The Media Narrative On Celtic’s Defeat Is As Appalling And Ignorant As We Could Have Expected.

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And so the first verdict is in on our Champions League endeavour and from the hacks it is every bit as bad, every bit as negative, every bit as appalling and every bit as ignorant as I had expected.

There is nothing to credit even one bit of it.

We lost 2-0 last night. Not 5-0. We had nine men on the pitch when they scored their second goal. This game was always viewed, by those of us who recognise where circumstances and deliberate choices within our own club have left us, as an uphill struggle.

To lose two men to a refereeing performance where the officials clearly thirsted to be the stars of the show made it impossible.

That’s not to say that the decisions are shockers or anything, but they were very much “home field” decisions erring on the side of caution by guys who wanted the limelight.

There is no disgrace to be had here.

Reports of us “shooting ourselves in the foot” are patently ridiculous.

Joe Hart is branded the villain in a game where he concedes from a free kick and a goal where he had a single defender backing him up whereas Ibrox’s latest golden boy is lauded for a performance on a night when he has conceded five against the side that finished behind Feyenoord in the league … this is what we expect now though.

Let’s get to the first goal before we cover the rest.

I don’t care what Neil Lennon’s view on this is, although it’s splashed across the internet like the latest celebrity scandal story. If Lennon was half as savvy as he reckons, he’d be in the managers job he wants and not the studio which at least gives him a living.

The wall is to blame for the free kick, not the keeper, and the fact that he doesn’t get to it might be something to do with the bounce the ball takes when Joe Hart is already in motion.

What’s he meant to do when he’s already moving?

Strap his jet-pack on to get to the ball? Grow an extra two inches to keep it out?

Those who say he moved too quickly appear not to realise the speed at which he has to decide to go … milliseconds.

Some of these people couldn’t process a reaction in that span of time if it was literally a life-or-death matter.

So, to say they are being harsh is an understatement.

If he goes a second later, is he guaranteed to get to it? No-one can answer that, so blaming him for it is simply ridiculous. The height that ball is at, the wall should keep that from ever getting near him.

Brendan Rodgers, at full time, covers the full spectrum of the match in precisely the way that I knew he would. He praised the players for their determination and their courage, and the overall level of the performance which, in the first half especially, I thought was excellent.

He identified, at once, the issue with the two red cards – and indeed, I thought it was an issue with much of the display – and I had already said it to a dozen people before the full-time whistle had even gone; it all came down to inexperience.

And whose fault is that?

Not that of Rodgers, or the young guys themselves. No, the manager knew going into this competition what we required to counter it. Many of us did. It’s the reason I won’t attend a single home game in this group.

Those in the club above his head made no effort whatsoever to properly prepare us for playing on this stage, and I don’t feel any motivation towards endorsing that behaviour with the spending of another red cent of my own money.

Lawwell rolled back on that somewhat in the accounts yesterday, as I wrote at the time. But as usual with him, it’s a lesson learned too late to make a difference, if it’s one that he’s actually learned at all. We do this almost every time we’re in this tournament and he keeps on trotting out the same bog-standard bullshit about the strategy.

Those who defend it call it risk averse, but the fact is, we’re chancing here with our co-efficient points, which affects whether we get automatic qualification at all, and which in any case keep us stuck in perennial Pot 4 Hell.

Regular readers know I’m not some mad fantasist who expects us to get to European finals, and they’ll know my expectations for this group were low enough that I won’t be giving the team a hard time for not performing miracles.

I don’t believe any amount of money will bridge the gap between us being Pot 3 regulars and a guaranteed spot in Pot 2 … that we’re not even capable of Pot 3 is something I can’t defend and won’t defend.

Last night, we were desperately unlucky to go in 1-0 down at half time, and the inexperience of the new guys showed almost as soon as they were on the pitch. I feel tremendous sympathy of the two sending offs, and Lagerbeikle in particular as I can already see the writing on the wall and his being targeted by the media and a section of our fan-base which loves nothing more than somebody they can beat on and blame for whatever goes wrong.

But the manager, who organised the team brilliantly last night and is doubtless very frustrated more than anything else, has to now lift this team for a massive game at the weekend, and it’s a game we need to win to keep our forward momentum up on the home front.

Europe is going to be a series of games to be endured rather than enjoyed; we are massively out of our weight class here, in spite of that I thought we were well in it until the red cards.

