Celtic Diary Monday February 1: Who Ya Gonna Blame ?

Celtic Diary Monday February 1: Who Ya Gonna Blame ?

All I can hear, for the second year in succession, is that bloody awful song where the chorus tells us it’s all about the bass, no treble. As with all those little pop nuggets these days, the lyric is repeated until the song finishes.

So thats that then.

I’m not getting a commemorative Staffordshire china plate this year either.

And it must be somebody’s fault.

Anybody in fact.

Efe Ambrose. He’ll do. some supporters have been waiting for him to make an arse of something so that they can say he was an accident waiting to happen, and he would cost us in a big game.

That big game obviously was yesterday, where 22,000 people, including a sizable proportion from the Highlands, turned up to at least make the game worth staging.

So, judging by the size of the crowd, it wasn’t all that important to most of us. I didn’t go either, because its hundreds of miles away and at the end of the month I have to pay all my bills.

Or at least make excuses as to why I haven’t paid them.

Each of us will have our own reasons for not going, but the truth is if it had been an important game, we’d have gone.

Efe ambrose, solid as a rock in his last four outings, settling down a defence which has been pretty much piss poor all season. Mikael Lustig loses his man, Efe runs across to intercept, doesn’t get there, maybe clips the defender as he runs into him, and its a penalty and he’s sent off.

Stop for a minute and think. No matter how low in your own personal assessment Efe Ambrose is, he is not going to decide to chop a forward that early in the game and get himself sent off. He’s going to try to stop him, he didn’t, there was the smallest of collisions, and even Bobby Tait or the famous R H Davidson would have thought twice about removing him from the field for that one.

Lest they be accused of making their personal feelings too obvious.

There is an issue with the defence, and that issue is not Efe Ambrose. But the guy next to him, Dedryck Boyata has no confidence in himself, inspires little confidence in anyone else, and , as a result, i’m fairly confident we’ve seen the last of him in a Celtic jersey.

What also will transpire from this is a change in the coaching staff. John Kennedy has been complaining of late that his coat keeps falling off its hook, and no-one has bothered to fix it.



So, after a blistering start which saw Celtic take a lead in under a minute, and Efe Ambrose have one cleared off the line and one head towards the corner flag, the game had changed.

Celtic were down to ten men, whilst Ross County were up to twelve.

Thats always going to make it tricky, especially as this Celtic side lack that wee bit of dig that is required to transform adversity into triumph, Although the big man Erik Sviatchenko looks like he might have a little bit of that, and its perhaps unfortunate that he wasn’t ready to step into the line up from the start, not in place of Ambrose, but in place of Boyata, who, like at Manchester City , continues to flatter to deceive.

No wonder Denaayer overtook him in the international side. The guy is terrified of making a mistake, and most supporters will forgive mistakes, unless you happen to be Nigerian.

Perhaps he just doesn’t want the flak big Efe is getting.  But then, who would ?

The reshuffle saw Calum MacGregor leave the fray, which was a mistake. That meant any creativity and intelligence on the ball had gone from the Celtic side. Ronny Deila called it wrong here, I can see his thinking -as I’ll explain later, but its not the way i would have done it. and thats without hindsight.

Nir Biton and Stefan Johansen remained in the holdong berths, but , as they had done prior to the incident that lead to the penalty, failed to hold anything.

Nir Biton, in particular, though, can be quite proud that he saved the wee woman who washes the strips a lot of work.

Armstrong and Mackay Steven took to the wide positions, but were more withdrawn , which left Leigh Griffiths fairly isolated up front. Without Macgregor in the pivot role, Celtic offered very little after that, and seemed to be waiting for something to happen rather than making it happen.

1-1 at half time, and at this point there was no sign the game was beyond Celtic, but the nerves were starting to jangle.

But hey, it’s a Cup semi final. They should be jangling.

As the game wore on, they jangled more, and exploded when County went in front after a corner floated in and the Highlanders won two headers to leave Craig Gordon stranded. Two headers-without Ambrose Celtic are terrible in the air at the back.

