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Big four toil as Celtic show spirit

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Phil McNulty | 21:48 UK time, Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Celtic made a mockery of Paul Ince's needless jibe that it was "men against boys" when they met Manchester United - as Scotland's pace-setters rounded off a testing week for England's elite in the Champions League.

Blackburn boss Ince's comment was an insult to Celtic's players after they lost 3-0 at Old Trafford recently, conveniently ignoring the fact that plenty of English clubs have suffered that sort of ignominy, and worse, at the hands of Sir Alex Ferguson's side.

For all their deficiencies and inferiority in the face of United's attacking riches on another noisy night of Parkhead passion, the qualities you could never doubt were their heart, spirit and bravery. These were real men at work.

If they actually wanted to answer Ince's sideswipe, and there was a feeling in the air that they did, then it was achieved.

Bodies went on the line. Massed ranks were formed in a green and white wall of defiance - and it almost worked as they clung desperately to Scott McDonald's brilliant 13th-minute goal.

After what seemed like several hours of United pressure, Ryan Giggs finally headed the leveller with only six minutes to go.

United, make no mistake, were in a different class to Celtic as an offensive force, but there is an art to defence as well as attack and that was what earned Gordon Strachan's side a precious point.

Celtic could have been broken completely had Dimitar Berbatov converted a simple last-minute chance, but the Scottish champions deserved a draw for sheer courage alone and Ince might now like to revisit his summary dismissal of their abilities.

Celtic's draw is unlikely to be enough to keep them in the Champions League beyond the group stages, but they once again showed they are a formidable barrier for anyone at Parkhead.

It made it a very rare winless week for the Premier League's so-called "big four" in the competition - the first in the Champions League group stages since December 2005.

United were vastly superior, but were so often blocked, frustrated and denied after a team selection by Ferguson that had the look of a gambler's throw about it, or at least that of a manager saving key players for another day, namely Saturday's game at Arsenal.


Berbatov and Wayne Rooney were kept on the bench, but eventually had to be used, with the Bulgarian emerging at the interval and the latter coming on for the last 20 minutes.

Celtic put pressure on United in central midfield, stayed compact, forced them wide and packed bodies around the penalty area. It was a ploy that almost brought another famous win on home turf.

But it was also high-risk in that it eventually invited ceaseless United pressure that brought Giggs' deserved equaliser.

It leaves United ready to strike for a place in the knockout phase, while Celtic restored much pride after a poor campaign so far.

United are likely to be joined in the last 16 by Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal - but it has not been a week in which England's finest have covered themselves in glory.

Arsenal's goalless draw against Fenerbahce at The Emirates ended seven days of frustration for Arsene Wenger and left his team in need of a lift ahead of Saturday's visit of United.

Liverpool, for all their pressure against Atletico Madrid, needed to be on the right end of a laughable injury-time penalty decision to claim a draw at Anfield on Tuesday.

It was a game that only under-scored the fact that they simply cannot afford to be without Fernando Torres for a significant length of time.

And Chelsea copped a real punch on the nose against Roma after being lathered all over with soft soap from the Italians' coach Luciano Spalletti, who announced they were the best team in the world.

I would back Chelsea to put matters right and reach the latter stages of the competition along with United, Liverpool and - a prediction made with less conviction - Arsenal.

But, for once, it was a week when the English super-powers in Europe's elite trophy did not get things all their own way.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Liverpool did struggle against Madrid. The countless chances and the constant pressure prove that they can't survive without Torres. Ask Man United and Chelsea, against whom Torres didn't feature. Phil McNulty is a football genius with a real understanding of the game.

  • Comment number 2.

    Couldn't settle the game. Boys.

  • Comment number 3.

    I can only applaud Phil on a great article. As a Celtic fan I was appaled by Ince's comments and I wonder if he would say that about Chelsea getting hammered away from home. It is frustrating that we cannot afford the same riches as United (£60m+on the bench!?!) or the other big 4, but I can take heart from the fact that most men on the park for Celtic tonight gave their everything for the club.
    Well done Bhoys!

  • Comment number 4.

    Liverpool's penalty decision might have been 'laughable' but had you watched the whole game, you'd have known that they were victims of an equally 'laughable' decision earlier in the second half in being denied a clear penalty after a blatant handball.

    Whilst two wrongs don't make a right it's just as 'laughable' how some football journos tend to skip past certain incidents in order to justify their comments and arguments.

    For the record, I'm an Arsenal fan, not Liverpool!

  • Comment number 5.

    I agree with every word of that other than the Arsenal bit - I haven't seen the game yet.

    Celtic v Man Utd was fantastic to watch tonight.

    Arsenal and Barcelona are supposed to be the two most fluent passing teams in Europe but surely when United are passing like that they hit the same level.

  • Comment number 6.

    Probably the only fair report I have seen of the game tonight.
    Celtic stuck to their game plan and I'm delighted you realise that, ... It's a shame Souness and co. don't get that.

    Well dont Phil McNulty.

    C'mon the Hoops !

  • Comment number 7.

    It does seem a bit surreal to have a win-less week for the Premier League giants- however I wouldn't read too much into it. It shows the premier league isn't invincible but let's remember no Spanish representative scored three points either. There have been a few interesting scores this week- notably the stern test Cypriots Anorthosis Famagusta gave Inter Milan in a 3-3 draw. You also have a demolition from Panathinaikos in a 3-0 away win against Werder Bremen of Germany.
    But it's all very well having these one-off shock results but the grim reading from a Champions League neutral's perspective is that 11 of the 12 teams from the 3 big leagues are very likely to qualify for the last 16. so that's 11 of 16 representatives coming from one of three countries when there are 49 in total in europe. Man Utd and Liverpool look certain, Arsenal seem to suited to a European Style when they know how to put the ball in the net and Chelsea will have too much to stop Bordeaux spoiling the party. Elsewhere Barcelona, Athletic Madrid and Real should have too much. Villarreal will have to suffer a dramatic slip if they find themselves 3rd in the group at the end of December. Celtic need to get their first away win in their Champions league history and hope Man Utd don't just settle for the point in Villareal. Then, if the group is still open Celtic must score 3 points in what would probably be a very defensive Villareal starting line-up. So it looks 4 from 4 from La Liga safely into the knock-out stages. Then from Serie A- Inter Milan and Juventus will almost certainly qualify. Roma are not a foregone conclusion but you would fancy them with the fact they have got their tough Chelsea games out of the way. Fiorentina are unlikely to make it a clean sweep with Lyon and Bayern Munich both 5 points clear of the Italians.
    So, how can Michel Platini stop this "big three" monopoly? With the powers and finances of some of these clubs it is difficult to see what can be done.

  • Comment number 8.

    great last an english writer who actually knows what hes talking about!

  • Comment number 9.

    BossDonkey. The chances only came later on in the game, when aletico scored it was cos they earned it, unlike our goal.

    Phils point, which I agree with, is that whilst we create a hatful of chances, as against tottenham, other than torres we have no one who can stick them in the net on a consistent basis. Benitez and Houllier have tried plenty of good strikers but they dodnt seem to do the business at Anfield.

    Keane comes with a great pedigree though so did the likes of Morientes, Cisse and Anelka, but so he looks like being another expensive flop. Grnated he needs more time to prove himself, but for a striker of his ability he needs to step up to the plate and soon.

    Still, another 3 points should be enough to see us through and one defeat all season is a good sign that things are improving.

    All we need now is some decent fullbacks and a right winger and we might be able to win the title

  • Comment number 10.

    Hang on. Liverpool struggle without Torres when they beat Man U 2-1 and end Chelsea's unbeaten run at home 1-0 without him? Explain that Phil McNulty.

