Celtic players look like they want out, says Andy Walker as he analyses Sparta Prague defeat

Celtic players looked like they wanted to be elsewhere in Sparta Prague defeat, says Andy Walker; Hoops lost 4-1 at home in Europa League tie on Thursday; John Barnes urges Celtic to keep faith in under-fire boss Neil Lennon

Celtic manager Neil Lennon during  the UEFA Europa League match between Celtic and Sparta Prague 0:30
Former Celtic striker Andy Walker has questioned the attitude of some of Neil Lennon’s current squad and feels certain players looked like they wanted to be elsewhere during the 4-1 defeat to Sparta Prague

Celtic's abject defeat to Sparta Prague showed further signs that some players want away from the club, according to Andy Walker.

The Scottish champions sit rock bottom of Europa League Group H after the Czech Republic side - missing a host of players due to injury and coronavirus issues - inflicted a chastening 4-1 loss on Neil Lennon's side at Parkhead on Thursday night.

It was the latest in a string of abject performances which have seen Celtic fail to qualify for the Champions League and lose ground to Rangers in the title race, and Walker believes serious questions must be asked of the players' commitment to the club.

"Sparta Prague is a club that have had to cobble together players," the former Celtic striker told Sky Sports. "They scored four goals and were really unlucky not to have six or seven.

"Questions will be asked of the manager, so many of the players and their commitment to this club. When you lose four goals at home, questions need to be asked about the players, and if they are giving everything for the manager.

"Neil Lennon said after the game against Ferencvaros in the Champions League qualifier that some wanted to be elsewhere, and it looked that way on Thursday."

Neil Lennon's Celtic have lost two and drew one of their last three games 0:29
Celtic manager Neil Lennon says his side need to show more fight after they lost 4-1 at home to Sparta Prague in the Europa League

No defence for Celtic

Celtic's defensive deficiencies lay at the heart of an alarming decline which has seen them win just one of their last six games - and lose three games at home in a row.

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Their only clean sheet during that time came in Sunday's 2-0 Scottish Cup semi-final victory over Aberdeen, in the other five games they have conceded 14 goals.

Celtic last six games

"Celtic's biggest problem is that they are struggling to defend," Walker added. "They kept a clean sheet in the cup semi-final against Aberdeen.

"But you have to remember they conceded two against Rangers, three in the league against Aberdeen, three against AC Milan, two at Lille in the Europa League and then four against Sparta Prague.

"They are struggling for defensive combinations. They started with four at the back on Thursday night, shifted to a three after an hour and seemed to be having a bit of joy as they got back in the game momentarily.

"But they aren't defending well at all. Whatever system Neil Lennon goes to, whether it's three or four at the back, they struggle to defend basic crossed balls."


Celtic have the chance to respond when they look to bridge the nine-point gap to leaders Rangers away at Motherwell on Sunday - live on Sky Sports Football. Walker believes the game could have huge implications for Lennon and his players.

"The game Celtic have on Sunday, against Motherwell at Fir Park, is going to be a huge one for Neil Lennon and all of his players," he said.

Barnes: Celtic must keep faith in Lennon

Former Celtic manager John Barnes says his old club must continue to believe they are the best team in Scotland and urged them to get behind under-fire boss Lennon.

"Losing matches at a club like Celtic, you will be under pressure, as I know," he told Sky Sports.

Neil Lennon admits his side were poor following the 4-1 loss to Sparta 0:50
John Barnes says his former side Celtic must continue to believe they are the best team in Scotland and urged them to get behind under-fire boss Neil Lennon

"The best thing Rangers did, even when Celtic were winning in the last two years, was to keep the harmony and believe in Steven Gerrard. We can see that belief now is turning into results. It works in the opposite way, when all of a sudden there is a lot of negativity surrounding the Celtic situation.

"I expect Celtic to come good once again and win matches. In these uncertain times of Covid, we have seen some funny results. The worst thing they can do now is doubt they are the best team.

"They've got the treble-treble in the cup final and, of course, they want to win 10 in a row, but it will be much harder for them this year.

"If Celtic want to win the league or continue to do well, they have to get behind the manager and back him, because he's proven he's a good manager. Just keep calm and see what happens in the next three or four months."

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