From “we never stop” to “we never get started.”
So this is how the unbeaten domestic run ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.
Not with a team that simply defeated us with quality but in a performance that was characterised by stunning, almost incomprehensible ineptitude. What in God’s name happened?
I have seen bad Celtic performances over the years and this might not be the worst one but it is certainly one of the most shocking, and definitely amongst the most inexcusable.
We have started this season like an express train, but right from the moment of kick-off today there was none of the pace or the relentless football we’ve witnessed all these months.
Instead it was slow and dreadful. Too many sideways passes, allowing St Mirren to keep their shape. Too many backwards passes, as if we were being pressed high up the pitch.
(Which we weren’t, which makes it all the more ridiculous.)
The speed with which we usually play was nowhere to be seen. Instead it was a lazy, slovenly display that looked as if some of the players were operating under the colossal misapprehension that we were involved in a friendly.
Stats don’t offer the full picture of a game, but they don’t lie either.
This team which has been getting the ball in the net with a regularity that has had our opponents and rivals scared to death went through the first sixty some minutes without getting a shot on target. Not one.
That is beyond belief. For this team, that is atrocious.
I’ll go even further, some of the individual displays today were shocking.
The goalkeeper has to take responsibility for the two goals; the first one is headed with power but it’s straight at him.
The second was comic cuts stuff, and an utter embarrassment from him and the defenders.
What a state they got themselves into. It’s as bad as I’ve seen us in an age.
Too many players were off it today.
The system itself seemed fundamentally, and puzzlingly, altered to be much more cautious and much less aggressive.
I have no idea why we came out to do that, but it was obvious from the kick-off that there was something lacking in the way we were approaching the game. You could see it in everything we did.
We have a squad here which allows rotation. We have a team here where each player knows what he has to do on any given day. We have a squad here which is used to blowing teams away and where some players seem to have an almost supernatural understanding of their team-mates … and today we saw none of that at all.
That’s why it’s incredibly difficult to simply put this down to a bad day at the office; that happens when three or four players aren’t with it, but today it was like nobody did anything like what they were supposed to. Nobody turned up to perform as expected. This wasn’t just a few players but a complete failure right across the boards.
That was just unacceptable.
We all knew that there would be days when we’d drop points, and days when, in fact, we’d lose games … but to lose in that fashion? To lose whilst barely functioning as a unit? Appalling.
That was like a weird flash-back to Neil Lennon style football, with all the faults and failings we came to recognise from that time. Not one part of the machine did what it was supposed to do.
Not one of the players had what you would call a good game.
There were some reasonable performances and some howlers, but most of all there was an almost casual indifference, as if some of these guys think they are way, way better than they are.
But this team – any team – is only as good as its results and a relentless focus should drive everything that they do.
Today that team played as if the season was as good as over, as if the league was won, with complacency and a lack of urgency which invited consequences and boy did we get them.
St Mirren deserved that today for doing everything we failed to do.
The unbeaten run ends then, with this.
A total surrender of three points after which every player should be hanging his head in shame. It is inexcusable to lose with so little heart, so little determination, so little fight, like a bottom-half battler caught in the headlights.
Whatever went wrong today, Ange needs to fix it over the course of the next fortnight which before today was like a rude interruption but now is a welcome salve from having to look at some of these players for a while.
That’s how pissed off I am having watched that.