Celtic might just be onto something special


It takes years before you can properly judge the impact of winning any league title.  For me, although 1998 feels most precious, 2001 was far more significant in its impact, that title changed the world.  After this league title win, secured at Tannadice last night, Celtic fans look ahead with a confidence that we might just be onto something special.

A year ago, everything went wrong, a timely reminder that football will never be without sporting risk.  The response, however, has been nothing short of spectacular.  Oh, Howe we waited for the appointment of a new manager.  At the time I wrote that Eddie Howe was the best English manager in the game, someone who had consistently overachieved and who was very capable of restoring Celtic to the top.  As the wait for his decision continued to an uncomfortable level, two chief executives, one outgoing, one incoming, shuffled furtively around each other.

It took Howe, himself, to put us out of our misery.  Plan B had been agreed, even if one or two never thought it would get to that stage.  Ange Postecoglou wanted the job from the moment he knew it was available and made his intentions clear to the club.  He watched what happened as all three trophies slipped away and knew this was the club and that was his time to take control.

On getting an offer from Celtic, Ange had to complete some business in Japan, then isolate for two weeks in a London hotel, watching videos and immersed in videoconferences, before finally flying to Scotland and meeting those he would be working with in person for the first time.

Eddie Howe’s reason for not taking the job was that he didn’t think it possible to achieve what was necessary without taking his backroom team with him.  Ange brought no backroom team, he worked with those already here, who, it turned out, were not actually the problem all along.

An early priority was to sort out the playing squad.  Captain, Scott Brown, retired at the end of the previous campaign, but several of the remaining top performers were refusing to extend soon-expiring contracts and wanted away.

The men who didn’t do the 10 were still able to attract sufficient money to seed the pot for a rebuild.  Odsonne Edouard and Ryan Christie stayed until the close of the window, but disruption was such that Kristoffer Ajer was offloaded between Champions League games against Midtjylland.

By the end of September, league form saw three wins, three defeats and one draw, and were still without an away win in domestic football since February.  If you based your expectations for the season on results until that point, you would have been significantly wrong.

Celtic won 24 of the next 27 games, drawing two and losing only away at Bayer Leverkusen, who scored twice in the final 8 minutes to deny Celtic a win.  Livingston and St Mirren successfully shut up shop to take a point, every other team Celtic played in that run were beaten.  Our Europa League group stage ended with three wins from four games and the League Cup was secured in a memorable win over Hibs at Hampden.

It is tempting to interpret the story of our season as being transformed by a spectacular January transfer window.  We did have a spectacular transfer window, but the winning routine was well established before this.  Ange’s system was by then embedded and paying significant dividends.

Saturday, 29 January, was the day the penny dropped for even the casual observer that Celtic had their name on this title.  Newco were a goal ahead at Ross County in the 96th minute but could not hold on for the win.  Celtic, who kicked off later, were drawing when they went down to 10 men against Dundee United.  Liel Abada’s 89th minute winner thundered across the land.  If Celtic won their next game, against Newco, they would go top of the league!

That run of 27 games ended against a team of preseason Norwegians.  Those Conference League games aside, Celtic swept all before them, only a draw at Easter Road marked the copybook on a march to the title that was effectively secured when a win at Ibrox put the club six points clear with six to play.  We knew the league title was coming home.

After that game at Ibrox, I thought the final winning margin would be in excess of 10 points.  It turns out, Newco had more in the tank than I credited them with.  Not only did we win a league with a new manager, new chief exec, an horrendous start and a significant squad overhaul, we did it against a team fortified by the kind of strength you only get after a £100m overspend.  Celtic, it seems, are doomed to compete against sides who will play fast and loose with their very existence, gamblers to the bitter end.

In January 2005, when Martin O’Neill’s Celtic team were shrinking before our eyes, I wrote that we were in a Generation of Domination that started with Martin’s arrival in 2000.  17 years later our forward prospects are as good as they were then.  Enjoy and appreciate these special years.

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  1. CM @ 11.51 Part2



    The DU set up seems to be working overtime regarding bringing young players through the ranks — he is probably trying a wee bit too hard with all the 16 year olds / bit of a competition to see who is the youngest debutante — so it proves that it can be done.



