Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Shakh-ing Night For Celtic

2-0, and as Shakhtar Donetsk manager Mircea Lucescu said, it could have been six. Everyone knows the statistic: fourteen Champions League away trips, no wins, just the one draw.

Looked at like that it reads like a formality, these pastings Celtic routinely endure on their travels. Like it's just part of a script, an intricate footballing protocol that features rousing home performance on one page, depressing away capitulations on the other.

Belief in the inevitability of it is backed up by the respective chequebook stubs of Celtic and Shakhtar. Celtic's summer business was constituted by the £8.1 million spend on midfielders Scott Brown and Massimo Donati, and the strikers Scott McDonald and Chris Killen. Shakhtar spent £35 million, largely on strikers Cristiano Lucarelli and Nery Castillo. Go figure.

But there is nothing inevitable in sport, as several of the Celtic players from last night would tell you from their experience seven days previously in Stade de France. Alex McLeish's Scottish side defeated France thanks to a courageous defensive performance, one borne of a collective understanding of what would be required to get a result against France.

Gordon Strachan's Celtic last night, on the other hand, were set up in a manner that seemed to ignore their previous struggles away from home and presume that they should take on the lucratively assembled Shakhtar side toe-to-toe. Ten minutes in with a 4-4-2 formation that left their rearguard flooded, and another awayday nightmare was in progress. Paul Hartley's redeployment to the same holding job he performed against France for his country came too late to do anything other than limit the damage.

There is also nothing inevitable about the sort of individual error that gifted Donetsk their opener. Stephen McManus, the defensive rock on which Scotland's resistance was built last week, gaffed the ball to the feet of Donetsk's creative lynchpin Fernandinho, and the game was up right there.

So whether it was destiny or decision, it was yet another harsh 'lesson' for Celtic. Still, if the standard Champions League curriculum is followed, AC Milan will be swept aside in a night of high emotion at Parkhead in two weeks time.

It's inevitable, isn't it?

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10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

brown = 4.4
donati = 1.4
mcdonald = .75
killen = free
doumbe = undisclosed (thought to be 0.25

total outlay = 6.8 (midfield = 5.8)

with summer sales of players taken off; outlay was just 2 million

this was explicitly covered last wek by Gordon Strachan to the press..

so how you come to a figure of 8.1 for brown and donati is beyond me...

lazy journalism .. and factually incorrect

1:08 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

donati = £3M

buy your children a ferrair ya fanny

1:25 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

not you tom

1:25 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(1) I still believe that it was 1.4 for him
(2) I have no idea what a "ferrair" is
(3) i aint no fanny - keyboard hardman .. so step off!

2:50 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(1) it was £3M regardless of what you believe, plus the fee paid for Scott Brown makes ~£7.4M worth of midfield.
(2) ferrari, to illustrate your tenuous grips on reality
(3) QED

3:28 p.m.  
Blogger Tommy77 said...

The £8.1m referred to the reported totals for Brown (£4.4m), Donati (£3m) and McDonald (£7m), not just the midfielders (a comma doesn't mean a full stop!).

I accept that transfer fees are often different to what they are reported to be when add ons are included.

This was not a maths exercise by the way, whatever way you added things up Donetsk's financial power was evident on the field.

3:41 p.m.  
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