Dominate domestic and regular Champions League


Atletico Madrid arrive at Celtic Park tomorrow on the back of six consecutive wins, a series which started by beating Real in the Madrid derby, and ended with a 0-3 win at Celta Vigo on Saturday.  If they win their game in hand over the teams above them, they will go top of La Liga.  Even by their impressive standards, that is formidable form.

Looking ahead to the game, Brendan Rodgers spoke about the challenge of playing one of the best teams in the world and the need to devise a plan.  The wounds of PSG’s visit to Glasgow the last time Brendan was in charge are still there.  Celtic battled but the visitors left with a 0-5 win, it was a lesson on what can happen when you don’t sufficiently change the plan you had for the previous weekend’s Scottish Premiership game.

“Dominate domestic football and to compete regularly in the Champions League”, objectives Celtic chief executive Michael Nicholson noted in our annual report, published yesterday.  I see comments alleging one is regarded as more important than the other to the club, when it should be patently obvious that gaining either makes achieving the other significantly easier.  Do both or do neither.

There is a world of ways you can go about achieving those objectives, from the David Murray route (spend everything you have, and more, and take tax advice from a porn producer), to just spending everything you have and hoping to always achieve both, to trying to manage though the slings and arrows of football.

We all have a preference but there is no perfect plan for this, although there are clearly some disastrous ones.  Under the current strategy, I think Celtic will continue to dominate domestically for years to come.  We will win the league and gain entry into the new-format Champions League next season.  Thereafter, we can expect the qualification lottery for some seasons, inevitably including some Europa League seasons.  Still, remember when we all wanted to be like Ajax?  Football strategy is easy, just ask anyone who has never had to execute.

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  1. Same here in Merseyside. Although, the tail end of Storm Babet wasn’t pretty. 😳😣😃👍

  2. Mentioning PSG reminded me of how the PSG and Celtic reject Timothy ‘I love this club’ Weah is currently strutting his stuff for Juve; recently as an attacking right back.




  3. Will someone please explain to me , the purpose of the split. Bugged me for years, as it puts a load of teams at a disadvantage by playing 2 away games and 1 home.


    Baffled, but this is Scotland I suppose





  4. In order to get anything from this game IMO,we need everyone 8/10,and to play with an extra man in midfield, Iwata for Palma,try and get some sustained possession in the game, will Brendan do it? I don’t think so……

  5. KINGLUBO on 24TH OCTOBER 2023 12:10 PM



    Not sure but I think the idea was to keep interest going for more teams inasmuch as relegation/play – off position games would keep more teams involved. Likewise for European places for the top six.

  6. “!!BADA BING!! on 24TH OCTOBER 2023 12:14 PM


    In order to get anything from this game IMO,we need everyone 8/10,”



    I agree with that and, fortunately, I feel we are approaching that kind of level at the momet. I hope I`m right !!!

  7. Aipple,


    Thanks for that but what significance does it make when so few get a financial boost when “sport” is unbalanced this way.




  8. Going into a double header against Atleti on zero points means the writing is on the wall. We are where we couldn’t afford to be going into this double header. It’s not over yet but it looks ominous.

  9. Ajax are a lesson to us all. The much-celebrated team of van der Saar and Overmars were sacked after mistakes and disgrace. They sit in the relegation places at home, third in their Europa league with a tough away game this week against bottom club Brighton.



    They sold their best players as they always do abd seemingly bought a bunch of haddies for the second Summer in a row. Any club that pays €20m for Calvin Bassey us but doing the basics well.



    They won’t have CL football next season, and they have made the basic error of running down their cash balance from nearly €60m a few years ago so even this season they risk running out of cash to pay the wages.



    They’re already paying a sizable sum in interest every year, a club that doesn’t own its own ground and doesn’t have access to the guaranteed domestic tv money they have in, say serie a, will pay a lot for new cash.



    This could be more than just part of cycle, they could do a Dutch version of man United and become just another club in their domestic league.



    This is what it looks like when a club is poorly managed. They aren’t the only club who are walking a high wire – the Portuguese clubs are hugely in debt and making huge losses. Van der Saar paid for the mistakes that were obvious to the businessmen before the stuff really hit the fan. They could take years to get back to where they were, it’s quite possible they never will

  10. I’m not sure you can really blame van der Saar, although he’s paid for his mistakes with his job.



    He was a world class footballer with a background in marketing in business, it’s a bit of a big ask for him to also have the sort of vision to be able to make more than short-term business decisions. Maybe he was, but it does t look like he did.



    “Football people” aren’t always the best people to have in the boardroom

  11. It is no doubt tough when Europe’s top teams visit Celtic Park.



    It was great to hear BR sound so indefatigable about it, of course that doesn’t ensure a result but it does ensure we approach the game with the right attitude.



    My feeling has been that we need to prepare for European football, if we are good enough for that, we can certainly compete domestically.