  • Comment number 11.

    What fortress.....Rangers went in and pumped them 4-2

  • Comment number 12.

    A winless couple of days? That'll be down to the three matches last week.

  • Comment number 13.

    Didn't Celtic do well. Only lost 1-4 on aggregate and managed to get a draw at home. Hearty congratulations on a fine achievement - and goodbye Europe for yet another year.

  • Comment number 14.

    A good and balanced article from a BBC journalist. Shock, horror!

    Celtic stuck to their game plan and were only 6 minutes away from another famous, if unlikely, win against one of the most expensively built teams in the history of the game.

    Man U played some excellent stuff and passed the ball as well as any team I have seen this season, and it was inevitable that they would finally get the break through that undoubtedly they deserved.

    I have never seen any team, not even Barcelona, have that much possession of the ball for such long periods at Celtic Park. Celtic's inability to hold the ball up was inviting constant pressure which was bound to pay off eventually. And for me, Boruc has gifted them that goal. He really didn't have any other saves to make of any note except from Rooney. Everything else was routine. For me he should have dealt with that shot better.

    Credit to Celtic. Utd had to throw on Berbatov(30m) & Rooney(28m) to get a point. Berbatov should have stolen it at the end. Thats why you pay 30m for the guy. Its a sad state of affairs when Celtic are in the top 20 rich list of European football, yet the difference in quality that they can put out on the park compared to Man Utd is staggering. The score does well to hide that, but its not a true refelection in ability.

    The gulf in class was apparent but I doubt that you will see utd have to work much harder than that all season to get a goal.

    Credit to both teams for a good game. Unfortunately for Celtic its not going to be enough, but they won back a lot of respect for their display.

  • Comment number 15.

    As you point out, Celtic have very little chance of qualifying. 3 points were essential out of this fixture for them.

    How so do you also reckon that this was then a 'precious point' for Celtic?

  • Comment number 16.

    Gers fan here. Fair play to Celtic. (For Scottish Football In Mind Only) A draw is at most any prem team could ask for. As for Ince bring Blackburn up to gers or celtic and we'd thump them. !!!

  • Comment number 17.

    A backs to the wall effort defending a one goal lead at Parkhead by a team without the resources or calibre of players to match the opposition, only this time the Celtic fans aren't complaining. Why? Simple, this time it was Celtic doing what their fans constantly complain about every second week in the SPL when every team with the exception of Rangers try to do it to them.
    It was a great effort, well done but remember that the next time you moan about teams going to parkhead and defending for 90 minutes, teams have to play to their strengths with the players available to them.

  • Comment number 18.

    Celtic played against Paul Ince through out the game. Arsenal are unpredictable this season they are trying to prove a point to themselves. Chelsea must learn that the tide of change can swing any time in the game of football. Liverpool has quality and tradition going for them especially in Europe. Dont put your money cos the big four wont dominate Europe this season.

  • Comment number 19.

    Top analysis Phil. Everything spot on, pretty much as usual. Keep them coming!

  • Comment number 20.

    I'd just like to congratulate post #4 Daripa, as an Arsenal fan actually getting up and saying what many people have failed to recognise.

    Liverpool's penalty might have been a little fortunate, but we were plain right robbed on several occasions before that.... even prior to Atl scoring. The whole game could have changed.

    Anyway... Thanks Daripa.

  • Comment number 21.

    Good blog Phil!

    It was a real frustrating CL campaign for English teams this past two days.Liverpool did struggled against Madrid and took a contorivsial pentalty to bring them back in place.

    For Chelesa the result was always expected lets face it Chelesa away record in CL is suprisely very poor and that has still not changed.

    As for Man Utd Cetltic will have their stars to thank for SAF poor descision.Where on earth do you use a third choice goal keeper for the toughest match even when you have two world-class goal keepers to spare.I can see the reason while Evra didn't start in the first place Anderson is another matter. Why do you have these players is it not for the big games? I suddenly wish he lost that game to pay for his game.Rubbish!!!

    Arsenal for me are already in trouble and things wouldn't ease up on them this week end either.SAF seem to be planning for the three points not even one and I will be angry with him if we get anything less than three because his team selection almost cause Ronny a red card act of frustration.

  • Comment number 22.

    Wouldn't it be an insult to Celtic to say that it was a great Champions League performance against Man United.

    Surely, they can do better than being pinned at their own half for the almost the entire second half. After all, they're the Scottish champions. Away teams going to Parkhead are supposed to get stretched if not totally get dominated by the men in green. In that regard, I understand where Souness was coming from.

    But then again, given the limited attacking option available to Gordon Strachan, I guess Phil has a point in saying that a gallant defensive performance like that is the best Celtic can do.

  • Comment number 23.

    xellent article Phil, its bit sad to see a talented player like gerrad stooping too low to gain a last minute pentalty , public always tries to defend gerrad whenever some one accuses him of diving !! and once again its been proved that he's not a complete professional who has 100 % honesty and dedication to play fair game , i realy believe there are only very few honest players who doesnt like to cheat the opponents even if they are loosing ! I cant remember any one accusing bekham for diving ! am realy happy to see these big 4 taken back to thier feet by relatively smaller teams , Wenger need to concentrate on his own failings instead of accusing other teams for kicking his nappy boys!!

  • Comment number 24.

    you ducked that one phil, sure it was laughable but you should also have condemned gerrard for cheating

  • Comment number 25.

    Some good points raised here. I was surprised at the team Man U put out last night, but I was literally astounded by the amount of posession they had. Man U completely dominated the game, but Celtics defence was rock-solid and their goal was a cracker. For me the only disappointment across both teams was John O'Shea, who still appears to be dining out on that (comedy) performance against Liverpool a while back. I don't think he's good enough, even as a squad player.

    As for the Liverpool penalty... Well it wasn't laughable, it was abominable. It was a pathetically poor decision by the official, and to see the way the cheating sneerer celebrated after scoring, that just adds to my desire to see him fall flat on his face - preferably sooner rather than later.

  • Comment number 26.

    spot on as always

  • Comment number 27.

    Do me a favour Phil and watch the match again.

    Any professional team that stuck 10 men behind the ball for 80 minutes would be difficult to break down.

    Paul Ince wasnt far wrong with his "men against boys" jibe. Remember United were away from home yet enjoyed 70% of possession and had 20 attempts to Celtics 6 in a match that Celtic needed to win.

    A point is preety useless as far as the CL goes for Celtic. They are now in a scrap with Aalborg for the Uefa Cup spot as they cant finish above United even if United lose their last 2 and Celtic win theirs. They need to beat a currently unbeaten Villareal who will play for a point.

    As for Liverpool, as much as i dislike them, they were the better side on Tuesday but it just shows how much they rely on Torres and Gerrard. I know every team would miss its star men but at least United and Chelsea have more than 2.

    Onto Arsenal, i wouldnt be surprised at all to see a big reaction on Saturday so it should be a cracking game. Again they should have won last night and another night they would have by 3 or 4. The only underperformers this week were Chelsea but that will be a mere blip.

  • Comment number 28.

    I wouldn't say Man Utd "toiled" at Parkhead...bearing in mind they ran the game start to finish, had 70% possession for the most part, and from kick off in the 2nd half it was shooty in, or as Andy Gray geniusly put it "it's almost like attack against defence now" (surely this applies to every game ever played...)!?
    Barring Man Utd's failure to put the chances away, Celtic had 2, possibly 3 shots on goal of any note.
    Berbatov could have had a hat trick when he came on, Boruc had good saves from Ronaldo and Rooney and it was astonishing that the game finished 1-1 if you ask me.
    For all Celtic's grit, determination and dogged defending, United were clearly the dominant team who it was obvious, had Arsenal on their minds...
    Sir Alex took a massive gamble in resting Berbatov & Rooney and it failed to pay off.