I am not going to say I’m proud of them. I’m not, because a manager has to say it because he needs to keep morale high amongst the players, but deep down he knows that’s an admission of defeat; that’s settling for. And we shouldn’t do that.

But I’m not going to blame them either because for some of them they’re at the bottom of a very steep learning curve. I’d say they’ll get there, but our policy actually revolves around selling them the moment they do, so maybe it’s not something we should be hoping for.

In the meantime, the media will paint it as a disaster and the start of Armageddon and they will question Celtic’s record and Rodgers’ record and blah blah blah … we are the only club in this country that ever gets held to account for defeats on this stage.

The only one.

When the Ibrox club crashed out of this competition before the Group Stages they did so in far more damaging fashion than we lost last night, and the hacks fell over themselves to suggest that it might be a “blessing in disguise.”

We get no such benefit of the doubt. And you know what? I don’t want it either.

But a little balance, fairness and common sense … is that too much to ask?

From our hacks? Apparently so.

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  • Johnny Green says:

    Apart from the fact that we should not be conceding free kicks in dangerous areas, I do blame Joe Hart for being badly positioned on his line and giving himself no chance of covering the distance to the ball’s flight. Other than that, we played better than I had originally anticipated, in fact we had a great first half before circumstances turned against us. I was not overly impressed with Feyenoord either, they never really lived up to the hype they were afforded before kick off and I can see them struggling in the games yet to come. We can take positives form this our first game, that we were not expected to win, onwards and upwards, we will improve as the group progresses.

  • Bob (original) says:

    I have zero sympathy for Holm: no CFC player should be going in studs up.

    From a bright new start with BR’s return,

    to a very disappointing game and result.

    …and, like a broken record, we should have brought in a new keeper

    if we had any real European ambition, IMO.

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Media can’t hide their smug delight at us losin last night. Not a shred of credit. They’re an out and out fuckin joke. Of course, it’s all tae dae with their ibrox favourites bein totally dismantled and humiliated by PSV. Clearly the thing they don’t want tae admit here, was how well we were doin (even after the huge blow just before HT), until we made our own 5 minute downfall. It’s fkn FEAR thats their problem, they wouldn’t have enjoyed watchin us matchin a form European side like this and away from home, so they take any kind of solace they can. Tho we basically created our own problems, ahm mostly pleased how our team played last night and we weren’t humiliated or outclassed. It’s the positives this media are shittin theirselves about and don’t want tae recognize.

  • Martin says:

    Several points, I’ll try and be brief and not to come across as sour grapes as that’s not my intention. Overall 2 nil seemed a fair result.

    1. Liam Scales was magnificent last night. Utterly magnificent.

    2. Technical point, but their first goal (yes, Kyogo being that part of the wall was stupid and cost us) should not have stood. When a wall has 3 or more players all attacking players must be at least 1 metre from the wall until the ball is in play. The Feyenoord number 33 is much closer to the wall and actually makes contact with Kyogo as the ball is being struck. I genuinely expected VAR to overturn it. Ah well

    3. On the subject… The media kept saying we got “Let off” by their 2 goals being disallowed. That’s not being let off, that’s the rules applying correctly. A goal scored from an offside position isn’t a valid goal. It’s not a lucky break for us, it’s our offside trap working.

    4. I can’t argue with any of the cards, and frankly at Lagerbielke’s 2nd yellow CalMac makes a TV screen sign to the ref and was lucky not to get his own 2nd yellow for that, Uefa have a zero tolerance approach to that this year. Holm’s straight red was correct and utterly needless. Inexperience, as you say.

    5. Feyenoord have been winning games by 4,5 and 6 goals this season. And that’s in a league better than ours. 2-0 in this context is actually OK. Especially with the squad we have and their levels of experience.

    6. If the Celtic board genuinely want us to make an impact in Europe, they need to accept that buying some players who are already the finished article is essential.

  • John L says:

    We were unlucky as I believe, that team were there for the taking and giving the way we played Real Madrid last season with a fully fit squad and a system we were used to , we would have pumped them , injuries aside we can hold our heads up as it doesn’t stink of a 5-1 total failure. Hail Hail. And the hacks can continue brown nosing that tribute act until it collapses round about them.

  • Hugh Reilly says:

    You’re in a miniscule minority by exonerating Hart of blame for first goal. Martin O’Neill and Jermain jenas also partly blamed him, so Lennon was not alone in giving a professional player’s opinion. The goalkeeper is responsible for making the wall. Kyogo should never have been there. That’s on Hart. Failing to stop a ball hit from almost 30 yards out, a ball that bounces on the way in, was poor. The ball didn’t even go in at the post! I agree with you totally in every other aspect of your article. The board knew our keeper was suspect and that we needed to buy experienced pros, not prospects.

