There were positives to take from the draw in Istanbul, but there remained more questions than answers for Celtic. Craig Fowler looks back at the final game of a disappointing European adventure
The sending off made a huge impact
Sometimes it can feel a little joyless to stress the extenuating circumstances that lead to a positive result. But there’s no getting away from it on this occasion. Celtic didn’t look like they were going to earn themselves a point until Diego saw red for the hosts. And this wasn’t a red card which came through an opponent forcing the issue, like a goalkeeper or defender seeing red for a last ditch challenge that may have otherwise led to a goal. This was one hot-headed midfielder acting like a 10-year-old and being punished accordingly.
However, Ronny Deila still deserves a little credit for introducing some positive players into the action thereafter, giving his side the necessary jolt to go take something from the game. Because, while it’s undeniable Celtic would have struggled to earn a draw without the red card, the same is true without those substitutions.
There’s potential in the defence
It came far too late, but Celtic finally got an encouraging performance from their much maligned back four. You know a unit is playing badly when everyone is hailing an 18-year-old as the best player in it, but against Fenerbahce youngster Kieran Tierney was arguably the weakest member of the group as Dedryck Boyata and Mikael Lustig, along with the increasingly impressive Jozo Simunovic, stepped up their game.
Lustig finally looks like he’s getting back to fitness so his consistency should pick up. And while Boyata may be 25 years old, in football terms he’s only really 19/20, seeing as he’s played so few games his entire career.
It’s a unit that can get better. However, it’s unlikely that this showing will be enough to dissuade Deila from trying to plug the leak next summer. Speaking of which...
There’s always a costly mistake in this side
There comes a point where you have to stop pointing the finger at players for individual mistakes and start asking questions of the coaching staff.
Legendary figures of the game, the best gaffers of all-time, all of them, at some point or another have been let down by individual errors from players. It’s outwith their control. However, when there is a culture of this at a club, when it happens in every single big game, the problem goes a whole lot deeper and it’s up to the manager to solve it.
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Scott Allan can’t be judged just yet
In desperate times, which is a term applied mildly to this Europa League campaign, fans look for the next great hope to lead them to a new dawn. They would not have found such assurances with Allan’s performance in Istanbul, but they should be content with the investment in time.
Allan, similar to Boyata, doesn’t have a whole of experience in the game. Of what he knows, he can pick the pocket of a side set-up to defend, something Celtic will find very useful when they return to Ladbrokes Premiership duty.
It’ll take him a while to get up to speed with playing a team like Fenerbahce away in Europe; an opponent who’ll hog the football and swarm around you whenever you’re in possession. First he needs to build himself up in a more comfortable atmosphere back at home.
Kris Commons remains attacking king of Celtic
Griffiths is now, undoubtedly, the go to guy for Celtic on the domestic front. But aside from a couple of strong showings at Parkhead this European campaign, he’s still to demonstrate he’s an consistent goal threat against top quality opposition. Commons is still the player, on European nights, who can change games in Celtic’s favour.
With the attacker playing fewer games, becoming increasingly injury prone and hitting 33 around the time of the next Champions League qualifications, finding a proven quantity to fill the approaching void must be a top priority, even if it does go against the club’s transfer policy.