    With regards to the other "big 3", Chelsea were outplayed in Rome, Arsenal don't have the squad to deal with injuries and it showed last night, while Liverpool should have beaten Atletico was just ashame that they got a point from the worst penalty decision of the season.

    English teams won't win this year - the Italians are back in contention, and looking at the Bianchoneri last night, they have fired a warning that they intend to fight the whole way...Del Piero at 34 is still world class!

  • Comment number 29.

    Can I just add something re Arsene Wenger...


    ps - 4-4, come on you Spurs

  • Comment number 30.

    "Liverpool, for all their pressure against Atletico Madrid, needed to be on the right end of a laughable injury-time penalty decision to claim a draw at Anfield on Tuesday."

    Completely ignoring the gold standard penalty claims earlier in the game!!

    'Third time lucky' is almost always the suffix to 'twice robbed blind.'

  • Comment number 31.

    As a United fan, i found this game as fantastic as i did frustrating.
    Went 1-0 down to a great goal, fantastic bit of vision, but then in the second half Celtic kept about 8 or 9 men behind the ball, and it was frustrating to watch, because they defended brilliantly. Players throwing themselves in front of the ball, and chasing players down and making it as difficult as possible to break down their defence.
    Shame Ronaldo didnt realy kick in untill about the 75 minute mark, after which he was like a man posessed.
    Berba should have won the game for us in the last minutes, but i have no complaints at the overall score. Great game

  • Comment number 32.

    Paul Ince is a muppet. I for one would take his comments with a large pinch of salt. Won't be long til he's out the door at Ewood Park and back down to the bright lights of League 2 where he belongs.

    Will be interesting to see how they perform against United at OT. They'll be lucky to get away with a 3-0 defeat.

  • Comment number 33.

    Arsenal and Barcelona are supposed to be the two most fluent passing teams in Europe but surely when United are passing like that they hit the same level.
    what you dont understand is man utd cannot do it to the big boys. did you see manu and barcelona last year. which team played superior passing football and which team defended deep. man utd can play but they dont have the talent to do it against the big boys (they can win against the big boys because they themselves are a big team)
    gordon strachan said they are miles better than brazil and many people bought the hype. this shows how fickle some fans are.

  • Comment number 34.

    Comment #15, it was a 'precious' point for Celtic as ultimately, they want to stay in Europe in the Uefa Cup and need to stay in 3rd place.

  • Comment number 35.

    Everybody here is making the point on how poor Celtic were as an attacking force, yet we were missing 2 of our first choice strikers. Liverpool missed Torres and had to resort to diving to salvage a point, we were missing Samaras (who has 8 goals despite missing a good few games) and big Jan VofH, yet tried our best against a team many in the world would get beaten by.
    Yes we defended for 70% of the game, but I guarantee 80% of Premiership clubs would do the same.
    Man U had 20 shots on goal, but I think about 8 were on target and the majority were from outside the box. Whilst I prefer free flowing attacking football, I also appreciate when a team does everything they can to get the best result possible. I'd like to see what Rafa, SAF, Scolari could do with the same budget as WGS, then we'd see how attacking they were aginst a team with 15-20times the buying power.

  • Comment number 36.

    It is no wonder that Celtic never get anywhere near competing in this competition

    It should have been 5-1 to United

    Men against Boys? Too right! They were played off the pitch for nearly the entire game

    United's players went into that atmosphere and stuck to their game, kept playing football and got the equaliser in the end - but all people talk about is how heroic Celtic's 10 man defending was

    A joke really. Celtic will never get anywhere in Europe if they think that's a great performance

  • Comment number 37.

    I was thinking last nite when was the last time all four english clubs didnt win a game in the champs league group stages so thanks for answering that question mcnulty.

    Frustating nite for man u,we dominated like we did at old trafford but it was like playing someone like stoke or bolton with all their men behind the ball. they're lad scored a quality goal don't get me wrong,but that massive gulf in class was still evident. utd played some lovely stuff in the middle of the park but when we got near their six yard we went to pieces,my nan would have scored berba's effort at the end. anyway a point is better then nowt i spose!!

    oh and well said post 29,im getting sick of that clown wenger,i hope we stuff em on saturday,give him something else to whine about

  • Comment number 38.

    No Berbatov or Rooney for United
    No Torres for Liverpool
    No Drogba for Chelsea
    No team for Arsenal

    Not surprised really and hardly a headline

    Very poor blog 1/10

  • Comment number 39.

    I disagree with Phil. Maybe I am an arrogant Utd fan, but it was a clear dominance of Utd on the pitch. Celtic got their goal, and the rest of the 77 minutes, they sat and defended wherelse Utd was showing their true class - of course with a poor finale. If you look at their stats, of possesion, shots on target, shots blocked..there is a big difference. If Berbatov scored the goal on the last second, is it a deserved win for Utd? YES!!But thats football. The team does everything that meant to be done but the end note is not always favourable - just like Arsenal, as i watched Arsenal game too, and I was asking myself, are we really sure that half of Arsenal players are injured? Because they look like A-Team!

    As for Liverpool, they too deserved to win, however both teams had handballed a couple of times and got away with it, but the final penalty decision had robbed AM's win. Unlike Celtic, AM didnt sit and defend throughout the game after the 1st goal.

    Good article, though Phil.

  • Comment number 40.

    Not entirely sure what this columns all about Phil - you mean 'shock,horror!' for once it was on ordinary set of results for English teams?

    Did you notice Spanish teams didn't get a win in this round either - it happens - the group stage is not a sprint.

    Do you think these results leave them in poor positions in their groups? Um, no.

    So, why all the fuss?

  • Comment number 41.

    The Enlgish will win

  • Comment number 42.

    coolguymanutd and others who criticise Fergie's team selection

    Fergie's team selection. Its called rotation. Its called the bigger picture. I got no complaints about Fergie's team selection, even if it included O'Shea. Because we got Arsenal next. Playing against both Celtic and Arsenal, one on wednesday night and the other in early saturday kick off, both away games, both intense and physically demanding on the players. So did you really expect Fergie not to rest some players? I totally understand why the likes of Berba, Roo, Evra, and Anderson didn't start, as we got Arsenal next!

    A chance to keep the pressure on Pool and Chelsea but also dent Arsenal's title hopes. We can't afford to lose ground on Chelsea and Pool, whereas we still should qualify for the next CL stage. So you want at least some of your key players in tip top condition for a big game against Arsenal, so if that means resting Roo, Berba, Evra and Anderson, than thats fine.

    What two world class keepers? VDS is a good keeper (not as good as he was) but Kuzschak ? World Class? Haha. He is no better than Foster. VDS doesn't need to start every single game. VDS is possibly is in is last season, so why not give Kuzschak and Foster a game here and there. I don't blame Foster for that goal, it was just a lovely finish from the Aussie and more to do with the defensive organisation after the corner was cleared the first time.

  • Comment number 43.

    Just one thing to add to this comment. i am an Everton fan so have no real reason to stick up for united. However For all Celtics supposed art-full defending, they did not win the game, leaving them with near to no chance of qualifying. United dominated the game, that to me justifies Ince's origanal comments! Celtic are a great club with supporters that outclass United's corporate lot but as afr as teh thing that matters i,e winning its a different matter.

  • Comment number 44.

    a little perspective called for .Yes manu
    were the better side and the hoops held out.
    Cillian Sheridan made only his tenth start
    for the hoops last night....No goals
    Ronaldo world player of the year...No goals

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    This blog and the comments that have followed show why the 'British' game would never win the world cup.