    European football is the benchmark, it is quite physical and aggressive at the moment which suits us.



    If we can compete with these strong, fast, top conditioned athletes who are technically excellent footballers, we can compete with our local agriculturalists.



    We shouldn’t be looking at the failures of dead teams and be proud we were not as dumb as them.



    We should not be looking at the best in class of our peers and copy them.



    We should not be looking at excuses – we need to be strategising for success in Europe.



    The Feyenoord game and the Lazio game proves we aren’t a million miles away, we just need more experience and more quality.



    Rebuild fortress Celtic Park and we are more than half way there.



    Hail Hail

  12. CHAIRBHOY on 24TH OCTOBER 2023 12:41 PM



    So when Ajax punch well above their weight in Europe seek to emulate them but when they get in trouble do our own thing?



    We have never copied what other teams do. It’s why we have a hefty insurance policy sitting in the bank while Ajax, who had a similar sized one not so long ago are looking down the barrel at the moment.



    It’s a perfectly valid comparison to draw, although it might not fit with the poorly run narrative

  13. What’s the background to the split?


    During the first phase of the season all clubs play each other three times for a total of 33 games, meaning they will have played 16 matches at home and 17 away, or vice versa.



    The split then kicks in and clubs have another five matches against opponents in their half of the table for a total of 38 games over the campaign.



    When was the current system introduced?


    The split was first introduced in 2000/01 when the league was increased from 10 to 12 clubs.



    Why have the split at all?


    The primary reason is to increase competition within the league and reduce the number of meaningless mid-table clashes. The make up of the top six has often remained in the balance until the 33rd round of fixtures.



    It also means clubs going for the championship or Europe, and those attempting to retain their SPL status, face the same opponents in the run-in, which ensures a sense of balance and fairness.



    Also, in a 12-team league there are issues with fixturing – a total of 33 games would be imbalanced and is too few games while if clubs played each other four times the total would be 44 games, which is too many. The split, therefore, provides a solution.

  14. How are the fixtures worked out?


    The main factor is to try to ensure that clubs finish the season having played 19 home games and 19 away games.



    There is a chance of one club playing 18 at home and 20 away or vice versa. That was something all clubs were aware of prior to introducing the system.



    Since its introduction, the system has produced 18 home matches during a single season for Aberdeen, Inverness CT, Livingston, Kilmarnock and Gretna. Aberdeen (twice), Falkirk, Inverness CT and St Johnstone have had 20 home matches.



    It is possible that some clubs may have three home games and one away match, or the other way around, against a certain opponent but such instances will be rare.

  15. CELTIC40ME @ 12:56 PM,



    Totally agree, we should not try to emulate other Clubs, we are more than a Club.



    As far as Ajax are concerned, it doesn’t seem to me that they were punching well above their weight.



    Like any Club they have waxed and waned but have been competitive in Europe for over fifty seasons.



    Hardly fly by night stuff.



    Our hefty insurance policy siting in the bank is testament that our PLC Board can’t manage a football Club properly.



    Half of that spent on the team and we could well have been in a much better position in this UCL group.



    Hail Hail

  16. plit


    The top flight of Scottish football has contained 12 clubs since the 2000–01 season, the longest period without change in the history of the Scottish football league system.[4] During this period the Scottish Premier League, and now the Scottish Premiership, has operated a “split” format, that is, split in two phases as is explained below. This is used to prevent the need for a 44-game schedule, based on playing each other four times. That format was used in the Scottish Premier Division in the mid-1980s and early 1990s, but it is now too high a number of games in a league season.



    A season, which runs from August until May, is divided into two phases. During the first phase, each club plays three games against every other team, either once at home and twice away or vice versa. After this first phase of matches, by which time all clubs have played 33 games, the league splits into two halves – a “top six” section and a “bottom six” section. Each club plays a further five matches, one against each of the other five teams in their own section. Points achieved during the first phase of 33 matches are carried forward to the second phase, but the teams compete only within their own sections during the second phase. After the first phase is completed, clubs cannot move out of their own half in the league, even if they achieve more or fewer points than a higher or lower ranked team, respectively.



    At the beginning of each season, the SPFL ‘predicts’ the likely positions of each club in order to produce a fixture schedule that ensures the best possible chance of all clubs playing each other twice at home and twice away. This is known as the league ‘seeding’ and is based on clubs’ performance in the previous season.[5] If the clubs do not finish in the half where they are predicted to finish, then anomalies can be created in the fixture list. Clubs sometimes play another three times at home and once away (or vice versa),[5][6] or a club can end up playing 20 home (or away) games in a season.[7]

  17. From the last thread .



    I have just watched a short video on Tik Tok about Glasgow gangs in the 1960’s.


    It features a young man named Joe Devlin .


    He is in a gang called The Shamrocks.


    I’m presuming that young Joe and his gang were Tim’s .



