Frustration and anxiety is growing amongst Celtic fans following two consecutive league defeats for the first time since Steffen Wohlfarth scored the winner for Ross County to seal an incredible 3-2 comeback for the Staggies nearly 11 years ago. Wohlfarth went on to become a goalscoring machine in the fifth tier of German football, whilst Celtic proceeded to win 10 from their next 11 league titles, amassing 23 domestic trophies from a possible 33.
This level of dominance, and the ruthless and impeccable standards required to achieve such success, is why Celtic fans are so vocal when those levels drop.
The defeats were frustrating, but it was the performances from the team that led to real anger from supporters, with the atmosphere against Hearts being as intense as Parkhead has witnessed in recent years.
The manager has recognised this, stating post match against Hearts that, “I felt that our desire in the game and our passion in the game was nowhere near it in terms of when we started, and we were too passive. If you look at the first goal, we got blocked off so easily, so we were very naïve and then we gave away a poor second goal.”
Those comments echo the sentiment of the support, but it cannot be empty words and a response is needed against Livingston this afternoon. The game against David Martindale’s side presents a perfect opportunity to get back to winning ways, with Livi being winless in their last nine games, only scoring two goals in the process.
This fixture cannot be treated as plain-sailing, as the team has looked far too comfortable just floating through games in the last few weeks.
Restore a strong mentality
Celtic need to be ruthless once again. The expectation at Celtic Park is to win whilst playing an entertaining brand of football, and this has been sadly lacking in the defeats to Kilmarnock and Hearts.
Going out there with a point to prove, which they do, should see Celtic brushing aside the opposition and going into that derby match with the highest confidence levels possible.
The fans will be on a knife’s edge this afternoon and the players on the field cannot allow that anxiety to creep into their performance, so remaining laser-focused on the task in hand should see the team comfortably on their way to victory.
Maeda must start
When a substitution is greeted with cheers from the support, it is never a good sign, and that is exactly what happened to Mikey Johnston last weekend.
Daizen Maeda was brought on and, whilst not able to provide the spark to drag Celtic back into the game, he must start this weekend.
His energy and pace that he brings to the team is exactly what Celtic have been lacking and the connection and understanding he has with Kyogo Furuhashi will only benefit Celtic’s struggling talisman.
Consistency, consistency, consistency
Celtic haven’t been able to string together two good halves in a game of football, never mind two good performances in a row, over the last few months, and that sort of complacency will not win you a league title.
Over the course of a season you will be caught out, as seen by the last two league matches.
It isn’t going to happen with a flick of a switch, but it is down to Rodgers to drill into the player the importance of remaining consistent over the course of the season, and that needs to start this weekend.
JAMES MCKENZIE // Follow James HERE