Time for the good, the bad, & the ugly from yesterday’s Celtic vs Sparta game. Wyscout had npxG at 1.21 vs 2.16 on 10 vs 11 shots. I have seen other xG models have it around 1.80 vs 2.50, with Moi’s 1st half chance the biggest disparity. Regardless, the general picture is similar- a really poor performance given the relative quality of the opponent.

Good goes to…nothing and no one. I could probably make a case for Rogic but am not feeling particularly charitable after a long week. Even everyone’s seeming glamor boy, Laxalt, is now 3 of 27 at Celtic on crosses, including 0 for 13 in the three Europa League games.

Bad goes to every other player performance other than Rogic and Laxalt. The emerging trend I have been highlighting and concerned about remained. Celtic won just 44% of overall duels vs Sparta’s B-team. The last game where we won 50%+ was vs Sarajevo. Brown was just 4 of 6 in duels overall, with 1 of 3 in defensive duels. McGregor was 2 of 9 in duels overall and 1 of 4 in defensive duels. Reverting to 4-2-3-1 with those two as the holding midfielders has been a predictable hot mess. McGregor has been rested for a grand total of 23 minutes so far this season.

I took some heat for highlighting the treatment of Tierney in my post-Ferencvaros thread, but is anyone surprised to hear the story of Duffy and his condition for the derby?  McGregor being “ground down to dust” while trying to run around and cover for his captain. The near universal consensus I read and heard following the Lille and Aberdeen games was how “good” they were, when objectively that simply had not been the case. Better than the level of poor performances which preceded them? Yes – but as I have argued for months now, the underlying structural issues remain and stubbornly unaddressed.

Ugly goes once again to the people ultimately responsible for allowing this mess to continue. I decided to hold off on doing a Twitter thread on how financially irresponsible the board’s decisions have been. The amount of risks they have now piled up heading into next summer are immense. I was widely ridiculed and ignored when I laid out my case regarding the huge risks to this season. Part of those risks are now cascading exponentially to the point where the long-term competitive advantage over Rangers is now in jeopardy.

The decisions to force players to stay and expect next summer’s transfer market to be a favorable one is just one example of risk being piled on the Club’s competitive standing. This summer’s market remained relatively resilient, as the long-term impacts from the epidemic have been deferred for a time. What if player values decline significantly in a deflationary market fueled by widespread club insolvencies? What if players who were forced to stay against their wishes decide to be difficult once they are within 4-5 months of the ability to sign pre-contracts? What if one or more suffer long term injuries before the end of the season?

The idea that the club would assume all these risks, and that it has a latent war chest of players available for sale to makeup for exhausting £30+ million in cash reserves in the midst of a global pandemic, is incredibly aggressive for a club that had been run with such fiscal conservatism. What if fans are not allowed back into stadiums until later next year? What if we lose the league and season ticket renewals drop significantly? It is not difficult to come up with a scenario where Rangers win the league, qualify for the Champions League next summer, and Celtic’s wage budget has to be cut by 25%+.

You think 10iar is now at risk? We better be worried about the next 10 years due to complacency, arrogance, and incompetence. I have about as much confidence in their decision making at this point as I did in Lennon’s after Ferencvaros. But there is always hope!