Dead-ball Dead-beats


It’s no secret that our side isn’t the slightest use with a dead ball. Give a Celtic team a corner and most of us are worried about getting hit right away on the break. It seems like a relief when the opposing keeper clutches and falls to the ground to waste some time,at least it gives us a chance to regroup.

Throw-ins aren’t much better,virtually guaranteed that we will have lost the ball inside a maximum of three touches. It often takes three touches less than that. If we get a free kick,whether it be in a promising position or not,see the results of us getting a corner.

A penalty kick has us diving behind the settee,and ever since the introduction of the keeper-sweeper,even a goal kick has us too often burying our heads in despair. It is so bad,so incompetent given that these are basic footballing skills,that you might think that it was deliberate. Alternatively,no. It really IS just rank bad coaching and poor footballing standards from highly paid professionals.

Naturally,given that we can’t win a set piece in the opposition box,it goes without saying that we win damn few in our own either. In fact,the only reason our stats on that aren’t considerably worse is because we seem quite content to put the ball out again and face a repeat scenario. How many times have we conceded a succession of corners in jig time? 

Although the complaints from the fans about this seem to have multiplied in the last few years,I don’t think that we are much worse at set pieces than normal. When we think of dead ball specialists this century,can we really put anyone other than Lubo,Thommo and Nakamura into that category? Yes,others have scored from a free kick. A few could nail it onto a head on occasion from a corner,though in all honesty I am struggling to think of one! I can’t think of a single long-throw merchant,and most keepers just kicked it up the park from when I was a lad.

Given the number of dead balls that the average team will get in a game,the returns are pitifully low. I’m sure the likes of OPTA could tell you how many corners,penalties,or free kicks and throw-ins inside thirty yards,but I certainly couldn’t. Is twenty about right,or a couple of dozen? It’s probably about that,so between 1000 and 1200 a season. Even half of that,very much on the downside of the estimate,suggests that an average return of goals barely in double figures is spectacularly low,given the importance that is attached to the dead ball situation.

So is it a sacred cow,or a false idol? When a side gets one,it means that they can line up in a highly rehearsed training ground move. The taker can take his time,no worries about being hit at high speed by some hammerthrower. What could go wrong? Well,the big problem is that the opposition are well-drilled on how to defend these situations,and on how to rapidly turn defence into attack. A situation that Celtic fans are acutely aware of,given that we are the only team in the country which has to maintain a strong defensive formation when we are taking a corner.

Spurs fans are currently watching the downside to the fabled Angeball which caught the imagination only eight months ago. When it works,it is a beautiful thing-but when it is going wrong and our hero is in a hole,he relies on a bigger bloody shovel instead of the ladder that is at hand. He also practices a casual disregard for set pieces,and while his refusal to dabble in the dark arts of the game is genuinely admirable,it may not be too clever when his opponents have no such scruples. Here’s what The Guardian had to say the other day-

“Spurs’ problems when defending set pieces have been increasingly clear. They have conceded from 14 of them in the Premier League this season (excluding penalties) – the joint-fifth worst record in the ­division – and let in six goals from corners in their past nine games.

It was noticeable that ­Postecoglou, who takes his team to Chelsea for another London derby on Thursday night, gave the half-time substitute Pape Sarr a man-marking job against White on each of Arsenal’s four second-half corners. Sarr tracked White step-for-step, matched him physically and did not allow him to get at Vicario.”

Well,that trip across town to Chelsea didn’t go well at all,and a lot of it is down to Ange’s almost contrary approach to the game. Don’t get me wrong,this is not a revisionist review of his time with us,I will not have a bad word said about those two years. And yes,I know about the injuries and the suspensions,the limited squad and losing Harry Kane. Etc. But no manager in the modern game can go into a match playing the same system regardless of the opposition,unable to turn a dead ball into a goal-or even a half decent chance at one-and bricking itself anytime they have to face one.

