That was the Month that Was : February 2020

So that was February 2020.

A leap year February no less…a month where surprises are meant to be when men are proposed to by their partners…there were a few surprises for Celts mind…Lets have a wee review:

The Month required that Celtic play 8 games ( and then immediately kick off March with an away Cup tie in Perth no less).

The results were as follows:

On January 31st, if you had offered Celtic fans a 12 point lead at the top of the League, a Place in the Scottish Cup semi finals and no major injuries come today 2nd March, then the majority would have taken it gladly. A few  though would still shake their heads in disappointment after the capitulation to Copenhagen at home..but we can come to that, lets go back to the start of the month.

A few months ago, a certain “Football Analyst” on Sky Sports Scotland named Kris Boyd loudly proclaimed how Celtic were under so much pressure and how they would have to go to 3 tough away grounds in row to face Hamilton, Motherwell and Aberdeen ( as well as a trip to face Clyde whilst also facing Hearts at home). Boyd reckoned the fixture list would crush Celtic.

While Boyd ranted on, former Celt Kris Commons sat there nodding and listening but said nothing. He didn’t have to.

Commons knew what was coming. Commons knows that Celtic know how to handle such a schedule and handle it they did, with aplomb.

Hamilton away is a weird game to play..a screen for a stand, a plastic pitch, hardly any home fans. Celtic dismissed any of these irregularities and despite going 1 goal down, rattled 4 goals passed Southwood in the Hamilton net to secure 3 points. The trip to neighbouring Motherwell would be even sweeter, another 4 goals scored but none conceded.  The Steelmen were bent all out of shape as Griffiths and Edouard continued their welcome pairing up front and Calmac scored a Goal of the season contender.

6 points secured and it was on to face Clyde in the cup.

Of course we got the usual “Roy Keane Day” memories but a professional dismissal was served with a 3-0 win during stormy weather. We even had the cheek to throw in a goal from Bayo AND Scott Brown…honestly, we did!

After securing the Cup win, it was back to the League where we faced Hearts at home. Folk  in the Media felt Hearts may cause us some issues but after 30 minutes, the backline collapsed and Celtic ran riot. 5 goals from 5 different scorers and a clean sheet. A managers dream.

Aberdeen was the next port of call and its always been a curious fixture, although recent results have seen Celtic do well up in the Silver city. After a tough match, it was looking evenly matched with 10 minutes left. The scoreline read 1-1 when Celtic kicked off a break on their own 18 yard line. As the forwards passed the ball towards the Aberdeen goal…50 yards behind, Kris Ajer started running…and he kept running…and then kept running…suddenly he was in space and collecting a perfect pass from James Forrest. Ajer then calmly lifted the ball into the net to secure the 3 points. What a run!, and it was a run that sums up this Celtic sides spirit!

With Pittodrie vanquished,  it was onto Europa League Time.

Copenhagen beckoned and for 30 minutes, everything looked wonderful. Celtic were in such comfortable control and scored through a lovely Eddy dink and had a few more chances. Sadly they didn’t take them and back came the Danes who ultimately ran us ragged.  It would take Fraser Forster to make a wonderful penalty save to secure a draw after we basically fell apart.

There was no rhyme nor reason for such a performance swing. It was truly bewildering how we went from so calm to so hapless but a draw was secured and we were in the driving seat with a home tie still to come.

The Hoops returned home for a Domestic game against Kilmarnock who had found a recent turn of form. There were a few fears of a Euro hangover when Killie took a very early lead but Celtic held their nerve and stormed back with that super striker Kris Ajer again scoring and the front pairing of Griff and Eddy showing their class to secure the win.

And so to Copenhagen at home.

Utterly dreadful. I still have no idea what I was watching. Folk said it was individual errors, others said it was tactics, others blamed front men for not taking chances. It was probably a combination of all of these factors but we were simply abysmal in losing from such a position. The only moment of enjoyment in the 3-1 defeat was the VAR penalty decision given for Celtic..but that was slight reward while we conceded 3 goals to a Danish team that were functional and nothing special.