    They might have been plooky youths but they were credible senior footballers



    Geography might be an issue — would love to see DU B team in the Lowland League to give us a marker to judge ourselves against.



    We need to play more football.


    We need to play more football in front of big crowds.


    We need to make the youth / reserves work harder with regular competitive games.



    U18’s / U19’s / U20’s.


    B Team


    P/head Juniors.


    We need to get a focus back into our youth / development structure.


    Blaming the big clubs is not an answer it is just an excuse.

  2. Pingback: Celtic might just be onto something special | Celtic FC News Now

  3. P67



    You talk about 17 years from your G.O.D abomination but across 16 of those years the T/O returned to what it was all those years ago.



    That is stagnation — nothing more / nothing less.



    WGS took us forward but was overwhelmed by PL’s projects / his financial nickel and diming / his lack of ambition.



    Looking back at 2007/08 — the lack of class / talent in the squad was incredible.



    NL1 made progress but his CL exploits were built a DM called VW who after two great years and a huge profit has never been properly replaced.



    BR did his improvement act to great effect for two years but it then all fell apart because DD got jealous regarding BR’s growing profile / salary possibilities and brought back the gimp to mess it all up.



    July 2018 is when our decline started — DD’s ego was worth more to him than success on the park.



    Shower escapades — corporate farce.



    AP has a huge job ahead of him to make us CL credible.


    He has 4 months to improve the squad and get it ready for the challenge.


    This season’s CL has been a curates egg to the max — where VR can go we should follow.


    Consequently big job / big season ahead.



    Although it is horrible that it takes TFOD2.1 success in Europe to get CL credibility back onto the agenda.

  4. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    “our forward prospects are as good as they were then”




    In theory our forward prospects are excellent. As they were four years ago and on several other occasions. All it requires is a bit of ambition to strengthen from a position of strength and show we have a vision beyond the old firm.


    Historical evidence would suggest this is highly unlikely. Let’s hope things can be different this time.


    Congratulations Ange and the team!

  5. Fergus McCann took control of the club in 1994, promising to rebuild the club. He left in 1999 having delivered on his promise. But crucially, what is either misunderstood or often ignored, or both, is that he didn’t just rebuild the club, he built a club that was structurally bigger than any other club in Scotland. If you do research, all available evidence from the past 25 years will lead you back to this point. It’s surely not a coincidence that Minty introduced his EBT scheme in 1999.

  6. GTTF @ 12.29



    Not sure DD would make the same mistake twice.


    AP really does have the whip hand now — he has made this season.


    DD / PL have nothing to do with this league win.



    AP has played his players.


    He has found quality in a number of strange / unappreciated places.



    He had to watch £35mill of talent walk out the door.


    He had to work with £15mill of talent that was either over-priced / shot / mind was elsewhere.


    He had to watch £7mill of talent shrivel away to nothing after a long term injury.



    No matter he has worked what he had to the max.


    He wants to do well in Europe and we have the money.


    Failure can only come from the board room.

  7. !!Bada Bing!! on

    Specially pleased for the players who were there last season, particularly Callum McGregor, who for me is a Celtic Great.

  8. mad mitch



    I think the big clubs do have a lot to answer for, though you are probably right in that a lack of a proper structure for progress is part of the problem. Parkhead Juniors? Well Shettleson are a stones throw from the Cross, good little ground too, maybe we should have a word.

  9. Whe we say strenghten the squad, I hope that is what we do.


    One thing we lack is sheer physicality.


    We need a few who scare living crap out of the opposition.

  10. Paul67 – “Eddie Howe’s reason for not taking the job was that he didn’t think it possible to achieve what was necessary without taking his backroom team with him. Ange brought no backroom team, he worked with those already here, who, it turned out, were not actually the problem all along”.



    Mmmmm. Given how poor a shape we were in, we desperately needed a manager with a backroom team and not sure we should look at Howe’s decision as some personality failing. We took a risk with Ange that paid off but it shouldn’t be a badge of honour and is small time thinking. Now build a legacy that isn’t Ange dependent. An identity and infrastructure that helps him deliver on his vision – personnel, facilities, freedom from some parts of the job he had to take on. Let it be there when he departs.