    How can a football pundit writing for an international audience praise to high heavens the nonsense Celtic put up?

    'Bodies went on the line. Massed ranks were formed...' - I hear you sir, its now become a military exercise...

    Celtic were brave - yeah brave not to attempt to play football but to frustrate the footballing know-how of the opponent.

    This deep love of 'anti-football' destroys skill development. England would have learnt nothing when the EPL stops making money!

    Yes it would happen someday that's the law of economics. While it last and there are skillful players around - learn, learn, learn!

    Oh no - its too much to learn! Wenger is a whinger, Bolton is a winner, Stoke is the future, Mourinho is a god...

    Oh why did Capello take the job? Surely Gordon Strachan, Big Sam, Phil Brown and Tony Pulis would be much better!

  • Comment number 47.

    Chelsea lost 3-0 against Roma. Would anyone say that they played like boys? Of course not. That was a needless jibe against Celtic.

  • Comment number 48.

    Let's get a couple of things straight about the Arsenal shall we? Our squad is lacking depth, quality and experience. Our manager is either unwilling, or most likely, unable to do anything about it, probably due to financial constraints. Last season we played out of our skin for 3/4s of the season, only to fall short at the end. In the summer we lost some key players in Flamini and Hleb and nothing was done about it. The fact that we are top of our group in the ECL and 4th in the Prem is actually something of an achievement, although admittedly of cold comfort today.

    For my money Wenger does have a point re the level of injuries we have sustained from illegal tackles (not "spirited" or "full blooded", but illegal) e.g. Ade and Theo on Saturday, Silvestre last night and Eduardo and Rosicky last season. Unfortunately Arsene has earned a reputation, rightly or wrongly, as a moaner or a whinger (real creative journalism there boys) and so anything he says is under the most intensive scrutiny and open to mindless, bigotted barracking even when he has a very valid point, such as against Stoke on Saturday.

    That said, something is most definitely wrong and somehow, someway Arsene needs to be strong enough to make some very difficult decisions, perhaps the hardest opnes of his tenure at Arsenal. Gallas is clearly not the right guy to be the captain, Adebayor and Fabregas clearly have their minds on moves away from the club - much as it pains me to admit it as a season ticket holder of some 20 years - and above all else the balance is now completely wrong in terms of youth and experience. This was not the case last year when Gilberto and Lehmann were still at the club, even if they were not playing regularly they were still behind the scenes exherting some influence.

    In my unlearned opinion Wenger should go out and spend some money in January (if there really is money for transfers, but that is another story). He needs to get players who are still avilable for the ECL - and yes Phil, Arsenal will definitely qualify for the next stage despite your lack of certainty. I would bring in Green, Upson and Ashton from West Ham 9there is bound to be a fire sale there sooner or later) and Jimmy Bullard from Fulham, or even Gareth Barry from Villa. These guys all have the grit and experience which would dovetail nicely with the silk we clearly already have.

    To conclude, I would say to some of the other subscribers on here that despite Arsenal's injuries and week of malaise, they will give United a very good game on Saturday and may very well get a result whatever team they put out. As for Tottenham - fair play on getting a draw but you were still completely outplayed by us despite all the money you spent. You were exceedingly fortunate against Liverpool and you are still very clearly bottom of the league. If you really think Harry Redknapp is the answer to your prayers that is up to you. All I can say is Gerry Francis, Christian Gross, George Graham, Glenn Hoddle, David Pleat, Jacques Santini, Martin Jol and Snr. Ramos (have I missed any out, there are so many!!!)

    Rant over. Amen!

  • Comment number 49.

    A couple of points.

    Firstly, as mentioned in post 24, where is the condemnation of (yet another) Steven Gerrard dive?

    Also, rather than just taking an easy pop at Ince for what he has said, why don't you bring in the more pertinent comments by Fabregas about Arsenal ladies being able to beat the teams that the gents themselves have not been able to beat.

    Come on Phil, answer the issues that people are raising.

  • Comment number 50.

    Strange how a team like Celtic get so many column inches for their "bravery" of sticking 11 men behind the ball...... but, most other teams in europe would be blamed for their anti-football.

  • Comment number 51.

    I thought it was great to see the 'Big Four' struggling in this way. Platini must be delighted as it gives some credibility to the Champions League which was in danger of being the Cup competetion for the Premier League instead of a Europe wide show piece.

    Paul Ince has always had a tendency to say - and do - stupid things; witness the posing in a Man U shirt which West Ham fans - rightly - haven't forgiven him for and, for that matter, his comments about the sending off of Benni McCarthy at the weekend. You stick your hand up and clock the ball with your arm; booking. Second booking and you're off.

    Having said that, I hope that Ince does the business at Blackburn if only that Paul Robinson deserves a break after the dreadful way he was treated at my club Spurs.

    Celtic played well and damn near nicked it. When you are playing a team as extravagantly gifted and funded (through absurd debt) as Manchester United, then I'm not sure how you do better.

    All in all it was a good week for European football and - ultimately - English football. Who wants the same teams playing in CL final as contest the Premier league? Personally I want Inter Milan or Juve to come through this year.

  • Comment number 52.

    Admittedly, any side without Torres in it is a lessened force however Liverpool are better equipped this season than in the past to win without him - several examples already this season. October/November has tended in recent seasons to be barren time for Liverpool - our current run of two games without a win is therefore of slight concern but pleasingly we're still creating stacks of chances and on most other days we would still have had a hat full with or without Torres against both Spurs and AthM.

  • Comment number 53.

    I think phils point was Liverpool couldn't survive without Torres for a LENGTH of time. I agree. But then, how would united cope without Ronaldo for a LENGTH of time and Chelsea without Terry or Lampard for a LENGTH of time.

    It's stating the obvious that we need Torres. It's a no brainer. The wider point is how we have maintained our play without Torres which shows Liverpool are genuinely a strong team.

    I actually go with Wengers point. The English teams have a gruelling schedule and it must take it's toll.

  • Comment number 54.

    I cant understand all the praise for celtic this morning??? I've never whitnessed such a one sided game. How they didn't lose by 4 or 5 goals only god knows let alone get a point out of the game. If it had been a PL game we'd be saying how poor they were, giving the ball away, all the mistakes the negativity, joke! And if anything only provided more evidence for Paul Inces comments the other week.

  • Comment number 55.

    i have searched each and every comments till now and i wonder y these readers are not bothered to condemn gerrad for his unsporty behaviour ?????? issit just bec'os he's english and its OK for english players to dive??? just imagine if it was some one like ronaldo or Drogba !! people would take all thier available weapons and start attacking them back and forth !! liverpool cannot go too far without Torres and M.U does not have that cutting edge with out Ronaldo's goals!!chelsea cannot break down the stiff defence with out Drogba! dont want to say any thing about aresenal.. they will be the most luckiest team if they quarter final thats the ultimate place they can reach with the current squad !!

  • Comment number 56.

    I'm just glad to see that someone at the BBC isn't afraid to say that it was a laughable penalty for Liverpool.

  • Comment number 57.

    An english Journo being kind about a Scottish I awake?

    Good article, well done.

  • Comment number 58.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 59.

    Some people are completely missing the point and showing an embarresingly bad understanding of football like #46

    Celtic have a relatively small and cheaply put together squad thats having a small injury crisis.

    The Champions league has gone for them - the UEFA is what they are aiming for so a point was a must. 3 points brilliant but 1 point the target.

    They got that and now they need to go to Allborg and get a result.

