It’s not been a great start to the season for Celtic. I don’t think there’s ever been a Hoops manager who hasn’t had a period where they’ve come under real scrutiny – and this is Brendan’s difficult period.
As Celtic manager, the scrutiny is going to come, it’s guaranteed. It’s like going to the dentist – you know there’s pain on the way, you just don’t know when.
So, for Brendan, the painful bit is now. This is what you get paid for at the top, top clubs. Not for picking the players or coaching, but for managing these crisis moments.
In terms of what Brendan has done over the last few years, he’s made players better and the team more organised. But this is different – this is about management now, not coaching.
That said, we’re six games in to the season, not six games left.
At the minute, there’s no real problem – you’d still say Celtic will win the league, and nobody would say otherwise – but, if they lose another couple of games, then it becomes a problem.
Moment of truth for Celtic
It’s the first challenge of this type for Brendan and his players. Remember they had the title when he went there, won by an ordinary Celtic side, who could win because of all the mundane football around them.
Then Brendan came in and they won it with style and flair, with players at their maximum, particularly Dembele, Sinclair and Armstrong.
Now, for one reason or another, Dembele and Armstrong have moved on, and Sinclair is having a quiet period. A club which had everyone on fire hasn’t right now.
Add to that the uncertainty with the players. Dembele jumped up and down causing havoc, Boyata did a bit of that too, but stayed. That does affect the dressing room.
However strong willed you think the squad is, they have to come to terms with that and the unsettled players have to show that they’re with the team.
Players at Celtic Park thought life was great. Playing in front of 60,000 every week who cheer you, with no challenge anywhere else in the league.
But now is the real time where you find out if you’re ready for top level football, this is the moment of truth for Celtic.
The players who were great a year ago must get back to their top form, and the best way of doing that is by working hard.
Hoops need to find a different way
I heard Kris Boyd talking about having a main striker and thought ‘good point’. Unless you’ve got a Messi or Aguero, you have to have a pivotal striker, a main man.
Unless you play with Griffiths up there, with the other five firing on all cylinders, at the top of their games, creating chances for him – which he will finish.
If they’re not in that form, you have to be a bit mundane, to change it and find another way through.
In that sense, Celtic’s game is a bit one-dimensional. It’s OK if you’re Man City or Barcelona, where you’ll always find a way through from some bit of magic.
But, at this moment in time, Celtic’s flair players aren’t on form, so they need to find another way.
Which shows how they’re missing Stuart Armstrong. His runs could push a defence back another eight or ten yards. At the same time, shouldn’t he be missing Celtic, too?