The first Glasgow derby of the season was a catastrophe for Neil Lennon. Home advantage seemed to matter little and once again Steven Gerrard has claimed a Celtic scalp.
The abstractions from the squad were known well in advance to plan accordingly. When the rumoured squad was leaked the previous day, practically every Celtic fan identified the team selection and formation as an area for the opposition to exploit.
Aside from a few efforts by debutante Diego Laxalt, the wide areas were dominated by Gerrard’s side. The flanks were highlighted by pretty much everyone as our weakness and we played right into their hands.
The goals were nothing spectacular. More calamitous than opportunistic I would say, but at least they found the net – we didn’t even get one on target.
I take nothing away from Gerrard’s victory. He knows how to beat Celtic and in the last three games against us his side have been better than us.
Lennon doesn’t appear to have an answer though. We stick to the same formula instead of treating our nearest rivals as a credible threat.
This stubbornness couldm prove be his undoing. We’ve been playing under a cloud since the season began and I’m short of explanations as to why.
Last season we turned things around after Christmas only to have the season cut short by the pandemic. Across the city they collapsed and practically handed us the title.
Had that not happened there may have been a stronger case to see out the remaining fixtures. This season, we’ve conceded our Champions League spot once again and succumbed to our first domestic defeat and on home turf.
There is only once thing Celtic can do now. Be better.
The players and coaches must take full responsibility for the defeat. Those calling for Lennon’s head will no doubt already have their next manager lined up.
That simply won’t happen though. Lennon is still tasked with delivering 10IAR and only if he fluffs it will there be an autopsy.
Celtic haven’t lost too many of their team from last season. On top of that they have spent big too.
For that reason we should be well on top of the opposition. What’s missing are the perormances.
There has been a lot of tinkering with the squad so far. We’ve yet to see the best of us or consistently.
Now and again there have been good performances. Nowhere near what we expect though for an all conquering side with the depth and quality that we possess.
Is Lennon tactically naive? I really don’t know.
I’m not a manage, I can only point out the obvious. As I said earlier though, mwny fans stated our weaknesses going into that game and there was no evidence of countering that weakness.
Our ranks were decimated either by half fit or unavailable players. Some of which were key to our recent formations, but we still had guys capable of stepping in.
Would that have changed matters had they been available? Perhaps in some roles, but the overall tactics still left us wide open.
I mean Odsonne Edouard has not got into his stride at all this season. So I would question whether he’d have made a difference given his own current form.
Ryan Christie could’ve been a game changer from midfield to front. That was an area we were solely lacking creativity, yet Lennon failed to fill that void with David Turnbull or even Tom Rogic.
Because of that, Patryk Klimala was isolated all game. Mohamed Elyounoussi was ineffective and spurned probably our one and only chance of the game.
Lennon stated that the visitors defended their box well which is true. The fact is though they never got into high gear and neither did we.
Yet the visitors left with all three points. They probably won’t get an easier win at Celtic Park.
Had those goals been defended better this game had the makings of draw. I don’t think either team looked particularly dangerous.
The wings were like a one way street for Gerrard’s players. Almost as though Celtic weren’t permitted to use them.
With those areas being doubled up by the visitors it is no wonder that was where the game was won and lost. Would 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 been a better approach?
We’ll never know. In theory it would have macthed up the bodies in wide areas but as I’ve already said, I’m no manager.
Jeremie Frimpong had a very poor game. His role was totally ineffective and wasn’t free to make those dangerous runs.
Whilst we can chalk this one up as a bad day at the office the question remains the same. Are we ever going to learn from these defeats?
From this point on it’s all about what we do moving forwards. The upcoming fixture list is heavy and involves a lot of away trips in Scotland and on the continent.
If there are issues off the field then our sports psychologust hasn’t got to the bottom of it yet. We can dissect the finer points of our game, but right now a potentially historical season is being put at risk.
We’re going to have to bounce back and maintain course for the rest of the season because I see no evidence of a slip up across the city. Over to you Celtic.