SANDMAN’S DEFINITIVE RATINGS: CELTIC @ FASCISTAS-FUNHOUSE…
“The happiness of most people is not ruined by great catastrophes or fatal errors, but by the repetition of slowly destructive little things.” – Ernest Dimnet
ROXIE – 6/10 – Alamo Joe, they call him; and as those early corners whipped in like a cowpoke’s lasso, the big guy was exemplary in dealing with them – particularly the first when focus was on his punch out after the initial contact which took the ball right off the nut of an incoming opponent and saved a certainty. As it was, no seige really came and he exuded experienced professional calm in dealing with everything else they threw at him and keeping his defenders tuned. No chance with the agonising late goals.
GREGGS THE BAKER – 5.5/10 – Busy and booked. Did reasonably well strapped into his Rodgers’ role of zonal occupation. But we’ve been accustomed to him doing unreasonably well in big games with the naturalised roving role of his first team tenure to date…
WAYNE GRETZKY – 5.5/10 – Also booked by spawn of Mr.Bean for a textbook-perfect tackle. About there I realised we’d drawn another halfwit official from the UEFA clown hat and remain quite bemused we finished with eleven. Been out in the cold a while, AJ, and it showed at this level as he was caught on his heels a few times by nippy opponents. Yet to reach heights of his initial appearances but solid as ever.
OF JUSTICE – 5.5/10 – Nearly another classic CL 90 from the Gaelic Baresi then he gets rolled like a Hackney Marshes Sunday morning chump for the second. Will learn not to front run and commit himself with top quality strikers lurking, but can be satisfied he coped well for 80 minutes.
GET CARTER – 6.5/10 MOTM – No repeat of his fugazi at home to blow the game; was a rock for the most part, almost a goalscoring granite statue twice and was precise with positioning, tackling and passing. A sound fit at this level.
SAINT BERNARDO – 6/10 – Surprisingly, rated not viable for SPL and unable to cope in Madrid, he was our best threat in the middle tonight. Silky takes and turns a few times, aggressive, let down only by match-sharpness as his final deft touches and passing wouldn’t come off. Which he did, prematurely probably.
CALMAC – 5.5/10 – Reigned in the mid; reined it in, though – too much. Evidently playing to the masterplan, safety first was Calmac’s default. And he’s great at it, but…I longed for him to step forward, burst at them, shake them up. Nah… ‘Tactics’.
THE BUILDER – 4/10 – Matty, oh dear. Could have been the match-winner, ended anonymous. A victim of the cautionary mantra? Certainly subdued and appeared hamstrung by the game-plan, in which individual flair was a footnote in the appendix with an *.
* ‘Not required’.
JAMESY – 4.5/10 – The hero of Rome 2019. They still talk about him in all the finest brothels. Could he repeat it tonight? Well, no, the flight home’s soon after full-time. On the pitch he teased with a terrific early surge and cross, but that was about that and Jamesy left Rome unfulfilled. Rome will weep. Jamesy will be fine.
KILLER MUSHROOM – 5/10 – Two cracks, no goals and a stuttering calamity 25 yards out when he had time and space, that resulted in them dispossessing him and breaking back to score the first. Still put in a tireless shift but, as with everyone else, left the pitch musing on what might have been.
YING – 4.5/10 – He’s out of his depth at this leve… No, he’s back in it! Doing well second 45, getting stuck in, creating… Got to score! Wit?!!! Nah, sub him…
EDDIE TURNBULL – N/A – ‘Last time I wis ‘ere, I saw that Maximus fella havin’ a bit of a tear-up…’
MIKEY J – N/A – He couldn’t, could he? First touches, slaloms, twists, into their box… damn, blocked off. But offered as much as anyone else, probably more in terms of direct action.
OH BHOY – 5/10 – Too little too late – cast on to rattle their last-quarter cages, he certainly got involved despite the poor service. Encapsulated the CL campaign by winning a comical last-gasp penalty only to see a simping VAR overturn by that incompetent tweaking shaved rat. Talking of which…
THE SHNAKE – 5/10 – Caution, caution, caution… Possession. Discipline.Maturity. Efficiency… And hee-haw to show for it. The anguish of Brendanistas everywhere could be felt in the Ciro Immobile lightning bolts as this
‘masterclass’ in impotence ended with two light-blue balls. Hitting our net. There’ll be no board games like Risk in the Rodgers’ household this Xmas, no dice-rolling thrills; solitaire or chess will do just fine. All very well until the magic ingredient is required to make the playing of such a worthwhile endeavour and spectacle. We were sold on David Blaine being back in town. Turns out it was Paul Daniels with the same old tricks.
OVERALL – 5/10 – The glory of Rome. Something to fight for, to risk all when there’s nothing to lose and go home heroes or die trying. Then there’s this Celtic side – effortlessly competent, but toothlessly defeated. Passports shelved with a game to spare. Our bravery and ambition were subdued enough to warrant a look at the group table and wonder if we weren’t top, playing it out for a draw to qualify.
Skelped in Madrid doesn’t mean skelped in Rome, especially against Lazio who aren’t – and weren’t – much beyond our weight division. Yet we failed to land – even throw – any decent punches. Injuries, sure, but there’s a team collective at play and those coming in knew the score. Unfortunately, the score was to kow-tow to timid tactical restraint with little scope for impressing our will upon them, unsettling them, or shaking up the home crowd.
We had a few ventures forward but most of our game was played right in front of them – side to side and back again, precious, precious, protect the precious. A requsite at this level, yes – but to an extent; not to a one-dimensional passive, fruitless end with little tempo or variability; exactly the way Serie A veterans like it. We lacked intensity – critical for us at this level – and penetration – amazing, considering the presence of Jamesy
in the starting line-up…
The whole evening reeked of a risk-averse, measured approach designed to save face for an individual rather than an as a last assault on the CL to grab some unlikely – but winnable – points and set up a thrilling group finale. But nah, maybe I’m paranoid and the Bhoys were thwarted only by the bad luck that’s dominated this season and jammy opponents who all but buckled under our onslaught.
And maybe I’m wrong about the slide backwards from risky exciting bravery in the face of superior quality, to introverted fearful horseshoe keep-ball with one eye kept over the shoulder on the stats.
Nope. No, I’m not.
Go Away Now