One point in three games, nine goals conceded and fringe players not stepping up to the plate has unsurprisingly caused a slight meltdown among Celtic fans. Celtics 4-2 defeat at Easter Road last night is our third successive game without a win and follows a trend of poor, slack performances over the last month.
Players such as Alexandro Bernabei, Anthony Ralston and Yuki Kobayashi have been deservedly criticised, with their future at Celtic written off by the majority of the hoops fanbase. However, this blip in form is not a crisis and isn’t even close to being one.
For 60 minutes in Edinburgh, Celtic led 2-1 and looked comfortable, although not at their best. The substitutions of James Forrest, David Turnbull and Matt O’Riley seemed to alter the course of the game, along with the sending off of Daizen Maeda.
Taking Tomoki Iwata and Reo Hatate off completely killed our energy in midfield, even with the sending off. When we did recover the ball from a Hibernian attack, we lacked the pace in midfield with O’Riley and Turnbull and the speed in attack with Forrest to cause Hibs any problems.
Hyeon-gyu Oh leading the line was our most dangerous player throughout the game and seems to be the single positive that has came out of our disappointing trip to Edinburgh.
Although the performances of players in recent weeks has been poor, Celtic are not the only title winners in Europe who have been guilty of complacency. Since Barcelona won the title, they have lost back to back games including a 3-1 loss to 18th place Real Valladolid. After Napoli clinched Serie A, they lost their first league game since the beginning of April against 8th place Monza.
Slack must be given to players such as captain Callum McGregor who has been monumental all season and played every time he’s been fit to do so.
However, fringe players such as Ralston, Bernabei and Kobayashi should be questioned and it remains to be seen whether any of them will have a long-term future at Celtic. It remains without doubt that Ange must strengthen his squad if he wishes to leave a mark on the Champions League next season.
The Champions welcome Aberdeen to Celtic Park on Saturday in what is the last game before the Scottish Cup Final a week later. So it’s time for Celtic to win again and go out enjoy game and celebrate with the support after putting on a show.