Ange is getting it in the neck this morning from the armchair coaches who reckon the problem yesterday was that he made six changes. They forget – or choose not to remember – that we made nine for the Ross County League Cup game and won easily.
The biggest impact on the team yesterday did come from players who would usually have been in the side and who were not. But these weren’t guys the boss left out in the name of rotation; he had no choice in it.
Starfelt, Carter Vickers and Juranovic were injured.
And we felt their absence. It was obvious in how we lost both of the goals.
We were playing yesterday with a makeshift back four, and it told.
It was clear. You can rotate certain areas of your team better than others; a defence gets its solidity from consistent partnerships. The manager was robbed of that and the impact on the side was obvious.
Not that it offers any alibi for the failures of the midfield and the front men, but a game poised at 0-0 would have given St Mirren a dilemma about whether to defend with all they had or to chase a winner.
When a side has a lead that decision is largely made for them.
St Mirren, especially after the second, didn’t have to do more than contain us.
When your midfield and front men aren’t doing the job on a given day the defence simply has to be up to the task, and they let us down yesterday more than the forwards did.
But it’s hard to point the finger at them when there are three changes to the line-up in that area from the team that played last season, and none of them were tactical.
Ange took the hit yesterday when he accepted responsibility for the team selection, but on this one I think we need to cut the man some slack. Sometimes it’s out of a manager’s hands how much he chops and changes, and that was the situation here.
It was a horrible day, but we’ll move past it.
The most important game at Celtic is always the next one, and what we have to hope for is a fully fit squad to choose from.