Well that was that.
In the words of an Edinburgh based Celtic fan “You’ll have had your Champions League then!”.
An utter shambolic performance saw Celtic lose a tie from being in a position in front, not once, not twice, but three times.
Not even a wonderful second half from the Edouard and Christie double act could save the side from a self inflicted disaster. Sure Cluj scored the goals but Celtics defeat and exit was pure self harm.
From the moment the team were announced, every Celtic fan thought “Calmac at left back…nah, cant be..EVERYONE knows that doesn’t work…don’t they?”. Seems Lenny had either forgot that Ibrox shitshow or he really doesn’t have any confidence in Bolingoli despite winning 6 games with him in the side and drawing a 7th. There was no word of an injury or a strain so Boli sat on the bench alongside the £7m Julien who looks like the most expensive mannequin since Marvin Comperr.
What is going on that £10m worth of defenders are benched to be covered by Ajer and MacGregor..2 natural midfielders?
Lenny dared to say the side were timid and lacking the nuts and bolts in the first half…yeah because he had decided to take the car into the garage and dismantle it for apparently no reason when it just needed a wash and polish!
Lenny also thought attack was the best form of defence and brought Mikey Johnson right back into the side with Lewis Morgan on the bench. Somewhere in the stands sat seasoned veteran Scott Sinclair wondering what exactly he had did to be neglected on this most important of nights.
Starting the game with the away goal advantage, Celtic didn’t quite defend but decided more to just look about the place. Cluj smelled blood and Broony ( deary me) let his man stride away and chip the ball over where Calmac, out of his natural position, was understandably slow to react and the Cluj player outjumped him and it was 1-0 the visitors.
In response we hardly huffed and puffed, it was more a grabbing of sore ankles as Cluj kicked everything in a professional clinical manner, and we ended the first half 1-0 down.
A lot of Celtic fans were surprised when no changes were made but we came out brightly and wee Jamesy finished a lovely move to equalise. Suddenly the game was back on and then up stepped Eddy to slot home the ball into the corner following a stramash between 2 Cluj defenders. We were now in front and the place was rocking.
Then they got a corner.
The ball came in, over the heads of everybody and for some unknown reason, Broony raised his arm and tried to punch it away. Madness and it was 2-2.
The Eddy and Christie show then combined for Christie to score a great goal, there were about 7 passes and dribbles between them before Christie slotted home what we all thought was the winner.
That was until Cluj simply shot at goal, Bain saved but a Cluj player waiting patiently simply hit the ball high into the net. The game was done and Cluj put a cherry on top with a last kick of the ball goal to win on the night. Celtic tried bringing on Griff and even Bayo, hows that for just going fucking mental! but to no avail.
Cluj celebrated as the whistle went, as they should. Sure they played dirty at times but they deserved to win given we deserved to lose with such a self inflicted execution of a disaster plan.
Cluj now move onto face Sparta Prague and confirmed European football this season whilst we now look to face AIK Stockholm, if they prevail, to scrape into the Europa League of Duds and the pressure really is on Lenny and also now on The Board.
More on Lenny later in ratings but as for Lawwell and the Board, well…
Who actually identified and who sanctioned the purchases of Julienn and Bolingoli if they cant play?
Anyone citing “Julien is just getting up to speed” should look at Elhamed at right back who has ran his heart out since arriving despite having not played for 6 weeks before his arrival.
Peter Lawwell must also clarify what are the priorities ..is it Hotels, Festivals, Marketing titbits, Increased revenue and account growth or is it a robust team ( including a quality Management team and Scouting network ) ready for every challenge whenever it presents itself…how many Augusts must we the fans rant and rave before someone at Celtic FC HQ take our message on board?
Lawwell now faces quite the dilemma. By delaying purchases up until now, he may have hoped to snap up a EPL loannee or use CL and confirmed European football with a win last night to entice some talent to Celtic Park.
How many good players are wanting to come now?
The result of such delay tactics now mean that we will be reduced to young loannees or basic decent journeymen who will use this desperation to extort even bigger wages and bonuses from our club…supply and demand and all that.
