Celtic will need to work hard against Motherwell today.
That’s an obvious statement to make in and of itself, granted. However, while the club’s miserable season tumbles nearer a conclusion, a worrying trend has emerged.
Opposition clubs aren’t scared of Celtic Park any more. In recent weeks, Celtic have won 2, drawn 2 and lost once over 5 home fixtures [WhoScored?]. Hibs and Livingston have walked away from Parkhead with a point, while St. Mirren took all three.
Compare that to the 19-20 season. In a league campaign which was cut short, Celtic lost just once at home, and twice in total. Fortress Parkhead saw the Bhoys win 14 times out of a possible 15 [SPFL].
Equally, in Europe, Celtic only won 1 of 3 home ties this season, surrendering to A.C. Milan and Sparta Prague. That just isn’t good enough.
Neil Lennon has made several baffling takes over the course of this Covid-ravaged season. However, he insists that a lack of supporters has impacted Celtic’s home form, and he might actually be right. Both Celtic and Rangers have played 13 home matches; Gerrard’s men have won all 13. Celtic, meanwhile, have won 8, drawn 3 and lost 2 [SPFL].
For Celtic, home isn’t where the win is
What makes Celtic’s home form all the stranger is that we’ve scored 26 goals in 13 fixtures at Paradise. That’s 2 goals per game. Worryingly, we’ve conceded 9, and they’ve made a huge difference to our overall points tally.
But every club in the league has the same excuse. Does the rampant, raucous home support genuinely drive Celtic to victory? Why are Rangers winning their home matches, where we’re faltering?
It’s impossible to know for sure. On the one hand, it’s an argument the board like, because they’ll be able to pay lip service to prospective season ticket holders. Expect “Without you, we can’t win” or some kind of similar saccharine sentiment to appear in advertising any time soon.
Against Motherwell today, then, the pressure is on Neil Lennon to arrest this bad home form. The Steelmen boss Graham Alexander has talked up Celtic, but also has zero fears about visiting Parkhead. Well striker Devante Cole wants to “see what happens”. Clubs from lower in the division are visiting the biggest football stadium in Scotland, and aren’t nervous.
It’s time they were. The only way to do that is to build momentum with positive, emphatic home results. Otherwise, prepare to hear more excuses.