Molde 3 – Celtic 1.

molde

I’ve got to admit I wasn’t actually in Norway’s Aker Stadium, where it costs £10 or thereabouts a pint, I was in the Mountblow Bar, where it costs around £3 a pint. You see I’m not that daft. But I did think Celtic would get a draw here tonight. I was thinking 1-1, same again, 1-1 in the next game against Molde at Parkhead, and 1-1 in the home game against Ajax. Then, when we need a result away in Turkey, glorious defeat, because that’s the Scottish way. But I’ve changed my mind. We’re not going to draw 1-1 in the Aker Stadium. I hadn’t pencilled in the obvious, which was shown by the first goal.

Boyatta makes a dreadful pass, gifts the ball to his a Molde player, Ambrose is the wrong side of the attacker, Izzy is on the dark side of the moon, Craig Gordon, well, just not good enough. Ole Kamarra scores.  It’s simple. WE CAN’T DEFEND.  Ambrose is likely to gift a goal every game. Boyata is of the same ilk. Izzy could never defend but used to be good going forward. Not any more. Lustig used to be fit. Well, no he didn’t, but we got away with it. Let me put this quite simply, Walter Smith used to manage a team whose tactics were the same week in week out. He could pick a team of pygmies and they would’t have to do anything special, just sit in and wait. Forren’s second goal for Molde, Izzy should have defended, could have defended but, hey, we’re Celtic, an attacking team.

Commons shows composure. He scores and we make it 1-2. I’m thinking we can do this.   Elyounoussi scores about a minute later. A familiar pattern. He doesn’t really have to do much. Just hang about the back post. It’s like waiting for a bus. The Celtic defence allows coach, driver and pygmy passengers through every time.

The big talking point is Commons being taken off and sounding off in the dugout. Luckily, I can lip read? He said, ‘why in the fuck is it always me? You kiddin’? You need a goal and you take off your most creative player and a guy that’s likely to score goals and you leave on Stefan Johansen? Is that your son? ’

John Collins looked the other way. He’s good at that.  Ronnie can talk all he likes about closing down and getting fit. The reality is of the four defenders that started tonight in the Aker Stadium, none of them (baring perhaps the every-injured Lustig) can cut it, and are Celtic class. You don’t need a priest to say, Mass clear out. Same old.Same old. Same old Ronnie. Year down the line. Champions League gone. In a second-tier competition playing a team comparable with Motherwell, with a tenth of the budget of Celtic, it just isn’t good enough. It pains me,

I watched Roy Keane last night on ITV, who was supposedly in the for the Celtic job, saying as a pundit for ITV, reiterating, what he’s said before, Arsenal were soft. They beat Bayern.

Chris Sutton as pundit also tells it like it is. Ambrose always lets you down. That’s the most consistent part of his game. Boyata isn’t good enough. Izzy can’t defend.  What the fuck are Celtic? Where are they going? When will we get there? Soft? I wish we were that hard to beat.

The Old Firm Game, League Cup Semi-final, Hampden Park, tomorrow.

liam henderson

I stood up and cheered when we got drawn with Rangers in the League Cup. We’ve not played them for three years. We want to rub their noses in it. We’ve missed it (but only if we win). Chris Sutton is getting some stick for saying what many Rangers’ fans believe: Celtic could win playing with their men blindfolded. That’s true. We’ve got the best young players in Scotland. And in Liam Henderson we have the most exciting talent since Ian Durrant (prior to getting smashed by Neil Simpson).  Henderson, like Durrant, has no fear. He’s gangly, his first touch is good, he likes to go forwards, rather than backwards and he can score goals. I think Celtic’s youth team is better than and could beat the current Rangers’ first team. They might even triumph over the Celtic first team. What I’m saying is the bookies are giving odds of a minimum of 8/1 for Rangers to beat Celtic. That sounds about right. Celtic have better players in every single position. Even in the old days when asked to pick what Rangers’ player I’d want in the Celtic team I used to ruefully admit I’d take their goalie. Now even our goalie is better than the Rangers’ keeper. And here’s a strange thing. I don’t even know who that is. Go back three or four years and not only would I be able to tell you who would start for Celtic and who would be a sub, I could also pick the Rangers’ team man for man. Now I can hazard a guess that Kenny Miller will play. Kenny Black. Nicky Ball. That’s about it. The rest is a blank where Rangers’ bank balance used to be.

