Celtic, The Champions League And Suicidal Tendencies.

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Weak. So very, very weak.

Mentally weak perhaps, like that Hearts team at Ibrox losing an equaliser in the last minute and then handing them three points.

The idea was not to concede early. We did that. To keep our discipline. We couldn’t. To not self-destruct, which we do.

Maeda’s red card will be called out as another example of VAR screwing us, but I am really not interested in that. It’s a terrible decision, terrible, and they are one of the most cynical teams in Europe but that’s not why we’re out.

Palma’s booking, which rules him out for Napoli, is an atrocious decision but it’s the way this competition has gone for us.

And of course, we concede at the end of the half, wrecking any chance we have of getting in at the break, reorganising and standing some remote chance of grabbing something from the game. The second half was a shambles.

Absolutely abysmal and there are no excuses for it.

If we’re focussing on VAR tonight and that red card we’re ignoring other issues and we ought not to be doing that because VAR was not our biggest problem.

Yes, we were overmatched by a much better side, but we have suicidal tendencies at this level and when you do some of this stuff you get punished for it. How many more punishments should our support need to endure before the penny drops?

Why can our players not just keep their heads and not panic under pressure? Do we go out onto the pitch in these games with a defeatist mentality, so that when the inevitable early goal is conceded we revert to frustration and starting to flap?

Why are they incapable of keeping cool and playing through it? Part of it is not having the right personnel and we didn’t need to see this game tonight to know it.

I think Hart was pretty terrible.

That we are still relying on him when people knew last season that we needed a replacement is pretty shocking.

Greg Taylor should not be playing at this level.

He’s a good player, nowhere near good enough for this though.

Paolo Bernardo is a decent footballer, but he’s a Benfica project player who had barely kicked a first team ball, forced on a manager who needed a midfield enforcer.

I get tired of the sound of my own voice on this front; the boss was lamentably, shockingly, let down this summer by a board which brags on its financial performance whilst that of the team on the pitch continues to slide in a manner which is unforgivable when it doesn’t have to be this way.

Rodgers himself was weak in allowing that. This is his reputation they are playing Russian Roulette with and he ought never to have let them do it. Whatever he thought he was coming here to do, it was not this.

If he doesn’t get some of his players in January, we could be heading for a big showdown between him and the upper echelons and in case they haven’t noticed, they are not the most popular people amongst our support right now, and it doesn’t matter whether or not that’s fair, it’s a fact and they will ignore that at their peril.

But what really nags at me is this mental weakness, this inferiority complex, because that’s part of it. You saw it in that second half; we came out as if we’d already been beat, we accepted that fate, we stopped even trying to play and what was already heading towards being a bad night turned into a farcical one.

It is unacceptable for a Celtic team to chuck it in that fashion.

And yet we’ve seen it at this level over and over again.

Rodgers knows neurolinguistics, but that’s nowhere near as effective as bringing in a good sports psychologist would be, and I think we could do worse than to plant one of those in the operation, just so long as the boss signs off on it, and why wouldn’t he?

I’ve spent the week writing about clubs in our league with lower-case ambition. I know that at this level our own club is guilty of it.

The board refuses to even try and improve our chances, and the players get paralysed like rabbits in the headlights when things don’t go their way. At Celtic Park against Lazio something happened to the team the moment the Palma goal was chopped off, and you could almost see the sucker punch coming.

It’s all well and good accepting that we’re not at the level of Atletico Madrid, and that no amount of money we spend will bring us up to their standard; that’s not the point. Eleven men went onto that pitch tonight against another eleven men, and if the lesser team can keep calm and do the right things it has a chance.

When it meekly accepts that status it has none.

It’s all the things we don’t do to give ourselves the best chance, all the ways in which we seem to accept our fate almost like every other team in this country bar one does before the season even starts, that rankles.

Celtic is a Pot 4 side right now and we act like one. In our mental weaknesses we play as if we believe that’s our level, but in fact Pot 3 is more than possible for us and it’s where we should be and would be if we got our act together.

From there, you try to be all you can be. Shock enough of the Pot 2 sides and you put yourselves on the brink of that.

It’s a long and difficult road, made much harder by our own unwillingness even to try. What point is there in being at this level?

To put money in the bank as if we were a multi-national for-profit?

