A positive response

There’s a couple of ways to look at last nights 2-2 draw at the Amsterdam ArenA. The positives and negatives about the whole game.

On the positive side, this was a good response from Celtic. Under pressure from recent results and disgruntled fans this was a good performance and a well earned European point.

Also, Celtic took the lead twice on foreign soil. Both of these goals were deserved and well taken.

From a negative perspective, there was Emilio Izaguirre’s red card. You can also underline the defending/goalkeeping around the two goals that Celtic lost.

Even when you put the two together, this was a positive result. A point away from home in Europe is not to be sniffed at.

The thing about Celtic and Ajax is that they are roughly on a par with one another. That makes these ties interesting.

Celtic probably should have won but I am not necessarily disappointed that we did not. I’d view it more as a motivator to push on do something in this group and last night Celtic showed great character.

The aim should be, as always in Europe, to win your home games. This is not impossible but Celtic Park needs to become a stadium where home wins are a given.

Too much ground has been conceded to visiting teams in recent years. We talk about the atmosphere of Paradise on European nights but our results have not always reflected that.

Celtic need to learn from their mistakes quick. In Amsterdam they showed what they are capable of.

Some of that comes down to player attitude. Some comes down to the way the coaching staff prepare and deploy the team.

Celtic appeared to be set up well enough for this game. There were still weaknesses though.

Izaguirre’s red card was stupid. He had been given ample warning even if the tackle that finally got him sent off was partly down to the antics of Anwar El Ghazi.

That was a game changer. All the hard work put in received a blow in the form of a Lasse Schone free kick, not the first time he’s scored against Celtic either.

The ball floated in from outside the box beat every player and drifted into the net. You have to question the defending and goalkeeping for that.

Craig Gordon has made some blips of late. For a player who I had every confidence in last season he’s looking a little shaky.

That could be down to an unsettled defence or his own confidence. If there is one thing Deila must do now, it is to calm things down at the back and establish an defensive understanding that allows players to be interchangeable without loss of consistency.

When you consider the competition, the venue and the opposition there is only one thing to remember about last night. This was a game that Ajax were expected to win.

They didn’t. They weren’t any closer winning than Celtic were either.

Many of the media have claimed that this isn’t the same Ajax side that we used to see. Well, Celtic’s prolific European stature is even more historical than Ajax’s so to downgrade this credible draw is shallow.

Very few in the media have given credit to Celtic for silencing motor-mouth Frank de Boer. Not much of a surprise when you consider which side of the Glaswegian divide he represented.

There are some people out there hurting at Celtic’s failure to capitulate last night. I can live with Izaguirre’s red card and losing a late goal because on the whole the result was a positive one.

If you were waiting for Celtic to crumble last night, I am truly sorry to rain on your parade. Still in Europe and still moving forward.

This season is just beginning. Deal with it.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

The season starts tonight…

Tonight Celtic are in Amsterdam once more to face Ajax. The last time these two met it was the Champions League almost two years ago.

Ajax won that night 1-0. Two weeks earlier Celtic had beaten them 2-1 at Celtic Park.

The attitude coming out of Ajax now is as arrogant as it was two years ago. Put simply, they don’t rate Celtic.

If that isn’t motivation for you then I don’t know what is. Whichever way you look at it, both clubs failed in their attempt to get into the Champions League and now find themselves in the same boxing ring.

For me, Celtic have a chance to lay down a marker tonight. It doesn’t need to be a win tonight.

In fact, I don’t think there is a single Celtic fan that believes the team are capable of winning tonight. Martin O’Neill and co pulled that off in 2001 with a 3-1 win at the Amsterdam ArenA.

We were all taken by surprise that night. I recall coming home from band practice, sitting down with the boys and being left disbelief at what I was watching as we ripped apart Ajax.

Other than a couple of poor games this season, there is nothing to suggest that Celtic cannot hurt Ajax tonight. With the arrogance that they and their manager Frank de Boer have shown, it would give me great pleasureif we did.

You’ll think I’m mad, but sometimes it’s after been dealt a blow that you bounce back. Nothing is guaranteed, but Celtic have an opportunity to make up for recent let downs.

Everyone is culpable for where Celtic are so far this season. Equally, they are responsible for getting us out of this low point – players and coaches.

Celtic must emerge as a team tonight and hit the ground running. Win, lose or draw I will be keen to see how we have performed and how we have been deployed.

The past is the past. The time is now.

Mon the Hoops!

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac