of pre-season and I never have. You aren’t learning anything except that if you put your entire second sting out against teams you’d be asking for trouble until they’d got used to playing together, but then most managers already know that and don’t change their best eleven much as a result.

It is easy to pick scapegoats and demonise players after a poor second half performance like that. But I ask you; did Jota or Kyogo – two guys we’re pretty sure about – do any better in that second 45 minutes than McCarthy or Ideguchi? Was Mikey Johnston less effective in the second half than Forrest was in the first? You see my point?

I am delighted with certain aspects of the pre-season that we’ve seen.

All involve the attacking side of the team, all involve the players we’re going to watch nail down the starting positions each and every week.

I have no fears about a McCarthy or Ideguchi or Welsh stepping in and filling a void for a couple of games if that’s required at some point … they will have the eight or nine other regular starters alongside them, and that will do just fine.

My concern would be if we had eight or nine first team players out for a spell and we were looking at these guys playing matches when they’ve barely played together in the same staring eleven.

That’s a concern any club in that position would almost certainly share.

Individual mistakes – for which there are no excuses – can still leave me cold. Such as Carter Vickers’ failure to deal with a straightforward punt up the park.

You have to think he’ll be more alert and not nearly as casual when the meaningful business starts … and I’m sure that he will, because he was all those things last season when it mattered.

The same will apply to the overall performances.

You aren’t allowed to make 11 substitutions at half time, you see.

Not when the real stuff starts.

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  • Frankie says:

    That’s 9 goals lost in 4 games can’t afford to loose these goals going into season

  • Terry Thomas says:

    Not convinced that Mccarthy is good enough and micky needs to go with Forrest and jet Ajeti out

  • Bigmick says:

    Does anybody know what James McCarthy does for a living?

  • Michael McCartney says:

    I’m with you James nothing to worry about here. These are practice games and I’m not going to criticise any individuals, going forward we’re good, at the back a little bit slack but these things happen in practice games.
    The thing that does worry me is the injury situation with Giakoumakis and Starfelt.

  • jrm63 says:

    McCarthy is a clown. 2 bookable offences. Juranovic and Kyogo were awful. The only plus point of the second half was Jullien. Much better. You can see why Ange changed his mind on Mooy. Without McGregor we are lost.

  • Johnny Green says:

    I’m not convinced, and I think we are in for a bit of a white knuckle ride this season as we rely on our offensive play to wreak more havoc on the opposition than they can on our defence on the few times that they might be in possession. Domestically it should certainly work, but against top class European sides it’s a bit of a gamble. On the plus side we are going to see some scintillating football, but coping at the back is going to be challenging for us to say the least, There is a happy medium in this cavalier approach I just hope we can find it.

  • Steve Reynolds says:

    It’s all very well saying that things will be back to normal when the real game begins!! But you must have at least 5 or 6 players fighting for a first team place all the time not sometimes??? The reserves are not good enough Time will tell if my analysis are correct!!!

  • Henry says:

    Sorry James, but the defence is still a disaster zone and as I have said before CCV is not good enough at CL level. He’s not even close. In Europe you are only as good as your weakest link and we have a few in defence.

    • Roonsa says:

      What are you basing you opinion of CCV on? Personally I think you are talking horse manure.

      HORSE MANURE!!!!

  • Bhoy4life says:

    Im old school, I prefer a winning mentality over experimental set ups, success breeds success, I would rather have my best 11 out and steamrolling opposition than encouraging those watching on that we may be easy targets.
    Teams should fear us before they take to the field.

  • Johnny Green says:

    What concerns me with our all out attacking, high intensity and high press formation is that we are always going to be vulnerable to a quick counter attack. Bearing in mind that Legia Warsaw were 10th in the Polish league last season, so not a great team, even they were able to exploit our lack of cover when counter attacking, We have full backs who are caught too far up the park and cannot get back quick enough, so that when balls are played quickly up our flanks the centre backs are pulled out of position to cope with those threats and the whole back line is then exposed. It’s all very well having attacking full backs, but first and foremost their job should be to defend and I worry about their competency in doing that, particularly our vertically challenged LB’s. As I said before, there is a happy medium in that attacking approach and we need to find it quickly. By all means overlap/underlap going forward but with extreme caution so that the full backs are leaving themselves enough time and distance to backtrack when called upon.

