I started writing this on my way to work yesterday. Once I got there, I read a few Celtic headlines and decided to postpone writing the blog.
When I read Neil Lennon’s post match praise of the team I thought I had been watching a different game altogether. Either that or I must have been more drunk than the hangover suggested.
To confuse matters further, Johan Mjallby was later quoted as saying the team were “utterly abysmal”. He did reserve some praise for the central defence though.
With Kelvin Wilson’s suggested departure, perhaps neither coach wanted to jinx the transfer. That deal has now gone through of course and this will all become confined to history.
The fact is that I, amongst others, felt that this was a poor Celtic performance. We may have progressed but it was a far from convincing ninety-plus minutes.
There was a time when progression in Europe was a distant memory for Celtic. Nowadays, the club find themselves in a situation where Europe is the lifeblood of every season.
Wednesday nights 0-0 against Elfsborg took us into this mornings draw for a play off spot. Now Celtic will face Kazakh side Shakhter Karagandy for a place in the Champions League group stage.
I am pleased that Celtic have made it through to the play offs. The match that finally got us there was anything but pretty though.
Samaras had a golden opportunity early on and Ledley even looked like scoring. At no time did I ever think the team looked comfortable though.
The Celtic midfield were ‘passing’ the ball like a hot potato. Misplaced passes are Celtic of old, not today.
As much as Johan and Neil praised the defence I only felt that one of these players deserved it. Mikael Lustig turned in a great performance in defence and attack down the right flank.
Elsewhere in defence it appeared that the players were all over the place. So it was anything but assured at the back.
Elfsborg were nothing special, but anytime they attacked the Celtic Iooked like they had never played together. That was my major concern.
I’m certain that Neil was trying to keep his comments positive given that the team had just progressed to the next phase. It is the managers job at the end of the day.
As I say though, I am just glad Celtic are through. It may not be the group phase, but I expect more players to come in now that we’re in a safety zone.
We’ve just seen off Wilson, our most improved player last season, so there will need to be a replacement for him now. With any luck Celtic will go for that much awaited striker as well.
Regardless of the coaching staff’s mixed opinions, it would be ridiculous to ignore the performance in Borås. Elfsborg remain unbeaten at home in two years but it is Celtic who are in the Champions League play offs.
The Europa League is guaranteed for the loser. Some may think Celtic will see this one out no problem but I like to keep things realistic.