    Europe and the money it brings is a nessesity for the Old Firm as there isnt much money in the Scottish game. Gambling with the UEFA Cup just to play pretty attacking football would be financial suicide for Celtic.

    The Old Firm have the resources of a Championship side these days where as the EPL is bloated with billions.

    Perspective is everything and its obvious by some posts that the billions in the EPL is squewing perspectives down south.

    One day the money will leave the EPL like it left Serie A. The quality will drop to Championship level again and you will have to accept like us North of the border technically restricted football but with endenvor heart and passion as its positives.

    I enjoy watching the EPL but im not stupid enough to think this gravy train will last forever.

  • Comment number 60.

    Paul Ince's cliche - men against boys - is exactly that..... a cliche , it might have been - david and goliath - take your pick.
    Ince was a footballer by trade and isn't a pundit, presenter or analyst on TV , he made a comment which Stachan used to fire up his less gifted team.
    Last night they again showed that when playing against arguably the best team in Europe, they had to resort to performing like a Conference team ie defend for about 80 minutes, put 8 men in and around your own box and play your hearts out.
    Well done Celtic, they are men !!
    But will still not get into the last 16 - they aren't good enough !!
    Well done Manchester United , you will go far.

  • Comment number 61.

    At last, a well written, fair reflection on this week's football. Well done Phil!

    Celtic v Man Utd - outstanding defensive performance from the men in green and white ... yes, MEN. Ok, so United dominated possession for vast majority of the game but lets be honest, that was no real surprise to anyone. When you have a team worth hundreds of millions playing against a team that can't even afford to pay John O'Shea's wages, can you really expect the game to be balanced? Settle.

    Celtic got their early goal (a beauty it was as well!) and defended like warriors. A draw in the end was a fair result, sometimes you forget that football is also about good defending, not just attack. Shame to many biggoted supporters fail to appreciate this.

    I for one, look forward to the day when United or Liverpool & co. face the same pressure when they'll be without the ball for long periods (Barca come to mind) - then we'll see then if they can defend like MEN?!

    As for Paul Ince's comment, it's a biased disgrace ... let's just see how his Rovers fair when they travel to OT ... my prediction, not very well.

  • Comment number 62.

    I wish ferguson would send out his strongest team at the start of the match, knock in 4 goals and then give whoever he wants a rest, rather than doing it backwards and not getting anywhere for 70mins. I predicted a draw and Giggs to score on the 606 board just before the game last night. United always do this, put out a slightly weaker team which in effect, is no where near as potent. It has cost them the league before and Ferguson still insists on doing it.

  • Comment number 63.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 64.

    Truly awful blog…

    Surely all Celtic fans (and many Scottish fans) are sick to their back teeth of the words - "heart, spirit and bravery". Because it never gets them anywhere!

    I agree with Ince, a club like Celtic cannot continue to under-perform in Europe as they do. As it WAS an awful display at Old Trafford - Never mind “how many Premiership clubs suffer the same punishing score-line there”, this is the Champions League and they need to start playing better football and say goodbye to Heart & Bravery!

    30% possession at home with your backs against the wall for 90 mins is not the way to qualify – I’ll accept it if your only aim is 3rd place and the uefa cup!

    All Celtic had to do at home was get stuck in more hold up the ball and play football, and when Man U had the ball - kick them off the park. Neither they or Arsenal can handle it! The proof is in the pudding as every winge you hear from AF and AW is “we didn’t get the protection from the ref”!!

    On to your Torres coment…

    As mentioned before by many, Liverpool have beaten the best in Europe without The Kid and have simply suffered (as all the other 4 have) with a simple loss, when it SHOULD have been so much better and a draw, when it SHOULD have been so much better! We had the worst possible timing come into play for both the Pompy and Spurs match. Ath Madrid played a clever game (and are a class outfit that every single pot A team wanted to avoid from pot D in the original draw), they had two fantastic moves and finished one of them off well… And then it was just one of those games.

    We deserved at least a point and SG (OK it looked bad) just did the professional thing any pro should do in that position. But no, when some bloke bangs into you in the penalty area in the last min?? What do you do?? Stand and be strong in the tackle and stay on your feet?? I think not!

    The results are nothing to do with not been able to cope without the best striker in the world!

    And to confirm... What a stupid and ignorant comment:

    - "the fact that they simply cannot afford to be without Fernando Torres for a significant length of time."

    Please accept all Liverpool fans apologies for not been at our best whilst the best striker in the world is out for a load of league games and couple of Champions league matches...

    I'm sure Man U, Barca, and Milan manage fine without Ron (horrible person), Messi and Kaka.


    Your snide comment about Arsenal was also rubbish. Arsenal are a class team and any genuine English football fan feels proud when watching them play the kind of football they play. At home and in Europe! I sense a hint of McEnvy??

    A very poor write up on all counts, Nulty, your write up was awful!!! With more cracks than Tevez’s mirror! You need to consider your next article before you submit it!!!

  • Comment number 65.

    Firstly - well done to strachan for using a very lame, readily used, nothing cliche to inspire his team... i can't believe that it worked!... but it did... it helped them battle and that helped them (along with a lot of luck and Fergies team selection) get a point!

    I very much doubt Paul Ince was actually stating that he genuinely thought that Celtic had fielded a team of adolscent males (i.e. boys).. but was instead just using a cliche that any normal human has heard atleast 100 times and accepts it to mean that there was a gulf in class .. that is all...

    as for Celtic getting a decent result - they did - so fair play - OK United fielded a side that didn't feature their 2 main strikers (Rooney and Berbatov) but nonetheless they got the result against a far superior side that pretty much could/should have won the game last night.

    Following this "good" result Celtic will probably go out of the Champions League - so well done - a great achievement... that no doubt will convince all the Celtic/Rangers fans that their teams are capable of competing in one of Europes leagues that don't feature pub teams!

  • Comment number 66.

    In the sense that Ince meant it - Celtic being totally outplayed - Ince was correct. He obviously never meant that they were literally boys he was emphasising the gulf in class and there was a gulf. Even in the draw at Parkhead there was that gulf despite the result albeit against a weakened side. Had Berbatov scored that last chance noone could have complained that the result would have been unfair. That said we played the same against Barca as Celtic did against us and I honestly hope I never see the same performance from a United side regardless of the final outcome.

  • Comment number 67.

    Entertainment, drama, passion, intrigue, noise, tension and skill. Most of the latter came from Man Utd, but let's not forget that McDonald's goal was also exquisite.

    A great evening at the old stadium; Celtic Park was at its very best.

    I don't buy into all this "men against boys" stuff. What are you supposed to do when the opposition is crammed with so much talent that they can afford to leave Rooney and Berbatov on the bench?! If Celtic had opened up and played in the second half (and why would they, at one nil up?) they might have been slaughtered. Pragmatism is not a vice in a football manager. Celtic's performance, while technically inferior to their opponents' display, contributed greatly to a smashing night of football.

    Here's hoping we get another great night against Villareal, and more this season in the UEFA Cup!

  • Comment number 68.

    Couple of points - why no mention of Sheridans header when he lost Ferdinand completely and should have buried it to make it 2-0 in the BBC reports?

    Also, Celtic were missing their 2 main target men up front without whom they had to rely on Macdonald to hold up play. Considering he's only wee it was pretty obvious Celtic were going to find it hard to get out of defence.

    An Aberdeen fan.

  • Comment number 69.

    I would agree that Celtic defended well against us, en masse it was a superb rearguard action. But I have to agree with a text I received form my friend, where he said 'Any chance of the home team going for the win?'. And it's a fair point. While Celtic's draw against us is credible, it leaves them virtually out of the european Cup, whereas a win would not. Surely once we equalised (arguably before then would have been better) they needed to throw the kitchen sink at us and go for a winner? Their collective refusal to attack may eventually dump them out of Europe together, and I for one would not like to see that.

