It was almost fitting that it was Ian Black who was on the receiving end, someone who has made a ‘career’ on those sort of challenges. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy…
Back to Lennon, and there are a few things that he will need to learn this season if we want to win the league back, and for him to actually be in the job next season.
Firstly, it’s his tactical changes and substitutions: I think I wasn’t the only one who was wondering what on earth Lennon was doing in starting Samaras on Wednesday night, furthermore up front, thus breaking up the Hooper-Stokes partnership.
I’ll talk about Samaras later, but the only way he was picked was because of his height and playing the diagonal ball, but even at six foot four, never have I seen a man get bullied so much in the air. Meanwhile, Stokes playing on the right had a howler and Hooper had no service.
I just don’t understand the decision to change the team for Samaras, who is obviously playing the worst he has at Celtic in a long time, maybe since he joined. When we won 9-0 on Saturday, would it have been the same if Samaras had started? Probably not.
Then there is the substitution after the sending off; Ledley has been our best and most consistent midfielder this season, and when he goes off, there is a massive hole in the pitch that’s left. Ki, no matter how well he is playing, can’t control the centre by himself while Maloney troddles forward most of the time.
Lennon had to bring on Juarez, and keep that level playing field alongside Ki. Maloney, no matter how well he’s been playing this season, isn’t a central midfielder. We need that drive in the middle, and Juarez is perfect for that. Instead, McGinn came on for Stokes and the centre of the park was left bare.
This suited Hearts perfectly; having the extra man central, they forced Celtic wide and ultimately only are able to get balls in from wide, and only a five foot nine Hooper for service. Add the fact that Samaras was still on the park and consistently giving the ball away, it was a strangely bizarre collection of decisions from Lennon.
Despite the record win against Aberdeen and seemingly every shot on target was going in, that’s another big game where not only have Celtic failed to win, but Lennon has got his tactics horribly wrong. Tynecastle is the hardest away fixture in the league barring Ibrox, and I wasn’t fully expecting Celtic to win – but I was expecting Lennon to be more tactically astute and not succumb to yet another referring horror show.
Now, what do you do with a problem like Georgios Samaras? Not one for exaggeration, I don’t think I’ve seen a Celtic player hated in quite a while as big Sammy is.
On his day, he’s unplayable. He has the physique, the skill, the talent, the pace and the footballing brain to make it as a star. But, the words ‘on his day’ are few and far between. Actually, I think ‘his day’ left about two years ago…
I find it staggering that this guy, who hasn’t been playing consistently well since that night in Villarreal where he missed the one-on-one, has managed to start pretty regularly under three different managers at Celtic, all while infuriating nearly every Celtic fan alive.
I’ve always said that because he has that talent hidden somewhere in his lanky body, that he is worth keeping as a squad player, as you never know; the hidden talent could one day come out and amaze the fans at Parkhead.
Unfortunately, it looks like that will never happen. On Wednesday, he had taken one too many of his runs that he inevitably ending up losing the ball, and fell to his knees looking at the heavens, with a horde of Celtic fans shouting every expletive imaginable.
Now, I don’t care if we don’t get any money for him. I don’t care if it hurts him that he doesn’t get a game anymore. I just don’t care anymore – Just don’t play him. He is keeping young talent out of the side like James Keatings, who I would GLADLY give a game to than Samaras.
Hate is a strong word, but the bold Sammy is pushing most Celtic fans to that feeling. It’s been a love-hate relationship between Samaras and the support, but mainly hate. But it’s time to end, before the feeling gets to the ‘Kenny Miller level’.
It’s not us, Sammy, it’s you…