  • Stevie says:

    I wouldn’t expect any balanced reporting from the hun media. PSV pump them and all we hear is realistically the level we should be at is Europa League? Aye right. The 2 lads sent off were project signings and not made by the manager but by the so called recruitment team on a day where it’s being reported by the board about reported ground breaking revenue income. I would question however, Joe Hart with all his years of experience, even allowed Kyogo to be in that wall. It’s the goalkeeper who sets up the wall and Hart should know better. Again though, we said during the transfer window that we needed a new Keeper. This is on the board and Lawwell in particular.

  • Michael McCartney says:

    Agree with most of what you say James, The only thing I would slightly disagree with is that I think Joe Hart left too much of a gap to his left and should have been a bit more active in getting his wall organised, and for our players not to noise up the two Feyenoord players in the wall but instead give them free rein to leave a big gap was ridiculous. Sometimes I feel we’re just too nice on the park this is probably down to inexperience.
    The Lagerbielke penalty incident was a ridiculous decision, Every week in top professional football defenders hold off attacking players when putting their arms across the opponents body, 99% of the time referees accept that as part of the game, not last night from officials, who like you say, seemed to be too desperate to be noticed. The Feyenoord player conned them by feigning injury to his face.
    I’m still hopeful we can get 3rd place in the group and still be in Europe after Christmas, to be honest the Europa League is probably our level at this time. A special mention to Liam Scales, the lad has performed really well and is bedded in as part of the 1st team squad now.
    The next 5 League games are so important and we’ve got to get our domestic hat on and show we’re still by far the best in Scotland.

    • Martin says:

      Sorry Michael, but it was a penalty and a yellow. I do the Uefa video packages every day, near enough, and at least 1 in every 20 clips is an accidental touch of the face by a player holding off an opponent. Uefa want these punished by yellows. Inexperience from Gus who really should’ve just left it for Hart.

  • Scouse bhoy says:

    We were doing ok then a stupid needless foul on the stroke of half time gave them a lift. Players need to learn how foolish this is the same thing happened last season against the new club when we were one nil up near the half time whistle.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    And yet some illiterate Celtic fans will still financially support The Scottish Football Media…

    I know as I ‘catch’ these said Hoops fans buying Scottish papers from time to time –

    And I hear on occasion an ‘odd’ Celtic supporter saying in the pub “I see in The Record it says” –

    Wise up those Tic fans that still financially support them please !


      If they’re ’ illiterate ‘ WTF are they buying the rags for?

    • king murdy says:

      do you sit outside newsagent’s and watch for known tic supporters emerging with a daily newspaper that you don’t approve of ????
      and anyway, what exactly is an illiterate individual buying a newspaper for….?
      so we should begin a media police ?
      i don’t need a biased media to inform me that CFC’s performance’s in a match are pathetic…like your fukn post.
      CFC are absolute shite when we step outside scottish football……and have been for years….thanks to the dividend savvy board….

  • Johnno says:

    Sorry James but must have been watching a totally different game myself.
    Admire trying to defend our club against the eejits within the Scottish media, but surely you don’t think we were excellent in the 1st half?
    On night’s like last night and within games such as these, we have to have our better and more experienced players to step up, not making basic simple mistakes in giving the ball away so easily, which in turn filtered throughout the team.
    Calmac and hatate were needed to set the standards required and both failed miserably.
    To give away such a ridiculous goal, with the timing of it, was criminal and in turn drained the confidence that was building against a very average team at best.
    How Hart sets up a wall remains his responsibility, and yet he totally gets it so wrong. Fair enough in redeeming himself with the peno save but a mountain had been created for ourselves to climb by then.
    At no time before the sending offs did we really have a foothold within the game, with trying to live off scraps in an attacking sence.
    So are we going to continue with making younger inexperienced players scapegoats, when our more senior members within the squad, including the management team, all let themselves badly down on the night also?
    If this is the intention of Rodgers in setting this celtic team up as a 4231 formation, then yes questions can and should be asked regarding the recruitment policy during the summer?
    Don’t like this team formation whatsoever, and just a reminder of the shite lenny served us up with playing the same style of football with the same team set up?
    Expected far better with Rodgers calling the shots, sadly just not seeing it at present which is a very concerning matter that still has to be addressed and very very quickly at this stage imo.

