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Observations: AEK Athens 2-1 Celtic

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It’s alright we are loaded but

Celtic v AEK Athens - UEFA Champions League Qualifier Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Just like the Zenit game, I never seen it coming. Many others called it, predicted it if you will, but I had blind faith that despite the ‘problems’ in this team, we were still bound to raise it a few levels and storm Athens like the Persian Empire to progress to the next round of the qualifying farce that we have to face every year.

The faults in our team were obvious. We’re lax at the back, we’re not mobile enough in midfield and the manager is far too loyal to players who once did their job for us in the first treble winning season, and this is before refusing to upgrade that defence ahead of two crucial games.

That said, we had more than enough to put AEK Athens away over both legs. We were far more talented in every position of the pitch, but collectively, and mentally, yet again in Europe this team have went to pieces, and Brendan Rodgers as well as the board MUST carry the can for it.

Some observations :

Mikael Lustig has to be dropped now. I wrote about how he was rushed back from the world cup far too quickly, and it’s been a shocker of a decision from the manager to shoehorn him into this team. He’s been hugely to blame for all three of AEK Athens goals over both legs and no wacky gimmicks can make him a first choice any longer. Let’s please pack in the polis hat patter, and those people making t-shirts and meme’s out of it can fuck off as well, because he’s been dreadful for far too long and they are just enabling him to be the class clown. There can be no excuses any longer, he’s done at that level and should now be used very sparingly.

Another big game in Europe ? Another anonymous performance from Thomas Rogic. Colour me shocked. I know everyone will jump to his defence and disagree of course, but comment in this article at the bottom if you take serious offence to this, I’d love to hear why. Completely off the pace again and his best contribution to the game was going off for the guy who ended up scoring for us. Of course, he’ll score a screamer against Partick Thistle at the weekend though and yet again, the plaudits will be in overdrive for him. A deeply disappointing performance yet again.

Is this the season we see Scott Brown rested more and his replacement, John McGinn, stepping up ? Of course it isn’t, because we were arrogant and obnoxious with making a move until it was too late, and now we’ll probably burn Brown out as well this season, making him play in every game even though it’s painfully obvious he’s knackered already. Brown wasn’t terrible, but he was far from his effective best last night and even the greats burn out eventually. I was watching Soccerbox with Gary Neville last night on Sky, bear with me I’m going somewhere with this, and Neville himself was saying he felt when his legs were going, and he was exposed more often on the pitch, he made the decision to retire. Brown can get away with more than Neville because the Scottish Premiership is nowhere near the level of the EPL of course, but if we do make it to the Europa League, will he be playing two games a week for the next few months ? How much more can he take, and how much more can Celtic afford to play a guy who will be running on empty just because he’s the captain ?

Why was Kieran Tierney not pushed up into a more attacking position when we had to go for it ? Who cares about being cautious at 2-0 down ? Both our goals came from Tierney in the two games, so surely he should have been playing as far up the pitch as possible and we should have went all out ? I couldn’t get my head around that one.

On the plus side, despite being outjumped for the second goal last night, I felt Jack Hendry recovered from the slaughtering he took at Tynecastle and looked our most threatening player from set pieces. He was also far more assured in possession than Jozo Simunovic, who surely now will be out the door in the next couple of weeks after yet another dismal showing.

Oh well, at least we’ve got more money than Rangers eh. That’s what REALLY matters.