Published on Thursday 1st July, 2010 by Celtic Trust

Here we go again, we’re on the road again

I was driving through the Liberties in Dublin just after the game last night when a puffed and fluffy moon peeked through the night cloud looking symbolically like a giant busted football. Which just about summed up my feelings at the time. Just the other day I had written that this time each year we are ‘full of beans and great expectations when we are about to embark on a European adventure. More often than not in recent years we return full of holes and crushed expectations.’ It wasn’t meant as prophecy, nor even as a serious warning, for I could not foresee such a disaster as unfolded in Braga unfolding. Sure, “easy up” I hear you say “nobodies dead or seriously injured are they?” No, that’s true, but it our chances of progressing to the next qualifying round of the Champions League if not dead, are on a life support machine, and there’s no argument whatever that our pride has been seriously injured. Is there anything positive we can say about last night’s horror show in Portugal? That it can’t possibly get any worse? God knows we’ve said that often enough before. Then up pops Glenn Loovens or not in his case, or Scott Brown or Samaras to remind us, that when Celtic engage in critical European ties, what we think of as the bottom, turns out to be a trapdoor in a bottomless pit.


Neil Lennon Nightmare’s

I have been very public in my absolute support for the appointment of Neil Lennon as Manager. Having said that I think last night he made his first serious error in terms of team selection and compounded it with very poor substitutions. Why Paddy Mc Court had to endure another 90 minutes of gut wrenching frustration on the bench, whilst Daryl Murphy and James Forrest were brought on is absolutely incomprehensible. Whatever the reason, and on a night when we didn’t have a single meaningful effort on target, it was a serious blunder by the new Manager. The tour of North America demonstrated how since Naka’s departure and Aiden’s absence how diminished we are in the creative department. Only one player consistently made chances for the team on the US tour. In the game against Sporting Lisbon last week, Mc Court opened up the Portuguese defence like a tin of beans on at least four separate occasions. His reward? Another night of torment the bench. If I was Paddy Mc Court I’d be wondering what I had to do to get a start, and maybe reluctantly beginning to look elsewhere for an even break. The player has every right to feel both frustration and a litle anger. Lennon needs to take responsibility for his selection on the night. Otherwise people start grasping at straws.


...happy Mr. Dermot Desmond?

This was the headline on an erstwhile serious Celtic website after the game. Someone in their wisdom had put the blame for the humiliation in Braga on Dermot Desmond. I kid you not. Dermot Desmond. People know, or if they don’t they do now , that I have never been an big supporter of either Dermot Desmond or John Reid. But how anybody could blame either of them for last night’s debacle beggars belief. We have been very active in the transfer window and brought in what we hoped were some important signings to the club. That may still prove to be the case. But the blame for the failure last night is down to 14 people The Manager Neil Lennon is principally to blame for his team selection and substitutions. Then the responsibility needs to be allocated directly too and too various degrees, to the 13 players who took to the field on the night and managed not to create a signal meaningful chance in the entire 90 minutes. Scott Brown as Captain needs to shoulder a bigger chunk of responsibility than most for what was largely a ‘no show’ on his part. Likewise Glenn Loovens, who was principal amongst the defenders posted absent yet again for the second goal. Lukasz Zaluska shares at least some of the blame for the third goal. One could go on an on. Charlie Mulgrew squandered any number of dead ball opportunities. Sammy was back to just being Sammy. And so on. Off course its true that their first goal was never a penalty and there was nothing we could do about that. There was no excuse for the other 2 goals. No excuse. Just standard piss poor defending from players who have to take some responsibility before we make complete buffoons of ourselves blaming Dermot Desmond and others.


The rising of the moon?

I’m sure Lenny must be hurting desperately. How did we manage such a complete and utter fiasco. What a sickening way to begin your career as the full time Manager of the club you love. He really has to pick himself up and pick up the pieces. The players will again look to him to steady the ship and accept responsibility for his errors. His room for manoeuvre may be narrower than he thinks, if one considers the impatience of some sections of the Celtic support in alliance with a media which is already in feeding frenzy. I said I’d back Lenny’s appointment come what may for a full season and so I will. He deserves our loyalty and needs our full support at this difficult moment. This was Lenny’s Artmedia. He needs to hold his hands up and take responsibility, and then we can move on. During Gordon Stachan’s reign his first result turned out to be his worst result. The catastrophe of Artmedia Bratislava was soon overcome and heralded an era of huge success at the club, including ‘three in row’ and back to back progression to the last 16 in the Champions League, a record unlikely to be surpassed in Europe by any of our domestic rivals for a very long time. Let’s hope the same is true of Lenny. Let’s hope that symmetry and providence coalesce in creating Lenny’s very own ‘rising of the moon.’ Beginning next Wednesday we need to once again turn the noise up in Paradise and reconstruct our fortress. Believe me an early goal could change everything . To progress on the night would be nothing short of a miracle. But we have witnessed them before. Our history is littered with them. Just a few years ago we went down to Benfica 3-0 in Lisbon. A few weeks earlier we had beaten them by the same result in our place. A week is a long time in football. We have to believe. We have to turn up with hope in our hearts. I’ll be there. Will you? Yesterday I wrote about ‘an embarrassment of riches.’ If last night was the embarrassment, then lets hope this time next week we’ll be celebrating the riches. Hail Hail!


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