This was a big loss and a big opportunity lost and no mistake.

So that was that.

8 games.

6 wins

1 draw

1 defeat

23 goals scored.

7 goals conceded.

Goal-scorers:

  • Eddy:  7
  • Calmac: 3
  • Griff: 2
  • Ajer: 2
  • Olly: 2
  • Jullien: 2
  • Jamesie: 1
  • Chistieano: 1
  • Jozo: 1
  • Broony: 1
  • Bayo: 1

In summary…its hard to realistically reflect and be really upset.

The League and domestic cup and chance of another Treble are a higher priority, and being pragmatic, a true possibility and the joy of the progress made there takes precedence over the  Euro disappointment. Hopefully the Copenhagen collapse is another lesson learnt but overall, February will probably go down in the history books as the Month when we secured the League win to make it 9 in a Row so all in all, we cant really complain.

And with that, we  close out February.

March would start with a great professional win in Perth versus St Johnstone to progress to a Scottish Cup semi final against Aberdeen but we shall cover that in 30 days or so….

What’s your thoughts?

regards

Desi.

 

 

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sfa unfit for purpose
6 months ago

Nice common sense approach Desi , cannot argue with it. We have seen the quality in this Celtic side , but we have also witnessed the frailties and hopefully we are already looking to our transfer business in the summer , both ins and outs , to add to the core of the side. We need first team ready players , no more prospects.
Also have lost respect for ch4 news and especially alex Thomson for trying to use Celtic as a way to sensationalise a story. A story that requires no more than facts.

Rebus67
6 months ago

SFA,

I agree the stats look OK overall but tge reality is different. Given our financial muscle, we should be able to dominate in Scotland. Yes, there will be the odd Livingston result(see Watford!) but over the season our resources should enable us to dominate. The acid test is in Europe where we can get out coached by teams with a player pool a fraction of the value of ours. Twice this season, and AEK last season. You have to ask Why?

The second yardstick to apply is are we a better performing team now than we were last season or the season before? The answers are not so clear on these two criteria.

Rebus

6 months ago
Reply to  Rebus67

Totally agree.

Europe is the benchmark and we failed.

Rolling Stone
6 months ago
Reply to  Rebus67

The league is weaker this year than previous years, even if Sevco have improved.

Hibs with Lenny and Kilmarnock with Clarke were tough opponents. This year Hibs, Hearts and Kilmarnock have changed manager. Aberdeen are weaker than they have been previously (losing their captain last year, amongst others).

My worry is that a lot of our results this year seem to come on the back of great individual performances as opposed to being the sum of all parts. For examples, Forster was man of the match in both ties against Lazio and the cup final against Sevco. When he is not putting in those type of performances, Cluj, Copenhagen and Sevco all walked away with victory from CP. That is slightly worrying, not least because FF is not our player.

SteveNaive
6 months ago

When you put it like that you are right to say many of us would have gladly taken it. That Copenhagen game though. I thought we had made strides to manage games better than that. I think we have got to refresh with quality come May. Forza Celtic.

Rebus67
6 months ago
Reply to  SteveNaive

Steve,

Yes, but refresh where? Players, Management, or Boardroom?

Rebus

6 months ago
Reply to  SteveNaive

Unfortunately that’s not the Celtic (Lawwell) way.

Projects, projects, projects and hope for one pearl to profit.

6 months ago

i’m surprised you haven’t mentioned Madden’s predictable anti-Celtic efforts yesterday- Bitton yellow for being fouled,no red for the assault on Forrest,throw-ins given the wrong way etc. I presume you don’t mention the ref because its the norm in Scotland- yeah ? Regarding the Europa set back I think its a blessing actually- Rangers now have a seriously tough game against Leverkusen prior to the Ibrox derby- Euro hangover ? Its bound to be very draining for them along with the strong possibilty of a defeat,also I think its likely we would’ve gone out in the next round anyway- 9iar is far more important !
One cannot help noticing the fixtures Celtic have had to play- all those away games at potentially point-dropping venues,the dubious pens given against Celtic,all the stonewallers refused Celtic- I think the team and Manager deserve great credit. Rangers are lucky the Celtic Board haven’t really used their financial superiority,in fact I started to wonder whether a high-level Masonic directive had been issued- NO 9IAR FOR YOU TIMS- Gerrard and Rangers must have the title this season. Looks like their plan has failed. I always read your blog and enjoy it. Hail ! Hail |!

