Celtic Diary Monday December 18: Thanks for The Ride!
And we look forward to the next one, starting Wednesday..
Thats because although Celtic lost yesterday, there are no signs that we are approaching the end of an era, no indications that the manager has lost it and no reasons to think the players have forgotten how to play.
We lost quite convincingly to a team that played better on the day .
Hearts were quicker, stronger and hungrier than Celtic were, and it kind of surprised everyone.
Including Hearts, who even though they were two up at the break refused to take their foot off the pedal and kept up a phenomenal pace which actually turned the game into a bit of an end to ender until the fourth goal, after which they sort of played for a draw.
So, there it is.
Sixty nine games unbeaten, now enshrined in the history books.
Eighteen months undefeated domestically is something to be proud of, and at the end of the game the support saluted the players because it is an achievement we can be proud to have seen, and one that it is unlikely to be repeated.
At least until we sign some defenders.
Hearts boss Craig Levein was his usual jovial self.. though it does allow us to see ourselves as others see us..
“I wouldn’t put it past them to go on another run of 69 games without defeat because they’re that good,”
“All credit to Celtic to be in a position of going into a game to get their 70th without defeat, it shows a huge level of commitment, effort and quality to be able to do that.”
And thats the thing.
We need to simply dust ourselves down and get back on track.
Its been a long season already, and this month to many of us was always going to be the equivalent of hump day-the middle of the working week that once clambered over meant it was just a glide to the weekend.
However, its probably also a good idea to remember that even in a league where my nan could be top scorer, we are, in fact, up against professionals who do their homework..
“We based our game plan on the Anderlecht game in terms of the high-press, being brave at the back and going man-for-man at times.
“It’s a difficult thing to do because if they cut you open you could be 3-0 down before you bat an eyelid. The recovery runs from when they went to press and it didn’t work were the things that made all the difference today.
I bet his team talks are just laugh a minute.
Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers showed his character when he spoke after the game..
” That was fucking shite ”
Ah, wait, no, that would have been me.
Rodgers was a little more , er, professional.
‘Firstly, congratulations to Hearts,’
‘They were the better team today. We failed to cope with their style, in the first half in particular. We didn’t defend well enough and made too many mistakes.
Thats pretty much what I said.
My feeling is of pride in the players. That’s the run of 69 games come to an end but it was a real historical achievement. I thanked them at the end.
‘We made too many mistakes in the game to get anything out of it. We put a bit of risk in to the second half when we were 2-0 down, and went all out but we lost poor goals.
‘The players gave their all to the end but the mistakes cost us.
‘It’s the first domestic game where we haven’t scored but we could have played five games today and not scored.
‘It was always going to happen. I’ve said many times, the players are only human and it was always going to happen. ‘It’s never nice when it does, though.Over the last 18 months we have been able to galvanise (ourselves) and get through the fixtures but we weren’t able to do that today.
When the initial disappointment subsides, we will look back with pride on the run.
And the players deserve our applause for making it happen, and not our condemnation for letting it end.
We’ll be fine. We’ll recover. It was great support from the supporters at the end. They recognise what we’ve achieved over the last 18 months. But we’ll now hit the reset button.’
Rodgers convened a player huddle on the Tynecastle pitch at time up, explaining later: ‘I wanted to pull the players together and tell them, Hearts were better than us today and we have to accept it.
‘But what they have done is truly amazing. They need to use this feeling that we haven’t felt for 18 months as a lever moving forward.
‘Let’s learn and get better for it. We have to accept we are a bigger target now because of what we’ve done, but let’s go on and win our next game.
‘There is no getting away from the number of games we have played. But we want to play those games.
‘When you come to places like Hearts, you need to be at your physical best. Physically, we weren’t today
‘So give them credit, they exploited our weakness today and were the better team.
Looking at the bigger picture, and there is a lot to consider, the league just got exciting.
With four games before the break, there is now only a two point lead, and although there is a game in hand, its not quite as comfortable as we would like it to be.
Other sides, such as Hearts yesterday, Hibernian, Aberdeen and even “rangers ” are capable of hitting heights that they couldn’t last season.
Thankfully, they are not quite consistent enough to cause any major threat to seven in a row, but it is not by any means a foregone conclusion that Celtic will hit eight, nine or ten.
With several of Brendan Rodgers’s own signings yet to get a run in the team-only Scott Sinclair and Moussa Dembele have really featured at length, we may see more of Olivier Ntcham, Eboue Kouassi and Kundai Benyu, all of whom look like they have a lot to offer, but have yet to break into a side which, in fairness, was on a bit of a roll.
My own feeling, and indeed hope, is that Rodgers will now put his own mark on what was essentially Ronny Deilas team and allow some “fringe ” players a chance to make their mark in what could well be an entirely different first eleven by the time we face St Petersburg in February.
One with defenders in it would be nice.
Although that may be a little unfair.
Boyata amd Simunovic are decent enough defenders, but you get the feeling they either don’t get on, or don’t want to get on.
If Celtic are to bounce back, there is a real fear that Simunovic will misjudge that bounce. And Boyata will let it go over his head.
Whilst continuity is important at the heart of the defence, Rodgers must surely have realise we were better with Biton , and Ajer is a better bet than any of the other two.
A wee bit of steel in the middle alongside Scott Brown would help, with Ntcham the obvious choice. Armstrong is probably the more adventurous and creative of the other midfielders, arguably ahead of Rogic due to superior fitness, but only if he’s played through the middle.
Calum McGregor has done little wrong, but needs now to find his own role oin the team, and stick to it. Being a utility midfielder means he isn’t being allowed to settle into a familiar role, and this can be as difficult for his team mates as it is for him.
Of the forwards, only James Forrest can offer a spark, the others look simply as though they are out of ideas. Though to be fair to Johnny Hayes, he at least tries to do something different.
Sinclair, Dembele and Griffiths will always get you goals, but of the three only Griffiths has the guile and persistence to break through a resolute defence.
The other two still haven’t figured out that opposing defenders know how to deal with them now, and have yet to raise their game.
However, before we all burst into tears, the quality is there.
Celtic have lost one game in the last seventy.
The League cup and european football after christmas have been taken care of and are in the bag.
The club sits at the top of the league, on course for seven in a row, which has only been done once before without breaking the rules.
These are great days, even if today doesn’t feel like one of them.
We just need to freshen up and start all over.
There are even better days to come.
* Except when I am
To help save you time today, I’ve listed all the sensible and constructive comments in the media, the ones who aren’t trying to build this single defeat into some sort of crisis..
Caption from yesterday…
Which reminds me…David Low on twitter..
Barry Scott’s an interesting chap. Those cheeky monkeys
@ScottishFA should take a look soon as Yuletide fireworks beckon. See SFA Article 13 and extract from Workington Reds Confirmation Statement re Dual Interests. Scott and the other flunky Ross are behind Ibrox Park Holdings.
But thats for another day..
There are two rules on here when it comes to comments.
One, we don’t abuse posters.
Two, we largely talk about football.
Three: We do not use more than one “name “. You’ve been spotted and if the abuse keeps up …