  • john clarke says:

    As everyone points out; in the domestic SPL, Celtic FC had the best defensive record.
    This includes the contribution by Joe Hart. No big concerns there. It’s the CL.
    Celtic Goals Against (GA) 22, Rangers GA 31, Hearts GA 44, Dundee Utd GA 44, Motherwell GA 61. The respective Goals For and Against Differences were 70, 49, 10, -7, -19. Christopher Jullien is ready to play at his best. He is motivated.
    Osaze could play in any other SPL Firsts team. His improvement was spectacular during the loan stint in Belgium. Defense could have been better, in the last couple of friendlies for sure. Coaches will be getting the backs ready to match any opposition. Even the attacking players have to defend. CalMac shows the way. Celtic will be greatly improved for the Champs League.

  • Tom. says:

    Unfortunately I cannot agree with your assumption of events. Celtic are still lacking quality in midfield and Idiguchi, McCarthy, lack the skills to control the game. Both have had full preseason. As for forwards Forrest and Johnston they are not comfortable chasing back lack basic mental stamina required. My reasoning is based on injuries to our better creative players which we are short handed and shows In our second half displays. The fans aren’t stupid James, and neither is Ange he has improved immeasurably the football for all to see. What would his team achieve with a little more quality.

  • JimBhoy says:

    I hated the youth teams I coached in pre-season friendlies and tournaments as the boys and parents just wanted the win. We had boys coming into the games unfit and not near match sharp and that was the coaches priorities.

    Same in pre-season for full-timers. Key is to get as many of your squad match fit for the season. Celts have been great to watch when we have our near first team out that’s what you should judge on in these games as well as having a look at some individual’s form and playing formations. All players will have their favourite partners in the game.

    Here’s my synopsis so far for what it’s worth. Johnston, Lawal, Vata would do well with a loan to another club, Vata has something for sure. Bernabei will need time looks a much better attacker than defender. Siegrist better keeper than Joe. McCarthy will not see much first team action and will likely see out his contract before a move. Like to see a little more of Urhoghide, Robertson, Kenny and Shaw. Ajeti should be moved on for whatever we can get same with Juliene he doesnt seem to fit the Ange profile, pity. Turnbull for me will be on the bench most of the season as will Ideguchi. Mooy when fit should allow Calmac a more forward berth too.

    Really interesting combination in the midfield. I’d love to see Kyogo and Jackymacky as an upfront combo but not sure we will. Maeda has impressed as has Hatate.

    Think we may see one more loan deal.

  • JimBhoy says:

    Reading the chat on the CCV front, I thought the CF elbowed CCV in the face. There were a few bad challenges that didnt get picked up especially in the second half. I think when Ange reviews that he may pick up as to why there were no other defenders around as the GK kicked out.

    All in all a good pre-season for me, some good additions. I’d like to see a loan young CF, boy from PSG being mentioned and if Juliene goes a replacement. The Scales loan move is perplexing as he was fullback and CH. Ange knows best.

    Looking forward to the Norwich game.

  • Bob (original) says:

    Can’t get too excited about pre-season kickabouts.

    We have improved the squad again with a few decent signings,

    but will still carry 4 or 5 players who are ‘not the best’ into next season.

    We should still do OK domestically.
    However, a treble is required to improve on last season’s unexpected success.

    Not expecting much from the CL games – just as long as we learn for the next CL campaign.

  • owen dolan says:

    James why is James McCarthy anywhere near the first team ?? 10 years ago he was a decent player but why did Celtic give a has been a pensioner in football terms a four year contract ?? IMO he brings the tempo of the team down every time he is on the park free transfer is in order.

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