We’re in a very odd position at the moment. On the one hand, we’ve won our opening Europa League group match for the first time, our first home win in a European group match since Ronny Deila’s side beat Astra nearly four years ago. We haven’t conceded a goal in any of our last five matches, and if we win today then we’ll close the gap on Hearts to three points.
So why don’t I have any confidence in us winning today?
Well it could be because in those five matches that we haven’t conceded, we’ve only managed to score six goals – three of which came against Suduva. We’re struggling to break down any team we play against at the moment, and that was evident again on Thursday night.
We barely troubled St Mirren. We were miles better in the derby before the international break but only managed a single goal to give us the deserved win. We lost out to AEK not only because we conceded soft goals but because we couldn’t make our dominance count. Hearts beat us by being solid at the back as well.
This is something that has carried over from last season, and one of the best teams for frustrating us was Steve Clarke’s Kilmarnock.
Or is if Steve Clark? One of them has been cited by the SFA for having a correct opinion about the referee appeal process.
Before Clarke took over, Kilmarnock were thumped 5-0 at Celtic Park and lost 2-0 at Rugby Park. But once Clarke was in place, the first thing he did was earn draws at Ibrox and Celtic Park. When we travelled to Rugby Park in February, we lost 1-0 courtesy of a man who is now in our squad today – Youssouf Mulumbu. That was his only goal for Kilmarnock of course.
The penultimate league game of last season was a goalless draw against Kilmarnock at Celtic Park, so in three games against Clarke’s team we’ve only managed a Leigh Griffiths goal and that came in the first of the three.
So we can’t score many goals at the moment, and we’re playing a team that seem quite good at stopping us from doing that anyway.
It gets better. Kilmarnock’s bogey team last season was Aberdeen, but they’ve already shaken that off this season with victory at Pittodrie. They’ve also lost narrowly to Hearts as we did, while Livingston took a point after an opening day victory over St Johnstone. Last week they lost to Hibernian, but that was after being 2-0 down, getting it back to 2-2, having an awful penalty decision go against them and then a blatant penalty not given to them.
This wasn’t even the game Clarke was cited over for being annoyed about the referees!
We have three games in a week now, starting with his visit to Kilmarnock and ending with a game against Aberdeen at Celtic Park on Saturday. In between we have a League Cup game at McDiarmid Park to deal with as well. These are three games we need to win and ideally win by scoring a few goals. We need to start building confidence again, a belief that we can get back to the capabilities we all know are in the team somewhere.
It’s not like the team is going to be added to until at least January now. That very healthy balance sheet that was released on Wednesday to give us something to read instead of watching the Champions League can’t get us goals or the creativity we haven’t seen much of lately.
Krys (Twitter @krys1888)