Hearts v Celtic

1-1 Celtic got an early lead thanks to an early goal from big Jan but Aguiar has just knocked home a free kick from 20-25 yards. Excellent goal in fairness to him.

Smashing atmosphere at the game. Cracking rendition of Roll of Honour there.

We’ve really surrendered the middle of the park here.

Think the free kick they got for the goal was a bit fortunate but they’ve been on top for 10-15 minutes now.

Caldwell is sitting too deep in the middle. He’s not a natural in there and while Brown is closing down space Caldwell is dropping back as a spare centre half almost.

Crazy having Crosas on the bench.

Any particular reason why O’Dea isn’t playing?

He got injured during the week Larry. Was hoping he’d be back but he’s not on the bench so assume he’s still injured.

  • 21 Brown,
  • 53 Ferry,
  • 15 Misun,
  • 13 Maloney,
  • 29 Mizuno,
  • 17 Crosas,
  • 25 Nakamura

He got injured during the week Larry. Was hoping he’d be back but he’s not on the bench so assume he’s still injured.

Maloney is back by the way.

  • 21 Brown,
  • 53 Ferry,
  • 15 Misun,
  • 13 Maloney,
  • 29 Mizuno,
  • 17 Crosas,
  • 25 Nakamura

Crosas on for McManus with Caldwell reverting to centre half. Presume it’s an injury but that’s a more balanced team.

Naka on for Flood who was shit.

Can you take a freekick further away from goal than where foul took place? That was a clear peno.

You’re not supposed to no. Definite handball alright.

Brown has been really good defensively today. Developing this side of his game really well

Interview with Hearts manager where he called Celtic Rangers mistakenly. He then asked interviewer was interview direct to which I presume he meant live and he responded no. Feel little sorry for him

Fairly uninspiring stuff again although I suppose a point at least keeps Celtic on top. Away record is very poor since the turn of the year. Once again Strachan picked a bad midfield selection. Only when Nakamura and Crosas came on did Celtic look in any way creative and even then I never really felt that a winner was coming. Mizuno also made a bit of a difference when he came on, thought McGeady was bottled up very well by their defence. The midfield that ended the game was patently better than the one that started it and you’d once again have to ask what Strachan is at with regards the selection.

Loovens actually got two good chances within a minute but hadn’t a clue how to finish them - should have done much better particularly with the one where he just prodded it over the bar from a corner. Hunscum are two up already last I looked so the difference is going to be back to one. I’m afraid it could once again go down to a last day nailbiter.

Was actually thinking about the away record yesterday. Celtic have only won once away from home in the league since Christmas and Crosas started in that victory at Kilmarnock and provided an assist for one of McDonald’s goals.

Most of the other performances have been below par but Strachan’s team selections have been bizarre in some of the other games. I accept the requirement to have a bit of steel in the side for games like Tynecastle, but too often he’s completely sacrificed football ability for physique/energy/who fooking knows what.

Ridiculous to play Flood and leave both Crosas and Naka out on Saturday.

That was an utter shambles on Saturday.

Can’t understand the team selection and as Sid has said above we were far more dangerous at the end when we had Crosas and Naka on.

That’s a really poor huns side that are pushing us all the way for the title. Any sort of conviction or belief in our superior abilities would have us home and dry but we’re determined to level the playing field anytime we come up against another Top 6 team away from home. Really surrenders our initiative.

Just thinking a bit more about the away form. Strachan’s really being pretty cowardly in his team selections, especially his tendency to bring Caldwell into midfield and his regular dropping of Crosas and McGeady.

I don’t expect Celtic to steamroll past every team but it would help if he selected the talented footballers in their best positions. Instead of worrying about the oppositions’ physicality/height etc, we should be focusing on retaining the ball and working their 'keeper.

Sure, pay the opposition respect but it’s a sad state of affairs if Celtic are pre-occupied by Hearts’ threat at set pieces for example. And it’s also fair to say that the likes of Naka, Crosas and Aiden work hard too so it’s not as if they ignore the defensive side of the game.

Looking at the remaining fixtures, we’ve Aberdeen at home on Saturday and then the top 6 as it stands now will see us playing the huns, Hibs and Aberdeen away and Dundee United and Hearts at home. Of the 5 post-split fixtures, we’ve won only 1 of them in the previous rounds of games (away to the huns at Christmas).

We’ve lost shambolically at Hibs (Boruc howler) and Aberdeen (Mark Brown filling in), while drawing at home to Dundee United and Hearts. As a result, it will probably go down to the wire again. The frustration for Celtic supporters is that Strachan’s been too gutless to go consistently with the best midfield of Naka, Brown, Crosas and McGeady and that’s seen us drop points away from home in performances where there’s been poor passing and a lack of fluidity.

