Injuries To Our Wide Players Expose The Full Folly Of Celtic’s Asian Cup Gamble.

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Celtic fans are concerned. About everything. Most are not concerned to the extent that they are going to disappear into a spiral of doom and gloom like some posts online today, but we would be mad not to be a little bit worried.

There are mitigating factors. Some, anyway.

Take three players like Abada, Maeda and Hatate out of any team and they are a lesser side because of it.

That’s the reality.

Look at the backup options we have, now currently getting games, and the problem becomes even more obvious. Palma looks like quality; we can excuse him.

But Forrest is now in his mid 30’s and no longer has the energy to get up and down the pitch as he once did. The less said about Mikey Johnston the better.

If Maeda and Abada were fit, we could have eased Tilio and Yang into this team slowly, and we might soon have seen decent footballers. But the Korean has been thrown into the deep water and, to be honest, he is floundering a little. Tilio arrived unfit and doesn’t look fit yet.

He missed pre-season training.

So we look well short of quality out wide.

The problem with that, of course, is that much of our game is played out wide and most of our attacking starts on the wing. There is an obvious issue with the playing style, and Rodgers is aware of that.

Yesterday he spoke about wanting the players to cut out the side to side passing and move the ball forward at speed; exactly what many fans have complained about.

So he recognises one of the key issues, but it’s not the only one.

Oh was poor yesterday, but you saw Kyogo when he came on and he wasn’t much better.

He’s so far off the pace right now that those criticising the manager for dropping him should ask themselves when the last time was that we saw Kyogo produce?

You can’t leave a guy in the team every week who isn’t getting the job done.

So, what are the options going forward?

Well, until Maeda and Abada are back in contention, we’re stuck with what we’ve got and the pace and the power in our attack is going to be severely lessened as a result of that. Right now, we can’t go to the transfer market either … we have a problem and we’re stuck with that problem for now.

The real concern isn’t even this run towards the window.

If we’re not getting the job done right now, we’re going to be a lot less able to do it come the Asian Cup, when Kyogo, Maeda, Hatate, Oh and Yang will all be away.

People at the club completely underestimate the enormity of that problem, but a lot of us have been talking about it for a long time.

Think of how poor we look going forward right now.

Abada will be back, but how fit will he be?

Take out our first and second choice strikers, our best attacking midfielder, Maeda if he’s fit will be away for another month and then Yang as well, removing one of our backups and literally leaving us with the choice between James Forrest and Johnston.

We probably an injury to Luis Palma away from those being our first picks for a month of hard games, on which our entire season could very easily flounder.

That is the consequence of a transfer policy run by the bean-counters instead of basing it on the needs of the football department. That’s the real horror of the summer transfer window. Our one cushion, going into that spell, was the lead in the league, which is now largely gone.

Do we need to sign another wide player in January, as well as a striker?

Looking at the squad, that might come across as overkill. But on the right our backup to Abada is Yang, and Yang isn’t ready to take on that role as recent weeks have proved. That leaves us with Forrest, nearing the end of his career.

We absolutely need another right sided option.

We’ve been absolutely exposed on the right side of the pitch. And Maeda’s injury has shown us what little we have on the left side as well.

On the left, our backup to Maeda is Palma.

Palma is a cracking player, but he’s not physically aggressive and he lacks pace. I can see him playing at some point as a number 10; that’s not where we are right now because we need him wide left. Behind them is Johnston and that’s simply not going to do at all. We cannot keep stockpiling players but you can’t look at the balance out wide and conclude that we’re as strong as we could be.

Without a wide player as well as a striker in January, we might not win this league. That’s a serious concern now, and that’s in the hands of the people who run this club, the people who signed three wide players over the summer, only one of which actually looks good enough to play at the moment.

It is not their fault that we lost Abada and Maeda to injury, but it is absolutely their fault that two of those three signings – Yang and Tilio – are eligible to play in the Asian Cup. They went for cheap options from Asia instead of targeting European leagues, with that competition in mind.

The loss of crucial points yesterday ought to be focussing minds on what’s gone wrong here, and how it can be fixed and part of what’s gone wrong is that with the injuries to Abada, Hatate and Maeda we are less potent as an attacking team and less able to pull defences out of their shape and get the ball inside the box to Kyogo and Oh.

That has exposed how threadbare the options out wide are, and the full lunacy of not properly preparing for a far more dangerous scenario in January-February should now be readily apparent even to those who claim that our club is ready for that.

We’re pretty damned far from ready, and we have to hit the ground running in January or we’re playing Russian Roulette.

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  • Gordon Raeburn says:

    Palma is a cracking player ? I haven’t been watching the same player.

    • Gus Disgustit says:

      He can ping a decent flyer from outside the box now and again but that’s about it and an injury to him could leave us with Mikey Johnston and Forrest as our sole wingers for the duration of the Asian Cup …

      Now isn’t that beyond either ridicule or disgrace, one our ageing ‘legs going” has-been and the other our ‘never gonna make’ it wannabe and Abada either still injured or has downed tools after the support for Palestine?

      Still, we have 73 million in the bank, plus the 30 million incoming for our annual Champions League embarrassment, so who needs actual players on the park when you’ve that big of lovely jubbly to leech off?

