It’s been an interesting reaction to Celtic’s performance and result on Wednesday. I’ve read everything from huge praise and delight, right down to scathing criticism. Me? I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. (I’m also discounting Alastair Lamont’s match report on the basis of him being hurting after Sevco’s Ramsdens Cup exit).
The postives for me were the way we defended, the fact that we kept a good side at bay and, with so many Champions League debutants, we didn’t crumble or ever look like doing so. I thought the performance of Kris Commons was outstanding. A very hard task but he kept working and probing and was a great leader for the younger guys on the pitch. Around me at the game, (apart from these panic merchants who appear at these games and scream and yelp every time a pass goes astray), there was a lot of grumbling when it was announced that Lustig and Wilson were in the team. I thought they were pretty good. I know I am in a minority here but I like Lustig, he has faults, show me a player in the SPL who doesn’t, but I think he will be a really good signing for us. Wilson is growing into his role and it may well be that a player like Ambrose beside him will be the making of him. I think Miku is an intelligent player but he will need to use his talent more if he is going to succeed. Then there are the supporters who, once again, didn’t let anyone down and the roar after the Champions League music was like a sonic boom impacting round Europe. Throw in a wonderful tribute to the Hillsborough victims and you know you’re part of something really special.
The negatives would be the performance of Emilio, who seems to have completely lost his confidence, the yellow card that knocked Wanyama out of his stride and allowed Benfica to get a foothold in the game and the feeling all night, that we couldn’t shake, that said we won’t score here tonight. Personally, after 60 minutes, I’d have put Watt on for Forrest, shifted Commons left, Brown right and moved Mulgrew into the centre of midfield. I think the balance and potency of the team would have been greatly improved had this been done.
The one thing I haven’t mentioned is the performance of Scott Brown. There were the positives of fantastic chasing, shutting down and breaking up attacks. It has to be said though, when Brown has the licence to do that, Wanyama has no idea where Brown is going to be and there were lots of occasions when our two central midfield players were 30-40 yards apart. This does not happen when Joe Ledley is in the team and if folk want to know what Ledley brings to the team, and why we miss him, it’s that safety net.
Overall though, we move on. As a fourth seed, my goal for Celtic is to achieve 3rd place in the group. I actually think we have a good chance in Moscow, barring injuries, because the way we play in Europe is ideal for away games.
Others will disagree, but isn’t it great to be talking about these type of games again?
It is, but just talking about them won’t be enough next season for most, me included.
I think it’s fine to treat this season as a learning curve, but all the club will need to learn from it and learn about it.
Top to bottom.
Paul (twitter @paullarkin75 and @HomeBhoys)
The HomeBhoys will be live today at 11am Celtic Park time HERE with their ‘Down ‘Under’ show.