BRENDAN RODGERS told the critics to wait six or seven months to judge Celtic’s season. After the second half collapse in Salzburg the knives are out for the Hoops and the papers are now counting back on the successive number of away Europa League games without a win.
It is largely an irrelevant stat though, Celtic can win their three home games, draw in Norway and expect to progress.
Incidentally you may have missed Matt Corr’s excellent Salzburg Diary – The Sound of Celtic – last night on The Celtic Star, if so, do yourself a favour this morning as it is a great read – see HERE.
Anyway, back to Brendan and his comments the day after the night before.
“It’s early October. If there’s any message then it’s ‘Judge us in May,’Brendan said.
“There’s nobody panicking here. We lost a game against a better team on Thursday so we just focus on our next game and stay calm.
“We didn’t play anywhere near the level we wanted. You have to accept that and try to be better, then prepare for the next game and ensure you go out and give everything.
“It’s a constant thing. It’s not something you just turn on and off. It’s always important you stay calm. So there’s no need for big rallying cries now.”
There was a despondency about the Celtic support yesterday though and the mood it going to be hard to alter. It’s not so much the defeat but the way that Salzburg played as a team.
Surely that is the way that Celtic should be dealing with teams like Hamilton, Livingston, Dundee, St Mirren etc especially at Celtic Park. Salzburg’s ‘Attack, Attack, Attack’ approach had to be admired and it was dare I say, more in tune with the Celtic way rather than the five minute periods of passing the ball across our defence and winning 1-0.
Salzburg deserved their win even if the goals conceded were awful from a Celtic point of view and should up the weaknesses that have plagued our season to date.
“We’re working very hard to find the solutions. We didn’t create so much on Thursday but we need to keep working,” Brendan admitted at yesterday’s media conference ahead of the visit to McDiarmid Park on Sunday.
“You have to prepare for not having the ball but sometimes there’s no time to breathe,” he continued, somewhat depressingly echoing what the Rapid Vienna captain said after losing the Battle of the Cheats at Ibrox on Thursday evening.
“In a lot of our domestic matches opponents sit in and we have time to breathe but you have to be able technically to cope with both aspects.
“When you make that step up to the next level in Europe then you need to be good in all four phases of your game and we weren’t able to do that.”
Why though? Celtic are paying out more money that Salzburg in wages – so where’s the value? The Parched pitch was re-laid over two close-seasons to give us a much faster approach – are we giving visiting sides breathing problems?
Celtic played like visiting Scottish Premiership sides play at Parkhead on Thursday night and Salzburg gave us a lesson in how to play against this type of football. Can we not overlook this please?
Brendan also made the point that we are essentially weaker as a squad after the losing the likes of Moussa Dembele, Stuart Armstrong and Paddy Roberts. The two sales brought in some £27million – to the delight of the Financial Tims – but has inevitably left us with less options.
“When you lose the players we have then it will make a difference. It’s not just Moussa, there is a collective.
“There are Stuart Armstrong’s goals and his running ability and we had Paddy Roberts leave too. Are the lack of goals down to poor finishing or no creativity? There are a number of reasons.
“We’ve struggled a little to create opportunities and the speed of our game has something to do with that.
“There’s no doubt we’ve not scored anywhere near as many goals as we’d have liked.”
One player who came in for particular criticism – again – was Jack Hendry. Yet he played. He was there to be counted in a season when others have not always shown themselves ready to wear the jersey.
And we have that expensive flop Marvin Compper sitting somewhere counting his blessings at Celtic’s folly. What say the Financial Tims to the £23k a week he is reportedly earning?
Both Kristoffer Ajer and Filip Benkovic would have presumably played ahead of Hendry on Thursday and the on loan Croatian would also have started at Kilmarnock the other week – he was named in the side – before dropping out after taking one look at the plastic pitch, or was it an Achilles problem? Jack Hendry played.
Celtic missed out on the Champions League because of the failure to take care of a bang average AEK Athens side then an even worse Hungarian team – the draw might not be so favourable in future seasons.
Yet the Celtic board need to appreciate that the money comes from the team on the park being good enough to get is there. There are others to point the figure at for Thursday other than the former Dundee defender.
Another shout for Matt Corr’s Salzburg Diary…it’s well worth a READ.