Celtic crashed out of the Viaplay Cup at the first time of asking as they lost 1-0 to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park. Brendan Rodgers’ side struggled to create chances as Kilmarnock executed their game plan to a tee with the winning goal coming courtesy of Marley Watkins just before the hour mark.
As always with a Celtic defeat, opinions are flying around left, right and centre with fans desperately trying to work out what went wrong against Derek McInnes’ side.
Here are a few things that weren’t working for Celtic as they relinquished this season’s first piece of silverware:
Uncharacteristic of the Captain
Whenever Celtic have looked down and out in recent years, one of the most reliable players who the team can usually turn to – the player who is odds-on to drag us out of the mire – is Callum McGregor.
However, the captain looked far from his best today, much like his performance at Pittodrie last weekend. The 30-year-old was targeted by Kilmarnock from the get-go as they harassed and harried the Scotland international, which in turn started to unsettle the Celtic backline as they were having to rush long balls forward instead of McGregor always providing the option for the pass.
McGregor also seemed to lack the same grit and fight that has made him such a great captain as he was uncharacteristically losing out in 50/50 duels and getting dispossessed far too easily.
Very few players are undroppable and McGregor may be one of them, however, performance levels will need to improve.
Taylor’s poor form continues
Greg Taylor has had a slow start to the season with his performances looking way off the mark compared to how good he was last season. The Scotland cap seems to be struggling under Brendan Rodgers with the former Liverpool manager veering away from Ange’s inverted full-back system which Taylor thrived and developed so much under.
With Rodgers opting for a more traditional approach for his full-backs, a lack of pace has led to Taylor being caught out when going forward time and time again and it will be exposed far more by opponents of a European calibre.
Danny Armstrong, arguably Kilmarnock’s main man, was wreaking havoc down the wing and Taylor was unable to contain him. His passing was slack and the 25-year-old was way below-par again on Sunday.
Don’t be surprised to see Taylor potentially drop out of the first team in the next few games, whether that be to be replaced by Alexandro Bernabei or a new signing.
Despite being a goal down and desperately needing a goal to save their Viaplay Cup hopes, it never seemed like Celtic were ever going to do just that.
Matt O’Riley and Kyogo Furuhashi, as well as Yang Hyun-Jun, all showed a bit of urgency but chances just weren’t coming Celtic’s way.
Killie set up well and defended for their lives in the latter stages, however Celtic just didn’t create enough.
The options on the bench were very thin with the likes of Sead Haksabanovic coming on. That problem should hopefully be eradicated with the return of the likes of Marco Tilio, Oh Hyeon-Hyu and Reo Hatate, who are all out with injuries and waiting to return and make an impact.