6 months ago
Reply to  Desi Mond

Although you did mention it. 😉

TonyDtic
6 months ago

Playing 3 at the back and 2 up makes us look great going forward but not so much at the back. Watching the wins against Hamilton and Motherwell I thought the opposition created far too many chances against our 3 and that a better team would punish us and although individual errors were the cause we conceded the last two goals against Copenhagen playing a 3 whilst chasing the game.
I don’t have the answer as I’m no football coach but if we could only find a way to accommodate Griffiths and Eddy without compromising the midfield or defence we would be even more untouchable in Scotland and more of a force in Europe. As I said I don’t have a solution other than playing with 12 but I think we have great quality 1-11 and players on the bench and sometimes not even in the squad that would improve every other teams starting 11.
Wednesday is still a must win for us, don’t give THEM any glimmer of hope.
HH

Yoker Bhoy
6 months ago
Reply to  TonyDtic

Good post. A Spanish style 4-4-2 with El Hamed in as RB should be given serious attention.

Rebus67
6 months ago
Reply to  Desi Mond

Desi,

All we had to do was stop them scoring. If we scored good and well but the one essential to get to the next round was stop them scoring! We failed to put out a team to do that, or to manage the game accordingly. The longer the game went on without them scoring, the more vulnerable they would become because they would have to come out and attack us, rather than waiting for the counter. After they scored it was panic stations a la Cluj.

In Dubai somebody decided that 352 was our way forward. We had one decent CB, one emerging star and a glass jaw for our back three. Bitton is a midfielder. Did we buy a third CB? Nope, we bought two squad fillers that have yet to play.

On the positive side, that game was my final straw. I am out!

Rebus

Monti
6 months ago
Reply to  Desi Mond

PISH

Rebus67
6 months ago
Reply to  Desi Mond

Charlie S,

I was talking about the C’hagen game. Which one are you talking about?

The result came down to two things: mistakes…..where on the park were they made? …..taking chances, or not. They excelled on both counts.

What we have is 4231 is in, then it is out.
Then 352 is in, then it is out.

Frimpong is in, then he is out.
Repeat for Hayes and Taylor, and rinse.

Robertson and Welsh are in, then they are out.

Klimala is in for a couple cameos, then he is out.

Grif is in, then he is in again. Total goals in February is 2, same as Ajer, Jullien, Ollie. Which one is the striker?

Was it Ranieri that got the nickname, “tinkerman”? He has a challenger.

Rebus

Mike
6 months ago

Celtic with a £50.00 mill. per annum playing costs.
With a 31 first team playing squad, but only 19 of the squad are regular players and 11 also play for their national teams. February is notoriously cold and wet. So the stats suggest that there is around 12 off the first team squad that doesn’t feature much, if atall. The point that I’m trying to make is that we are asking far too much of the 19 players that do play all the time and 11 off them are also playing for their national team.
Players playing every week: Foster- Ajer- Jullien- Broony- CalMac ( Europe’s most played player) Forrest- and Odsonne. 7 Out of 11. Playing twice per week, most also play during breaks for their national team.
To sum up, we are asking some players to risk burn-out and not making the most of the money in the budget (Peters Picks) risking young players careers by buying cheap players that do not feature.

Mike
6 months ago

One flew ower the cuckoos nest and flew far, far away!

charlie
6 months ago

great article desi pressure to win everything got tae us v copenhagen after we do the quadruple treble we should play the wains in the cup games next season COYBIG

charlie
6 months ago
Reply to  charlie

and put everything into the ten and europe

Paddybhoy67
6 months ago
Reply to  charlie

I said the same elsewhere and got slaughtered for it.

