When we lose in Europe, we want to lose with a bit of oomph.
It’s perfectly valid to be beaten by a better team, but what we saw last night was not a case of simply being beaten by a better side.
We could, and should, have matched RB Leipzig. They are not an elite side. They were vulnerable to our forward play. The problem was we didn’t do enough of it.
A manager can take defeat if his team follows its basic plan and simply gets outplayed. But last night Ange was as angry as I’ve heard him after a match. He avoided that sort of anger last season because he knew this was a work in progress. He avoided it after St Mirren because it was the first league defeat in 38 games and it was a bad day at the office.
But last night he was angry because nobody followed the plan. He was angry because the players simply did not do as they have been instructed, and a year and a bit into his revolution he is not willing to accept a failure on those terms.
Nor should he. He diagnosed the defeat exactly the way the group of us who were watching it did; as the absence of our own style rather than the brilliance of the opposition. Ange lamented a team which simply failed to perform in the way he knows they can.
Last night, I wrote about how Celtic would not approach the game the way the Ibrox club did at Anfield because the manager would not permit it. Well, in some ways, the players did retreat behind the ball last night, but he made it abundantly clear that this was not the way he sent them out to play the game. I never for one minute thought it was.
We know that Joe Hart was responsible for the second goal, in the same way as Callum’s error was the cause of the first one. Ange didn’t want to lay too much of the blame on either of them; he knew the failure ran deeper, and was about the squad as a whole.
“A mistake is a mistake,” he said. “It’s not about that. It’s about what happened before that. We kept passing it back to him for no reason. You’re doing what you think is safe but that’s not really who we are. Once we got level we almost wanted to settle for that. I could see it coming. If it wasn’t Joe making a mistake, it would have been somebody else.”
And that’s him at his most frustrated and pissed off. That’s him saying that we got what we deserved. The key words, I think, are “that’s not really who we are.” He wants this team to have an identity, and a style, and when we play that way you can see the difference between that and the timid performance that we put in last night.
And then, as though he wanted to make sure that parallels were drawn between his approach and the one across the city – although I’m sure that was the furthest thing from his mind – he summed up that difference in clear and simple terms.
“For us to get over this hump … we have to have a stronger belief and mentality, but that’s not easy, it comes with experience. We need to stay really positive in our mind-set and with the way we play our football. If we do that, we give ourselves a better chance. If you play for survival that’s all you’ll ever get, you never get anywhere.”
That’s what this team stands accused of. Of just trying to hang on. And as I wrote earlier, Jim Duffy and others are so set in their attitude that we should change our whole approach to these games that they’ve failed to comprehend the simplest thing of all; aggressive front foot football is how we got here. When we play like that it works. Ange doesn’t do this because he’s some mad fanatic and purist; this is how we’ll get success.
So yeah, last night that man was not happy. After a year instilling this into this team they’ve gone backwards in the last few weeks. It’s only when they snap out of this weird place they are in right now and start playing the way the boss wants again that the confidence will start to flow and the results will start to come.
It cannot come quickly enough.