Where now for Celtic?

By Stewart Primrose

Tuesday’s defeat to Arsenal raises many questions for Celtic manager Tony Mowbray, whose honeymoon period looks over.

The media can dress it up as much as they like. Celtic were not unlucky, but while avoided a mauling, were comprehensively beaten by a side better in every department.

Saturday’s win at Aberdeen was impressive. Make no doubts about it, but they were playing a side that are disjointed and have conceded 11 goals in 3 games under new manager Mark McGhee.

Yet, predictably, we heard cries of ‘scintillating football’ and of being the ‘Arsenal of Scotland’. Mowbray does not get to control what the media say, but he would be better to avoid making ridiculous comments, like comparing his style of football to Barcelona’s.

Celtic, like Rangers, do not have the players, money or resources to compete at the highest level. Their ‘star’ names included Scott Brown and Aiden McGeady. Neither is good enough to get on Arsenal’s bench, let alone making the starting 11.

On the build up to this latest ‘Battle of Britain’ encounter, we were subjected to the absurd stories linking Brown away from Parkhead to Spurs for £12 million. For somebody who cannot pass, shoot, tackle cleanly or has a decent first touch, you have to wonder why some media hacks continue to write such nonsensical material. He is a decent player, but his true value would not even go anywhere near half of the quoted price.

McGeady is probably the most talented player for the Hoops. He is skillful and does posses some natural ability, but has not really made great inroads to progress as a footballer. He does not score enough goals, something that he even admits. His crossing is mediocre at best and his attitude to learn is limited. The best thing he could do is to start looking up whilst running with the ball instead of tilting his head downwards.

Despite their flaws, both McGeady and Brown will remain pivotal to domestic success. Mowbray will rely on them heavily throughout the season, more so than his new signings, who look to be a mixed bag.

Has been 'unfortunate' so far for Celtic.
Has been 'unfortunate' so far for Celtic.

Marc-Antoine Fortune looks way of the pace and he is best summed up by a Journalist, who claimed he is someone ‘who doesn’t look like he wants to score goals’. That is a damming statement for a striker, who cost just shy of £4 million. Landry N’Guemo looks to be the best capture so far despite only being on loan. He is neat and tidy on the ball and seems able to read the game, but the true test for the African will come when the weather turns sour and games become a real battle. Danny Fox disproves Gordon Strachan’s theory that you cannot buy a player for a modest sum (£2 million) who is better than Lee Naylor. He looks good going forward and has a fine delivery. His defensive qualities do look suspect though, and this is something that could be exploited when playing against quality wide men.

Mowbray has just started his Celtic career and while defeat to Arsenal is certainly no disgrace, it does give him, the supporters, and some quarters of the media a reality check that was needed. It will be a long, tough season for them, as they look to wrestle the title back from Ibrox and secure automatic Champions League qualification.