One game

Defeat can bring out the worst in people, particularly in football. In the aftermath of a humbling European result for Celtic the post mortem has been in full swing.

Having not watched the match live, I was not in the company of my usual crew. I watched the match very late last night having avoided the score all evening to “enjoy” in my own time.

I thought Celtic started well enough even if the team selection was different to what I would have expected. Certainly it was as best a start as I could have expected going into a match of this kind in late July.

Last night the debate was under way with analysis of players, tactics, coaching and of course Celtic not spending cash on the agenda. This is what I’ve come to expect when the proverbial hits the fan, though Celtic didn’t exactly help themselves.

A bright start coupled with a sublime opener by Callum McGregor was short lived following Miroslav Radovic’s equaliser. That was a real slap in the face but that agony was further compounded by another goal by Radovic.

To say both of these goals were defensive brain farts is an understatement. The space gifted to opposition in and around the box was almost gift wrapped.

If Virgil van Dyke and Efe Ambrose built up an understanding last season then that is where it remained last night. Whether it was a communication or purely a positioning issue I am uncertain, but basically the defence didn’t do their job.

Any communication they did possess ceased when Ambrose was sent off. A mistimed tackle was Efe’s last participation in the match due to being the last man.

At 2-1 down and showing signs of fragility, half time couldn’t come quick enough. The chance to regroup was much needed but to be honest any opportunity Deila and his players had to resolve their mistakes ended when Celtic went down to ten men.

The second half was hard to watch. The failure to snub out Legia Warsaw left Celtic riding their luck for 45 minutes.

Charlie Mulgrew, captain in the absence of Scott Brown, stepped into the central defence. His contribution to defensive calamity was as much a surprise as it was a disaster.

In midfield, Celtic lacked the steel and courage to dominate. Moving the ball about at high tempo merely impacted the rate of complete passes.

I also questioned the decision to play Adam Matthews in place of Emilio Izaguirre. I know he has played at left back before but was it necessary?

Many brought up the inclusion of the loaned, Jo Inge Berger. Given that he hasn’t trained to the same degree, it is a valid question.

I’m not judging the player, just the fact that Leigh Griffith’s might have been the better choice. Given that Teemu Pukki knows the players better, hooking him instead of the new boy was another error.

Beram Kayal didn’t bring much to the game as his replacement. By the time he came on, the game was already an uphill struggle and moving players around as we did failed to help matters.

There were too many risks and changes made for this game. It was always going to be a step up from KR Reykjavik.

Under the circumstances the final result of 4-1 could have been much more and some have said that the scoreline flattered Celtic. Then again, perhaps Legia Warsaw aren’t as good as a “could have been 8-1” suggests and that Celtic capitulated?

Come what may its early days for Ronny Deila and his coaching team. They’ve had the instant pressure and expectation of qualifying for European competition.

The departure of Neil Lennon severed the understanding between coaching staff and team, though he himself suggested that the relationship was waning in his final six months. The one thing that has remained in place is the same squad, minus of course the services of Georgios Samaras.

Last season saw this group of players plateau on the European stage. Deila’s outlook of high tempo football may be a long term vision but to expect this group of players to make that happen could be a big ask.

As yet, we have yet to discover whether any of the transfer speculation regarding some of our players yield any truth. If departures are imminent then Deila would need to be able to spend.

Youth will hopefully be given its chance, as McGregor and Henderson have. Should Deila’s vision be realised, the team will need enhancing but possibly not before departure of one or two.

With all of this in mind, the tie is still open. A three goal deficit is far from encouraging but Deila should at least be afforded the courtesy to put it right with eleven players rather than ten he had for the second half.

We can analyse the damage as I have myself and we know the mistakes that were made but I think many have been too on quick to condemn Deila. Strachan and Lennon didn’t exactly have the best start to their Celtic management careers in Europe, but they did alright in the end.

Murrayfield may not be Celtic Park but it is still home territory for us and the chance remains to turn things around. A tougher opponent would surely await in that next round so its worth remembering when you look at last seasons Champions League performances with this squad, the Europa League could be better value for a team in transition.

We all want the Champions League, but it might be too soon for Deila. A week from now we’ll know where we stand on that matter.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie

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