  • Hans says:

    James – understand your concern. I really do. But for a moment look at the only other club capable (I’d argue incapable) of winning the league. They don’t have a prolific striker. They have a horrendous injury list. They are prone to leaking goals. Honestly? Their “challenge” will evaporate very quickly. Probably even before the year end derby. We have been disappointing this season and yesterday we were dreadful. But any talk of a “title race” is very wide of the mark.

    • king murdy says:

      are you for real ???
      that incapable team you mention….would it be the huns by any chance ? the very same “incapable team” that have reduced a deficit of 9 points to 5 points – with a game in hand…the only team, in this 2 horse race, which performance’s have evaporated is celtic fc……ffs….then you have the neck to say we are not in a title race ????
      some people…..ffs.
      you do know that santa is not real ?….waken up mate….we are in trouble here….

    • Woodyiom says:

      “They don’t have a prolific striker. They have a horrendous injury list. They are prone to leaking goals.” Rangers fans can literally say the same thing about Celtic right now !!!!

      Since Clément’s appointment they have only dropped two points at Aberdeen and IF they win next weekend the boost they’ll get from that is huge. Are they a great team? No! But they don’t have to be to beat the majority of SPL teams and then the league comes down to the derby games which currently we don’t look too physically well-equipped for.

      Thinking title-race talk is wide of the mark is exactly the thinking that causes a title race to occur. We should treat every game as a must-win and do exactly that – WIN IT!!

  • Clara says:

    Hans, they have refs who will give them penalties at the slightest excuse and totally ignore giving any against them, they dive at the slightest touch and are awarded fouls that no one else would get. Its not just the number of penalties they get its the timings of these penalties, 89 mins and getting beat 1 – 0 or drawing 1-1 and you can guarantee a penalty and excess extra time added.

  • Jack says:

    In addition to the Asian cup problems. If the huge Palestinian flag keeps getting unfurled, Abada may choose not to play for us again.


    All just to let the buns get CL automatic qualification.

    This upcoming confluence of challenging circumstances is no mere accident of fate, mere happenstance.
    No the ‘Bean Counters ‘ have done their sums. £72M in the bank ok that will tide us over through Season 24/25.

    They were fully aware of the forthcoming Asian games and of the near certainty that most if not all of our Far Eastern
    contingent would be involved. The Board made a conscious decision to not to strengthen our Squad to to deal with that or the long-standing imbalance in the existing squad.

    Things that we saw as troubling even during St Agnes’s tenure were not addressed.
    Goal keeper, Central defensive midfielder, left back and First Team ready Striker Things that should have been addressed during the Summer ignored and a job lot of prospects secured instead.

    This is deliberate Policy from the Board. PL’s fingerprints are all over it. Got to keep the ‘O@@ F@@m Shoite going.
    As for Lawwell junior well he’s played a blinder. Won’t be long before his ascension to the Board Room.

  • Johnno says:

    Our plans as a team are always going to effect the overall structure of the team?
    To many expecting the big money signings, yet only a couple of positions for them to slot into, if everyone was available?
    To get the bigger money signings, surely they would want some form of guarantee about starting role’s within the team?
    So for instance James, Maeda or Abada on the right, if both were available, then how much would it cost to buy another wide right player of equal quality or even better?
    Certainly would be out of our price range, regarding a recognised name?
    That approach could be said for a number of positions within the squad currently imo,even if not totally completed as of yet?
    The structure of the team set up, along with the style of play has been so inconsistent that to many questions are starting to arise about the methods Rodgers is trying to introduce, I would say?
    What are the methods Rodgers wants, to even look for the player’s required?
    Must admit to be at a total loss myself, as can’t make out the identity of this Celtic team whatsoever currently?
    We have turned in decent performances, where so many have contributed, then followed up by such shite?
    I know this is a trait that’s to be expected within the younger players to build up the consistency levels?
    Yet at a total loss as to why they remain so high within the established players currently?
    The winter break wont impact ourselves as much as you thinking James imo, especially with the winter break and cup match against Buckie?
    Would be looking at a Japan v Korea final to maybe impact ourselves, and can hardly see any of our player’s being overworked on game time, either during the tournament imo?
    Agreed that a few positions could do with getting addressed during January, but would prefer to start seeing this Celtic team find it’s structure and identity before January?
    Certainly would help to identify where the strengthening is required overall, as it’s a bit of a heep and up in the air currently imo,and needs to be resolved quickly also, as enough time now for getting a better indication of what direction this team intends to be going under the guidance of Rodgers?

  • John L says:

    Yip, and it’s the same people who will cry their F,n eyes out if they don’t get the Champions League Money to BANK.

  • Jim says:

    Totally agree James, gorging on Asian internationals was an idiot mistake.

    Suddenly we seem to have a lot of problems. It’s not just that we are threadbare on the wing and attack. The midfield is full of players who will spray it around at parkhead but who don’t have the dig for away games at difficult grounds when the opposition is competing well for the ball.
    It is time to see if Iwata is part of the answer here.
    And what about the big Korean midfielder that was signed in the summer? Did we sign him or was I hallucinating?

    And will both of them leave for the Asian Cup too?

    What a guddle.

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