It turned into a very bad Sunday for Celtic and manager Brendan Rodgers as despite going into the game against Hearts in good spirits following on from the midweek 2-1 victory over Feyenoord in the Champions League, we inexplicably and rather limply went 2-0 down at Celtic Park to register our second domestic defeat of the 2023/24 campaign.
Captain Callum McGregor, Matt O’Riley and Liam Scales were the only players really who avoided criticism as Rodgers met the media after the defeat, but that will prove to be an issue for fans as ahead of the game, O’Riley was being linked with a potential big money move to English Premier League side Newcastle United, despite prior to the game, Rodgers’ main talk had been about adding quality players to the group so we could kick on and more properly get back to our best. The best betting site may have given slightly more favourable odds on some players arriving, but fans will be doubting that now with how our form has turned.
The victory over Feyenoord seemed to buoy the gaffer in a search for more ‘quality’ so results like that became common place, and also so that we did not have to wait for a home European win again for another long decade.
“What we’ve shown at home is that we could very easily have been on nine points from our games. We’ve shown potential, but You need to add quality and if we’re going to progress, which I want us to do, then, hopefully, we can do that over the coming windows.”
Rodgers went on to say that although the Champions League now came to an end for us, the remainder of the domestic campaign was a test for us as it was part of the ‘process’ that would help improve our European ambitions – so the Hearts result in many ways now is an absolute double whammy for those fans who felt that maybe a little bit of a marker had been laid down, even if it had been a far from perfect European adventure.
With Hearts also being a must win in many ways after our last Scottish Premiership stumble, Rodgers knew there was little he could do other than flat out apologise for the performance that fans had just seen, as it was nowhere near where it should have been.
“It’s an apology to the support. I don’t think I’ve ever had to do that in all my time here. The performance today was nowhere near the level of what is expected of a Celtic player and a Celtic team.”
Rodgers went on to question the ‘desire’ ‘drive’ ‘intensity’ of our play, knowing that we were naive in defence and quite frankly, could have played all day and not got close to testing their goalkeeper.
“I’m surprised at home that we produce that level of performance. It disappoints me greatly. We’ve not shown the necessary determination and the passive nature of it with and without the ball was a concern. It’s a really sore one for the fans.”
Taking a look at the top flight table will now be another sore one given the advantage we did hold on those below us, and not that long ago either really, and the next two games are absolutely must win now – there cannot be another stumble.
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