Much worse when the players on the pitch aren’t receiving either encouragement or direction during the match. Headless chickens springs to mind,and no wonder such teams are so easy to plan against,to defend against,to attack against.

It’s not only Ange,of course. And taking it back to Celtic,our current manager is the same. Before him,even Neil Lennon wasn’t as animated second time around. Ronny Deila gave us the Ronny Roar,but it was rarely from the heart. Maybe the first time,that’s about it. First time was real,raw emotion. The rest were flogging a dead horse.

Then you look at other managers,other sides maybe less glam than our own. Look at the players that Sean Dyche has at Everton (or previously at Burnley.) These aren’t the type of players who are likely to give you a moment of football like the final goal in the 1970 World Cup Final,but his side are coached to the max for set pieces precisely because of that failing. Play to your strengths,and even though Everton have been in or around relegation all season,their dead ball stats are at the top of the game. 

Everton haven’t been involved in Europe and didn’t last long in the cups,so have only played 38 games so far this season. Fair to say that the low estimate of 500 dead balls might be a tad high in their case,innit? Yet their xG is over 16,and they have scored 15 of them! That they don’t have such a decent record of defending them suggests that Dyche is not the park the bus dinosaur of lore who is only interested in anti-football. Nor the ultra-defensive stop em first then sneak a goal fella he is portrayed as in the press. But it certainly suggests that he needs a defensive formation coach. Having said that,those 15 goals are likely to keep them up,and that is the sum of his KPIs right there. Achieved through set pieces.

Going back to Ange,he can’t remember when the new regulation allowing keepers to be intimidated,blocked,pulled or surrounded came in. I can see his point,keepers in the European tournaments still seem to be getting the traditional level of protection from referees. It’s a shame he didn’t point it out too when he was at Celtic Park,though in fairness he wasn’t known for holding back on what he saw as our unique interpretation of things. It is a regulation which needs tightened,the goalkeeper needs to dominate that area or he is dead meat.

But getting back to the point which was set pieces. We’ve always been rubbish at them,with few exceptions. Seriously,ever since I was a kid. Dunno why. It makes sense for a ref to give a free just to break up our momentum and allow the opposition a quick break. But it is inexcusable in today’s game. Losing goals from them should be a cardinal sin,failing to threaten from them a firing offence. The manager shouldn’t be expected to set up all the formations for these events when there are dedicated coaches available nowadays for every eventuality in the game.

Now,I can’t remember a dead ball coach being hired or fired at Celtic-ever. Is that because we don’t have any,or because the ones we have are dragging us down? But then,even the best teams seem only to score from around 2-3% of them. Is it really worth employing specialist coaches for such a paltry return? But then you look at those fifteen goals from Everton,fifteen goals which might be crucial in keeping them in the EPL and in keeping them solvent. 

Tell an Everton fan that coaching dead balls is a waste of time. Tell a Celtic fan fed up to the back teeth with how we deal with them,bricking it for when it goes wrong and the ball ends up heading rapidly towards our own net.

Tell Ange. And while you are at it,drop a hint to BR too. It might not improve their lot too much domestically,but it will save them a lot of embarrassment in Europe next season.


Above article by BMCUWP

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May 3, 2024 5:35 am


You can read our article on a resolution for improving refereeing standards here.

Join the growing numbers of our readers who have had enough of referees In hun scarves.

May 3, 2024 5:35 am

The Sentinel Celts Charity Drive has nominated Blood Cancer UK as the recipient for funds for the six months to 31/07/2024,and we are getting close to achieving our LATEST TARGET.

We have set up a GoFundMe page for those who have some spare cash to donate,even from a lucky windfall or finding a tenner in the street.

Click on the link for more details,including how to donate.

Please give generously to a very deserving cause. Although our first targets have now been achieved-and many thanks for your generosity!-we can always hope to do more.

