Was the Viaplay Cup exit just a bad performance or are there real problems at Celtic?

Fans have had time to mull over yesterday’s defeat as Celtic crashed out of the Viaplay Cup at the first time of asking at Rugby Park against Kilmarnock.

After the initial fan fury, the dust has settled, but the question still looms of the current state of Celtic. The performance was lacklustre as the team lacked the fight and hunger which is desperately needed in cup ties when the chips are down.

Was this down to just a bad performance or is there something more deep-rooted that Celtic need to address?

The performance

Celtic’s main focal points of attack and creativity were completely nullified as Kilmarnock executed Derek McInnes’ game plan to a tee. Killie have already taken points from Rangers at Rugby Park this season and are clearly a well-organised and well-oiled machine and they stifled Celtic’s play.

McGregor was marked out of the game but his performance as a whole over the course of the 90 minutes was below par as his game was filled with slack passes.

The team was very disjointed with a new centre-back pairing in Gustaf Lagerbielke and Maik Nawrocki playing together for the first time and the Swede playing his first game in a Celtic shirt. There were also players starting that wouldn’t have been in the team had the side been at full strength and full fitness as Anthony Ralston and Odin Holm would have been on the bench.

The team was also lacking some inspiration and creativity from the bench as none of the substitutes that came onto the pitch really filled fans with the hope that they could inject any sort of life into the Celtic team and grab the game by the scruff of the neck. With Reo Hatate, Oh Hyeon-Gyu and Marco Tilio all recovering from injuries, that problem should hopefully be fixed very soon.

But what other problems are there currently at the squad, and is there a bigger task at hand than what was previously expected when Brendan Rodgers initially returned.

More transfers and more quality?

Celtic’s transfer activity has come under criticism from fans with a keen eye towards the moves Celtic were making. However, many fans had dismissed those shouts, this writer included, as the team were just off the back of winning a treble and had a strong squad with added depth and quality from the bench being all that was needed.

The squad is young as well with room for development in nearly every single player in that Celtic squad. However, yesterday’s game provided a bit of a wake-up call as the lack of a player who could single-handedly win a game by themselves.

Jota, now playing for Al-Ittihad, was a player who could do just that and Celtic haven’t replaced that ability. Finding a like-for-like replacement for Jota is impossible for Celtic as the club aren’t going to pay £25million for a player.

This writer thought that Liel Abada could replace the quality that Jota brought but Abada hasn’t shown the same levels despite some decent performances so far.

Whether it be Daniel Podence or another winger, Celtic could definitely do with signing a real quality attacker for a similar fee to the £8million price-tag attached to Podence’s name.

More quality at left-back and in the midfield would also help out. Young Boys midfielder Fabian Rieder was heavily linked at the start of the season with a similar price-tag to Podence and signings of that ilk would inject the confidence in the team that the fanbase are looking for as well as injecting a bit of life back into the Celtic team.


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