    Ange’s drained admission of being burnt out should be a concern for us all. We are so dependent on him and is now an absolute legend. Let’s take care of him to build on that start.




  11. The cruix right here today is this .



    If Ange wants a player the board better go and get him … No low ball offers make a solid fair offer and continue to get the players he wants in here in a timely manor .



    I trust him and we do almost to a man however the only people who can ruin this position of strength is the Celtic board .


    They have previous …. let’s hope it all went away with the guy who was chief excutive not last but one before !



    Let the football make the football descions .



    Ps I am not in full celebration mode untill the weekends game

  12. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Madmitch 12:45


    Hope you are right. Of course you are assuming he sees it as a mistake!


    Agree completely about Ange.


    It’s your last line that worries me…..

  13. David17



    Yup a stadium with 10,000 greater attendance.


    The economic benefit was immediate and planned over that first 5 years.


    49 k at the liquidated clubs stadium,60 at ours.


    The obfuscation,gokkiness and in general hun business lying want to eat into that,the cheating hun sells out the broomloan on season book.ends that query as it did last year


    That is the reason the away fans won’t be back a onepoundpark soon,where would they put their pish stained klan members


    Hope your good D17 and enjoyed last night




  14. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Big Wavy 1:02


    Good post. Need to get a structure in place that is not dependent on one person. Look at the mess at Man Utd over the past nine years.

  15. CM @ 12.51



    Last word before I go.


    Not a moment too soon some will shout …



    We need to play more football.


    The lack of a reserve league is hurting us / the SPL.



    We have a large squad and yet we push talent out the door — the AR story of yesteryear is probably the worst but there would appear to be many.



    Then you have the steady stream of 16/17/18 years olds who are voting with their feet telling us a message that their is something badly wrong with the academy / St Ninian’s set up.



    My thoughts are that we need to play more football to keep a big squad energised and open up a proper pathway to first team football..





    B Team — definitely / U20’s?


    Juniors — another route / U19’s?.


    Invitational Youth Competition @ Easter / summer / end of season / international break — I think we should give it a go. All I hear is us going to competitions across the globe but never us holding one.


    U18’s — more publicity?



    Game at P/head against TFOD2.1 B team — it was us that seemed to be more affected by the big crowd / not good.



    Then comes the cherry on top — B Team stadium.


    It would save the P/head pitch and add to local facilities.



    Plus we have the B/fields indoor pitch that is in planning — OK for crowds up to 500 maybe even 700 or 1000.



    Plus we need a full sized indoor pitch at L/town.


    Plus we need to organise a properly sign posted access road to the training ground.


    For whatever reason we seem to very shy when it comes to L/town.








    All it requires is a bit of ambition to strengthen from a position of strength and show we have a vision beyond the old firm.




    An important point – seems simple, but we have ‘missed the boat’ on a few occasions. I am opTIMistic that we will not, under Ange, make that mistake this time. This close-season could be as interesting, as the last was forgettable.

  17. Feeling as good this afternoon as I did at the final whistle last night. Just Champion. The scenes at Celtic Park show what it means to the support.



    Over the moon for Ange. He comes across as a really good human being.



    We need to go out and strengthen within our capabilities and means. Let Overspend FC do as they will. They have a potentially huge rebuild of their own ahead.



    The last Scottish football team I will watch this season will be Celtic on Saturday. Couldn’t give a frig about Europa league ir Scottish cup finals. Celtic first, Celtic last, Celtic over all!



    Hail Hail

  18. GTTF @ 13.07



    AP has shown he knows what he wants.


    AP has shown that he is active regarding looking at new recruits.


    AP has shown that he can get good players in the door.


    AP wants to do well in Europe next season.



    AP’s exploits in winning the league means that funds are available.



    If we don’t move forward over the next 4 months then it will be DD / the board to blame.



    2018 shows what happens when ego is put before the football.


    We have that recent experience to understand the dynamics in play.



    DD fooled us one — if he does it again then we only have ourselves to blame.

  19. AD @ 1.34



    We have a quarter sized indoor pitch at L/town.


    Total joke inspired by PL and his low rent property bean counting ways.



    Seemingly the astroturf on that pitch is not in good condition.


    Goes with territory and how the board will not spend any money that doesn’t get them a headline.

