Artmedia 5 – 0 Celtic?!?!?!?
This was the worst performance I can remember by a Celtic side in Europe or anywhere else for that matter. Sure there have been some disasters at home against Rangers and Caley Thistle to name but two, as well as the crash against Nuechatel Xamax…
So, what did go wrong this time?
Well, some will say it all went wrong when Chris Sutton was stretchered off. This certainly had an impact but it not enough for us to lose so heavily.
There are also some commentators who are already calling for WGS’s head. To them I say, behave! He’s only just started in the job and it has been clear for some time the team needed rebuilding – since before MON left. Some new blood has been brought in and it will take time for the newcomers to settle into the squad. So, give WGS a chance.
The biggest problem is clearly Celtic’s back line. Defensively, the team has been creaking for the last 6 months at least and the gaps in the centre were once again exposed. Messrs Balde and Varga were caught out of position too many times and were just too slow to keep up with the Artmedia attack. Indeed at one point, Bobo charged forward on a fairly impressive attacking run but was left winded in the centre circle for far too long afterwards. The problem when both he and Stan Varga make forward runs is that they take too long to get back into position. I thought Paul Telfer looked promising and I’m sure he’ll settle in over the next few games. I’m not sure about Mo Camara yet – he clearly has pace but his positional sense needs work, perhaps that will come with a few more games under his belt.
In midfield, things were better but with reservations. Of course, Alan Thomson is not fully fit but that will certainly be sorted over the coming weeks. And with the addition of Nakamura we should certainly see an improvement. Neil Lennon is always reliable and I though he was last night though again he needs to settle after the summer break. Sutton would no doubt have been his dominant self if he hadn’t been carried off, though I think he should be playing up front.
John Hartson still lacks pace but he looks trimmer than he has in a while and despite some detractors, I think his goal-scoring record speaks for itself as does his strength, but what he really needs is a nippy wee partner to feed off the balls he flicks on. Bellamy was never really there for this season but new bhoy Aliadiere is and looks a hot prospect. And let’s not forget Shaun Maloney who is pretty useful up front – though he lacks the sharpness that only regular play will bring.
On the whole, the ability is there – even in defence (which will no doubt be bolstered by the return of John Kennedy and the introduction of Adam Virgo). But the big miss last night was the will to win that so typified the MON era. Celtic were there in body but not spirit for much of the game and I think this is the thing WGS needs to address. Perhaps there is a hangover here from the last minute loss (literally) of the SPL title and the departure of MON, in which case WGS will just need to pass round the paracetamol and black coffee, as well as administering a few swift kicks to a couple of backsides. But he’ll need time to do that.
Of course, he doesn’t have much of that commodity as we return to the scene of the crime on Saturday – Motherwell at Fir Park, in case anyone doesn’t know – where a resounding bounce back is essential. The Champions league has surely slipped from our grasp this year but there’s still a SPL title to regain as well as a cup to defend and a cup to win back. If WGS can get just two of those in his first season he’ll be doing well. If he can emulate MON’s first season so much the better but he will need time and MORE MONEY to do that. So though it all went horribly wrong last night, all is far from lost!
Keep the faith!