Tonight Celtic produced their latest disastrous performance as the club was officially eliminated from the Europa League at the group stage.
Sparta Prague’s 4-1 win over the Hoops in the Czech Republic won’t come as a surprise to many. Such is the disgraceful nature of the performances in recent weeks, you’ll have done well to find a Celtic fan who predicted we would win this one.
And even though the performance level raised in the second half after a woeful first 45, it was yet more individual defensive errors that truly cost Celtic this evening.
For the first goal, there was a comical clearance from Scott Brown that allowed David Hancko to slam home from close range. The second was even worse, with Kristoffer Ajer caught napping along with Hatem Elhamed, with the latter allowing Lukas Julis to run off him and slot home at the back post. The third? Well that was just about everyone’s fault across the back-line. Don’t get me started on the fourth.
And all this may surprise Neil Lennon, who will have been hoping that Christopher Jullien was going to improve things. Speaking after our 2-2 draw with Hibs at Easter Road via Celtic TV, the manager bigged up the Frenchman ahead of his return.
This isn’t the first time the manager has talked up players who have been missing. Almost as if their absence has been causing the team’s recent slump. But in truth, Neil has now officially run out of selection excuses. And nah, James Forrest’s return won’t exactly help our defence either.
Lennon has struck a similar chord in the past
After our dreadful 2-0 home defeat to Rangers last month, Lennon tried to point to the fact that he had a host of players out for the woeful display. Speaking to Celtic TV after that one, he said: “It’s huge. You don’t want to play too much on that and look for excuses, but you’ve got three strikers in Ajeti, Griffiths, Edouard who aren’t available to start the game.
“You’ve got Forrest out. You’ve got Jullien out. You’ve got Bitton out and you’ve got Elhamed out. So we missed a lot of quality today.”
Whenever we’ve picked up another poor result, the injury list consistently gets turned to. Almost as if someone is going to get picked out at random after every game and be labeled as the potential saviour when they come back.
Edouard was supposed to be it. Christie was supposed to be it. Then it was the return of Jullien that was supposed to bolster our chances of success.
Well, we’ve run out of injury excuses. Celtic have had all of their defenders back fit in recent times and still continue to throw games away due to incredibly poor defensive errors.
It’ll be interesting, then, to see what the excuse is for tonight’s shambles.