Criticism Should Be Constructive And Merited, Not Destructive And Unwarranted

Celtic went into yesterday’s Europa League clash against Bayer Leverkusen with few giving them a chance of victory. The bookmakers had the Hoops at 5/1 to take all three points and the media insisted we had no chance of competing. I probably broke the mould earlier this week when I wrote an article stating that we had a chance because Leverkusen have been vulnerable of late, though I was careful to point out that any such result would be historic and that the home side remained favourites. After all, it doesn’t take a genius to note the financial disparity between the two teams.

Celtic went to Germany with no fear. A set piece saw us trail but Postecoglou’s men kept their cool and drew level before the break. In the second half, the Bhoys took the lead and squandered a great opportunity to make it 3-1 on the break. Although, that missed chance was balanced by a combination of Joe Hart and the woodwork saving Celtic at the other end.

LEVERKUSEN, GERMANY – NOVEMBER 25: Josip Juranovic of Celtic celebrates with teammate Jota after scoring their side’s first goal from the penalty spot during the UEFA Europa League group G match between Bayer Leverkusen and Celtic FC at BayArena on November 25, 2021 in Leverkusen, Germany. (Photo by Lukas Schulze/Getty Images)

A string of substitutions altered the course of the game. James Forrest was burnt out and Bitton was injured. Perhaps Jota and Kyogo needed to come off with Sunday’s league game against Aberdeen in mind. However, the quality of replacements was not the same and the game was cruelly turned on its head in the dying embers.

Celtic gave a valiant effort. They entertained and almost got a result. Yet, the response from various quarters has been astonishing. Yes it was annoying to throw the game away having been ahead and the substitutions can be analyzed, but how can the team and management be ridiculed for narrowly losing to an excellent outfit away from home? The same excellent outfit who we were told we had no chance of beating in the first place!

Certain media outlets have referred to the Celtic team as “embarrassing” and others have tried to slaughter us for failing to qualify from the group because our rivals did so. Within our own support, Anthony Ralston is now undeserving of a starting spot according to some. That’s down to opinion, so I’ve no issue with that, but I do believe that a magnifying glass is applied to his errors whereas a blindfold is worn when other players do the same.

20th November 2021; Hampden Park, Glasgow City, Scotland; Scottish League Cup semi-final, Celtic versus St Johnstone; Anthony Ralston of Celtic

The claims of embarrassment don’t even merit a response. The comparisons between Celtic’s European campaign and that of other Scottish clubs is also extremely bizarre. Postecoglou’s side faced excellent opponents in the form of Real Betis and Bayer Leverkusen, running both close away from home, and achieving six points (against Ferencvaros) with a game still to play. As for the Ibrox side, who qualified, they have earned seven points (0 against Lyon) against Brondby and Sparta Prague. The groups are incomparable and pointing out a shambolic Celtic side’s woes against Sparta Prague last season do little to change that fact.

In terms of some within the Celtic faithful looking for Ralston to be benched and Juranovic switched to right back, I would have to ask why some are so hasty about this. Ralston has been tremendous this season. He was phenomenal against Ferencvaros and Dundee prior to the break, earning a Scotland call up which we all insisted he deserved. Thereafter, he was steady against St Johnstone and then one poor game last night appears to have undone everything. I think that criticism is unjustified, though I previously predicted it would probably happen the moment he finally had a bad game.

Not to put down others, but if one is to suggest Ralston should be removed then they must note that Ralston’s touted replacement (Juranovic) passed the ball to the Leverkusen striker last night, gave a dodgy back pass to Joe Hart and was beaten many times on the left wing. The fact we survived those scares and he scored a panenka seems to have made many fans ignore those errors, whilst magnifying the mistakes on the opposite wing. I’m not for being hypercritical of any Celtic player, but it goes to show how certain players can receive unjustified or destructive criticism at times.

LEVERKUSEN, GERMANY – NOVEMBER 25: Robert Andrich of Bayer 04 Leverkusen scores their side’s second goal during the UEFA Europa League group G match between Bayer Leverkusen and Celtic FC at BayArena on November 25, 2021 in Leverkusen, Germany. (Photo by Lukas Schulze/Getty Images)

There needs to be a bit of perspective here. At the beginning of the campaign, few Celtic fans were confident of the club being able to compete to win the league title. Not only do we appear in good shape to do so, but we have reached a cup final and are now disappointed to have come away from Betis and Leverkusen without victories. That speaks volumes for the level of progress.

So, by all means, criticism, feelings of frustration at throwing the game away, and pointing out mistakes is fine. Nobody has to gloss over everything, but comment should be warranted and constructive. The disrespect, false equivalence and slating of a team for narrowly losing against a side we were 5/1 to beat is ridiculous. This management and squad deserve opinions to be shared respectfully after a match like last night.

Yesterday was tough to take, but that’s more a point of praise for how well the team performed than a criticism.

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About Author

Hailing from an Irish background, I grew up in Bournemouth with the good fortune to begin watching Celtic during the Martin O'Neill era. Still living on the south coast, I have a season ticket at Paradise and also travel to European away matches when possible. I have written four Celtic books since the age of 19: Our Stories & Our Songs: The Celtic Support, Take Me To Your Paradise: A History Of Celtic-Related Incidents & Events, Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys: Celtic's Founding Fathers, First Season & Early Stars, and The Holy Grounds of Glasgow Celtic: A Guide To Celtic Landmarks & Sites Of Interest. These were/are sold in Waterstones and official Celtic FC stores, and are available on Amazon.

6 Comments

  1. Ask yourself this question. Would Ralston make the starting first on team Croatia? And pointing out how Juranovic doesn’t look sharp actually makes my point even stronger. Have Frimpong play the left and see if he has the same game. Honestly, this Ralston crap starting over Juranovic on the right is ridiculous. Give the two players to any fucking club in football around the world and say to them. “ pick one to play your RB position “ all would choose Juranovic.

  2. And here is a little forecasting. Juranovic will eventually lose his first team spot on Croatia due to the fact that he hasn’t played and continued to develop in his proper position. Once that happens he won’t be too pleased and I wouldn’t blame him.

  3. And Ralston doesn’t have to worry about that because doesn’t start for his lesser ranked national. Oh but wait! He did get his first cap. I believe he was subbed on late to replace Tierney on the left. Ironic.

  4. FB’s are not like any other position. Their whole demeanour is the side. Wingers can switch to a degree because they have more ball skills and are able to move more in and out of the pitch when warranted in the oppositions zone. FB’s are like all of us growing up learning cursive. You either wright with your right or left. Force anyone to flip flop and it looks like a 6 year writing a letter. Just imagine if Klopp decided to flip flop Robertson and Alexander-Arnold in a game. You know what the outcome would be….? A loss.

  5. And that’s another thing come to think of it. Scotland has two quality LB’s that play in the best league in the world so why doesn’t he take one of them and place him as a RB? Because it would look like a dogs breakfast.

  6. I feel sorry for the lad. Hope he finds a way to get out of Celtic and develop his career like he should. No worries. We will still have Ralston.