    Liverpool, a lucky penalty? Chelsea lost! Arsenal didn't win!! There almost seems to be an in-house competition amongst the BBC Blogging team (with the notable exception of Tim Vickery and Gavin Strachan) to simply REACT to the latest results/events in a merely reportage style. It was my opinion that Blogs made for more stimulating discussion, and gave journalists the opportunity not just to dissect the already chewed-over but suppose upon the further implications of what the result/performance/controversy might mean to the clubs involved. There seems to be a complete lack of imagination with a lot of these articles, and so much seems to have been lifted from other reports so as to appear repetitive and pedestrian - not what I would hope for from the BBC, but sadly, these days, practically expect.

    It's not restricted to online either. Chelsea get off to a good start in the leageu - they'll win the league say MOTD. Arsenal put a couple of wins together against inferior opposition? Arsenal play great football and coould well win the legaue. Liverpool win the week after? They'll win it this year. Yawn. Let's have a bit more prediction and supposition of what might occur as a result of what has already happened Beeb, because at the moment, Huw Edwards could present MOTD and do the same job as Hansen/Lawrenson, and news bloggers could report what has happened to us, merely feeding us information. We expect something more.

  • Comment number 70.

    Chelsea lost 3-0 against Roma. Would anyone say that they played like boys? Of course not. That was a needless jibe against Celtic.
    It was 3 - 1 to Roma. Chelsea dominated until some awfull defending let Roma in . After that Chelsea were chasing the game and didn't do a particularly good job of it. Nontheless , up until the goal, if it was men against boys the men were the one's in blue.

  • Comment number 71.

    Oh dear, McNulty doesn't like criticism. Guess that's why he can't bring himself to call Gerrard's behaviour into question.

    I can't believe my comments got pulled. Is it because I called McNulty a 'sheep' journalist?

  • Comment number 72.


    Please don't ever try and claim that Liverpool are hard done by with hand-ball decisions at Anfield.

    Jamie Carragher practically plays as a second goalie he handles the ball that much, not to mention the 2/3 dirty tackles he gets away with per game.

    Liverpool (and the rest of the 'big 4') get biased referee decisions go their way in the Premiership but Liverpool seem to get them all of the time in the CL too.

  • Comment number 73.

    Leedskopite number 64 has called it right.

  • Comment number 74.

    Let me answer a few points individually.

    For those who feel my appreciation of Celtic's performance was misplaced, do not forget they were very short on attacking resources, with Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Georgios Samaras missing, among others.

    Strachan made the most of his depleted squad, and everyone knows Celtic cannot match United for attacking riches, given the vast sums spent on players like Rooney and Berbatov.

    As I said in the blog, there is an art to defence as well as attack and Celtic's organisation and character took them to within six minutes of a great win.

    United played some superb stuff after the break, and it was credit to Celtic's attitude and application that it took them so long to level. I am happy to applaud Celtic for that.

    On to Fernando Torres - I make it quite clear that Liverpool cannot afford to be without him for a "significant length of time".

    Yes, they beat Manchester United and Chelsea without him in the starting line-up, but they needed a penalty to beat Portsmouth and draw with Atletico Madrid - and were beaten by Spurs in between.

    Please let me hear from all those Liverpool fans who would be happy to do without Torres for a significant length of time. I'd love to hear how you would back that argument up.

    Now on to Steven Gerrard's part in the penalty award on Tuesday.

    He was subjected to some pretty fierce criticism in some quarters yesterday - complete with a damning youtube compilation that got a public airing in one of the papers.

    I have to agree pictures of the incident did paint an image of him looking over-dramatic, but at the time I did not think he dived - mainly because it never crossed my mind for one second that a penalty would actually be given.

    And yes, Liverpool should have had a penalty for a handball in the second half - but so should Atletico when Javier Mascherano clearly handled a cross.

    Jamie Carragher also did the same, but I do not believe that was clear-cut so it was right a penalty was not awarded in that incident.

    Hope this answers some of the points raised.

  • Comment number 75.

    "Chelsea dominated until some awfull defending let Roma in."


    "Until the Titanic hit the iceberg, the vessel had shown an impressive refusal to sink."

  • Comment number 76.

    Hi Phil, a good article. Though one collective bad night for our teams in the last 3 years is hardly any cause for concern, more so for Arsenal than the other 3)

    It wasn't the best of matchdays in europe for England's teams. However only 1 team out of 4 got beat and on wed's both man utd and arsenal dominated games, Celtic are formidable at home and it is not too surprising that Man Utd drew.

    With regards to Sir Alex's team, I personally think that a team of Tevez, Giggs, nani and Ronaldo should win and i'm guessing Sir Ale thought the same. With regards to Celtics display, one thing i noticed was their poor ball retention, which is essential in europe nowadays, if they had kept the ball more I think they would have been able to shut out the game, maybe thats Strachans fault?

    Tevez is beginning to worry me. Last night he was all over the place, his passing was poor and I can't remember a shot of any note. If he carries on like this I can't see Man Utd paying anything close to £30 mil for him, he seems to be suffering the same problems Rooney was suffering not so long ago.

  • Comment number 77.

    To be honest Phil Manchester United were all over Celtic and you can hardly say that 'they made a mockery' of Paul Ince's comments. They were lucky to come out with a point and even that isn't really good enough seeing as though there 6 points behind United and Villareal.

  • Comment number 78.

    Let's all pat Celtic on the back for having maintained the possibility of limping into the UEFA Cup? Why shouldn't we say that as well as defending 'manfully', they showed a lack of attacking imagination, because they did. Although their team was weakened, that does not mean they had to settle for a 1-0 clinging on or 1-1 draw. In my opinion, they should have gone after us a bit more and tried to win the game - they may have been rewarded further.

    Agree regarding Torres, although the boy hasn't scored against us, he's a potent goal threat and while last-minute Dirk Kuyt winners can be celebrated with vigour, they can't be relied on for amassing points over the whole season. It's interesting to note how sides who often tail away in the league race (Liverpool and Arsenal) go head over heels about any victory in the early stages whilst those who seem to last the pace (Chelsea and United in the last four seasons) tend to focus on winning the next match, win, lose or draw. Look how Liverpool upped the cups over beating Chelsea. Yet in the three games that were played in a week, how many points did they amass? 6. United? 7.

    I maintain, Liverpool and Arsnenal do not have the squads to compete beyond about March in my opinion. Whereas Liverpool have spent their budget (pretty well, generally, although the full-backs seem a blind spot) Wenger has refused to bolster his squad, in the mistaken belief that his team (who now apparently are "tired" - what are they going to be like in May, Monsieur?) can last the pace. He will be proved wrong. Again.

  • Comment number 79.

    Its great to hear all the Man U fans bleating on about Berba & Rooney on the bench.. we had 3 first team guys sitting in the stand last night!! We dont have the riches United have or even Wigan have.. yet the bottom line is you didnt win.. it was a draw.

    70% possession - 200 passes - 20 shots at goal doesnt win you a football game.. goals do and you only scored once the same as us.

    Celtic were compact! They let you have the ball. We sat with 2 banks of 4 and most of the time took it off you when you came into the last 3rd.

    Most of your chances came from corner kicks.. when did Man U become a set play team!!

    And as for the game at OT yeh we got played off the park but you got a 2 goal lead with 2 offside goals!!!

    Thats twice you have came north of the border and twice you have failed to beat a 'Mickey Mouse team'.. from a Mickey Mouse league.