  20. McPhail Bhoy on

    Feeling Champion today, it’s not something we should ever take for granted.


    With a man in charge who knows his own mind and knows what he wants from his players and teams then we must have identified players, not that all will come of course, to be in place come June. No Champions League qualifiers could not come at a better time, the players and Ange are knackered, finally some time to unwind and relax.


    Not to put a dampener on things but I’d imagine that this year’s League win doesn’t count as The Rangers were too busy with the Europa League, Hun logic surely?!

  21. I asked about the Sports Direct legal bill and recompense the other week. I see Phil Mac alluding to same today.



    Sevco finances are a bit like my own. Just when I think I might be getting ahead a wee bit a bill arrives.



    Sevco finances differ from mine in that I pay all my bills promptly and cut my cloth accordingly. Oh, and unlike deadco, I’ve never stiffed the tax man.

  22. quadrophenian on

    Aussie media are lapping it up that Ange delivered his very own GIRUY to all his Scottish and UK fitba doubters [isn’t Ally Brazil the walking embodiment of Mike Myers’ most infamous Scotsman btw??]










    Paul, today you’re telling us that; ‘…Celtic fans look ahead with a confidence that we might just be onto something special…’



    Few weeks back, you were packing your breeks we could come unstuck against a resolute Ross County ;)



    Tomorrow nite, down to Sth Melb Hellas ground with all the other Selik supporters in town. HH

  23. Good day Champs



    Don’t listen to the uninformed.



    Trust the professionals who actually see the players daily, attend all the matches personally, and do not try to defend pet projects, even when they have been proven palpably wrong.



    Life is short and sweet. You cannot educate unrepentant blowhards



    See you all on Saturday for the final party of the season

  24. Now that UEFA has agreed re its’ latest version of the Champions League, from 2024-25 maybe we, Celtic Football Club, could make a decision as to where our future lies. One of the top 36 clubs taking part in the new CL league format or settling for the EL, Conference League or whatever. We have two seasons to show where we are, and the opportunity to establish ourselves before the new format kicks in. Might suit us, each club plays 8 games, top 8 go through to knockout (last 16) stage and 9-24 play off to decide which 8 join them. Could be looking at a minimum of 10 games there. Nice work. If you can get it.

  25. Nice to see ideguchi being kept company in his running drills post match by his compatriots last night. Thought that was a very good sign. Professional and just very decent of then. Kyogo, Daezen and Reo have had the limelight and it must be tough for yosuke not to have had much game time. Hopefully he gets a run out on Saturday.




    We need to go out and strengthen within our capabilities and means.




    That is the Celtic way, and I for one, don’t want it to change. However our means have just been given a boost with CL direct-entry, so naturally we all hope that helps in the way we do business this summer.



    It would be great, and a new experience, to be ‘geared-up’ for the CL, when it comes around, and of course that would mean that our domestic preparation was also in place.



    Supporters now expect – let’s hope our club deliver – I really believe it will. HH

  27. FRANKTERRY on 29TH AUGUST 2021 9:30 PM



    To all the pig sevco pig scum looking on today… you let your club die and we’re going to win the league.



    Going for 55






    Quite insightful Frank,as they say in the adverts re your post back after huns beat us 1-0 @ onehundredpence Park,


    ‘As true today as ever FT.hope you enjoyed last night.




  28. JHB – we are in a fabulous position just now. I’ll be living in expectation rather than hope this Summer.



    Ot won’t all be plain sailing. It never is. But we’ve earned the comparative luxury of having additional time amd money to get ready for the challenges ahead. I suppose also any new players will have league games to get into their stride before playing in the CL.



    It is all good and we should bask in it for a month or two.

  29. A few days to celebrate then I’m sure Ange will start looking towards next season. This title feels like the start of something and a couple more to back it up could be generational in its significance given the automatic CL slot Scotland looks like having for a few years.



    Next season I do expect us to be up against a very strong Rangers. They’ll win the Europa imo so we need to make sure our recruiting is up standard this summer.



    I’m confident though. Ange will leave Celtic a multiple league winner.

  30. Well done Ange and the boys.


    My player of the season – oh captain, my captain



    Walt Whitman CSC

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