There’s A Missing Spark – On The Pitch & In The Dugout

Celtic Manager Brendan Rodgers

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Failing to beat St Johnstone at home at anytime is never acceptable for Celtic.

And I say that with every respect for the Perth site and the levels they operate it.

That they had lost 5 of their 6 games before Saturday’s encounter and had yet to register a Scottish Premiership goal made the result all the more jarring.

Despite some reasonable half chances falling Matt O’Riley’s way and the lions share of possession which led to Celtic winning nineteen corners to St Johnstone’s one, Brendan Rodgers described the performance as one lacking “craft” and “imagination”

No arguments here on that front.

We’d add flat, aimless and uninspiring to the charge sheet.

Listen to our Celtic v St Johnstone Match Reaction Podcast Now On The Celtic Exchange Plus (Free 7 Day Trial)


Much has been made of Celtic’s current defensive woes with injuries to Cameron Carter-Vickers, Maik Nawrocki, Stephen Welsh and Yuki Kobayashi all leaving Rodgers with limited options across his backline.

Liam Scales making his first start in green and white in a year and a half tells you all you need to know about just how extreme that situation has become.

Gustaf Lagerbielke Made His Debut v The Saints
Gustaf Lagerbielke Made His Debut v The Saints

On the right hand side we also seen fellow defender Alistair Johnstone make his first start since last season’s Scottish Cup Final, whilst new Bhoy Gustaf Lagerbielke was making his very first appearance at Celtic Park.

However, let’s be clear, our lack of defensive options is NO excuse for failing to take all 3 points against a side who entered the game rock bottom of the Scottish Premiership table.


The onus instead was on Celtic’s “front six” to break down a stubborn defensive approach, but despite dominating the stats in terms of possession, goal attempts and even xG if you’re so inclined, our creative players couldn’t find a way to breach Dimitar Mitov’s goal.

Yang – who’s been one of our bright sparks in recent games – showed his intent during his first competitive start, though his final ball let him down on the occasions when he did manage to get behind the St Johnstone backline.

Kyogo, another who has started the season well, showed his usual endeavour, but the merits of him dropping deeper to link up the play now seem very much up for debate after Saturday’s blank.

Does it really make sense to take a 34 goal striker away from the areas where he has the most impact?

Pass marks also go to O’Riley despite the aforementioned half chances. He made good connections with each and on another day those go in and we all go home happy.

Callum McGregor Tussles For The Ball
Callum McGregor Tussles For The Ball

The remaining three of the front six – Captain Callum McGregor, David Turnbull and Daizen Maeda  all fell well below what they’re capable of and they need to take responsibility for that.

The spark that Reo Hatate and the now departed Jota provide is clearly missing from Celtic’s attacking play at this time.

The manager must ignite it in the players that are available to him, or bring in new players with such capabilities.


We asked the question in the most recent Celtic Exchange Weekly Podcast if we as supporters were getting the “Full Brendan?”

Is this version of Brendan Rodgers the same character that we saw first time round?

Does he have the same fire in his belly? The bit between his teeth?

On that occasion he swept aside all domestic challenges to lift seven trophies from seven.

And done so with an air of self-assurance and a steely determination.

We’ve yet to see that side of him since his return to the club and fans will be hoping that it begins to re-emerge in the days ahead.

There’s no time like a first Glasgow Derby of the season for the manager to rediscover his old self.

Listen to the latest episode of The Celtic Exchange Weekly as we cover the League Cup fallout, a test of Calmac’s leadership, and are we getting the “Full Brendan?”

Available wherever you get your podcasts, by clicking the player below, or by listening at The Celtic Exchange website.

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1 thought on “There’s A Missing Spark – On The Pitch & In The Dugout”

  1. Desmond/Lawwell have obviously decided that the Champions League is beyond Celtic’s realistic capabilities and have accepted that they are going to remain the BIGGEST SMALL CLUB IN THE WORLD and Desmond refuses to sell his controlling shares whilst taking money out of the club superbly overseen by his shareholders dividend man Lawwell. So-called ” Sustainability ” has precedence over playing staff
    strength and AMBITION.

    Angeball worked because of his knowledge of the Japanese market and its cheap
    additions to the squad who in the main confirmed his sound player judgement. The loss of Hatate,CCV and Starfelt has been a body blow and refusing to address the issue in the transfer market with the required urgency portends grim times ahead.
    I don’t believe anything significant will occur this week . A likely defeat/hammering at Ibrox on Sunday with the terrifying CL group draw looming ,the coming humiliations seem inevitable. The Blue Pound appears to be the Powerbrokers priority. It appears that consecutive group stage monies, gained purely by Rangers reaching the Europa League Final would not have happened otherwise.Celtic are patently NOT a Champions League club and all they have is that fabulous ATMOSPHERE on CL nights.



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