Celtic 1—1 Midtyland.

Ex-Celtic keeper, Craig Gordon tells a story (perhaps apocryphal) about when he was number-1 keeper at Sunderland. He went into training, Roy Keane, the manager, took the gloves off him and went in goals. He told Gordon to shoot in at him, because he would have saved a shot Gordon had missed in the previous game. You know what I’m getting at here. £5 million signing Barkas is money wasted. He wins fanny of the night award, for Evander’s curled free kick. Roy Keane would have been pulling his hair out, and would have surely have pulled on the gloves.

Second prize goes to another diddy, Nir Bitton. Welsh, who was having no too bad a game, also gets pelters for giving away the free kick that led to the goal. A needless challenge is a stupid challenge (although he did get a touch on the ball). We watched the Hoops last year. No player in the Celtic back line was good enough for Celtic. We kept giving away goals from free kicks and corners. It was open season.  Ralston was best of a poor bunch here. And I’m exonerating substitute Dean Murray. Perhaps his chance has come, when Bitton goes, as he surely must.

Some familiar faces in the Celtic team. Bitton, Christie and the big one here, Edouard. Needs must. With little room for error, Nir Bitton pokes Dreyer in the face after the Dane had got in behind the Celtic defence and went down on the box, hoping for a penalty. He was booked, as was the Israeli, who had already been booked. Red card coming up for us before half time.

It was another Israeli, Liel Abada, who gave us the opening goal. He was first to react to a shot from Christie, parried by the keeper, Lossi.  Christie had already hit the post and looked back to his best. McGregor also showed for the ball, and played a real captain’s role. On the bright side, Barkas, in the first half, never had a save to make, which meant we never lost a goal. Good to see Dean Murray in the team. Pity it wasn’t earlier when Bitton was off injured for 10 minutes.  

Dreyer evened up the red-card count in the second half and for the next ten minutes we looked to add to our goal tally. Then that stupid tackle. And the non-save. There was an inkling of what was to come when Barkas dropped a simple cross ball and got a foul for it. Celtic has one mediocre keeper in Scott Bain. I’m not counting Connor, one for the future, because he isn’t (when on loan at Partick Thistle they sent him back). Man of the match went to McGregor, but I thought want-away Christie edged it. He’d the most shots on goal and an assist.

With away goals not counting in aggregate terms, Celtic’s mission is simply to win in Denmark. That’s certainly do-able. I suppose the merry-go-round of keepers will continue. I’d hope Bain would come in, until we get somebody better. I’d also prefer Montgomery for Taylor. Dean Murray should keep his place. It wasn’t a total disaster. Everything that could have went wrong last season—did. The hangover continues. We’ve got to shake it off. I know we’ve got better players than the Danes. Edouard had his usual miss, but his hold-up play was OKish. I’m sure he’ll play next Wednesday.  We’ve just got to show for the ball and shift it quicker. All the good things our new manager is trying to bring to the team. There are some things he can’t control and that was shown by two useless B’s. Both are fixable.     

Celtic 0—1 Preston North End.

Ben Whiteman scored from the spot to give Preston a deserved win, mid-way through the second-half. That’s the worry for Celtic. This was no smash and grab. Sinclair also had another Preston penalty claim that was turned down. A great save from Barkas from a Preston counter-attack midway through the first half and a shot from Potts. There were some plus points. The Celtic skipper, Callum McGregor in the pre-season games has looked world class. Turnbull looks sharp. Montgomery looks ready to start every game, and, of the youngsters, he looks most likely to have staked his claim for a regular first-team start.

Moffat who scored a brilliant goal in a pre-season friendly and came on for Ajeti in the last game was anonymous. The partnership of Urhoghide, Welsh, looks powder-puff. We lost the majority of our goals last season from free kicks and corner, and we lost many of our one-on-one duels here. Ched Evan, for example, missed a late header to make it 1—0 Preston. And he won most balls he went for in the air, in the first-half. And this pattern continued into the second half, with substitute Izzy Brown failing to score from several chances.

Celtic’s defence make themselves vulnerable playing from the back. It’s easy to see that we are playing total football. I like the idea. But Bain’s passing out of defence caused problems at least three times. Preston players having a run in on goal. Bolingoli’s  (remember him) first touch put another Celtic substitute Murray under pressure. Another half-chance for Preston.

Edouard came on for Ajeti. The Swiss international striker was poor today. He’s scored two goals in pre-season friendlies. None today. None the last match. I want Edouard to leave as soon as possible. Needs must. Against Midtylland, Edouard is the better option. That’s two games in a row we’ve not scored. The same failings as last year have emerged in starker form. The other option is to play Japanese forward Kyogo Furuhash. I’ve not seen him, but I’d play him. New signing, Liel Abada started the game on the bench, but came on for the last thirty minutes. Perhaps he should start too. McGregor has been exceptional. But the central pairing behind the strike is still up for grabs. Rogic or David Turnbull? Last season, a disastrous season, that was an easy pick. Ange Postecoglou knows the value of Rogic. We know the value of Turnbull. Then there’s Christie. Better if he, like Ajer and Edouard, leaves, sooner, rather than later. The Scottish internationalist hasn’t played under the new manager. Perhaps he’s already away. Ewan Henderson, who I rate highly, has come in and done a job. Where’s Ntcham?

The score doesn’t matter today. Better we win than lose. We know, and the Midjyland coach knows, we are going to play from the back to the midfield. Barkas has looked more assured than Bain and more likely to start. Ralston and Taylor look to be our new-look (old-look) full backs pushing up the park. Urhoghide, Welsh, in the centre pairing. Phew, this doesn’t look strong enough for me. I’m not a fan of Welsh. Urhoghide, might come good, but he looks raw. As does eighteen-year-old Murray. Too early to say if they are coal dust or unpolished diamonds. Ralston is average. Taylor not much better. Our defence, which wasn’t fit for purpose last season, remains unfit for purpose pre-season. But that’s what friendly matches are for.  That may change very quickly. Here’s hoping. We’ve signed a centre-forward. Ajeti may come good—if—

Hopefully, we can protect our defence and score goals. I can’t say I’m confident. Today was just a run out. Tuesday will show who the number one picks are.