Losing six goals in any game of football is never an enjoyable experience.
In reality however, when the fixture in question is a pre-season friendly, the scoreline is largely insignificant.
Though you wouldn’t think it given the reaction by some to Wednesday’s 6-2 defeat by Yokohama F Marinos.
A certain Ange Postecoglou suffered a similar fate when his new side conceded six goals to West Ham in July 2021 during his maiden pre-season at the club.
On that day his team could only muster two goals in reply – at Celtic Park no less – with Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie getting on the scoresheet.
That result was made even worse by the fact that it fell just seven days after another reverse. This time at the hands of English Championship side Preston North End
Some fans may vaguely recall the West Ham game. Fewer still will remember the Preston one.
And the reason for that?
Because these results simply don’t matter.
Postecoglou’s five domestic trophies from six following those defeats further emphasise that fact.
PRE SEASON PRIORITIES
We’d all have to see Celtic winning over Yokohama F Marinos yesterday morning at the Nissan Stadium.
Of course we would have.
It’s in our very nature to crave a Celtic win every time we take to the field.
Daizen Maeda’s first half hat-trick gave us a 3-2 lead going into the break, and put us in the driving seat to exact revenge over the Japanese side for the 3-0 defeat they inflicted on us under Gordon Strachan’s tenure way back in August 2006.
Another pre-season game we all remember well…
For reference Strachan then took Celtic to the knock out stages of the UEFA Champions League that season, and again in 2007/08, whilst underlining our domestic dominance by claiming three league titles in a row.
Marinos had other ideas however, and maintained their 100% record over the Hoops by winning the second half four goals to one, leaving the scoreboard reading 6-4 to the home side.
Disappointment is the natural response to any Celtic loss, but it’s vital we look at the bigger picture here and Brendan Rodgers won’t have lost any sleep over the result.
That he got valuable game time into the legs of no less than twenty-two players in humid conditions was a big plus.
The pace and competitive nature of the game against a side twenty-one games into their league campaign was another bonus.
And so too was the continued development of Academy players Ben Summers, Daniel Kelly and Ben McPherson who all enjoyed valuable minutes across the second half.
TRANSFER TALK REMAINS QUIET FOR NOW
What may have kept the manager awake mind you is the fact that – as yet – he’s been unable to bring in any players who could be deemed “first team ready” so far.
Whilst the current squad should be capable of handling the visit of Ross County on Flag Day in just over two weeks’ time, are we ready for a Champions league campaign which kicks off just a month later?
That the transfer window remains open until the week before Matchday 1 of the Group Stages however shouldn’t mean that we take it up to the bumper.
New signings take time to bed in.
Odin Thiago Holm (who for some reason was overlooked for this one) and Marco Tilio are already in the door, whilst South Korean’s Yang Hyun-Jun and Kwon Hyeok-Kyu look set to follow in the coming days.
Their profile however – none are older than 22 years of age – indicates that there may be some further development required before they’re ready for European football’s top tournament.
The areas that require strengthening within the starting XI are very much up for debate but there’s no doubt our defence is weaker for the ongoing absence of Cameron Carter-Vickers and Alistair Johnston.
Their recovery seems to be a matter of weeks rather than months, which is encouraging, and the hope is that they’ll be back sooner rather than later to bolster Rodgers back four.
A striker may be high up on many wish lists too with Kyogo and Oh as the only recognised centre forwards in the squad.
Though Daizen Maeda’s treble has given us all something to think about there.
OSAKA IN OUR SIGHTS
The Bhoys are back in action on Saturday, this time against Gamba Osaka as pre-season preparations continues in the Land of the Rising Sun.
We’ll likely see a further shuffling of the pack as the manager looks to optimise the fitness of his first team stars ahead of the new campaign though again he’ll have to do so without any new faces.
However, Kyogo and co. will be motivated to put on a show back in their homeland as they bring the Japanese tour to a close at the Panasonic Stadium.
And who knows, we may even get a win on the day!
But it’s still ok if we don’t.
Listen to the latest episode of The Celtic Exchange Weekly here as we discuss Brendan Rodgers Squad Dilemmas, South Koreans On The Way & The Prospect of A Returning Celtic Hero.
Available wherever you get your podcasts, by clicking the player below, or by listening here at The Celtic Exchange website.