Over the piece the midfield have left me constantly perplexed. They neither protect a vulnerable back four (despite the best efforts of the excellent N’Guemo) nor do they have an attacking threat. How many Celtic midfielders in a central role have even scored a goal this season ? Oh for a Petrov or even a Craig Burley (despite this rantings on ESPN) to carry a goal threat.
We have lost count of the number of times we have buckled and crumbled at vital stages in important games. From Tel Aviv to Vienna (first half admittedly), the capitulations at Tannadice and Tynecastle, the horror show high scoring draws at Falkirk and Aberdeen and a string of lack lustre home performances against Dundee United, Motherwell, Falkirk and Hibs, added to a pathetic exit at the hands of a poor Hearts side in the League Cup at Celtic Park.
Mickey Quinn commented early on Sunday Morning on Talksport that watching the Pittodrie game was like watching a game in a pub league and as I drove to work I winced at that statement. But he has a point. There was not a shred of professionalism in the side when the going got rough in the latter stages and we still haven’t found a leader, an inspiration who can drive us on and meanwhile the good ship Celtic lies rudderless. Mowbray for his part, stands motionless at the side during games giving no inspiration to team or fans alike. The players we have are all of a reasonable technical level. The team plays attacking football but right now we need pragmatism not principles and Mowbray’s much lauded footballing principles brought little or no success at Hibs or West Bromwich. He’s been given ample supplies in the January transfer window and the team are still totally bereft of fight, spirit and heart. We have a side full of soft centres.
There is also a certain indiscipline within the side. McGeady shows a constantly petulant attitude, often booked for silly actions and affects the side by his constant dribbling, losing possession in important areas and a stubborn refusal to pass a ball to better placed team mates. Boruc looks unfit and has had a season strewn with errors. The decision to drop Zaluska after reasonable displays was also an mistake because had Boruc been made to sweat on his return to the first team then perhaps his fitness and concentration would have improved.
The frustration is that the standard of the SPL at present is a total embarrassment. Rangers are financially imploding and are in their worst position off the park for years yet their manager can put a team on the park that will scratch, spit and gouge for their cause. That should the least we expect also. Hibs currently are a threat for second place and despite my admiration for John Hughes, they and every other side in the league should be cannon fodder to Celtic, given the resources and the finances we generate.
A 10 year cycle has now passed and we found ourselves back to where we were in February 2000 after the Inverness defeat – the laughing stock of Scottish football. It has often been said that a team is the mirror image of their manager. Manchester United snarl and compete in every game, a reflection of Alex Ferguson’s fierce will to win, being the best example. Our current leader stands lifeless during each match and even in post match interviews never gives the impression that he has the attributes to motivate the troops going into battle. Dull just about describes it.
I was driving home on Saturday with a friend after the match and he switched the radio on. Not wanting to listen to the after match assessment he tried another channel and ‘Something Better Change’ by the Stranglers came on. We could only laugh at the irony of a song that could be Celtic’s anthem right now. I write this on Sunday after sleeping things over and this article is not a knee jerk reaction to one bad result and I hope this is an objective assessment of our current woes. But like 10 years ago with John Barnes things are getting worse and it’s now again a case for damage limitation.
By my calculation Tony Mowbray is the 14th person to be Celtic’s manager.
Come in number 14, your time’s up.