Moments that matter

I’ve had it in mind to write a general post about football for a while, as opposed to my usual Celtic centric posts.  The topic I had in mind to discuss was that of the importance placed on individual moments within any given game.  Moments being pieces of team or individual brilliance leading to a goal, defensive or offensive slip ups costing goals or scoring opportunities, or moments of luck such as red cards that can hold sway over the outcome of a game.  

The general gist of the post being that there is potentially an over analysis of the game today – blogs like this one are partially to blame – leading to increased significance being placed on individual moments in isolation; rather than taking a step back and viewing the moment as part of a collection of moments, i.e. a whole season.  I’ve been reading a bit Stefan Szymanski and Simon Kuper lately and am intrigued by their thoughts on the game.

I might yet get around to writing such a piece and Sunday’s Hearts Vs. Celtic game could just have provided the prelude to any such article.

With 90 minutes played at Tynecastle, Celtic were 2-1 up and on the verge of securing a vital three points.  Victory at a notoriously difficult away venue would give Celtic a three point advantage at the top of the league table, with a game in hand, and go some way to making up for a home loss against Motherwell the previous week.  Given that Celtic had played below par, without three first team regulars, and had seen another two removed with injury before half time, victory and three points would be all the more appreciated by the travelling fans.

One minute and two moments later and the complexion of the game and result changed completely.  Moment one: James Forrest needlessly conceding a free kick about 25-yards from goal.  It’s a big moment because of what happened next, but could ultimately not have been classed as a moment if moment 2 panned out differently.  Moment two: Osman Sow crashing the ball home from the resultant free kick.

Moment two is important in the context of the game; a goal is generally always an important moment.  In this instance Sow’s goal meant that instead of winning a valuable and hard fought three points, Celtic could only manage a draw.  For the section of the support who have turned on Ronnie Deila, this adds fuel to the fire as Celtic have now failed to win their last two league games.  Not quite defeat from the jaws of victory, but close enough.

In isolation, Sow’s goal was costly for Celtic as it downgraded a victory to a draw, three points down to one.  The timing of the goal also meant that there was little time to regain the lead and therefore an extra disappointment; to be so close to victory but ultimately have it taken away.  Furthermore, the mood of the fans changes in that moment from the joy of an impending victory to a feeling somewhat akin to defeat, leaving a most negative feeling where just seconds earlier had been positivity.  Criticism of the manager starting almost immediately after the goal where, had Sow not scored, more comments would have focused on a good three points won.

Taken in isolation and solely in the context of that game, Osman Sow’s equaliser was a crushing blow.

However, taking the game as a whole as a moment within the league season, the result has helped Celtic to a one point advantage at the top – with a game in hand.  Regardless of Sow’s moment, Celtic have a lead in the title race.  It may not be as big as we would like, but it is bigger than it was at the start of the day.

Come the end of the season it may be completely irrelevant as the season’s collective moments may see Celtic win the league – history and other factors suggest this will happen.  But that is perhaps not a popular or common opinion to hold in an era of over analysis and where there is a need for constant and immediate results.  Where the long term picture is very rarely completed as short-termism takes over.

On the other hand, of course, moments like this may be witnessed time and again throughout the remainder of the season, ultimately leading in a disappointing campaign.

Only time will tell, but the point remains that moments in isolation tell only part of a story.





9 thoughts on “Moments that matter

  1. What I didn’t like today was when Celtic went 2-1 ahead they changed their game and instead off going all out 2 get the killer goal they slowed down the pace and tried to hold on to their slender lead andwhen that happened I had a feeling hearts would score. It’s the first time I noticed it under deila and has for the first time made me think we need a new manager. If we had stayed positive after taking the lead I’m pretty sure we were capable of killing the game off and therefore the hearts goal wouldn’t have been significant

    1. The last ten minutes or so we retreated badly and showed a lack of confidence to close the game out. Given the amount of negative press the team has received this season it’s understandable that it will impact upon the team at some point; and recent performances have shown that. Perhaps the thinking was to sit tight and secure a big three points, which in itself is not a bad approach to take. The problem is that Deila doesn’t have the players to do that; hence my previous post stating the need for some experience in defence in midfield to see these situations through.

    1. Was writing from memory rather from the benefit of TV replays, but take your point. Possibly highlights a problem with Forrest’s discipline and game intelligence that he conceded two needless fouls so close together. Nothing the manager could do to change that, but maybe something he can learn from in future; i.e. Forrest shouldn’t be asked to play so deep late on as he hasn’t the game intelligence to play that role.

  2. A sensible article. I wonder what some fans want.They sing if you know your history but they evidently do not. If you read about our history then you will see it is not made up of continuous winning. Throughout our history Celtic have regularly lost matches both home and away. The notion that it has always been unparalleled success is just wrong. To read some posts yesterday you would thinkCeltic were terrible and that they did not control the bulk of the game. Seldom have we gone to Tynecastle and had an easy ride. We were a late free-kick away from a hard fought victory. Gary Mackay Stephen attacked the free-kick but made the Cardinal sin of turning his back. I want to see Celtic players being prepared to get the ball blootered in their face. We are the best team in the league and whilst we may not be as good as in the past I like the direction we are going which is to have more young home grown players in the side. I am sick of the only response of fans being we need to sign more foreign players. I want us to build a team of largely home grown players and to do this takes time.

    1. Fantastic comment Neil and one I couldn’t agree more with. We have a generation of fans who were brought up on the successes of MoN and WGS and think it’s our God given right to win every week. Our version of the SKY generation.

  3. We should be doing a lot better. A team with celtics resources should be destroying that hearts team. I know any team can have off days but far too many now. We should be miles ahead in league and playing exhibition football against these teams

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