The only thing stopping Celtic this season? Celtic.
Celtic beat Motherwell today. It finished 2-1, but really, it should’ve been much more comfortable.
From the first whistle to Allan Campbell’s worrying goal for the Well, the Bhoys were absolutely dominant. Truly, we played football that has been absent from Celtic Park all season. An experienced midfield combined for excellent one-two passes and expansive moves.
McGregor and Turnbull dovetailed excellently behind Rogic, while Ajeti and Edouard moved around creating space.
Out of possession, we were formidable, up to a point. And here’s where the problem lies.
According to Sky Sports, Celtic had 65.6% of possession against the Steelmen, and 22 shots on goal. As a team, the Bhoys were successful with 89% of their passes. Even to the neutral’s eye, it would be fair to say that Neil Lennon’s side should’ve won this by a far, far bigger margin than 1 goal.
But if it Laxalt hadn’t cleared the ball off the goal-line in injury time, we’d be talking about a draw here. The only thing stopping Celtic this season is Celtic.
Nearly intense disappointment for Celtic
Believe you, me. Anything less than 3 points today, and the pitchforks would’ve been out. Or, indeed, more visible than they were already.
Almost every week, the Bhoys suffer a calamity. The fact that we’ve won two on the bounce – for the first time since December – should be terrifying in and of itself. For the majority of this match, Celtic looked so much better than their Premiership counterparts that a more clinical side could’ve run up a cricket score.
Ultimately, that wasn’t the case. Lennon demands energy and stamina from his players, but the relentless pressing of the first hour, and the exertions therein, caused a sloppy last 20-25 minutes which nearly lost us the game. That’s a huge, huge issue. It doesn’t just raise questions of Neil Lennon, but also of the fitness staff behind the scenes.
The reality is, these players are talented enough to have won another title this season. Yes, Rangers have been formidable and there’s no getting past that. Truly, though, you have to wonder what the league table would look like without Neil Lennon’s endless tinkering in the first third of the season.
Or without players being unsettled. The trip to Dubai. Head scratching in-game substitutions. The list goes on.
Injuries forced us to play with a certain shape, and that shape has ended up winning us matches. Lennon has stumbled upon a formula, rather than having a coheisve tactical dossier in his arsenal.
Days like today, you celebrate the 3 points and move forward. But when you see passing and movement like today, with excellent finishing and a youngster breaking through, you have to lament Celtic’s season. The only thing that’s stopped us is us.