Celtic 1 Ross County 1


It wasn’t exactly the reaction the manager wanted after last week but this performance was pretty indicative of his time in charge of Celtic.

Everything, right down to Kazim-Richards’ new hair extensions, was difficult to watch today (It’s a shame I wasted the Samson references on Scott Brown).

The changes made to the starting 11 from Sunday’s cup exit were baffling. A flat atmosphere matched the stale performance in the opening encounters, although Roberts did look lively, if not terribly effective.

Kazim-Richards initially looked like a player who was all too aware, at last, of his limitations as he skulked away on the left flank, but he later got himself more involved in the match – much to the dismay of the rest of Celtic Park.

Griffiths had Celtic in the league with a superb finish on his right foot. He has had a brilliant season and it’s unthinkable where we would have been had he picked up a long-term injury. What else needs to be said?

Rogić was a welcome addition to the team and contributed some positive passing before Ross County inevitably started to grow into the match and each attacking move from Celtic petered harmlessly out.

It wouldn’t have taken a genius to work out that Liam Boyce is a Celtic fan at heart given the manner in which he refused the gifts of the Celtic defence. He should have had County deservedly back on terms before the interval when he squandered a free header six yards out. Static defending all-round.

Roberts’ only substantial contribution came when he brilliantly set up Rogić to spurn a guilt-edged opportunity.

The second-half belonged to Ross County who had several chances to bury Celtic after Murdoch had fired them level from a badly defended corner. The very least they deserved. Shalk had a good long range effort and should certainly have finished a great counter attack from an opposition corner. Gardyne also let Celtic off the hook – notice the lack of Celtic players mentioned thus far.

Roberts continued showing his reluctance to pass but, in his defence, was occasionally left with very few offers. Still nowhere near an excuse. Brown and Bitton, meanwhile, were completely shown up by Jackson Irvine who Rran both of our international centre-mids into the ground today.

Kazim-Richards had a chance to break his goalscoring duck against teams not comprised of electricians and PE teachers. Call me unreasonable, if you will, for expecting a Turkish international striker to be able to score from 6 yards out but maybe I should take into consideration which Turkish international striker we’re dealing with.

Ronny was finally bayed into using up his last two subs after 80 minutes when he took off Rogić for McGregor and the air of resignation prevalent all game briefly lifted. It morphed for a few seconds into frustration in the form of boos all round the stadium. Utterly nonsensical.

Enter, Kris Commons, but the man who can turn a single point into all three didn’t turn up.

The match fizzled out in the end. I slated the Staggies for their tactics in the Semi-Final but they were made to look outstanding today and should have left Celtic Park with a comfortable win. As for Celtic…

Another awful day. With the manager halfway out the door maybe Peter Lawwell should take some advice from Macbeth, it being Shakespeare’s anniversary and everything: “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly.”

Interms of the new manager debate here’s my two cents worth. Whoever comes in will have a hard task to make it into the Champions League which is why I think it’s time we brought in someone with an in-depth knowledge of the Scottish game (Hartley, Michael O’Neill, Alex Neil) or has managed in a similar predicament i.e. Gurban Gurbanov of Qarabag. No point expecting the likes of Mackay or Keane to be able to live up to the demands of a club with over-reaching expectations.

Throwing money and “investing in the squad” isn’t the answer. Plenty of money has been thrown at duds. The players we have brought in for lower values have proven to be the most successful. This is a highly ineffectual system which John Parks has to answer for. Why can BATE Borisov qualify for the Champions League with a squad full of Belorussians yet we feel the need to poach Premier League rejects or rising stars?

I would argue also that these are not “inferior players” as some supporters like to argue. There are a few who absolutely should not be in a Celtic jersey but this is a developing team with some real talent. Our focus should be on signing from our own league so as to avoid players like Cole, Kazim-Richards, Pukki or Boyata.

As Captain EJ Smith said in April 1912, I don’t envy the man charged with turning this ship around.

Player Ratings:

Gordon 6 – Reliable but largely untested. Doesn’t have much of an offside case against the County attacker for the goal.

Lustig 6 – Got up the flanks well and brilliantly cut back for Roberts in the second-half. Quality at times but expect more from Sweden’s first choice full back.

Mulgrew 6 – Decent performance. Took up good defensive positions but not exactly commanding. Struggled with injury in second half.

Sviatchenko 7 – Not his best but still the one solid performer in that team. Often had to clean up Bitton and Brown’s horrendous passing. Outstanding defensively although his lack of pace left him of position on occasion.

Tierney 6 – Another reliable performer but, again, not his finest hour. Final ball lacked and was caught out of position on the break on a few occasions.

Brown 4 – Continues to be outplayed by opposition midfielders. At fault for gifting possession away and didn’t make any positive contribution of note.

Bitton 5 – Only achieves higher marks than Brown as he refused to hide and at least tried to contribute to forward play. Still a miserable performance.

Roberts 5 – Refused to play the sensible pass too often. Talented dribbler but no substance behind much of it. Defenders had him sussed out all day. Botched a couple of great chances. Poor afternoon.

Rogić 6 – Didn’t look at his liveliest and should have finished Roberts’ cross but gave the County defence something to worry about offensively. Wrongly subbed.

Kazim-Richards 3 – Not a footballer.

Griffiths 6 – Outstanding strike for his 38th goal. Not exactly given much to work with thereafter but he’s indispensable.
McGregor n/a – Had enough time to do something but Celtic lost all momentum by that point. Looked lively enough but no notable contributions.

Commons 3 – Only two noteworthy actions but they were enough to give a rating. Was greedy and selfish as he tried to make what looked like a personal point to his manager with a thirty yard pot shot and another from an impossible position. Poor attitude if so.



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