May 3, 2024 5:36 am

JOBO POTY Competition

May 3, 2024 5:37 am
Jobo Baldie
May 3, 2024 7:33 am

Good morning friends and a Big Happy Friday to all who post or lurk on this fine site.

Hoop hoop hooray
May 3, 2024 8:23 am

Great article.
Been one of my pet hates last few years. To your dead ball specialists this century you could add kris commons. But thats it I think. I might be wrong but the last direct free kick I can remember scoring from was jota in the bernabau drubbing and I cant remember the one before that.
Throw ins are worse. Takes an eternity to get the ball back in play.
No one is suggesting we should be a dead ball team but it should be part of our armoury.
A Thommo or naka free kick was as good as a penalty.

16 roads
May 3, 2024 8:29 am

Guten Morgan Jobo. 🫡

Both Brendan and Ange should research and learn from the tactics deployed by Jock Stein – the greatest football manager in history.

Read some books, watch some footage, listen to interviews.

There’s Sean Fallon’s book, explains a lot about the methods which changed football forever.

Different era, years ago sure..


Aren’t the tactics of Napoleon still studied in military academies throughout the world, to this day?

It’s the stubbornness and refusal to change that I don’t understand.

Don’t play the same way every game,irrespective of the opposition,or environment.

Horses for courses springs to mind.

It’s essential to change the tactics/system, when the opposition inevitably counter the successful brand they ran with initially.

Brendan gets some leeway for the mediocre recruits that were foisted upon him.

Why the 4-3-3 every single game though?

Play to your strengths.

Rant over.

No excuses for Saturday, just obliterate them Celtic.


big packy
May 3, 2024 8:31 am

morning all and JIM, great article bobby, oh for the likes of charlie gallagher to swing over a cross and big billy or stevie chalmers or even henrik larsson, to head it home, another true story,lol.,h.h.

16 roads
May 3, 2024 8:44 am

big packy – Dixie Dean of Everton fame was probably the best at heading a football in history,by all accounts.

Points docked though because he was actually a Mason believe it or not.

Reading about Pasty Gallagher, the Mighty Atom at the minute.



big packy
May 3, 2024 8:52 am

HI 16 roads, long time no speak ,hope you are well.H.H.

16 roads
May 3, 2024 9:14 am

Can’t complain at all thanks bp.

I’ll be a lot happier when we get this league title wrapped up mind you.

Fantastic to see you posting again legend.

Hopefully you and your good wife are keeping well.


San Luis
May 3, 2024 9:17 am

I’d argue Rogic and Griffiths could hit a good dead ball when it mattered and Larsson, Sutton and Dembele were all dangerous at a set piece.

It’s been past 4 or 5 years it’s got decidedly poor.

Throw ins have always been rotten.

Lost in translation ...
May 3, 2024 10:12 am


Interesting stuff — laying out a number of our current issues.
Including how we got there and the challenges we will have moving on.
Manager — then / now / future.

Dogs in the street time — AP is a good going on great manager but a pretty average coach who usually buys it in.
With us he built a squad in his image and who in the main believed in him — usual starting 11 was 9 bought / 2 inherited.
Worked a treat for us in his first season where he built a winning team out of straw in double quick time.
Challenges came to the fore later as the squad knew he was fishing for a new job and they wouldn’t be involved.

Not quite the same scenario at Spurs and so his challenges down there are a bit different.

AP — man in a hurry just about everywhere he has been.
Bigger challenges in the EPL from more directions and at the moment the elastic has snapped.
Rebuild / re-group for next season and we will see the depth of his ability.
Very good at hype / generating a wave but can fall off.
Surfer vibe if you like — he won’t last 3 seasons.

Where does that leave us ?!?
BR recent Q+A session — he seemingly came out swinging regarding the quality in the squad.
Very pointed remarks about the current squad and the need for change — silenced the room by all accounts.

Not sure where that leaves the dressing room but given our efforts at corners / free kicks / shys …
Edit — they aren’t repeat aren’t listening at training.

