Well after the midweek disaster, it was all eyes on Sundays match against a Motherwell side who had fared rather better than us in Europe last week.
The Celtic fans sat waiting to hear how the Lenny Nuclear rant fallout had left the Team landscape.
- Would the WantAways be banished?
- Would the Poor Attitude folk be dropped?
- Would the sideliners finally get their chance to start and shine?
The answer to all of these was a head-scratching “No!”
The same line up as midweek was announced and everyone gasped, sighed, shrugged, moaned and clenched their fists in anger and despair.
After around 39 minutes, many were starting to think it could be quite a self destruction level decision by Lenny.
As per Wednesdays calamity, Lennys Celtic side played with Ryan Christie through the middle. With his back to goal.
It was hopeless. The boy tried but his natural game is to run forward, dart inside and out, play the pass or unleash the shot.
Asking him to hold the ball up or stand between 2 centre halves is just a total waste of his talent and literally playing with a man short. BTW Lenny, that whole holding the ball up approach is fine when you have runners but not so much when your runner is usually Ryan Christie!
The rest of the play mirrored the hopelessness of Christies positioning.
The ball was going down the sides and crosses into no-one or just going side to side and repeat in the hope that Motherwell players would fall asleep. It was dire to watch.
Its true that Celtic were in total control but we were doing nothing to really worry Motherwell. Broony and Calmac were hanging back to nullify a non existent threat and Ntcham and Mo Enyounoussi were just pottering about occasionally meeting Christie in the same spot for a confused bit of crowding.
At one point I saw us play a 3-2-5 formation but the front 5 all stood in a row 3o yards from the Motherwell goal.
On the left we had Greg Taylor trying to get up the park and across the park out on the right, James Forrest had had a haircut and was showing an appetite to get involved.
On the 40th minute, it would be Forrest who eased all our suffering and eased the pressure on his boss and team-mates with a superb finish after a brilliant run up the park by Callum McGregor.
It was great to see McGregor in full flow, charging forward, shrugging off or dodging challenges before playing the pass for the goal-bound shot. Hopefully his sitting-in role can be reviewed now Master Turnbull has arrived. Its goals that win games and all that.
As for Jamesy. What a strike, outside of the right boot, curling inwards at pace, and a reminder to everyone just how clinical he can be.
A recent comment after last weeks defeat thought we were offering Forrest up as the whipping bhoy.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Its the fact we know Jamesy is a great player that we want to see him hit the heights that he is possible off, rather than watching him fade within a game. Yesterday he showed a return to form and the Reverse Samson certainly seems to have worked regards his power. Great to have him back.
With the goal in the bag, we all relaxed a little as the half time whistle came.
The restart would see a massive shocker as Lenny swapped Mo for Klimala.
A striker?..an actual Centre forward!..what was he thinking?
Klimala went on and started getting involved right away. He looked a little clumsy at the start trying to get involved but soon enough he was finding space, or forcing defenders into errors, or leaping high to take the ball on his chest and playing a pass back to the midfielders.
The most notable of those appreciative midfielders being Ryan Christie.
Placed back into his natural front facing attack role, Christie was suddenly back to his old self. He was everywhere, beating men, playing passes to feet, collecting 1-2s and causing the Motherwell guys nightmares, even at one point beating a man whilst sat on the ground.
If the Well players thought Christie was causing them problems, then they had no idea what was in store when Jeremie Frimpong arrived in place of Greg Taylor.
Frimpong went out right while Forrest switched to left wing-back.
Frimpong then simply ran riot.
That explosive 5-10 yard burst of pace was just too much for Motherwell to handle and the journeyman Grimshaw at left back could have been yellow carded 3 times in just the one dynamic run from our young smiling star.
I asked recently for Celtic to work out how to have Frimpong and Forrest play together. If its with Frimpong on the right and Forrest on the left, lets give it a go. The pace and dynamism are too much for defenders and we have to maximise use of these key weapons wherever possible.
And then another shockeroonie.
Lenny had not only unleashed Frimpong after Klimala but then also stuck on Ajeti for the tiring Ntcham…yes 2 strikers! ..on the pitch at the same time!..in a 3-5-2 formation!!!!!!