  • SSMPM says:

    No more than expected really, that’s the performance and the journo response.
    We put the effort in but flattered to deceive with the usual grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory through misfortune, inexperience and a splattering of self harm.
    The bigot journos and pundits in the press and media try to mask their favoured team’s failure by the usual transference of their catastrophic performances and world beating record results on our 9 man 2 – nil defeat away from home. It’s their only pleasure because they ain’t getting any from their bag of shite in blue.
    It always makes me laugh when they go into a match with such Great British optimism from their Great British team, get skelped, then highlight how we are, as the Scottish premiership representatives, the worst example of how bad Scottish football teams are neglecting to mention or highlight that worst team in Europe trophy they brought back last year.
    We have a good midfield and fine forwards but we all know the failings of this team still lie at the back and no cheap replacement project players can mask that. Hopefully we will have a few back for the Lazio game minus of course the sending offs.
    Forwards win matches, defenders win championships and trophies. HH

  • Henriksgoldenboot says:

    James, I am truly surprised you didn’t start this piece also with one of your rants and tenuous links to Trump! Starting to think you have an unhealthy obsession with him, a bit like the unhealthy obsession the MSM has with us!

    Which brings me to my point. We could have (easily) and probably should have taken a point away from that game last night, and that was the most naive part of last night for me. That Feyenoord team were pretty average and we have nothing to fear from them. But I suspect that still wouldn’t have been good enough for the rabid teeth gnashers in the media.

    As you have said and said before (and something I happen to agree with) is that these stories are coming from people who really haven’t got a clue what they are talking about. I also agree with you that the officials last night made this about them, I personally thought that was one of the worst games I have ever watched in Europe where the officiating is concerned. I had to turn it off near the end.

    My other concern is that I thought Rodgers got it very wrong last night with the starting lineup. Hatate looked a million miles off being fit and gave the ball away countless times. Palma flattered to deceive and looked like a poor man’s Elyounoussi, he has no pace which is a worry. And he should have started with Yang. Also we needed experience at this level at the back. 3 out of 4 hadn’t played this level before. Nat Phillips should have been in there. And the sooner we get a replacement for Taylor at this level the better. Anyway, I’m off for a quick break to Mar-a-lago until next time. Thank you and God bless.

    • James Forrest says:

      I used an analogy. It just happened to be about him.

      What’s your issue with me mentioning him? You a Trump fan are you?

      • Henriksgoldenboot says:

        No not a fan in the slightest James. Merely an observation, but I don’t see you attacking Biden or in particular his son, Hunter who has also openly treated women contemptuously more recently than Trump has.

        • James Forrest says:

          Oh please. There is NO EQUIVALENCE there whatsoever. Pull your head out of your arse. That’s a preposterous statement.

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Strange how all we were hearin in the run up tae this game, especially from the media, was how ‘in form’ Feyenoord were and how they were scorin goals for fun in the Eredivisie. Now the same mob are all makin out, what a bang average team they are. Time’ll tell how far Feyenoord progress and how good they are. Tho where we’re concerned, considerin it was 1st game, away from home and still a very weakened CD we were playin with and that’s nae disrespect tae Liam Scales, who’s been doin really well, or tbf Lagerbielke, who ah thought had coped well until the sendin off. Imo there were more positives on how we went about that game, especially up until the 1st goal.

    • James Forrest says:

      Yep, you called it right mate. We played a quality team last night and yet they didn’t even get the second until we had nine men on the pitch.

      No way we were ever getting credit though.

  • Martin says:

    I’ve seen a lot of negativity from celtic fans and the media for a scrappy defeat away from home in our game against the POT 1 team. On paper this was our hardest game, away against the highest seeded team of the group. And but for a few daft moment our team with depleted defence matched up pretty well. Lots to learn orf course but I don’t think we should be too downhearted. We will grow into these games and even if it’s not this season, I do think we will improve in results in

    • John says:

      How the hell is that our hardest away game ? away to athletico and Lazio ,give your head a wobble, think 2-0 was bad ? There’s worse to come.

  • Michael McCartney says:

    “Not a fan in the slightest” you could have fooled me. Anyone with one iota of intelligence could tell that Trump is one of the biggest con men and narcissist whoever lived.
    Dangerous to, in trying to overturn a legally held US Presidential Election with the brute force of his deranged right wing followers.
    There’s a difference between playing devils advocate and defending the indefensible.

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