On the subject of Mikael Lustig. Now,I thought he was an excellent right back,particularly in his first few years with us. Problem is that he was very prone to injuries back then. Eventually he managed to put those days behind him,but although we saw more of him,we weren’t always getting the best from him.
Now,that’s not a criticism of Mika,that’s a criticism of his three managers,and of the board. We had a player who was a first pick for a top European international team but who was clearly struggling when it came to playing too many games. That would literally wear him down when he was going at it 100% every time.
That’s the kind of situation where a manager withdraws an important player to allow him to rest up for a week or two when we have a run of “easier” games,and also allows the manager to bring in the back up and get him used to playing with his colleagues. Everyone benefits from that. The new boy is up against weaker opposition,allowing him to grow into the role-rather than the quantum leap of facing Neymar,for instance,in The Champions League. The old boy gets a break and the manager gets to see how his youngsters can fare when they are moved out of their age group.
Yet our last three managers have rarely done that. They’ve brought us eight titles in a row,yes,but there has been an obsession almost with playing the same team as often as possible. Even when it is far from necessary!
Think back to five years ago. We had the league wrapped up by Christmas and everyone was looking for Neil Lennon to start introducing the next generation over the next few months. NOTHING gets a Celtic fan as excited as seeing the next best thing. I know-I wondered why that wee blond guy is,all red in the face,Dad,and the game’s only five minutes old. That was Kenny Dalglish,who scored six against Kilmarnock that night in a testimonial for Frank Beattie. I saw Tommy Burns coming on as a substitute for his first appearance and thought A Star Is Born. Peter Grant-who’s that wee blond guy?-against the huns at Ibrox. Wee blond guy or not,he put Davie Cooper into their Centenary Stand-1973,btw. Not 1972-inside the first two minutes,he will do for me.
I saw plenty of others too,either on their debut or just shortly afterwards. Some,admittedly,I thought-fuxake,I’m off to buy a pair of boots. I could do better than that. But that’s a They Embarrassed The Hoops scenario,and I wasn’t even good enough to embarrass myself!
So back to five years ago. We won the league by TWENTYNINE POINTS. Wrapped up at the same time as we were wrapping the Christmas presents. What did Neil Lennon do? This was surely the perfect time to introduce the kids,give the fans a reason to get in their seats and off them. A chance too to give some players who would be playing in The World Cup in Brazil an opportunity to take a decent break so that they wouldn’t be fagged out after that tournament-we needed them back ASAP for Champions League qualifiers after all.
Neil decided that he wanted the glory of a 100+ points total for the season. Played the same team every week as often as possible. As a result,our kids had no experience and our star players were knackered from having played too many games without a break. But we did get a break-the Legia Warsaw shambles. Maribor humiliated us by leaving us tagged as a team knocked out of a knockout twice.
Ronny Deila,I think, HAD to play his strongest team when he could. Although it might have helped if he knew what it was,and he certainly wasn’t helped by his senior players who really should hold their heads in shame. I thought I was watching a rerun of The Damned United. I suspect some of the major miscreants thought they were too. But he still managed to introduce youth where possible.
He took a look at the overlooked Callum McGregor. Gave him a starting and starring role. Pushed Liam Henderson. Introduced us to Kieran Tierney. Signed Ryan Christie too,bloody Nostradamus he was!
But the pressure on him-and the c…s in the dressing room really need to look at themselves here-meant that again,he couldn’t rest players. He HAD to play the top boys. It was a big problem. If you are a manager,you need to be in control and you need to be respected. Ronny was parachuted into a situation not of his choosing,and he was never in control nor was he respected by the players.
So in came Brendan Rodgers. Big smile,boyhood club. Fantastic CV. Lovely portrait. A scowling PL worried a few of us though. But heyho,he’s had his baws booted,that’s good enough.
106 points,unbeaten,and a treble. And no international tournaments in the summer. But he still allowed all the players to take time off in the spring. Having played them all bloody year up until then!
Of course,The Invicible Treble was claimed on the weekend of the 50th Anniversary of The Lisbon Lions. I really don’t care whether anyone compares Tom Rogic to Bobby Murdoch or PC Murdoch,his legacy is assured. Lisbon knew that Tom had scored. Lisbon knew we were over in droves. Lisbon knew that Celtic weren’t playing locally,but Lisbon knew why we were there.
And Lisbon welcomed us. About 7,000 Celtic fans in a foreign city when we could be watching an Invincible Treble as it happens?
There’s an app for that,right enough. Where would you rather be? Watch the final or stroll through Estadio Nacional on the Fiftieth Anniversary. No question mark,because it isn’t a question. If you could be there,you were in Lisbon.
But they were nearly all players he had inherited. And a couple that he had signed. Brendan wasn’t a man for risking his reputation on blooding a youngster.
Now,that’s not how we were brought up as Celtic lads and lasses. Rotate the team,as should have been done with Lustig Tierney Brown McGregor. Stop overplaying them,they aren’t robots where you tuck in a new battery. Bring some new blood in,show them the ropes
It’s not an easy thing,even Jock Stein and Alex Ferguson,both famed for their affinity for youth,could get it wrong on occasion.
Our problem is that we are getting it wrong on every occasion-because managers are scared to try.
Above article by BMCUWP. Please support the site and donate your thoughts sometimes, email@example.com