Optimism among the Celtic support is tangible right now. For much of last year the league title remained in the balance, but today, despite being promised a more taxing season, we’re miles ahead. You can get odds of over 40-1 on second favourites to win the title; the definition of No Contest.
As I noted yesterday, the transformation goes deeper than the heroics of Scott Sinclair and Moussa Dembele, neither of whom were material in the level of performance shown against Barcelona.
Achievements are often subject to reassessment at a later date and Celtic’s progress or otherwise over the last two years fall into this category.
A year ago, with a faltering Craig, Emilio, Efe, Dedryk, Stuart, Gary, James and others, we looked miles away from being a Champions League team. It turns out, we have a squad full of Champions League players.
Youth development hit the jackpot with Kieran Tierney, while John Park’s swansong signings, Erik Sviatchenko and Moussa Dembele, saw a return to form for our recently departed chief scout.
Money isn’t everything. Since 2004 it’s been clear on CQN that many Celtic fans have no interest in the game’s finances, all they are interested in is seeing an improving team on the park, but for the rest of us, the financial consequence of simply getting to the group stage this season is enormous. It makes accession to the same level next season so much more achievable.
None of that matters right now as we have the first cup final of the season coming up on Sunday. The litany of underachievement in this tournament stretches back to Jock Stein, who qualified for ever League Cup final during his 13 years in charge of Celtic, but after winning the first five, contrived to lose seven of the next eight.
I’ve seen a lot worse teams than Aberdeen knock us out of the League Cup, I hope nothing is taken for granted in the dressing room.
I’ve no idea what happened at the Newco AGM this morning but you’ll remember we discussed here the wisdom of launching a hostile takeover bid while a company is being driven into the sea by boycotts? More precisely, Newco was driven into the arms of the lender of last resort – Sports Direct. Sports Direct provided the cash that kept the lights on and picked up various rights and properties in compensation.
Offering a lender a shop at a rental of £1 per year for a decade seems harsh, but if the alternative is administration, there isn’t really an alternative. We didn’t know what the quid-pro-quo was for Ashley at the time, but we knew there had to be one.