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Celtic fans failed again by the Lawwell strategy

Brendan Rodgers and Callum McGregor were left to face the music after Celtic’s Champions League defeat to Lazio.

Both men are giving their all but once again Celtic were caught short on the biggest stage of all, there are only so many times that you can cite bad luck and small margins.

Bad luck is when your Champions League group contains Barcelona and Manchester City, or Bayern Munich and Paris Saint Germain. That doesn’t wash this season, there isn’t an outstanding team in Celtic’s group, it should be one that the Scottish champions are competitive in.

A look at the group table this morning points to failure, it is not ridiculous to suggest that Celtic could have four or six points after two matches rather than zero.

You don’t have to look too far to find the reasons for failure, it starts and ends with recruitment and a scattergun approach of buying enough players that you hope one can be sold for an eight figure sum then stand back and take the congratulations.

A year ago Celtic made a decent fist of it in the Champions League, there were impressive spells in every match that highlighted the need to add a little extra quality to be in with a fighting chance.

Without the guiding hand of Ange Postecoglou, Mark Lawwell was on his own this summer and opted for quantity over quality in the hope that Southampton might come in with a bid for one of his recruits with cheers ringing out from the Balance Sheet Bhoys.

A year ago Postecoglou had Jota and Liel Abada to juggle with as well as Daizen Maeda. Last night Rodgers had Yang Hyun-jun and Luis Palma alternating, with Marco Tilio failing to make it into the squad. James Forrest and Mikey Johnston weren’t required.

Palma was very unlucky with an offside decision but is nowhere near the standards of Abada or Jota, perhaps if he had been signed in June or July he might have made an impact on the defences of Feyenoord and Lazio.

Celtic’s Staring XI is weaker than it was a year ago, the club has failed to strengthen and is looking unlikely to see European football after the new year.

Signing three first team starters, of the calibre of Jota and Carter-Vickers would have taken Celtic up a level, instead Lawwell went for seven projects with only Maik Nawrocki costing more than £3m, you need to be very lucky to find Champions League players from that data range.

From the early stages last night Lazio targetted Greg Taylor as they funnelled the ball down the Celtic left at every opportunity, that tactic came good in the 95th minute with the winning goal delivered from that area.

The forner Kilmarnock man is a key player domestically but has no competition for his place and a weakness when you move up to Champions League level. He had little in the way of support from Yang or Palma as he faced Lazio targetting his area of the park.

At no stage has Alexandro Bernabei offered a genuine threat for the left-back role, that was known from midway through last season but no attempt has been made to find an upgrade on Taylor or at least decent competition or back up.

Instead it seems that Lawwell has opted to flood the midfield with projects- again none of them were making an impact last night.

Tomoki Iwata arrived in January followed by the summer projects of Odin Thiago Holm and Kwon Hyeok-kyu, for back up Paolo Bernardo was brought in on loan while new contracts were being negotiated with the three first choice midfielders.

David Turnbull looks surplus to requirements but wasn’t sold in the summer, into the final year of his contract the former Motherwell man and his agent will dictate what happens next.

Whatever strategy Lawwell is working to a team picture that stretched to 33 players was released last week which is probably 10 too many, not counting Sead Haksabanovic, Adam Montgomery, Liam Shaw and Bosun Lawal out on loan.

With Mark Lawwell calling the shots on recruitment it seems certain that his father’s record of failure in Europe will be maintained with Celtic Park top of the wish list for every club in the Champions League draw.

A former CEO used to boast about being a Champions League club at every level, in 2023 that only applies to the support but even the Celtic fans are growing weary of consistently under performing in the Champions League.

Fortunately Celtic avoided Newcastle’s Group of Death as fourth seeds, otherwise the strategy would be really exposed.

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  • by T Callan
    Posted October 5, 2023 8:59 am 0Likes

    Was this stuff prepared in advance in anticipation of a possible defeat? Not a hint of anything constructive, and just rehashed “who can we blame after the event” stuff which is both simplistic and tiresome. We were the width of Maeda’s sock away from a great result, and what would have been a deserved victory. So, let’s look beyond this predictable, lazy guff about the Board etc, and focus on what was a good performance by the team. If you can’t do that, then spare us the schoolboy, retrospective “wisdom” and, if you really must make a contribution, then try unearthing something constructive.

    Editor: It was written this morning around 7.30am, not all Celtic fans swallow the hard luck and small margins excuses, 10 years is a bit of a stretch with Daddy responsible for Cluj, Ferencvaros, AEK Athens, Malmo and Maribor plus Molde, Copenhagen, Sparta Prague etc in the Europa League.
    Have a lovely day over on CQN.

    • by T Callan
      Posted October 5, 2023 8:46 pm 0Likes

      Whenever it was written, Ed, is totally irrelevant. Absolutely nothing original, or constructive merely reflects a piece that was ‘ready to go’, just in case we suffered a defeat. Tiresome, repetitive text isn’t a characteristic of sensible reflection, and discussion. Of course, we’re all bitterly disappointed, and we all know the ‘history’ (good and bad) very well, but cliché-ridden articles are a waste of time, whether early morning, or indeed at any other time of day.

      Editor: Stick to CQN, always good news for the Balance Sheet Bhoys.

      • by T Callan
        Posted October 5, 2023 11:06 pm 0Likes

        “Stick to CQN”, replies ‘Ed’. ….. Says it all, really.

        Sad stuff.

  • by Seamus O'Broin
    Posted October 5, 2023 10:15 am 0Likes

    One thing that l noticed was we’re back with the tip tap, back passing, particularly in and around the box, that is nerve wracking and wastes so much time.

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