Ajeti may be nowhere near what professional football deems match fitness but its already clear he knows the game.
He immediately started finding positions and space and on 74 minutes big Kris Ajer found him in the 18 yard box with a perfect 20 yard pass, that pass after some great possession trickery and 30 yard passing across the pitch from Christie out on the right.
Ajeti, calmly received and controlled the ball, took a touch, looked up, and then blasted it passed the Motherwell keeper who had no chance of stopping the clinical drive.
A great team goal including the shot, Christie and Ajers passes but also the running off the ball.
On re-watching it you notice aspects like Klimala and Forrest running across the box dragging 2 defenders away from Ajeti and helping to give the striker an area to receive the ball. There should be plenty more to come from such switched on attackers and especially the Swiss forward after the International break.
With 2 goals, the game was done and Celtic would put the 3rd goal cherry on top in the dying minutes when Frimpong broke up the park and passed to the surprisingly advancing Jullien who found himself bearing down on goal and calmly slotted the ball into the far right corner. Lovely fitbaw.
With that, the game was done.
The stats showed we had 67% possession, which was nice and with that win, Celtic sit 3rd place in the league, 6 points behind with 2 games in hand.
Its now international break and we dont play again for a few weeks. Hopefully no Covid scares and once all the players regroup, the focus will be there and the 2nd half enthusiasm regenerated.
There were signs yesterday that a corner is waiting to be turned but with this break and the transfer window open, who knows what could happen over the next few weeks\months.
Hopefully we will have another defender arrive in Shane Duffy to help firm up the back line and in turn that will hopefully help release Callum McGregor forward as Calmac could be the very guy with the head and heart to drag everyone through this season.
Only time will tell but fingers crossed any issues are now in in the past and that Lenny has an idea of what works best both tactically and in handling team personnel.
Celtic play best when attacking and in free-flow. Let’s not over complicate it or over-worry about opposition.
Play, drive, pass, shoot.
Its a simple game when you play to your strengths.
All true but the vitriol that comes Lenny’s way places more pressure on the club in this, of all seasons. We have many enemies out there ( Robertson being another) that want us to fail. Had the misfortune to read the clown Leckie in a ‘newspaper’ where he exhorts the Klan to ‘ keep grinding away, keep getting the job done… They just need to keep doing what they are doing” No pretence here, no sense of balance. Coward.
That corner that we turn will probably be taken by Christie as well !
“the vitriol that comes Lenny’s way”
If the guy fucks up team selection and tactics to lose a chance at Euro progress ( again ) and then says things in post match interview that will raise even more questions, well he is going to get called out for it. Purely self inflicted by the Management and club.
A Celtic fan who thought “Oh well, deary me” would be pretty hard to find after last weeks game.
Clearly he had the players in the second half on Sunday.
If he only had 45 minutes of fit strikers available over the football week then that also says quite a lot about his own Squad management.
Lets all try and call it like it is.
He fucked up last week, we called him out on it.
He fucked up Sunday first half, we noted it.
He did well in the second half, we saluted it and called out for more.
Whats done is done and we look forward to moving on.
No criticism of the manager on the official TV station.
I’m in total shock.
“that whole holding the ball up approach is fine when you have runners but not so much when your runner is usually Ryan Christie!”
Yes, there were a few times in the 1st half when he had the ball in the box looking to lay it off to a Ryan Christie style runner, who wasn’t there.
Goals were well worked and taken but so glad the manager’s pig-headedness was shaken at HT, as 2nd was much improved and the kinda performance we’re used to and expect. Without the changes only foresaw the 2nd being another turgid affair and if we didn’t get a 2nd could see them equalising given our weak defence.
Only downside was Klimala failing to score, there were a couple of times he could’ve been played in but ball went other side.
Shame he didn’t score from the “Slippy G” moment, which would’ve well and truly put the bantz back on the correct foot.
Hopefully he’s not disheartened and got praise from his manager, coaches and other players, as I’m sure the goals will come.
After the international break we should have 4 fit strikers but they all need game time to ensure they’re match fit when their needed to play a prominent role.
Time will tell whether the manager has learnt his lesson.