Late winner is mere polyfilla over the cracks

Posted by Andy Muirhead

Press AssociationGeorgios Samaras' late winner versus Aberdeen eased Celtic closer to another SPL title.

Anyone who knows about subsidence knows that using polyfilla to plaster over the cracks is just hiding the truth and the real problems behind a false facade. Today's late winner, while securing another three points on the road to Celtic's inevitable championship victory, has papered over the cracks that have been evident all season.

Despite all the post-match rhetoric from Celtic, manager Neil Lennon and the players, complacency and the inability to finish in the final third were for all to see. It nearly cost Celtic all three points once again -- just like against Ross County, and in more devastating fashion, versus Juventus in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Twelve seconds in and Kris Commons gave Celtic the lead; you would have thought Celtic would be steamrolling over an Aberdeen side who had learned this week that manager Craig Brown is hanging up his manager's bunnet. However, the atmosphere got decidedly far frostier as the half went on.

- Match report: Celtic 4-3 Aberdeen

Once again it was that man Kelvin Wilson who did his best impression of a bomb scare than a defender. As he backtracked towards his own goal, he was caught in possession before theatrically falling to the floor claiming a foul. With the Englishman not playing to the whistle, Aberdeen equalised thanks to a simple finish from Scott Vernon.

Into the second half and Wilson afforded Josh Magennis too much space on the edge of the box to fire past Fraser Forster to give the Dons a shock lead at Celtic Park on 53 minutes. The third from Aberdeen and second from Magennis was a case of Celtic not pushing out quicker than they should after a corner was cleared and the Irishman flicked the ball into the net past Forster to make it 3-1.

After seeing Dons three goals to the good, Celtic eventually showed some metal which has been missing from Celtic Park domestically since the Gordon Strachan era. Charlie Mulgrew pulled a goal back with 23 minutes gone of the second half and Gary Hooper levelled the game from close range -- both goals coming from corners.

With the game tied 3-3 and seconds remaining, Georgios Samaras dramatically scored the winner to take all three points -- an overhead kick to boot. Another goal coming from a set piece.

The players showed the emotion -- finally -- that has been missing throughout this season's domestic campaign when Samaras' winner went in. Sadly, those scenes and emotions are few and far between within the Celtic squad.

The polyfilla from today's game only lasts as long as the next game when the cracks are inevitably bound to appear again.
It's time for Celtic to ditch the half-cocked patch-up jobs at the back and sort out them out once and for all. Wilson, Thomas Rogne and Efe Ambrose are not up to task as central defenders; their commanding presence is more likened to the actor playing Mr Muscle from the TV ads. Celtic's defenders must bully and harass the opposition front men, not gift them goals on plate -- Juventus, Ross County and Aberdeen are just three games where this has been proven correct.

Remember the days when Celtic's backline dominated and bullied opponents? Remember those years when Celtic were like a brick wall at the back? Now they are little more than a wall suffering from subsidence with a homeowner chucking some polyfilla here and there hoping it holds out.

Lennon was quoted as needing £10 million to take on the Champions League once again -- maybe, just maybe, they should spend a sizeable proportion of that on a dominant central defensive pairing. Then, and only then, can Celtic look towards solving their next problem: A failure to kill off teams.

So for Celtic and their fans, celebrate Saturday's dramatic win and another three points towards the inevitable championship title.

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