    £30 million might buy you talent. But it will never buy you qualities like Celtic had last night. As the old saying goes.. its not the dog in the fight but the fight in the dog!!!

    If that had been an Italian team defending like that.. they would be over themselves with they way they set up and they way their plan worked. Celtic might not make the last 16 this season.. we have been the least funded team to get there the last 2 years.. but if we can break our duck in the next game.. Villareal wont want to come to Glasgow needing a point.

    For me last night was a great game. It started 100mph and it finished the same way. David v Goliath.. this time it finished even.

    As for Paul Ince and Mr Souness.. Blackburn came out with that jibe a few years ago and look what happened. Im sure they were sitting 3rd in the league back then.

    Notts Forrest are the last English team to beat us on our own patch.. and that was before all the money came into the game.

  • Comment number 80.

    My main concern with the article is that Ince is being pilloried for something any ex-footballer could easily have said. He was right and noone I know even raised an eyebrow at the time he said it as Celtic were completely and thoroughly outclassed at Old Trafford.

    As #60 and #65 say or imply its a cliche that you hear virtually every time a team is totally outplayed. That Strachan managed to use this comment to inspire his team to a massive defensive performance is to his credit but there was little substance to the slight except in its exaggerated coverage by the media (no surprises there).

    Still you wouldn't want that to be the norm for Celtic's performances as they will have little or no chance of progressing on that basis and they are a club that add a great deal in terms of passion to the competition.

    In any case good luck against Villareal and Aalborg.

    As for Gerrard's penalty, did they ever find the sniper?

  • Comment number 81.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 82.

    "And as for the game at OT yeh we got played off the park but you got a 2 goal lead with 2 offside goals!!!"

    One was marginal and we also got an onside goal disallowed. Nice try though:) Even at 3-0 you got off extremely lightly.

  • Comment number 83.

    How would West Brom fair in the Champions League?

    The Champions League is there to make the top clubs more money each season. And in the bigger countries like England, Spain, Italy and Germany.. tv revenue tops up the rest.

    Teams in the Championship get more cash than Celtic or Rangers. They are from a small nation.. so the ball park is a bit unbalanced!!

    Its a bigger issue up hear with funding for kids to play football.. but thats for another day..

    So maybe we dont have the skill and talent the Uniteds and Barcas possess, so what if we have to rely on defensive tactics, bravery and passion. Play to your strengths. That bravery and passion nearly got us a 2nd goal.. and if that went in.. who knows!!

    Alex Ferguson said it last week.. goals win you matches!! And I dont think that has changed since last night.

  • Comment number 84.

    I don't understand what Mr McNulty is trying to say. It's the first time in 3 years that an English team has not won in the CL, though only 1 team lost their game and Liverpool and United could have scored 5 each in their respective game.
    It's indicative of football, how it's a game of 11 versus 11 and sometimes things don't go alright on the night. I think it's also indicative of the current run of games that the top clubs in England have just gone through and still have to go through. From October 18th to November 15/16th all the English Champions League entrants have had to play in the following manner...Sat, Wed, Sun, Wed, Sat, Tue, Sat, Wed, Sat. Of course some teams play a day different but the story is still the same, it's 9 games in a month and it's led to injuries for all teams and dips in form which have affected all 4 teams in both competitions.
    Nobody apart from Paul Ince held Celtic in such low esteem, just as no self-respecting football fan would laugh at the challenge of Atheltico Madrid, Roma or Fenerbahce. All are in the Champions League proper and are in there at the expense of usually-feared teams such as Galatasaray, AC Milan, and Valencia.
    Make no mistake Mr McNulty, every Champions League win is not taken for granted and none are easy as they seem. I think this year is one of the strongest Champions League fields in the history of the modern competition.
    Players like Cazorla, Mutu, Ribery, Guiza, Arshavin, Lisandro Lopez, Bangoura, Benzema, Cavenaghi, Aguero, Ben Arfa, Afellay, Totti, Moutinho, Ilsinho, Ninis, Diego would grace any of the English teams and the Inters, Barcas, Madrids of the world, but the fact that they all play for separate teams in the Champions League is an indication of the ability of all teams in the competition this year.

  • Comment number 85.

    Some people did raise an eyebrow about Ince's comments actually, strangely enough the Rangers' boss Walter Smith for one.

    He rightly pointed out that quite a few English teams have been on the wrong end of a few heavy beatings at Old Trafford.

    And it is also worth making the point - although United were streets ahead of Celtic at Old Trafford and no-one could deny them their deserved win - that two of the goals were clearly offside.

    I have no brief for Celtic in any way, but I really admired the dogged and determined way a depleted side went about their business in such an organised and resilient fashion. I see no crime in that.

    I was surprised Ince chose to comment on a game that was actually none of his concern.

    I would have a few bob on him being delighted with his Blackburn team if they had played like Celtic did against Manchester United last night.

  • Comment number 86.

    PhiL wrote:-

    Now on to Steven Gerrard's part in the penalty award on Tuesday.

    He was subjected to some pretty fierce criticism in some quarters yesterday - complete with a damning youtube compilation that got a public airing in one of the papers.

    I have to agree pictures of the incident did paint an image of him looking over-dramatic, but at the time I did not think he dived - mainly because it never crossed my mind for one second that a penalty would actually be given.

    And yes, Liverpool should have had a penalty for a handball in the second half - but so should Atletico when Javier Mascherano clearly handled a cross.

    Jamie Carragher also did the same, but I do not believe that was clear-cut so it was right a penalty was not awarded in that incident.

    Hope this answers some of the points raised.
    No it doesn't I don't think. You often eulogise about Gerrard and what people are suggesting is that you have a bit of a blind spot where he is concerned.

    All you have said is that it looked a bit 'over-dramatic'. I trust you will think the same if you come to damn what a re considered the usual suspects i.e. Ronaldo and Drogba?

    And attempting to justify it by mentioning other incidents is missing the point. People are not talking about the result against Atletico Madrid but that DIVE.

  • Comment number 87.

    One was marginal.. does that mean it was or it wasnt?? And the other one was offside also. Im sure the ref came out and said it after the game.

    When Rooney had scored his disallowed goal.. the game was already won. United were magic that night.. but again when you get decisions like that you cant fail to win!!!

  • Comment number 88.

    With Drogba not coming on quickly enough to his old form after his long injury lay off, Chelsea are in dire need of a quality striker. Anelka will always be found wanting in crunch matches. In easy matches he is like a prowling tiger, but fails to deliver whenever the team is under pressure. There is no doubt Chelsea are a very good footballing outfit, but without a quality goal poacher, results are sometimes going to be hard to come by.

  • Comment number 89.

    Regarding #10 liv_pool_crazy

    United's dreadful defending at anfield GIFTED liverpool all 3 pts that day
    as for what happened at stamford bridge, alonso's shot took a BIG deflection off Terry.


  • Comment number 90.

    It seems to me that there is a potential problem in translation here....from the reaction of a lot of people it seems like we are having arguments about nothing!

    I am not sure if the cliche means the same thing in scotland...

    in england it is a very readily used saying that really does not mean any offence at all....

    it appears that in scotland it is taken literally and therefore is bordering ion as offensive as saying someones mum sleeps with people for money...

    seriously Celtic fans - get over Ince's comment - it really isn't offensive at all...

    just focus on loving the fact that Celtic are playing the Nags head from Dumbarton away on saturday in the SPL.. or someone similar!

  • Comment number 91.

