November 23, 2009
Normally when I blog after a Celtic defeat, I try to look at the positives from the performance. I also do my best to remind people that Mowbray needs time in his new role, and that the squad he is using is still that of the former manager. However, after yesterday’s collapse at Dundee United, even I’m becoming fed up with reading and writing that.
For the first time since he took over, I’m questioning whether Mowbray is actually up to the job. Yes, there were periods of the game where we were well on top. Mogga is probably right in his post-match assessment that the ‘best team lost’, and I’m sure he has stats to back himself up. However, football matches are won with goals, not statistics. And when I think about our defence, quite frankly I despair.
Once again, two basic goals conceded because of a lack of a commanding centre half. Who was organising the defence at the two corners? Why were there two free headers from 5 yards out? Why didn’t we learn from the chance they had earlier in the half when they hit our crossbar? All of these questions need to be addressed, and very, very quickly.
As an ex centre-half himself, Mowbray must be tearing his hair out. We are quite possibly the worst defensively that I can ever remember us being, and some of the goals scored against us are so simple I wouldn’t fancy us to keep a clean sheet against my nephew’s under 10s side.
Before I begin to rant, I’m going to try and look for any positives yesterday. Well, that’s that done because as far as I’m concerned there weren’t any. (Actually, that’s a bit harsh. Hinkel played ok, as did N’Guemo and McGeady was decent first half, whilst Robson was decent second) But let’s be honest, we can’t have an entire team of passengers and expect to win silverware. it just isn’t going to happen. However, the biggest problems at the moment are certainly at the back.
It’s clear to me that Gary Caldwell’s contract demands have got to him, and they are affecting his performance. Unusually, I’m with the board on this one. Gary Caldwell does not deserve a new contract. I’m certain we can find a better defender than him for the kind of money he’s after. He’s been shocking for both Celtic and Scotland this season, and I’d suggest we get him out in January. Then we have McManus, who is also a liability in my opinion, and I’m yet to be convinced by Loovens. Even Darren O’Dea looks a better bet than any of these three, so it’s clear to see we need at least two central defenders in January.
That being said, if we carry on leaking goals the way we are, the title will be out our grasp by January, so we need to do something now. The first thing is work on playing a man-to-man marking system, the next is to switch away from 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3, playing an anchorman in the centre to offer the defence more cover, and allowing McGeady to get further forward. The third is to dropkick Marc-Antoine Fortune as far out of Celtic Park as possible.
His attitude absolutely stank yesterday. It was summed up by McGeady’s run and inch perfect through ball, to which Fortune lost and then blamed Aiden for his pass! He just doesn’t look interested to me, and whilst poor form can be excused, lack of effort cannot.
Mowbray needs to make urgent changes for the game on Saturday, and his players need to start taking responsibility. With a few more results like the Dundee United one before Christmas, Mowbray may find himself looking for a new job come the new year.
For his, and the club’s sake, I genuinely hope it doesn’t come to that. Particularly as John Barnes is out of work…
November 12, 2009
On one side of Glasgow today, fans and club representatives are anxiously biting their nails. Today is the day Rangers will discover the extent of their UEFA sanctions, and also reveal just how much debt they are being strangled by. It is also the day the English Premiership clubs once again discuss the prospect of a Premier League 2, including both Old Firm sides. (since I began writing this I’ve heard that the Premiership clubs have rejected the proposal) However, I really couldn’t care less.
My interests right now centre on Celtic Park, and I have no time for basking in the misfortunes of our great rivals. You see, we are terrible on the pitch, and have our own issues to worry about off it.
Anybody who has read my blog over the last few days will know I was furious with the actions of a few ‘supporters’ on Sunday. I was absolutely sickened at the total lack of respect for the dead that a few mindless idiots displayed. I appreciate these ‘fans’ were outside the ground at the time, but as far as I’m concerned using that as an argument is pedantic to say the least. The fact is these idiots are attached to our club. What is doubly galling then, is when I hear some Celtic fans criticise Rangers for the actions of the few in Romania. I’m a massive Celtic fan, but this ‘holier than thou’ attitude amongst some of our support has to end.
Let’s get something straight. The majority of both Celtic and Rangers fans are thoroughly decent people. However, there is still work to do to flush out some of the fools who attach themselves to both sides, in the mistaken idea that they are part of some political ideology. This is a cancer attached to both clubs, who have to work together to cure themselves. And we as supporters have to help.