You can guarantee that even the Kilmarnocks and Aberdeens will be adding a wee 20-50% onto any prices for Taylor or McKenna as everyone in football knows Lawwell has to be seen doing something to appease a very angry customer base.
It was a long night and a tough sleep for a lot of Celts out there last night. In the cold light of day, the anger still burns and the disappointment still yearns.
A lot of folk are worried about the 9 and heading to Ibrox in 2 weeks in such a state.
Its over to all of the folk at Celtic to step up…Im not sure what more the fans can do or Eddy and Christie and to an extent Ajer and Forrest, but everyone else needs to up their game.
Bain – Coming under pressure now and a lot of folk looking at Gordon or AN Other getting a shot between the sticks. Came and gathered well but theres a few doubts creeping in and noticeably more punting rather than placing with the kick outs. 5
Elhamed – Tried his best and got stuck in. A good decent purchase who doesn’t hide and is still finding his fitness. 6
Ajer – Tried his best alongside Jozo but the defence was all over the place in reality and stood off at their 3rd goal. 4
Jozo – Like Ajer, tried and had a good header saved by their keeper but not a good night for the defence – 4
Calmac – A game of 2 halves. First half was awful at left back and left flat footed on a few occasions and lucky to avoid a penalty. 2nd half got up the park and tried to attack 4
Ntcham – Ran about the middle of the park but not really influencing the game as much as he should have 4
Forrest – Scored the opener and tried getting balls across to Eddy but was facing 2 and 3 at a time. 5
Broony – Awful. A yard of the pace, a part in all their goals and the handball for the penalty spoke more of frustration than desperation. A few fans now wondering if its time for alternatives to be considered 2
Johnson – Thrown right back in by Lenny. Tried a few dribbles but final ball and decision making not quite there 4
Christie – Oh for 8 players with the attitude of Ryan Christies in the side. Chased and harried and scored. Hopefully not too many Scouts were watching as now our major player 7
Edouard – Dull first half where couldn’t find his touch but a great 2nd half. Goal into the corner and lovely play to set up Christie. Will a French side come in for him soon? 7
Griff – Had one chance but sadly headed around the keeper rather than over 3
Morgan – Ran down the wing and got balls into the box. Sadly we still had Griff on the bench and Eddy not the player for sliding a 6 yard cross home. Lots of folk seem to want to make Morgan a whipping boy but he is good at getting to the line and ball in..not his fault there is no one there. 4
Bayo – I kid you not…Lennys desperation there for all to see. Not sure if he even touched it. 2
Lenny dared to say the team set up, ie Calmac at left back was not influential on the game. He is kidding no-one. That was an awful decision to make and even with reduced personnel choices, a 3-5-1-1 or a 5-3-1-1 would have clearly been better than taking your midfield engine and throwing him to the wolves. If Lenny cant see the knock on affects of that move then I fear his days are limited.
All he had to do was stay in front in the tie. Not confuse his side with a weird set up. Not change a winning team. Not drop a guy you had played in last 7 games and hadn’t lost any of them. The side in the first half looked like strangers and that all lies with the Manager. No changes were positive and the use of 3 forward subs rather than shoring up when in the lead was abject neglect. I know he couldn’t compensate for Broony having a nightmare but he has to be clinical with subs at the right time and get the right men on the park at the right time.
We all know the Board could and must do better but last nights game was lost by the Manager. Pure and simple.
The question now is what does he do in response?
All the Treble Treble Stepping in for Brendan Goodwill has gone.
The pressure is on and it is real pressure, not just paper talk.
Many fans want him ( and Lawwell) out but that wont happen.
Lenny needs to find a winning side and get through the next play-off. He then needs to ensure he does not LOSE at ibrox. He doesn’t need to go there and win…he just needs to show he can steady the ship and that progress from last nights debacle is possible.
Failure to get through Stockholm and Sevco will surely see him reflect on his position.
Who saw this coming when we were all celebrating scoring goals for fun against SPFL fodder?
Not Lenny or Peter, that’s for sure.
Rating – 2