Gordon had a more than decent case as he was man handled and prevented from even trying to save it, a fact he pointed out to refereee Cragi Thomson immediately, and Thomson appeared to make a note of his complaint. Well,  he scribbled something in his book while gordon continued to rant at him.

A third goal came soon after, as concentration and organisation deserted Celtic. Deila threw on Scott Brown in an attempt to get a wee bit of shape and cohesion to the side-there were still twenty five minutes left, but the midfielder clearly wasn’t fit.

He did make a bit of difference though, with one or two county players being rebuked and stared at for their niggly challenges and pushing, which had gone unnoticed by the referee up to this point.

Celtic were awarded a penalty to sort of make up for the mistakes Thomson had made earlier, and had Leigh Griffiths not been feeling sorry for himself up until  that point, then he may well have tried to score . As it was, his half arsed attempt hit the goalies legs, which tend to stay in roughly the same place as when they were when he started to dive, and that was that.

You could see the shoulders sag and the heads droop.

Fair play to County-actually, no , not fair play. They lunged, kicked, grabbed , pushed, pulled, shoved and clattered their way through the game, but then again, thats down to the referee to sort out.

And that was never going to happen. Ambrose had run into a player and was sent off. Would you risk kicking someone. Johansen did, and got booked late on, but I’ll wager he felt it was worth it.

I did.

And so to the managers excuses.

Or are they reasons ?

‘It’s tough to play 80 minutes with 10 men and, of course we could have done that better. 

‘And we have to show more character when we get something against us.

‘We are a little bit too weak and give away things too easily. We could be stronger in situations when things go against us. That is something we are working on and need to get better at.

‘I think Broony (Scott Brown) made a difference when he came on and showed that when you go at them, tougher, we can create more. 

‘But it is my responsibility so I am very, very disappointed today and of course all the players are as well. But what’s done is done. We have three days and then we go into another important game and we have to look forward to that.’ 

Hard to disagree with any of that, but it doesn’t go far enough.

Removing MacGregor was the mistake.

Biton should have gone, Johansen and MacGregor should have been in the central berths. James Forrest should have played the second half, ten minutes at the end was no good to him or us.

Armstrong and Mackay Steven were both tiring, and at the very latest, one of them  should have only done an hour.

 But most of all, and this is no-ones fault but Deila’s- the pitch was heavy.

Very heavy, and Celtic were lightweight.

County were prepared to scrap.amd Celtic couldn’t.

Considering the plethora of Scots in and around the team, thats a shocking state of affairs.

For all those of you reading this who weren’t that bothered about the treble, theres a mighty big reaction going on now that its not going to happen.

Fair enough, to have no European football after christmas-as is usually the case, and no treble won, as is usually the case can be interpreted as a failure to move forward.

So go ahead, call for the manager to be sacked.

Alan Stubbs is the man. Stubbs who shot off back down south after the club looked after him during his illness ?

Or Brendan Rodgers ?

Tell you a wee story about Rodgers, from the book “Living in a volcano, ” which deals with how managers work.

On his flip board in his office, Rodgers has  a set of figures. 12 x 17 = 204.

When an eighteen year old player is in front of him, he refers to that equation first. Its how many wage packets the kids has in front of him.

That tells me all i need to know about Rodgers.

Moyes ? Still not found a job, i see.

Whether we like it or not, Deila is not going to be sacked. He is not going to resign, and he is working to change things.

He got a lot wrong yesterday, but some of the players did as well.

And they’ll be gone before he is.

Its the last day of the transfer window today. Celtic may yet surprise us.

Patrick Roberts will be here. for eighteen months.

Colin Kazim Richards will be here. Even Kristoffer Ajer should be around.

The lack of creativity is being dealt with.

The poor defence is being dealt with, in more ways than one, we hear.

Its a little harder to remain opimistic, but things are being done.

Lets wait and see if they are the right things.