Then there’s the team. I’ve said for weeks we need a change in ethos, concentrating on youngsters from home and around the globe. I’ve also said PSV are the perfect model for us, a club that play in a poor league yet attract quality players and progress in Europe. Indeed, they were minutes away from the 2005 Champions League Final. If they can do it, why can’t we? It does annoy me a little that we constantly bleat about a lack of investment and demand this England move, when the reality is we can help ourselves by changing our mentality. I know I have said we need the move in previous blogs, and I’d snap up any offer, but realistically we need to look after ourselves. I mean you don’t hear Ajax, Feyenoord or PSV demanding a move to the Bundesliga do you?
However, right now we need immediate investment from the board. It says a lot to me that Rangers, despite all their problems, will go above us if they win their game in hand. And yet some people are blaming Mowbray for this.
Yes, I agree he’s made a few odd decisions. Taking McGeady off and bringing Naylor on during our game with Hamburg being the strangest one. However, I think he should be allowed to make a few mistakes, particularly at this time in the season. After all, he’s still getting to know his players.
Our performance on Sunday was simply unacceptable, but the blame should be laid with the players, as it should for our general performances this year. Mowbray is still using another manager’s team, which is far from ideal. That is where the board come in.
I would hope Mr Lawwell has learnt his lesson from last season, and will put his hand in his pocket to strengthen the squad in January. The thousands of empty seats at Celtic Park won’t have been missed by the board, management or players either. They should be well aware us as fans are pretty fed up with the mediocre performances we are witnessing. From what I’ve heard, I’m certain that will be the case.
If not, I genuinely fear for the future of this great club.
October 19, 2009
Well, it’s a frustrating time at Celtic Park right now. Tony Mowbray must be scratching his head at just how poor Celtic have been since the season began. The highlight of the season so far was undoubtedly the win in Moscow, but that aside we’ve been ordinary at best.
I can only advise ‘Mogga’ to rip the squad apart in January because it’s painfully obvious we aren’t good enough right now, and the problem is the same as last year; We just can’t take our chances.
I think there are a few too many players who need to be moved on, and if I can see this, I’m certain Mogga can too, and this means quite simply that Peter Lawwell has to put his hand in his pocket and support his manager.
I’ve already heard a bit of grumbling about Mowbray and his team, but let’s be honest, it ISN’T his team yet. He’s not been able to put his stamp on the side, and we’re still playing with Strachan’s players.
The other week at Ibrox we were a shambles defensively and toothless up front, and this cannot be allowed to continue. Gary Caldwell whining about a new contract whilst we are at our worst at the back for years won’t have gone unnoticed, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him punted in the window, along with other underperforming players.
What is certain is we need to see the board invest. A new commanding centre half and a striker are obvious targets, but I’d like to see us change our system and try something different. It was good to see a couple of changes for this weekend, including giving McGinn a start and seeing Robson back in the side but Mowbray must be thinking about going to his favoured 4-3-3 soon.
But let’s be honest here. Celtic are dire. Only time will tell if the board are prepared to resolve that by backing their manager.
August 30, 2009
OK, you may have seen my little rant at Arsene Wenger and co over Eduardo’s spout of cheating in Europe this week, and although I am writing this through gritted teeth, in the interest of fair play it’s only right I address Aiden McGeady’s ill-advised tumble today.
I mean, what was the boy thinking? Surely he must have known Dougie McDonald was going to be all over any kind of ‘simulation’ after the week’s events? When I first saw the incident live today I like the commentators assumed he’d been caught. Apparently not. Not that you can see it in this video, but the look on McGeady’s face after the ref pulled out the red card said it all. He’d been caught out, and despite my affiliation to Celtic, the referee got it absolutely spot on.
What annoys me most though is that there was no need at all for McGeady to hit the deck. He was in the clear, and he had the full back in his pocket all afternoon. McGeady truely is the one exciting player in Scotland at the moment, but it seems he’s seen the Eduardo incident one too many times and decided to have a go himself.
The sad thing is, as Tony Mowbray has pointed out, both diving ‘incidents’ have gone against us this week, with Arsenal’s penalty and McGeady’s red card, but maybe this will let Aiden know he needs to stay on his feet.
Now I’m not saying he shouldn’t go down if there’s contact, ala Rooney yesterday, but at least wait until you’re actually touched, otherwise you just look like a nipple.
I hope once Tony Mowbray sees the incident he disciplines McGeady, because as I alluded to the other day, I believe strong management is the way to stop diving without any involvement from the governing bodies.
As for the match itself, I thought Celtic could have been better, but it’s the result that matters. Samaras put in a good shift, but if his last minute miss had cost the points he’d have been crucified. But the star of the day was Artur Boruc. Craig Burley described his late save as ‘save of the century’. Is that true? Probably not, but you don’t see saves like that every week.
Looks like the big man is back on form, which is good news for the rest of the campaign.