Well that was a game that will live long in the memory.
Definitely one to file under “nearly Xmas eh” as we ground out a 2 nil victory against a Hibs side that were energetic and pleasant enough through the midfield but thankfully had nothing up top.
The warning signs for a curious if not overly unpleasant afternoon were clear when the line-up was released:
- Ajer, Jullien AND Bitton all starting?
- Brown, Calmac and Ntcham ALL starting?
- No Ryan Christie?
- No SuperMo or SuperMikey?
- No one on left hand side bar Bolingoli?
A combination of lack of fit resources, tactics and possibly experimenting saw Celtic line up 3-5-2 with the three big guys at the back, Frimpong and Bolingoli playing as high up the park wingbacks and Calmac, Broony and Ntcham in the middle whilst James Forrest had license to roam running around about Eddy who was through the middle.
It would take approximately 1 second after kick off before Hibs were firing high balls into the big space between Frimpong and Bitton that every supporter and their dog had identified as an issue.
Whilst Hibs huffed and puffed, they couldn’t really trouble Fraser Forster. Celtic on the other hand, were passing the ball out the park when expected men weren’t in their usual places, or running into each other or going nowhere in Ntcham and Forrests case.
Out wide Bolingoli was looking bewildered whilst the only ray of sunshine was Frimpong who bombed forward and looked like the only guy wanting to win with any eagerness. In the middle Calmac was helping retain possession well but it was all across and back and 2 and 3 touches without any urgency or clever movement.
Celtic would eventually find the net through Frimpong and Eddy linking up for the youngster to calmly slot the ball home under the keeper.
The crowd cheered and Lenny who was clearly getting frustrated, finally smiled on the touchline.
The second half was very much the same. We scored another through Eddy from a James Forrest cut back but there was no real flow to our game.
After a week post the Cup Final where most of the players didn’t travel to Cluj, we looked rusty rather than the expected refreshed.
Hibs tried to push up the park but the only save of note that Forster made was a great block from a Jullien diversion.
Hibs played some pretty passes though so hopefully they will find their shooting boots against our main rivals.
As for our strikers, Eddie would go off after just under 70 mins and Griffiths arrived for the last 20. Leigh had one nice turn and shot but in truth he was running the channels more than leading up front so we lost any main focal point. Griffiths would also just nick the ball away from the head of Rogic who was looking good for scoring in one of Celtic rare neat passages of link up play.
Everything good for Celtic was down the right with Frimpong. Everything poor was down the left with Bolingoli. The guy looked lost and even when he had time on the ball, he would stumble, pause or just balls-up. By the end of the game, Broony was shouting at him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is benched for Tynecastle on Wednesday.
John Beaton eventually blew for time and everyone agreed “a wins a win” and trundled home from the cold crisp air of Celtic Park.
This busy December schedule is fair kicking in but we still have 4 games to go. They just need to get to the Winter break without a loss.
Big Kris Ajer for one looked sore, stiff and uncomfortable after a few challenges and maybe its all taking its toll on our players.
Hopefully Lenny will have a few more options available to him over the next week or so as his side were running on fumes and just running into each other yesterday.
Forster – 6 – 1 save to make from Jullien. Held onto the ball too long for the impatient crowd when chance of counter attacks available.
Bitton – 6 – Decent enough game and helped cover for the advancing Frimpong
Ajer – 6 – Tried to bring the ball forward with a few good runs.
Jullien -6 – Got stuck in but no threat at set pieces for a change.
Bolingoli – 4 – Hopeless. Hopefully more rusty than crusty.
Frimpong – 8 – The Buzzbomb that dragged us over the line. That Star video though!!
Brown – 6 – Busy in middle against a lively Hibs midfield
Calmac -6 – Had a good first half but faded in second
Ntcham -6 – Can go from sublime to ridiculous in space of 2 passes, 1 exquisite, the other out the park to nobody.
Forrest – 5 – Hardly in it bar cut back to Eddy for goal. License to play anywhere but ended up nowhere. Missing a solid relationship with a right back it seems.
Eddy – 7 – Scored 1 and assisted 1 but most of the day was running into a man in Purple.
Rogic – 4 – Came on for last 10 and made a few wee passes but nothing significant
Griffiths – 5 – Came on and ran about but team formation did him no favours
Lenny said ‘ “The only criticism is that we missed easy chances – we were far more comprehensive than 2-0.” but it was all huff and no puff from where I was sitting. He has major question marks over the left hand side to address and his side are looking leggy and missing a vital spark of inspiration. When youre relying on the 19 years old boy for creativity then maybe an overall review is worthwhile with Hearts, Aberdeen, St Mirren and then The Rangers to follow before the year is out.
The highlight for many was the singing of “If you hate the fucking Tories clap your hands!” which got claps all around the stadium. Im not sure if Rod was at this game mind you!