18 Sep Collins: Ajax draw has done Celtic wonders
Celtic assistant boss John Collins says Thursday’s result against Ajax has done wonders for their confidence.
The Hoops were going through a tricky spell as they were eliminated from the Champions League by Malmo and fell five points behind league leaders Aberdeen following defeat to the Dons.
Nevertheless, Collins sees reason for optimism after their credible 2-2 draw against Ajax in the Europa League Group A opener.
“I was very happy. I thought we bounced back well, terrific spirit, we got the balance right defensively, when to drop off and stay compact and as the game went on I thought we grew into it, our passing got better and we created chances away from home. Overall I’m very pleased.
“It does wonders, a good performance and good result. That’s what brings back the confidence. I think we saw that last night. As the game went on I think you could see the confidence coming back into the players and there was a lot of very good performances against a very good team.”
Collins rejected Ajax coach Frank de Boer’s claim that the Hoops parked “two buses” in front of the goal.
“That’s the way he wants to describe it. We will describe it as defensively we were excellent, compact. Obviously he would want us to be open and allow space for his good players to have easy movement and easy passes.
“We didn’t do what he wanted so he describes it as parking the bus.
“But I thought there were periods in the game where we opened up and kept the ball very well and we created chances. You don’t create chances if you park the bus for 90 minutes.”
The man at the heart of Celtic’s creativity was Kris Commons, making his first start in Europe this season. The midfielder has been struggling with injury so far after dropping a wardrobe on his toe.
But Collins believes Commons showed signs of being back to his best in the Amsterdam ArenA after he assisted goals for Nir Bitton and Mikael Lustig and hopes that will kick-start his season.
“Kris came into the team and was terrific, without the ball, his work rate, he did his defensive duties very well and again the magic in and around the opponents’ box.
“He came up with the goods, an excellent pass for the first goal, deliveries at set-pieces was 10 out of 10. He was a big performer for us.
“Everyone knows he missed the pre-season with his injury. So you can’t play if you are not fit and he wasn’t fit at the start of the season but you can see now he is getting his sharpness and his touch is back. That’s good news for us.”