That is if the coaching brains trust are actually teaching them anything.

Us vs Govan FC — two cheeks of the same management vibe erse.
Govan FC would appear to be going through an end of season clear out with the new guy wanting to bring in his own guys.
Not quite the cohesive / happy bunch they were earlier in the season.
Not quite on the slide but they are struggling.

Not surprised if we have similar dressing room vibes ourselves.
BR is not known for holding back with the squad and there are quite a few petted lips on the park / in the stand.

BR and his future ?!!?
Seems to be in point scoring mode — see Q+A comments.
Going out with a bang — Rightmove CSC chat of three months ago pointed to him leaving.
Then there was the scouting clear-out which suggested DD was taking his calls.
Leaving chat — Might one final heave to get PL out?

5 games to go — Hertz game should be good / we owe them quite a lot.
Get the day job out of the way — as in football — then the real change can happen.
That would be the much needed exec level clear-out.

Big Audio Dynamite
May 3, 2024 10:39 am

Brendan goin’ out with a bang? 😂😂

Every single day.

Trollin’ trollin’ trollin’ …

Tic toc.

Big Audio Dynamite
May 3, 2024 10:40 am

Huns are gonna be really gutted when they realise Brendan is here for the long haul

Bada Bing
May 3, 2024 11:22 am

Re Paisley last week, my St Mirren pal who sits centre stand, told me,every single time a hun sub came out to warm up,always in the linesman’s ear, this is obviously coached from Lurch,as hes never away from the 4th official and the ball boy who got moved after 10 minutes, got moved round to the main stand,Lurch said to 4th official to chase him,wee boy got marched along the track and out of the stadium…….

Big Audio Dynamite
May 3, 2024 11:24 am

On this day 1986 …

Dundee v Hearts – 3rd May 86

St Mirren v Celtic – 3rd May 86

Happy Albert Kidd day! 💚💚

Big Audio Dynamite
May 3, 2024 11:26 am


Definitely the first time I’ve seen a ball-boy getting tossed out.

Why am I not surprised it involved the huns!

May 3, 2024 11:26 am

Happy Albert Kidd day ! ( you can Google that one LIT/MM)

If we can invoke the spirit of 3/5/86 tomorrow, against the club that suffered torture on that day, then we are in for some fun.

Big Audio Dynamite
May 3, 2024 11:29 am

Jim, good one! 😊

That day at Love st is still one of my favourite away days ever.

Also the only time I spontaneously ran on the pitch.

Bada Bing
May 3, 2024 11:40 am

BAD- The wee boy got escorted through a main gate and out the stadium

Lost in translation ...
May 3, 2024 11:41 am


Check your filters — Puppy Love is causing issues.

Big Audio Dynamite
May 3, 2024 11:46 am


That’s fuckin’ shocking.

Bada Bing
May 3, 2024 11:49 am

Scales new 4 year contract

Bada Bing
May 3, 2024 11:49 am

ST renewals out

Big Audio Dynamite
May 3, 2024 11:52 am

I’d like another top class defender to play along Cameron Callum’s-knickers, but it is hard to disagree with Liam getting rewarded with a new deal.


May 3, 2024 11:53 am

Bada…just got my renewal email. 2.5 per cent increase on last year and the wee guy’s remains the same price. Not too disappointed with that tbh!

May 3, 2024 12:00 pm


There’s definitely something in the water,the air or whatever at Ibrox that turns new arrivals into total arseholes that friend and foe alike don’t recognise,much less admire. Reminds me of a before and after photoshoot of Ray Wilkins when he was there.

The first showed the young hirsute and handsome young man smiling for the cameras in his early days at Chelsea,the latter as a snarling version of Uncle Fester. The caption? Joining Rangers turns you bald,ugly and insane.

