Celtic reaction: Six players short; hardly happened in half century; Kilmarnock's ridiculously rare double
Six players short
The balloon has gone up for the Celtic support after their team’s shockingly shoddy display resulted meant they out-thought and out-fought by Derek McInnes’ side. The guillotine has been applied to all manner of playing careers at the club, as the prophets of doom have taken apart Brendan Rodgers’ tactics and team selection. Yet, it isn’t an over-reaction to suggest Celtic in Ayrshire potentially were six players shy of the personnel required to allow Rodgers to regenerate the club’s football operation. In truth, even as they claimed a treble under Ange Postecoglou last season, over the final four months of last season there was a drop off from their previous levels. The subsequent loss of Jota and Carl Starfelt robbed them of two mainstays. At the weekend that figure had three more casualties, injury depriving them of last season standouts Cameron Carter-Vickers, Reo Hatate and Alistair Johnston.
Aside from the internal improvements that regained fitness will allow for Rodgers, the need for “quality” which he addressed post-match must also come from market moves in the next 10 days. A left-back is an area that needs attention, with Greg Taylor struggling to adapt to Rodgers’ clear rethink on inverting Celtic’s full-backs. In midfield at Rugby Park Celtic were bullied out of it, to reinforce the requirement to recruit a pedigree, experienced midfield enforcer. Another wide player/creative attacker is also believed to be on Rodgers’ wanted list, understandable following the departure of Jota. Celtic could look a very different team a month down the line. On the evidence of the weekend, that is imperative for their prospects.
Hardly happened in half a century
Kilmarnock’s triumph is sure to dominate the football news agenda for the coming days for good reason. Only eight times times since the late 1960s, have Celtic been ousted from a domestic cup competition at their entry point to it. And often the scenario has proved a tipping point.. Fans ended up hurling crush barriers during disturbances at Celtic Park in November 2020 when this happened in the lockdown, fanless, pandemic season. Celtic’s four year monopoly of the cups then ended with a 2-0 defeat to Ross County in the League Cup that loosened Neil Lennon’s grip on his post.
Not as immediately as proved the case for John Barnes after Celtic were famously beaten at home by Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Scottish Cup in February 2000. The Englishman deposed within days. The standings of Lou Macari and caretaker Sean Fallon never recovered from being in and straight out of the Scottish Cup in 1994 and 1975 respectively, both losing against Motherwell at Fir Park in the January start point of the Scottish Cup. The Macari denting precipitating no less than the Fergus McCann takeover. And, though Gordon Strachan wasn’t seriously wounded by the experience,, the Clyde calamity he suffered in the Scottish Cup as Roy Keane and Du Wei debuted in that almighty shock of a 2-0 reverse remains one of the most regularly revisited upsets in the history of the competition.
Kilmarnock’s ridiculously rare double
To beat one of the Glasgow behemoths at the start of the season is notable, to beat both is spectacular. For Kilmarnock to do a number on Celtic in identikit fashion from how they skewered Rangers on the opening day of the Premiership season is a one-two that really doesn’t come along very often. Indeed, over the past decade there is only one parallel. St Mirren ousted Rangers from the League Cup just before Christmas in the 2020-21 season, then followed that up by winning at Celtic Park early in the new year. For the rest of Scottish football, the Ayrshire club’s home hauntings of the country’s big two in such quick succession offers up ghoulish delight.
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