It would seem that Celtic have, once more, ended a year by losing to their rivals, ensuring that the following two weeks will be filled with hearsay, hyperbole and massive overreaction.
That said, yesterday was well and truly coming. We had been sleepwalking to defeat for some time, and no one can truly say we deserved anything from the game.
Even me, who once stated that I’d not be BRAINWASHED by this team, fell for it all over yet again.
I didn’t do a shoot prediction because I wasn’t able to predict how many we’d win by, or if we’d salvage a point. In the end, we couldn’t do either, as the YCV’s eleven overran us in the middle of the park and fought their way to victory against a Celtic side who looked well and truly knackered and out of ideas.
We go on about how brilliant it is that Callum McGregor’s played more games than anyone else in the UK, and actually celebrate it. Yet, he looked completely done after seventy minutes and I have no doubt that all that gametime for the last two years has been unnecessary and played a part in his fatigue in the latter stages yesterday and yet, he was still one of our better players.
The Betfred Cup Final win was a warning, and we all had a big laugh at the time, but thinking that because we were at home, with our record imperious at Celtic Park this season, and because Edouard was fully fit, that it was a foregone conclusion was a colossal error in judgement.
I should know, because that’s how I felt going into the match, and with the lack of noise generated inside the stadium before a ball was kicked, a lot of our fans would have felt the same way.
It’s complacency and league performances in the run up to yesterday’s game should have been a red flag for many, yes, including me.
Slogging our way to wins over Hamilton and Aberdeen, and a generally lethargic display against St Mirren, shouldn’t justify the ‘We’ll turn up and just win anyway’ patter, and I’m guilty of it more than anyone, however, I was complacent to forget that :
Rangers are well drilled.
They have power runners.
They set up very compact.
It’s now clear that they’re no longer a project managed by Murty/Caixinha/Warburton. Our players and fans have been used to that Rangers for a long time, and they’re not anywhere near that level now. It’ll have been a shock to a lot of people associated with our club, to see Ryan Jack and Glenn Kamara dominate our treble treble winning midfield, with Steven Davis dictating play the way that Ryan Christie should have been.
Ryan Kent plays against us like he has a burning hatred for us. Do we have anyone else who has the same level of contempt for them ? I’m struggling to think, and the answer is no.
If Christie’s penalty goes in, it’s a different game entirely, but again, complacency cost us there too.
We’re a more fluid and inventive side when Elyounoussi is fit, and yet, he’s only on loan. A stop gap, if you will. When he goes, we’re back to square one. We need a permanent solution.
It was all ‘fun’ when people put Bolingoli in their Twitter names on the back of a Celtic TV interview and a few decent performances, but again, the reality there was we let daft patter overlook the fact that this is a player who we cannot rely upon as a first choice for us. Greg Taylor must now, surely, be given a chance after the break.
There are players who have been wonderful for us, but living off their past performances at the moment which is also unacceptable. Kris Ajer needs dropped. The diving in, almost cost us again, but he managed to let Katic get to the ball before him for their winner, the same way he allowed Sam Cosgrove to bully him for that goal for Aberdeen the other week.
James Forrest is another one who has, once more, failed to turn up against Rangers and it pains me to type the same thing as the moaners on Twitter, but it’s true, and perhaps his worst form for us has came at the best time, while we’re still top of the league and with a break to look forward to. However, if he’s not on his game, and neither is Christie, Celtic seem to struggle to create chances, and it’s a miracle that Edouard got himself on the scoresheet, even if that was down to a huge slice of luck.
I don’t think this is a major crisis at Celtic. It’s a hiccup.
That said, if we don’t address the left back problem, a dominant defender to partner Jullien, stopping playing Callum McGregor in EVERY single match, and generally being a more aggressive unit to combat Rangers, we won’t just stroll to a ninth successive title.