Not a bad article about Celtic’s away form and Strachan’s midfield chopping and changing contributing to it by some hun journalist cunt:

Strachan needs to find the cure for Celtic’s travel sickness soon


A prolonged dose of travel sickness is threatening to disrupt Celtic’s push for four-in-a-row. Imperious and free-scoring at home, the failings of Gordon Strachan’s side on the road in recent months have seen a once healthy lead over Rangers at the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League whittled away to just a point. Where drawing of lots was once used to decide championships, Celtic’s hopes of landing a fourth successive SPL title are in danger of being jeopardised by lots of draws.

Since winning at Ibrox on December 27, Celtic have recorded just one victory away from home, against Kilmarnock last month. They have drawn away to Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Motherwell, Dundee United and Hearts, and lost to Aberdeen. They lost, inexplicably, at St Mirren in the Homecoming Scottish Cup, a week after beating the same team 7-0 at home.

Celtic will likely have three more away matches before the end of the season - at Rangers, Aberdeen, and probably Hibernian - and how they fare in these matches could go a long way to deciding the destination of the title. Rangers’ failure to grind out results on their travels towards the end of last season ultimately cost them the league and Celtic will need to avoid a similar fate.

To focus entirely on Celtic’s shortcomings, though, would do an injustice to the other 10 sides. The gap between the Old Firm and the rest is certainly narrowing, and Rangers and Celtic no longer travel to away matches entirely confident of returning with a victory.

In their most recent visits to Tannadice, Fir Park and Tynecastle, Celtic have led in each of their games only to be pegged back. While this can be read as a sign of the opposition’s growing confidence and refusal to wilt in the face of adversity, it also shows Celtic’s inability to demonstrate the ruthlessness that regularly instructs their performances at home.

Celtic’s team selection for away matches has been the source of much debate. Strachan has regularly tailored his team to negate the tactics of the opposition, to cope with inferior playing surfaces, and to deal with the perceived extra physical threat. Thus, Marc Crosas and Shunsuke Nakamura were sacrificed against Hearts, the manager preferring Gary Caldwell in central midfield, and Willo Flood on the right. Only when Crosas and Nakamura belatedly appeared - due to injuries as much as anything else - did Celtic eventually get into their stride, although too late to escape Edinburgh with more than a point.

Celtic, naturally, must pay sufficient respect to the talents of the opposition, and certainly to a side enjoying as productive a season as Hearts, but there is also a school of thought that the reigning champions should simply put their best side out every week and challenge the rest to try to deal with it. The other cliche is that you don’t change a winning side.

With Crosas and Nakamura both on from the start, Celtic had racked up comprehensive victories over Hamilton and Falkirk in the two matches preceding the trip to Tynecastle. Their omission at the weekend, therefore, suggested Strachan was fearful of being too attack-minded at the home of the third-best side in the country, and that Hearts would be aggressive and overly physical.

It made Celtic more competitive but diminished their creativity. Possession is key in these matches and Celtic’s best proponents of ball retention were all left on the bench. It also did a disservice to Hearts’ abilities. Michael Stewart can mix it with the best of them but also displays a sureness of touch, and an ability to pick a pass. Bruno Aguiar and Andy Driver are hardly cloggers, either. Granted, Csaba Laszlo does not have the depth of options available to Strachan but still picked the team he felt could win the match, rather than worrying too much about Celtic’s capabilities.

In the absence of Paul Hartley, out for the past month with a hamstring injury, Strachan has regularly turned to Caldwell to add extra bite to his midfield. It is a tactic that has offered a limited return - Celtic have won only three of 11 matches with the former Hibernian player in that role - and also simultaneously weakens the defence where Caldwell has been Celtic’s most consistent performer this season. Flood has also done little of note since moving from Dundee United in January to suggest he is worthy of a jersey ahead of Nakamura.

Strachan has shown a willingness and tendency to rotate his midfield away from home. Only three matches now remain for him to find the right combination.

That’s not a bad summation and some interesting points in there, particularly about how unsuccessful we have been with Caldwell in the middle of the park.

The point about Aguiar is very true as well. You don’t see Hearts taking their flair players out of there so why do we lower ourselves to the point where we try and just flood the midfield with battlers (pun half-intended).

This is the sort of sentence that I sometimes hate reading on the huddleboard but I’ll say it anyway because it’s true this time: that is a piss-poor rangers team we’re up against and winning the league this year with the squad of players we have is the absolute minimum return you’d expect from Strachan. The huns have gone backwards since last year, the rest of the SPL have a bit of confidence against Celtic and the huns but they haven’t improved all that much. It’s just a lack of conviction in the underlying truth that we have better footballers than the other teams. If Giles saw how chicken shit we are of playing a bit of football he’d freak out.