May 3, 2024 12:00 pm

A new ref’s boss has been announced, too! Ex English top level official Jon Moss, nah me neither, will take over in time for the new season. I just hope he realises what he’s coming into…

May 3, 2024 12:04 pm

3/5/86. A afternoon when every Celtic fan worldwide tried to get as close to a tranny as possible.

Big Audio Dynamite
May 3, 2024 12:11 pm


I hope you are talking about radio’s?? 😉

Bada Bing
May 3, 2024 12:12 pm

Radio commentary from that day

2 great things there, Bummer Broon made the 1st Dundee goal, and John Greig was co- commentator on BBC Scotland 👍

Big Audio Dynamite
May 3, 2024 12:14 pm

Of Terry Butcher’s wife asking him what has happened to him.

It’s like there’s something in the water in Govan.

Big Audio Dynamite
May 3, 2024 12:22 pm

Hearts actually lost 5 of their first eight games in 86, and they were 9pts behind Celtic at one stage.
But after going 25-26 games without losing, they had it won with just 10mins of the season left!
Then Dundee made a substitution …💚
An absolutely brilliant Celtic day.

May 3, 2024 12:24 pm

There’s nothing bad in the water at Ibrox, sure that was being diverted from a local Church to save the Water Charge! 😂
The kultural inherent need to be recognised as the Establishment team, an idea so outdated and ridiculous it’s hard to believe they still believe it, runs strong and free doon the Copland Road and beyond. It’s been said many times before but until the knuckle-scrapers are dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th or even 21st Century we’re stuck with them. And the players who have been turned by their shite, as BAD alludes to God only knows what their families must think of them after a spell at the Theatre of Hate! I feel another tune coming on…

Big Audio Dynamite
May 3, 2024 12:29 pm

Only one player has finished top goal scorer in the Scottish premier league with 3 different clubs.

Name that player.

Clue: He had a long association with the city of Dundee 😉

Big Audio Dynamite
May 3, 2024 12:34 pm


The church water story was brilliant! There’s a lot of comedy material in there.

Big Audio Dynamite
May 3, 2024 12:37 pm

The Cure – Friday I’m in love

May 3, 2024 12:38 pm


Tommy Coyne?

St tams
May 3, 2024 12:38 pm

Scales , a hew 4 year contract.
Get used to life in the slow lane.

Big Audio Dynamite
May 3, 2024 12:46 pm



VG 👍

Prestonpans bhoys
May 3, 2024 12:51 pm

The ST for the standing area is £618, pretty sure it was around £570 last year, that’s a 9% hike. Remember these money grabbing bastards have £70+m of your money sitting in the bank earning tax to the treasury 😡

Jobo Baldie
May 3, 2024 12:53 pm

Too many folk remember 1986 as being when Hearts ‘threw it away’. But Celtic went on some unbeaten run themselves over the final 10-12 games, slowly chipping away at Hearts’ lead. Love Street in 86 and the Centenary Cup Final are 2 of my most memorable games to have been at in person.
Would be good if Hearts were reminded of 1986 tomorrow…

May 3, 2024 12:57 pm


Without the Dundee clue,I’d never have got it.

Big Audio Dynamite
May 3, 2024 1:00 pm


I’d struggle to name a dozen games that I saw us play better than Love st 86.

First one that sprigs to mind is beating Sporting Lisbon 5-0 ..we were scintillating that night.

Big Audio Dynamite
May 3, 2024 1:02 pm


Coyne’s record isn’t as good as I remembered it.

Bit of a fearty but I always liked him.

Big Audio Dynamite
May 3, 2024 1:09 pm
Mike in Toronto
May 3, 2024 1:35 pm
May 3, 2024 1:56 pm


A vast improvement on the current one.

Big Audio Dynamite
May 3, 2024 1:59 pm

Section of the Tottenham crowd already calling for Ange’s head.

When he took that job, I remember thinking he’d be back in Australia in 2 years.

I’ve a feeling there will be regrets soon.

We’ve seen this film a few times now.