Yesterday’s home defeat to Inverness was a timley reminder of just how much it can cost a club to chase the European dream. Celtic have struggled in post-Europe matches, but this is nothing new to us.
Some theorise there is no other club to challenge Celtic for the league. I feel there is an argument for and against this.
The demise of our old rivals left Celtic without a potential running ‘mate’. If say the non-existent Rangers were still alive and in the SPL, but without European distraction it may have widened the gap with the rest of the league as seen historically.
This may have pushed Celtic to get those results that have so far slipped through their fingers. As I said though, there is a case to counter that.
With one club less occupying first and second place and stealing points from the rest of the league, the margin has narrowed this season. I see nothing wrong with this.
As I’ve said in the past one half of Glasgow playing in the SPL (Celtic) instead of both has reduced the points deficit. A club propping up leaguw might have lost 24 points againat Celtic and Rangers but they can only lose 12 against one club.
However, I digress. Celtic must look at the motivaton of players after midweek exertion and get the answers because it is a requirement if you are going to play in Europe every season.
The club must also look at general fitness, even the coaching for it. The body count for injuries must beat last seasons hands down.
The club are a battle-worn team who have seldom (if at all) had a full squad to choose from this season, particularly for important matches. How many players have we fielded that were carrying an injury or far from optimum playing level?
I know this is not uncommon in football but you can only afford to do so with so many players. Fortunately, Celtic have had some brilliant performers to rely on throughout the campaigns and they will be in the running for personal reward come award time.
So far these guys have formed the backbone of the team. Forster, Wilson, Wanyama and Commons have enabled the squad to cling on to a degree of cosistency.
Additional players such as Ambrose, and Lustig have bolstered the back line. The trouble lies with the constant damage to the midfield.
Last season we were spoiled for choice in the engine room. Injuries to one man meant a run in the team for another.
Unfortunately, we’ve had more than one player out for one role. And as I said earlier, some of those players who have played were unlikely to have been properly fit or carrying an injury.
There are some fringe players who perhaps lack experience or big match ability. Often though managers seem to risk the fitness of key players than gamble with a fringe player.
Neil Lennon will hope that the answers and the luck to his squads fitness are just around the corner. A disagreement with some fans yesterday brought about his declaration that he’d go if the fans wanted him to.
A tad dramatic I’m sure most will agree – on both sides. We supporters should remember how far we have come since Mowbray went.
That was low. This isn’t.
There is a problem with fitness and a constant European hangover. At least we have Europe and number one spot in the SPL.
Be thankful, not fickle. We’re getting there.