SteveNaive
6 months ago

Rebus,
All three in my opinion although board and management will stay the same and we will probably be having this debate this time next year. Some players are just our present level and do not have the vision, touch, pace or intelligence to combat well organized, fitter teams ( not AEK). We have this team ethic in Scotland and can rely on individual brilliance on occasion but are found wanting a step up. As a playing style, the Lions showed us how and being settled forged that spirit. Projects to sell on I’m afraid and some work, some sink. No way to build a European team. Part of the journey though, still love ‘em.

Cartvale88
6 months ago

Good overview Desi, but we still suffer from the fantasy of a defence. We do not lose a lot of goals but that is more the opposition, Play a half decent team, say Copenhagen and we stumble. This is not the players fault but the powers that be. Simo is a joke, this has been known for two years, he is also an eco warrior, he hates plastic, in the SPL that is a no no. Ayer and Bitton have been forced to become defenders, that is not their position. Forster and Julien are real defenders and bail out the others.
Untill this issue is addressed we will always have a glass chin.

6 months ago
Reply to  Desi Mond

Agree about ElHamed, comparing to Jozo, who became world class when he came in and never played due to injuries.

Time will tell whether he’s an injury-free class player.

Mark
6 months ago

Far more importantly, Happy Birthday Caesar, 80 today. Thanks for everything and keeping the legend going. Know you are in the better place big man and you know you are forever loved. HH!

SteveNaive
6 months ago

Desi, I was behind him looking down and Julien, paths blocked, could have hit a long diagonal which he is good at and with less risk. He could also have gone longer to Eddy or Griff although the former never won anything in the air all night. It’s not good enough to say he isn’t that type of player and whilst he doesn’t need to be Sutton/Hartson/Larsson, he could at least challenge for Griff or others. It can’t all be on the deck, especially in Scotland

6 months ago
Reply to  SteveNaive

Im not excusing Jullien here..Jullien and Jozo had same emergency option…kick it out the park if in two minds and regroup.

The fact that Copenhagen could control the game with 2 guys was abysmal..we should never allowed that to happen.

6 months ago

Nice write up Desi. What it showed to me we are an spl team but no better.
We have been reduced to being happy going through the europa league and if we get out the group it’s a bonus. Our great name and tradition throughout Europe is being desecrated by those in power.
McGinn and Roberts were 2 names we really should have bought that would have added to our squad.
At the back for next season as it stands we have
Bain
Frimpong /el Hamed
Jullien Ajer Jozo Bitton
Bolingoli, Taylor. To choose from
Is this a back 3 or 4 to take us to champions league.
A simple answer is no.
There lies the problem without even going to the midfield.

So yes good February but we will never be european level unless the board change their ways. We have to buy proven players not future prospects.

6 months ago
Reply to  jimmybee

I believe we should be a champions league team charlie not a Europa team. We got gubbed by a mediocre copenhagen thats all I’m saying investment in our team would give us that bit extra.
We had some great results and Big Forster saved us, if he hadn’t come in on loan ?
You get what you pay for.

6 months ago
Reply to  jimmybee

Are you not concerned with the lack of quality in defence.?

6 months ago
Reply to  jimmybee

Winning a eurooa league group means nothing Charlie when you fail to win in the knockout stages. Nobody remembers who wins the groups only the winners of the competition. Did sevco win their group.?

6 months ago
Reply to  jimmybee

C S… Coefficients don’t play football 🙂

6 months ago

Champions league nights for me

6 months ago

Roll up roll up the gulliables pay more for your upcoming Europa match at ibrokes than the away fans will do. Well you do want yo save your club now dont you.?

6 months ago

CS… The way things are at present with Celtic, both options are invalid, but I remain hopeful that in the next window the heirarchy get their act together and buy in actual quality. Next season is, for me, is more important than European dreams of glory. COUGH

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