We really do have to be quicker out the blocks moving forward. I get that it’s still early in the season and all that but it’s starting to become a theme these days. That sluggishness and lethargy is deadly at times when your playing against an opponent who doesn’t mind you having all the ball and camping in their own half. St Johnstone pulled it off a few weeks back and they are the worst side in the league.
Teams like Dundee and St Johnstone – with the greatest of respect – should be put away in the first-half at Celtic Park on a weekly basis. The complacency and wastefulness in front of goal has to stop as it will come back to bite us severely – especially in the Champions League. It was the same problem last year under Ange Postecoglou at that level and if things don’t change drastically in front of goal, I’m afraid it could be another repeat of last year’s points tally.
Having said all that, the second-half was much better from us and it was no fluke that the introduction of Reo Hatate coincided with the tempo of our play stepping up a couple of gears. The Japanese international has been missing in action for the beginning of the season to date, with Rodgers admitting openly that his head had been turned with talks in the media about potential bids coming in for him this summer.
Although today he looked to be back to his old self and we desperately need him as we start to get right into the mix of this season’s fixture list. With Feyenoord this coming Tuesday on the immediate horizon now, a fit and firing Reo Hatate is an essential tool for the manager. I think it’s patently obvious now that McGregor, O’Riley and Hatate is our best midfield three and that’s who must start in Rotterdam this week if we’re to have any chance of picking up points.
A shoutout must go to Liam Scales also, who was excellent again this afternoon and is growing in confidence the more minutes he gets in a Celtic jersey. His passing and vision for the strikers today was superb at times and you’d think it was a midfielder who was chipping those balls into the inside of the centre-back and full-back of Dundee. Nat Phillips got his 45 minutes out the way and that will serve him well as we slowly get him up to speed. Gustaf Lagerbielke and AlistairJohnston also put in strong performances and the Canadian should have had a couple of goals!
All in all it was a mixed bag; that first period must not be allowed to happen again and we must ensure we keep that second forty-five as the template going forward. It’s an absolute necessity if we are serious about making any sort of meaningful progression in European football this year too, and we need all our big players to stand up and be counted at the De Kuip this week.
More of that second-half please, Celtic.