Rangers’ fans will clutch at straws. They’ll point to Chelsea’s recent defeat. Manchester City’s defeat. Tottenham’s defeat. I’ll fling in Bayern Munich’s more recent 4-1 away defeat at Wolfsburg. It wouldn’t surprise me if any of these underdogs defeated Celtic. We are not a great team, but we are a better team than Rangers.

There are certain advantages at playing at Hampden. It’s a big playing surface. That suits Celtic. Rangers will want to sit in and frustrate. They’ll look at Ross County’s recent credible 0-0 draw at Parkhead, a game in which the underdog could have and perhaps should have won the match with a clear-cut chance in the last few minutes. That’s what Rangers will be hoping for, a Ross County with that chance going in and cup glory. Everything else becomes bullshit and they get the bragging rights.

There is another, perhaps, more likely scenario. Rangers score first. After today’s New Firm semi-final between Dundee United (managed by ex-Celt, McNamarra) and Aberdeen (managed by ex-Hun, McInnes) the pitch will be scarred. Celtic’s silky soccer will be disrupted. Rangers will want to outmuscle the Celtic players and knock them off their stride. The problem with that is physically if you look at both teams, Celtic are the taller and a stronger looking proposition.  Virgil van Dijk is the best defender and header of the ball in Scottish football. He looks like scoring at every free kick and corner and frequently does. Rangers will find that hard to counter.

For Rangers to win they must play like Ross County and get lucky. For Celtic to win they must play like the champions they are. It’s not cut and dried but if you only had enough money to back either team to get your bus fare home, or walk forty miles, who would you back? Celtic to win and meet Dundee United in the final.

http://unbound.co.uk/books/lily-poole

Why can’t the best player in Scottish football get a game?

commons

Kris Commons, Scottish footballer of the year with 32 goals last season, described by Chris Sutton as the nearest Celtic have got to a Lubo Moravcik and voted as the best player in Scottish football by his fellow professionals is leaving Celtic –why?

He’s 31. Lubo Moravcik was 49 (well 33) when he came to Celtic, or so it seemed as the time. He scores on his debut against Dundee and a fortnight later against Rangers and let’s face it, there’s no better way to start, and we couldn’t care less if he’s father time. Commons scores a double in his debut against Aberdeen. He’s not stopped scoring since then. It’s the nearest Celtic get to a player that says play me and I’ll score.

Looking  over the border at, arguably, the next English Champions  Chelsea and John Terry gets a deal (and they’re a wee bit better than us) and he’s 34. Frank Lampard, who left Chelsea because he was too old at 36, but via a stint in the States, ends up at the other billionaires club of Manchester City and he’s hardly looked clapped out. But let’s face it Chelsea can allow Mata to go and bring in Cesc Fabergas. Who exactly are Celtic going to bring in to score those missing goals?

In our last game against Ross County, which ended 0-0 Commons came on as a sub for a sub. That shows he’s not even a first pick in the subs’ stakes. How dispiriting is that going to be for Celtic’s best player?

Chris Commons doesn’t run about enough, he doesn’t track back and make those tackles that modern players need to make. Neither does Craig Gordon. Nobody can dispute his value. Effe Ambrose runs about like a train on the wrong set of tracks. Virgil van Dilk (he’s off as well, and personally I’d rather keep Commons) is often found patrolling outside the oppositions’ penalty box and Emilio Izzaguire is more frequently, than our so-called wingers, caught offside.  I’ll give you a clue. These guys are meant to be defenders, but usually not in the same way as Ambrose is meant to be a defender.

And anyway, how many defensive midfielders do Celtic need? Stefan Johansen, who has come onto a run of form, can play a defensive midfielder. Scott Brown can also play defensively, as can Biton and most other Celtic players. None of them can score goals with the consistency of Kris Commons. In fact if you add up all the goals scored between them last year, or in fact any year, and you’ll find, as an aggregate total, as a combined group, they cannot score as many as Kris Commons. The only commonality is they don’t score many goals.

So who do we replace out best goal scorer and best player with? Well, there’s always that unknown and untouched talent somewhere in the world and if we can get to him first- on Planet X- and the price-tag is under 50p, then we’ve got a chance of a loan deal.

The simple solution is to give Kris Commons a new deal. But there is little or no point in doing that if he’s not going to get a run of games. That seems unlikely. I’ll miss Kris Commons. He’s been one of our best buys. Cost next to nothing. Came in, done his job and left, all without fuss. That’s the problem. Not enough fuss is being made about his value to Celtic. You’re only as good as your last game. Our last game was a stinker. We need class. Kris Commons is class.

http://unbound.co.uk/books/lily-poole