    33. At 09:17am on 06 Nov 2008, maldiniforzamilano wrote:
    Arsenal and Barcelona are supposed to be the two most fluent passing teams in Europe but surely when United are passing like that they hit the same level.
    what you dont understand is man utd cannot do it to the big boys. did you see manu and barcelona last year. which team played superior passing football and which team defended deep. man utd can play but they dont have the talent to do it against the big boys (they can win against the big boys because they themselves are a big team)
    gordon strachan said they are miles better than brazil and many people bought the hype. this shows how fickle some fans are.


    United player x said a couple of weeks ago that the team had enough quality and experience to out and attack in europe, as apposed to last season when the manager had them playing a tight game to get results.

    i.e. It was tactics to stifile Barcelona, Fergie has been doing it for years (vs les invincibles in particular) no big deal.

    Have you actually watched the way they pass it around? they use a little less triangles and a little more directness than barca but there is no less quality, perhaps even more quality in united.

  • Comment number 92.

    I don't think Liverpool badly missed Torres as such, they just missed some experienced fresh legs with fresh ideas up front. Kuyt in particular has been doing the business so far this season, with Keane proving a decent foil, but they can't be expected to fire every game. When they're not, you need a quality player with top-level experience to come in and pose a different challenge for the opposition defence. N'gog, though definitely one for the future, doesn't have the experience to turn such a big game. Hopefully he will gain the experience this season to bring another option up front in the event that one of our strikers is injured like they are now.

  • Comment number 93.

    Can I just apologise on behalf of Celtic for the way they played last night? Obviously, as every right thinking person knows, they should have stood aside and let United rain in goals at will.

    Can we have some perspective please? Various posters seem to be going about Celtic's backs to wall performance at home.... with the patch work side that they had to put out, what else were they meant to do?

    They were missing the likes of Vennegoor of Hesselink, Samaras, Killen, McGeady, Loovens and Crosas. Whatever you think of them as players, they're just as important to Celtic as Berbatov, Rooney etc are to United. Do you honestly think that Celtic start with Cillian Sheridan, a teenager who's games you can count on the fingers of one hand, as their Centre forward every week?!?! Celtic had almost their entire forward line missing. Perhaps I'm being a bit silly here, but I would have thought that in order to maintain a sustained attacking performance, you need attackers in the first place!

    There is a gulf between United and Celtic, but then, you can say that about United and any team outside the top 4 in England, so it's a useless comparison to back up how Celtic aren't EPL class! Had 'Boro come and dominated Celtic in that manner, then there might be an arguement for tearing into Celtic, but until that time, keep the emotional responses to yourselves and try using logic instead.

  • Comment number 94.

    Agree with you on Torres Phil, My point however, is that it is just as important to get the other strikers earning there keep when he isn't around.

    Keane needs to start doing something useful and soon.

  • Comment number 95.

    Good blog.

    From my reckoning you could buy the Celtic squad for what MUFC paid for Berbatov. I find it hard to understand why some have chosen to attack Celtic's style when any other approach would almost definitely harmed their chances of UEFA cup football. It's almost like they expect WGS to forget everything he knows about football management so that MUFC can underline the gulf in class by sticking ten by them. I can think of a few clubs in the EPL - Stoke, Bolton et al - who play less attractive football than both halves of the OF. There's little argument that the EPL is superior to the SPL but credit where it's due, SAF must have been raging.

    Ince's comment was as you said "needless". What's a manager of limited experience, not managing at CL level, whose team were beaten 0 - 2 at home by MUFC, and 0 - 4 at home by Arsenal, doing making a comment about Celtic - before his team have even been to OT? Regardless of whether he's a pundit or a player it lacked savvy. I think SAF was right with his Big Time Charlie opinion.

    The Liverpool penalty was laughable, but more embarassing to be honest. For all those complaining that there were two previously denied penalties, I can remember AM having two strong shouts for low shots coming off a scrambling Carragher's arm. To condemn Gerrard would be churlish; the money involved made the dive a reasonable gamble which was worth a yellow-card should the referee have deemed it so. If he hadn't tried it on there would have been more complaints about why the English game lacks professionalism.

    I'm not an Arsenal fan but I recognise they're one of the most talented sides in Europe. They may be going through a barren period but I don't see that lasting, and they are in respectable positions in all competitions. Funnily enough the game against MUFC could ignite their season.

  • Comment number 96.

    How much did Ferdinand cost? Vidic?? Yeh your right.. our whole team last night cost less than £30m.

    Fair play to the English teams.. you have the money.. you spend it.

    Noticed a United fan said they lost to Liverpool because of their dodgy defending.. maybe you should buy Celtics back four!!!

  • Comment number 97.

    Just a quick aside...

    Strachan said in an interview "You cannot play like that if you are not men. We should never be called 'boys', that's for sure, because boys don't fight like that."

    But surely we are always called that... after all our nickname is 'The Bhoys'

    But anyway, well done to The Bhoys... maybe for once the English press will realise that Scottish clubs (including Rangers) can play and be a challenge.

    Rangers got to the UEFA cup final last year and in the last decade Celtic have got results against Man Utd, Liverpool and Blackburn in European games

  • Comment number 98.

    I am an avid Chelsea fan, and anyone who watched the Chelsea game would admit that we were not at the races. In truth the margin could and probably should have been far greater. Fair play to Roma who have been seriously struggling in Serie A, for them to beat arguably ONE of the best sides in Europe will go down as a great result.

    Well done to Celtic for getting a draw, even though they were at home, they were still percieved as underdogs, although at Parkhead anything is possible.

    As for Arsenal, yet again Wenger is whinging on about rough treatment of his players..... Oi wenger, Football is a contact sport, every team suffers the same.... I would love to see how he would react to an Old Firm Match if he was in charge of either Celtic or Rangers.

    Liverpool..... one minute brilliant (beating Chelsea.....and they deserved it), next minute losing to Spurs. In the league their consistency has improved however in Europe i feel that even though they controlled the game against Atletico, they were very fortunate to get the penalty.

    I think all 4 big english clubs will make it through, and although it is a very slim chance i would LOVE Celtic to go through but i can't see Villareal losing both of their remaining games.

  • Comment number 99.

    Good post Phil, and great responses to some of the criticisms.

    Those criticising Celtic's tactics last night should consider that in Venegoor of Hesselink, Samaras, McGeady and Crosas we were missing arguably our 4 most important attacking players.

    "You should have had a go anyway" claim some on here. Err, why on earth, given our limited available resources last night, would we push forward at 1-0 up and leave space for Man Utd to kill us on the counter? Don't give up the day job fellas, we were one goalkeeping / defensive mistake away from taking all 3 points. Rode our luck yes, but it worked and credit to Strachan.

    Paul Ince should remember his lot got trounced 2-0 AT HOME to Man Utd, and the last time someone at that particular club made that particular comment in regard to Celtic, they ended up looking rather foolish.

  • Comment number 100.

    Well nothing really happened last night that surprised me greatly, this is a good article but slightly pointless. I guess none of the English teams winning is something to write about but it's hardly a complete shocker, it can happen. All four should still qualify, and probably top of their groups as well (although Chelsea have been surprisingly out-of-sorts in the CL).

    As expected all the standard platitudes kept in store for SPL teams facing English opposition are being wheeled out, lots of talk about "bravery" and "grit" and "bodies on the line" as per usual. I suppose these are all laudable qualities but I do get a bit tired of it happening seemingly whenever Celtic play an English team in the CL. In fairness though I guess you're only ever going to dig in and defend if your opposition cost about £150 million more than you.

    Amusing to see Ince's chat brought up again, don't really know why he felt the need to comment on the first game but, dodgy goals or not, his comments were pretty accurate. It's often men against boys at Old Trafford whether the opposition are English or Scottish.


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