The first Old Firm encounter of the season has passed and in typical whirlwind fashion it did not disappoint. Well that is of course if you are a neutral or a Rangers fan.
Celtic fans however, must be wondering what on earth happened to the team that came back to go in 2-1 up at the break up following Steven Naismith’s opener at Ibrox. Rangers triumphed on the day with good performance and 4-2 score line to go along with it. Celtic though will seriously need to sort out their catastrophic defending if they do indeed want to take the SPL title back from their Glasgow rivals and put a stop to four in a row. Here is my player ratings for the Celtic starting eleven.
Fraser Forster – 3 – Poor performance from him. Never looked confident at set pieces and crossed ball situations and messed up a few attempts to punch clear crosses. However with the dodgy defending going on in front of him who can blame him. Received no help what so ever from his defenders today and there seemed to be no communication at all between them. Still feel he could have done better for a couple of the goals and ultimately a game which he will want to forget in a hurry.
Mark Wilson – 4 – Never got going at all. Couldn’t cope with the pace of Gregg Wylde and spent all his time trying to stop him which ment he could not get forward as often as he’d like which is a big part of his game. He is usually reliable in the big games. Disappointing performance from him but I am sure he will make amends in the future.
Glenn Loovens – 5- Often gets a lot of stick for his clumsy defending but as much as he was far from exemplary he was the only one of the back four who looked as though he wanted to stop Jelavic and Lafferty. Made a few key defensive headers and clearances and was unlucky not to score himself and draw Celtic level at 3-3 with a header that cannoned back of the post.
However with everyone else crumbling around him it was inevitable he would too and when Mulgrew was ordered off he as well as the rest of the defence fell apart. Something to build on though for the future which is some what of a rarity for the big Dutchman.
Kelvin Wilson – 3 – Usually solid at centre half. However I feel the pressure of the big occasion got to him because he certainly was not the same player as he has been in previous games for Celtic. Regularly shrugged of the ball by Jelavic and could not track the runs of Lafferty and Naismith which forced him to commit to tackles he wouldn’t usually make. Looked unfit to be honest but still no excuse. Needs to perform far better than he did today if he wants the Hoops fans to take to him.
Badr El Kaddouri – 6 – Played well in the first half and linked up well with Mulgrew on the left hand side causing problems for Steven Whittaker. Was caused some problems himself by Naismith in the second half. However I feel Neil Lennon made the wrong call to take him off instead of Mulgrew who was on a yellow and walking a tight rope.
Ultimately the Celtic defence looked weaker without him. Was lucky with his shot that went through MacGregor but if you don’t shoot you don’t score. Done OK for his Old Firm debut.
Scott Brown – 6 – Started the match very quiet which is unusual for him but after Naismith’s opener it seemed to bring him to life and he came into the game much more after that making runs from right to left and getting much more involved in play. Made a lovely reverse pass for Hooper’s goal but an injury which made him a doubt before the game forced him off with twenty minutes to go and Celtic never looked the same side afterwards.
Beram Kayal – 5 – Got himself about and put in a good shift. Never scared of a tackle either but couldn’t deal with the runs of Edu and Naismith. Along with Ki in the centre of midfield he never really got going and a poor performance by his standards. Looked more interested in causing arguments and got involved more in needless spats with Rangers players rather than trying to get a foot hold in the game. Offered nothing going forward either.
Ki Sung Yueng – 4 – Nowhere near as effective as he usually is. Closed down early in midfield which ultimately took him out of the game. Had a few strikes at goal but nothing even close to what he is normally capable of. His passing was also a disappointment as he gave the ball away far too much. Poor match by his standards.
Charlie Mulgrew – 4 – I felt he had a good start to the game. He and El Kaddouri were linking up well and causing problems down the left hand side for Rangers that is until he made a stupid rash tackle on Naismith which earned him a yellow and left him walking a tight rope the rest of the game. From then on in every tackle he made was sloppy and his red card was inevitable. Should have been hooked instead of El Kaddouri for that reason.
Referee Craig Thompson gave him a few chances letting go two or three suspect tackles but eventually he was left no choice and had to order off Mulgrew after another rash tackle on Davis.
Giorgos Samaras – 2 – Another disappointing, lazy performance from him. Poor in every way. Looked disinterested and offered nothing as per usual. No wonder Hooper looked frustrated with him. Still don’t understand why he was started over Stokes or even Bangura. One goal in over twenty appearances is not good enough for a striker at Parkhead.
Neil Lennon continues to put his faith in the Greek forward and to no avail. Samaras continues to let his manager and his team mates down and personally I would be the happiest man in the world if I never seen him in a Celtic strip ever again. I have seriously lost patience with him and the only time he looks even remotely interested is when his contract is expiring.
Gary Hooper – 7 – My best player for Celtic although the candidates were few and far between. Another good performance from the striker today despite basically playing up top on his own. Had no help from Samaras what so ever. Looks to me that he really doesn’t enjoy playing alongside Samaras and who can blame him. Made good runs and caused the Rangers defence problems. Exellent finish to beat MacGregor after Brown’s reverse pass. You really do get the best out of him when he is playing up top with Stokes and you could see that was missing from his and Celtic’s play in general.
In summary I feel Neil Lennon’s tactics along with some woeful defending have cost The Hoops. The Celtic bosses decision to start Samaras over Stokes was a big mistake and one which I think has cost him big time. Shocking defending aside that Rangers defence could have been exposed today and Celtic could have heaped all kinds of pressure on their rivals given what is going on financially at Ibrox.
However starting Samaras was never going to get Lennon that kind of result and if Stokes did have a minor strain which I believe to be untrue then why wasn’t Bangura started or at worst Ledley played ?
Packing the midfield leaving Hooper up on his own which he virtually did all day anyway. Although it is early in the season and I would prefer that Lennon make these mistakes now rather than later in the season as the four points can be made up. However Lennon now has to see that Samaras is not worthy of wearing a Hoops strip and surely even one of the youngsters deserves a chance more than he does now after that poor performance.
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