Where is the merit in that? We’re a football team and this is what football teams live for, this level, nights like these.

Except that we don’t because we’re just here to make up the numbers and it’s almost like the whole club accepts that before going out there.

And they shouldn’t, not at Celtic.

If things are going to change, they have to start there, in the heads of these guys.

Whether people think this is our level or not, here we are, and as long as we are I want to see us act as if we take that seriously, as if we belong.

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  • john clarke says:

    Weak performance by a weaker team than last year.
    Pundits say Celtic lacks depth. You say no and put your case well.
    There are last years Bench and Loan players starting this year. Josip, Giorgos,
    Jota, Carl and Ben Doak would walk into this team. Vicario is like a Panther “in goal”,
    You are right about Joe.
    He is still one of the most gracious and generous men in British Football.
    Brendan and his group have a lot of work to do.

  • Peter Cassidy says:

    Here we go again we sold Jota for £25 million bought replacement £3.5 million maybe spent £7/10 million we would get a decent ready player .Taylor ok for spl level like a few players in this team hart well past his sell by date Rodgers went along with the board on the summer buying on most projects players and he knows what standard of players you need for the cl so part blame him also plus his tactics well below what’s required we will not win the cl but a least show some spirit and win some games over the last few years we have been very very poor and getting worse.

  • Jamesy Healt says:

    Article is spot on , I’ve been saying this and get castigated when I do. The board absolutely love when fans rattle off the old “we don’t want to go broke like them over in govan” line. That’s not what we’re asking. Why the fuck waste 6 million on three players who may or may not come good ?
    Spend the six million on one decent player FFS. He has a better chance of “coming good” and we’ll still make handy profit when the time comes.
    Also this cycle will continue forever and always as long as we keep developing players only to flog em the minute they start playing at a regular solid performance level.
    I’ve never understood the mentality of selling your best players for profit when there’s plenty money to be made in the CL if you make a decent fist of it. I’m afraid this is doomed to continue as long as we operate like this.

  • Pat says:

    Picking on Hart who kept the score from being double figures? Picking on Taylor? Easy targets.

  • William McGrandles says:

    You pretty much covered the conversation of my Son and I after the game 2nd half was a disgrace no heart no fight totally agree on your assessment of big Joe as much as I like him Taylor not even close to being a champions league player substitutions baffled us my son was screaming it’s 11 men v11 men stand up and be counted the last time I felt this bad was the 1970 European Cup Final I was 12 ?

  • Torky58 says:

    James I agree with you 100%, since Seville we’ve been to the knockout stages of the Champions League twice, twice in twenty years and that’s the length of time this board’s been guiding our club. It’s now no surprise why Brendan walked the first time because they wouldn’t back him and if they don’t back him in January we could see him walk again and this time who could blame him. We’ve got world class facilities, a world class manager and a team that can mop up domestically but the manager’s not given the tools to make us a world class team. £70million in the bank and we’re as good as out of Europe because we won’t win in Rome and I think Feyenoord will fancy beating us at Celtic Park too. The only way to get better is buy better players, I’m not saying break the bank but if you buy a few at £6/£7million then you’ll get slightly better which in turn will get you further in the tournament which will get you more money to buy better players etcetera, etcetera. You’ve got to speculate to accumulate as the old saying goes and this board flatly refuses to do that and that’s unforgivable for me.

  • Tom Paterson says:

    It’s a weird one because it’s been going on for decades, different players, different managers but still the same old results . Is it too simplistic to say we are jinxed at this level.

  • Michael Clark says:

    Maybe we need to except that Celtic are not a Champions league team. For the past decade our record in this competition is abysmal. Celtic quite simply can’t afford the type of player that’s required to progress in this competition, we don’t have the money these other clubs have. That is unfortunately the position Celtic Football Club are in. There’s no money in Scottish football.

  • Paul Kelly says:

    My opinion for what it’s worth is that Rodgers signed up for this. He left a few years ago whining and bitching about not being supported, now he’s back, shiny new contract, and stands silent when he’s allowed to sign zero players. Why doesn’t anyone think this is odd anyone reasonable would think he’s removed the old issues via a new contract. Personally I think they’ve got him on a Knutsen contract, commission for every player he developes and sells. All overseen and purchased by the board. I’d be delighted if anyone can tell me (given the evidence) why I’m wrong.

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