This Celtic Team Was Built To Play Fast, Aggressive Football. Today We Failed To.

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There are those who think we’re one dimensional. I absolutely disagree.

But we have a team that was built to play a certain way, and when we revert to any other “style” of football it is little wonder that this team does not function nearly as well.

The strengths of this team over the start of this campaign has been its pace and its movement and its aggression.

Our players wanted to be first to every ball and when we got the ball it was moved forward at once, and everyone who didn’t have it was running with it and pulling opposing players with them, creating space into which attackers roamed free.

That it took us more than an hour to register a shot on target today was an indication of just how poor we were.

The games we have failed to win domestically in the last eight or so months, since we started beating sides with regularity, have all been characterised by the same failings; not just failings to do right the things we usually do, but by failing to do those things at all.

I knew from about ten minutes into that today that we were making it hard for ourselves with the number of backwards passes, the lack of movement off the ball and the general pace of our game.

We did not do what this team was assembled to do.

When this team plays like that, it struggles. It struggles badly.

Because the whole concept of Ange-Ball, for which this side is constructed, is to play that certain way.

The system is built on opening teams up with speed and movement. All the slow build up does is negates our biggest strengths and allows our opponents to get people behind the ball.

That’s what St Mirren did today, and they did it very effectively. It stands out a mile that in a first half with 80% possession we didn’t get a single shot on target. We allowed them to assume a fixed defensive shape and once they did that you could see that we were going to struggle and then their goal allowed them to sit even deeper.

Ange was exceptional in the presser after the game.


I’ll be writing about it in a moment. But he identified these same basic issues. The most important thing he said was that he never gets carried away when we win and so won’t get carried away when we lose.

Which is the same for all of us.

This wasn’t “a bad day at the office” because it affected too many players, and the team as a whole didn’t do the basics … but nor was it “coming” as some have ludicrously suggested or is proof of a negative trend as others have attempted to make out.

It was a horrible, horrible display and they happen.

As long as they don’t happen often.

We have lost ground today, but we are what we were before the game, the best side in this country by a mile.

That performance, as bad as it was, doesn’t change that.

So long as we recover from it when the matches kick off again by getting back to doing what it is that we do best I have no fears of it being any more than a blip when the campaign ends.

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  • Lubo's Boots says:

    Too many players were off the pace today, and not just the guys that went off. Slack passing, lack of movement – very sluggish.
    On the other side, St Mirren wrestled us (literally) all game, made it hard to knock the ball about, and slowed the game down and time wasted as much as they could. But they took their chances. Intensely frustrating to watch, but a fair result. We should have been so much better. A few days now to fix some things and go again.

  • jrm63 says:

    The rot was in midfield. Very bad team selection. You knew within ten minutes they were in big trouble. Abada, Maeda, Kyogo showed nothing. And the midfield was worse. The simple truth is that Allan McGregor would have saved the Shakhtar and first St. Mirren goal as well, Really poor from the manager and players.

    • Johnny Green says:

      What has that rat Allan McGregor got to do with anything, don’t you think Siegrist would have been more appropriate?

  • Johnny Green says:

    At least Ange should realise now that although he has cover for every position he doesn’t have equally talented replacements for his first team regulars. The players playing today should have been playing out of their skins to make that position their own and they did not take their chance, they did not apply themselves properly and they did not have the right tempo and slickness of passes to hurt the opposition. At the end of the day we did not work hard enough and we got what we deserved. There goes the Invincibles hope, but the Treble is still on,

  • David Paterson says:

    I agree with your reading of the game, after 10 minutes, I could see we needed some change, alas it came too late, several players should have been hooked before halftime. Sunday’s are a day of rest for most of us who are not working, someone should let the players know this, as they are being paid handsomely for the privilege of pulling a Celtic Jersey on. Have a look at yourselves in the mirror sometime

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    If anythin it should show them there’s nae room for complacency. Treat it as a lesson, a warnin learned and move theirself on.

  • Steve Boland says:

    James where do you stand on the 3rd kit fiasco? I clocked the clash the moment the teams walked out, as did many others on the forums. It was awful. Honestly, I coach kids football and we’d have been reaching for the yellow bibs. That kit clash surely had to disadvantage the “team built to play fast aggressive football”. To me, it was clear to see our players hesitating where normally they’d crackle & fizz & bristle with pace & purpose. It was obvious several times that passes were going astray due to split-second mistaken identity. With 80% possession (though were Opta also guilty of mistaken identity?), we were far more vulnerable to the basic thing of not being able to immediately pick out a teammate. Coaching the kids, we constantly tell them “be faster in your heads, that beats faster legs”. Kit confusion makes “faster in your heads” impossible.

    Yes, we were pish. But those kits, and the clash they caused, were pisher by far.

    That’s my view. Would be interested in other thoughts.

  • Effarr says:

    I agree about the horrible strip. It must be easier to play in the hoops,i.e.. identify your teammate that split second faster. These are the fine margins they talk about. Everyone wearing black shorts made it worse even. I believe
    it would have been a different game with even white shorts.

    They mocked Alex Ferguson for complaining about the grey strip but even then I felt he had a point.

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