Celtic loses the media war

Do media narratives matter?

I know we abuse the n-word on this blog, but media, whether social, DIY, or traditional, still largely wags the dog when it comes to consequences in the footballing world. If the Daily Mail thinks that Andre Villas-Boas is a hyper-intellectual pipsqueak for example, then consciously or unconsciously, it has an effect on his future at a club notorious for wielding the ax, like Chelsea.

If you think this is a stretch, consider Sir Alex Ferguson’s very self-conscious media strategy, in which he maintains strict control over messaging, and maintains the aura of someone who will withdraw access if they don’t feel coverage is fair.

Celtic lost 0-3 to Juventus in the Champions League last night. Fine. Few expected a return to their form when they beat Barcelona. Maintaining such a low total shots ratio over several knockout stage matches generally only works for Roberto Di Matteo.

Anyway, at home (i.e. the English speaking bits of Europe), both Celtic’s players and more importantly Celtic’s manager Neil Lennon had a ready-at-hand scapegoat, with the popular theory that Gary Hooper was ‘abused’ by Juventus defenders, particularly Stephan Lichtsteiner. Moreover, Hooper came in for praise for not ‘succumbing’ to his temper by screaming out over various instances of holding. The club had all the ammunition they needed for an honourable discharge from Europe in the second leg.

And then Kris Commons opened his mouth, to BBC Scotland:

The Celtic midfielder Kris Commons has pointed the finger at his team-mate Efe Ambrose following Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat by Juventus in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Ambrose, the Nigeria defender, only arrived back in Glasgow on the morning of the match after the Africa Cup of Nations, but was included by Neil Lennon in Celtic’s starting lineup after insisting he felt fit to play.

Ambrose gifted Alessandro Matri an early goal, missed Celtic’s best chance of the night when he sent a free header straight at Gianluigi Buffon from six yards and then lost possession to allow Mirko Vucinic to claim a late third and virtually send Juventus into the Champions League quarter-finals.

Lennon must be rueing his decision to pick Ambrose but Commons believes the player is responsible. Commons said: “Look, the manager picked him. The manager pulled him to one side and asked him if he was feeling OK. He said he was feeling brilliant. If he wasn’t feeling OK then he should have said so. If he felt good then he should have put in a better performance.”

And so suddenly we have a completely unnecessary dressing room fracas. Celtic lost the message. There may or may not be consequences, but now the media have tasted blood, and no one cares whether or not Hooper got jobbed.

Comments (7)

  1. Commons has found a very convenient scapegoat since he cant criticize his gaffer’s selection and tactics. No one but Lennon is to blame for fielding Ambrose. We all know that every footballer wants to play every game even when they are not fit. Considering that Ambrose had played 5 games in 21 days added to the celebration of winning AFCON and the long flight back was it not the right thing for Lennon to bench him? Ambrose got back on the morning of the game for heaven’s sake!
    Commons had a couple of chances himself and we did not see him score any! So why pick on a team mate? Plus even if Ambrose had scored the header it would still have been 3-1 since Celtic created next to nothing after that header whilst Juve got 2 more goals.
    Truth is Conte read their game plan and nullified it completely thats why we are being regaled with tales of bhoy and man-handling and all sorts of rubbish. Every Bhoy fan forgets their captain intentionally stepping on Pirlo’s hand or Celtic players’ scything Pirlo. Its time to admit that Celtic got OWNED 100% by the better team on the night!

    • Brown did not intentionally step on Pirlo’s hand. Look at the replays again. Pirlo was clutching at Brown’s ankle and leg and then started play acting. Pirlo did a great job of playing the victim and delaying the game many times through protests and procedural appeals to the referee. I mean that sincerely, he used his experience and brains to change the environment. He was trying to slow the pace and take the edge off the frenetic pace at which Celtic were driving the game.

    • You’re right, in the sense that there’s no shame in admitting that Celtic are not as good a team as Juventus. Blaming a loss on one particular player reeks of sour grapes.

      And not that I’m a top-level athlete, but it’s entirely possible that Ambrose felt fine but didn’t have that extra 10% when it really counted, who can blame him? In that instance you’re right again, Lennon should have used his prerogative and benched him.

      • Sad period that they needed a “ready at-hand scapegoat” (ESPECIALLY in the form of Lichtsteiner) in order to conceed that a team that won Serie A last term, is leading it this term, and is generally considered to be one of the better teams in Europe, beat them.

        I actually don’t think i’ve heard of a team ever have to scapegoat somebody after losing a game 3-0. Might want to point to all those errant passes/crosses, lax defending and general overall lack of quality before castigating a guy who’s still going to be in your dressing room for another few months at least.

        • Ah but will Commons still be there.I believe he is a bit of an odious character and he has caused trouble at every team and every dressing room he has been in.That’s why Celtic got him for so little.

          • I wonder how common’s teamates feel about his
            ‘lost’ season last term?he regularly played while unfit and out of form so much so that he was eventually dropped and not seen again till the last few games.how would he have reacted to his fellow players slating him?his needless sending off at hearts which cost the game?

  2. All Celtic fans are frustrated by the defeat. However the comments by Chris Commons in respect to his team-mate are bang out of order. When Celtic win, its all about the team (i.e. Barcelona) but when they lose its all about pointing fingers. Efe was asked if he was OK to play against Juventus in a Champion’s League tie? Of course he was going to say yes, plus anyone in the 60,000 crowd would have nodded their head at such a question? What Commons has failed to address in his critic of Ambrose is how makes the team selection decisions at Celtic – Neil Lennon or the player? Win as a team, lose as a team and keep your gob shut!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *