Andy Walker offers his damning verdict on Celtic’s efficiency within the 2-0 defeat by Rangers in Sunday’s Outdated Agency conflict, and easily asks: are they dedicated?
It is all the time a bitter capsule to swallow if you’ve misplaced a recreation in opposition to your best rivals and I’ve spoken to quite a lot of disgruntled and dissatisfied Celtic supporters since Sunday’s pitiful show in opposition to Rangers.
Granted, Covid-19 points noticed Neil Lennon with out Nir Bitton, Hatem Elhamed, Ryan Christie and Odsonne Edouard. However bear in mind, Rangers too have been with no notable group of gamers. Kemar Roofe, Nicola Katic, Joe Aribo and Ryan Jack might all have anticipated to begin the sport had they been totally match.
In equity, the easy reality is that Rangers have been by far the higher facet and dominated each side of the sport.
Everybody behind the scenes at Celtic will let you know how sturdy the squad is that this season because the chase is on for a outstanding tenth title in a row.
I agree on paper there’s loads of choices for the supervisor in each place however you possibly can solely describe the squad as sturdy if they’re completely dedicated and centered.
The large query is, are they?
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What I noticed from the Sky Sports activities gantry at Celtic Park working alongside an equally bemused Ally McCoist was a Celtic facet missing in effort, little or no dedication and a scarcity of aggression in opposition to what was a powerful Rangers facet.
Complete dedication is the one high quality supporters ought to be capable to take as a right in each participant who wears the strip.
The query of dedication, focus, mentality and perspective has been raised by Neil Lennon himself.
Within the quick aftermath of the painful defeat to Ferencvaros within the Champions League qualifiers on the finish of August, the Celtic supervisor made the startling declare that he thought a few of his gamers did not need to be a part of the membership and have been on the lookout for a switch.
His message to the gamers was that they needed to do higher and get their mentality and perspective proper.
“If a few of you do not need to be right here then go away and allow us to work with gamers who need to be right here” have been his actual phrases.
When requested if it was his impression that some gamers do not need to be on the membership, he added: “Sure, in some instances”.
Effectively, the switch window has come and gone and the least each fan ought to count on is a bunch of gamers with their 100 per cent precedence and emphasis on successful an historic title.
Even the best sides can lose a giant recreation however in view of the extent of efficiency that we noticed from Celtic, it is a cheap query to ask.
It is now well-known that Lennon’s group was leaked the night time earlier than and that’s disappointing for any supervisor however to enter it at size is a deflection from the way more severe questions that must be addressed.
If this Celtic squad is as sturdy as we are supposed to consider, why have they been outplayed within the final three Outdated Agency video games? Why have been adjustments not made earlier both in form or personnel?
It is not ok to merely throw Shane Duffy up as a centre ahead within the final 5 minutes to try to salvage a recreation the place you have been outclassed and inferior in each division for the earlier 85 minutes.
Vasilis Barkas was signed at a value of £5m to take the coveted No 1 jersey from Fraser Forster, Scott Bain and Craig Gordon. He has nonetheless to point out he is higher than any of his predecessors.
All three who went earlier than Barkas have made essential saves at essential factors in massive video games for Celtic and I’ve but to see the Greek goalkeeper make the kind of save that retains Celtic in a recreation or preserves their lead. He was at fault for Connor Goldson’s breakthrough purpose.
One other £8.5m has been spent on strikers Albian Ajeti and Patryk Klimala, who each performed in opposition to Rangers. Even permitting for the poor service they acquired, it says all the things that Celtic did not hit the goal even as soon as within the 90 minutes.
In equity to Lennon and Celtic, it is a group that has bounced again rather well from earlier defeats. Dropping to Rangers final December strengthened Celtic’s resolve to soak up the ache of that defeat and go on an unbeaten run.
It will take one thing much like get again on observe this time spherical and I consider the leads to the following few weeks will let you know all it’s good to know in regards to the high quality of this Celtic squad and the gamers’ dedication.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic shall be at Celtic Park on Thursday night time for an AC Milan facet within the opening Europa League recreation. What a pity we will not see him within the flesh.
After that it is Aberdeen on Sunday at Pittodrie, Lille away in one other Europa League conflict, Aberdeen once more in final season’s Scottish Cup semi-final adopted by Sparta Prague and Motherwell earlier than the following spherical of worldwide fixtures.
Leads to these video games will inform Lennon how good his squad is and possibly, extra importantly, how devoted they’re to the trigger.