CRAIG Fowler looks back at a dismal night for the Hoops in the Europa League.
1) Commons’ outburst did his manager a favour
Having your goalscorer and most dangerous playmaker ranting and raving at you and your assistants obviously isn’t a good thing. It doesn’t reflect well on Deila that he doesn’t have complete command of his players, even if most managers will have on-pitch arguments with their players at some time in their tenure. However, the Commons spat detracted from the seriousness of the Molde defeat, turning the attention off Deila’s actions as a manager by reducing it to a soap-opera style narrative - a tale that’s already had the air let out of it by the player’s apology. The back pages were dominated by Commons’ contorted, angry face, meaning fewer column inches asked why the bemusing substitution was made in the first place.
2) Celtic’s defence needed more protection
This is the weakest Celtic defence we’ve seen in some time, perhaps going as far back to the John Barnes era. Such a unit needs protection when playing away from home in Europe. Instead, the full-backs stationed themselves high up the park, while Scott Brown routinely bombed forward to try and support the attack. Dedryck Boyata and Efe Ambrose are not solid enough to deal with opponents running at them and it showed, glaringly, at the opening goal. Molde scored three, but they should have added a few more later in the game. Deila has to understand this weakness and adjust his style accordingly. It’s always applaudable when a manager wants to attack all the time, but the right personnel is required to do so.
3) Molde are a terrificially efficient team
“They came with a gameplan...” is fast becoming the most back-handed compliment in football, but it’s certainly true of Molde last night. They were disciplined and resolute in defence, but you really saw the fruits of their labour blossom when they attacked on the counter. The same swarm of blue bodies that suffocated Celtic in possession sprung forward and raced up the field to support. They reined the approach in a little at 3-1 but the pace of Ola Kamara meant they never lost their threat.
4) Celtic have a lack of options out wide
Kris Commons started on the right and Stuart Armstrong on the left. Both players’ natural inclination was to drift inside, meaning Celtic became a very narrow team, particularly as both full-backs were struggling badly. This allowed Molde to sit back, wait for Celtic to get within 30 yards of goal, and then crowd them out. The visitors needed something different and such a change didn’t arrive until 15 minutes remaining when Gary Mackay-Steven was introduced. The former United man has endured a poor start to this season and it’s clear Deila didn’t trust him to change the game, even though they needed a man of his capabilities. James Forrest seems to be the only natural wide-man Celtic can rely on, and given his injury history that’s a huge problem going forward.
5) Celtic lack European confidence
Deila’s men began the match at a high tempo, looking to get in amongst the opposition and knock them off their stride, with Leigh Griffiths almost opening the scoring within 90 seconds. Then the first goal went in and Celtic were transformed. For the majority of the encounter they became a plodding, hesitant side. The players needed three touches of the ball with every pass and everyone, baring Commons or Nir Bitton, was afraid to have a shot at goal, despite it becoming increasingly obvious there was no way they would pass their way through Molde.