At the 65th minute of that game today, before the two goals in two minutes, I was struck by a thought; a quote from Game Of Thrones, one fans will recognise. “If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.”
The long-ball punt style which Van Bronckhorst has perfected only works if you surrender the midfield to their team and let them aim those balls into the box. Martindale is a third rate manager, and one who had written this game off already. At no point did I expect his team to win, although the Ibrox club look very, very ordinary.
So I’m not disappointed in today’s outcome; I expected nothing less, and would have been honestly astonished had the home side gotten a result. What comes through most is that you have one team which wants to win and one which doesn’t want to lose, and is playing like a team that is intent on hanging on for dear life that’s the outcome they virtually assured.
That is why I am a firm believer in what Ange wants us to do in Europe. If I were a Livingston fan I would not be leaving that game thinking I had watched my team simply be unlucky.
If you sit with every man behind the ball for an entire half of football you are asking to be beaten. You are inviting it. You can’t be surprised by it and you aren’t allowed to claim some sort of moral or footballing victory. You got what you deserved.
Martindale is a Sevconian.
If you were devising a strategy for allowing your opponents back into a game then sitting with every man behind the ball and making no effort whatsoever to do more than defend is assured to be a success.
Those who think we should adopt a more cautious approach in Europe are talking, in the main, about us doing exactly this. Against the super-clubs the temptation to do it would overwhelm a less confident manager.
Thank the Gods that we don’t have one of those, because even that deadening, boring, Ibrox team found a way through a packed defence today … a decent side would make you pay for that sitting back a hundred times over.
You saw the reaction of the Livingston players to losing even the first goal; once the strategy had failed in its primary objective they chucked it because there was no other plan.
At that point, you’re not going up the pitch to try and score a winner; it’s cling on for dear life to a point, and that didn’t even last 120 seconds. Beyond that point it was nothing more than damage limitation.
I would be appalled to watch a Celtic side attempt that in Europe.
I would feel angrier walking out of a narrow defeat in which we played savagely negative football than I would be walking out of a game where we’d tried to match a top club blow for blow and simply couldn’t manage a result.
That is not how I want to see us play our football.
Tomorrow we’re going to show this entire division how real football is played.
Tomorrow it’s the turn of the champions, and I expect a better game of football than the one I just watched and I certainly expect better than two awful teams one led by a manager who simply had no interest in winning the game at all.