Category: Archive

Soccer Scene: Celtic boss on the ropes after game one

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Welsh international John Hartson opened the score in the 14th minute. Celtic celebrations were wiped out six minutes later when Motherwell’s Brian Kerr made it one a piece. Again the big Hartson got the bhoys back in front in the 32nd minute. Then hitting home his third from the spot, Hartson put his team back on track coming into the half with a 3-1 advantage.
Motherwell looked annoyed as they carried themselves in for a halftime talk that got very heated. “Players were going at it,” admitted the Motherwell manager, Terry Butcher. He had arrived a little late for his team talk and walked in on a disgruntled group of footballers.
Hartson’s third in the 44th minute was a big blow for Motherwell just on the half. The Celtic spirit was perhaps on a comeback in preparation for CL. Hartson’s treble was doing the trick.
For Celtic at halftime in Motherwell, Gordon Strachan must have felt a little bit better about his new start as Celtic manager. Perhaps things were not so disastrous after all. Even though the opener in the Champions League was his worst experience ever in football. Strachan’s bhoys were hammered 5-0 by Slovakian champions Artmedia Petrzalka. The man suffered in this annihilation.
Imagine getting thumped five to nothing in your first game? How does one bounce back from such a disastrous start at this level? It seemed the nightmare in Slovakia was fading when the bhoys sat down to their halftime talk at Motherwell. A nice lead of 3-1 with that late goal giving the team confidence. Things were looking good for Celtic’s opening game after 45 minutes of play in the Scottish Premier League. The mood was changing for Strachan in the away dressing room at Motherwell. After the CL humiliation he had admitted: “I’ve been a manager for eight years and a player for 25 years and this is out and out the worst football night I have ever had.”
Coming back on to the Motherwell field Celtic was set up to take three points home. And just as importantly a nice little victory before the return leg against Artmedia.
Against Motherwell in the first 10 minutes of the second half, Celtic kept the score line at 3-1. Not only was the two-goal cushion looking good, the clock was also becoming another a factor for Motherwell to contend with. Slovakia was in the past the bhoys and Strachan were sailing at 3-1.
Thirteen minutes into the second half it happened again. Suddenly there was chaos in the Celtic defense. In the space of two minutes Strachan must have felt he was back in Solvakia. Out of nothing, out of nowhere, it was 3-3.
Just on the hour Motherwell’s Scott McDonald and Jim Hamilton popped up to put Motherwell on level terms. It was unbelievable. Celtic were back in the trenches. The mighty Celtic had fallen again. The defense collapsed.
Then in the 85th minute it seemed all hell broke lose when William Kinniburgh made it 4-3 for Motherwell. Strachan must have been in the pits at this point. He was helped out a bit just in the nick of time when Craig Beatie equalized in the 90th minute. However, rather than saving the day this result was seen as throwing it away.
What’s going on at Celtic? It seems a nightmare. That’s nine goals conceded in two games – the first five may turn out to be particularly costly in financial terms. There’s no need to repeat that Strachan knows his defense is deplorable.
The faithful are still hanging in there, just about. At least Celtic can score goals, “A ray of hope,” was how Strachan described it. Hartson can also be thanked for the goal scoring.
Anything can happen in football. It’s the nature of the game. One minute your up, next minute your down. But it can also be a very cruel game and when the chips are down, sometimes they never come back up.
Celtic are no strangers to letting managers go when they do not produce the goods. Is Strachan in trouble? Did Celtic get the right man for the job? So far the answer to that is a big “no.” Now we could be made eat those words by the end of the season but as far as Celtic’s 2005 start to the 2005/6 season, well, it’s disastrous, isn’t it?
The likelihood that things will turn around this week is not looking good at all, for Celtic would to make the comeback of a lifetime. We cannot forget that this team that endured the team’s worst European defeat also held their own against Juventus and the like for the last few years. But it looks impossible for the Hoops to produce this comeback. Strachan’s job could be at risk before his one year contract runs out. It will just take one or two more slips in the league, just like the one at Motherwell, for the Strachan to be scrutinized if he hasn?t been already.
After the CL defeat Strachan said: “I am in shock and it’s very hard to be coherent and talk about my future and what will happen after this result.”
All the talk about rebuilding the scouting system and buying new players is immaterial right now. There was also belief that if Celtic moved on in the group stage of the Champions League, they’d gain a fast

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