    Does anyone know how young Joe’s life turned out ,and any details about the gang?



    David 66 thinks that they were from the Garngad and that Joe is still living .




  18. bournesouprecipe on

    CHAIRBHOY @ ages ago



    The great man’s plan, is try harder in Europe, I’m afraid that’s it. He appoints his ‘underlings’ to run the club, the fans are left to discuss.



    Concerns about always buying potential deserves discussion, on the basis of how do you develop potential if they don’t make the first team? Oh getting ten minutes at Tynecastle, the next Benfica hopeful even less game time. There’s no league for developing players, Scales, Ajer, Christie even MacGregor went on loan. I’d reckon we’ll develop some ‘potential’ elsewhere January.



    We understand the signing strategy and I’m sure Brendan does, even when he left first time, i’m sure he did, though he’d have paid more for John McGinn :-) I’m glad we stayed out of silly money markets which could wipe out our financial wealth overnight with a few poor signings. It’s not a jam tomorrow policy either, it’s sound and in the main, it works.



    Going through narrowly winning home, losing away in the Europa but reaching a final isn’t a plan


    Irnksome to many, I know, but the plan remains to win the league that’s all there is, do better in Europe (copyright Brendan) Those were the only terms of his return, signing potential is still the way to go, and bad buying so called oven ready, brought us momentarily down.






    P.s. I think Brendan is a better man manager than Ange ( there I said it )

  19. Bada Bing @ 12.14


    Agree with that.


    We can’t be going into a game against Atletico with the same 11 and formation, that we had on Sunday

  20. CHAIRBHOY on 24TH OCTOBER 2023 1:12 PM



    You make my point for me. For a club from the Eredivisie to have done so well for so long suggests they are doing better than expected. But in the last 5 seasons they were 5 minutes away from a champions league final, and done consistently well otherwise. The sort of record that would make even the most “ambitious” Celtic supporter happy ;).



    “Half of that spent on the team and we could well have been in a much better position in this UCL group.”



    We could have been in a much better position. We could have been in a slightly better position, or we could have been no better off. But we would have had €35m less in the bank. And next Summer? Spend it again and be left with even less in the pot. Its no plan just to spend the money this summer, what do we do next?



    Ajax are a very good example of when things go wrong. To be able to compete in Europe, but also, importantly, to stay in profit they need both champions league cash and profit from player trading. They make a huge operating loss every year so they need both. They used to have a bigger cash pile than us but covid, and mismanagement has left them with one that not carry them through the season. They are now looking at two seasons without champions league cash. They may well not have any Europe next season. Their model doesnt allow for carrying large debt, they dont own their ground, the lease payments on the ground has just been added to their balance sheet. They cant easily get their hands on cheap cash. They are in trouble



    They no longer have a “hefty” insurance policy and they are in serious trouble.



    We are more conservatively run than Ajax, our player trading model is smaller and less profitable than theirs for a number of reasons, and since the days of Brian Quinn we have taken a far more risk-averse approach to debt and spending. But when you look at what happens to a club like Ajax, and what could happen to them seeing as they havent bottomed out yet, a club who used to follow the same policy as us on cash in the bank, its clear that their is some merit in a more cautious approach.



    Ajax troubles are compounded by their mismanagement of their cash position. We will never let that happen.



    It might be overly conservative and risk averse but it is part of a coherent strategy for success that puts solvency at the front of everything we do.

  21. Paul 67,



    PSG were the best team I have witnessed at Parkhead. They were well worth their 5 goal victory. The Harlem Globetrotters of European football.


    However what did they win ?. There has to be a degree of pragmatism mixed with a swashbuckling style.



    As for football strategy. Simple, it’s self explanatory in the immediate term. Beat Atletico and demonstrate that we belong.



    European football refreshes the parts that domestic football cannot reach.



    HH to all.




    The plan is to bridge the gap financially in Europe. We do that by regular CL participation and increasing profits from player trading. Profits means profits – lower fees out, for higher fees in.



    At the same time we dont put the club at material risk if we aren’t able to have both of them.



    Its proper management, probably not what we want to hear when we look at clubs of similar size going deep in the CL but its real world grown up stuff.



    We aren’t allowed to get in to hundreds of euros of debt the Portuguese clubs get into. We wont allow the club to get into the sort of trouble Ajax are in.



    Boring but true

  23. The only way to compete and win games in the CL is by keeping your best players for 2 or 3 years ….alas that is not the model and therefore virtually impossible




    What would be an acceptable amount of cash for us to have in the bank?



    What’s the plan when we’ve spent our cash and we get to that amount?

  25. It was a damp, still evening in April 1974 when the burly Atletico de Madrid players took to the field at Parkhead, wearing for the first and only time the Spain national team colours. Their manager, Argentinian Toto Lorenzo, sent out six defenders, one more than the five Simeone will play tomorrow.



    While the pitch was not in perfect condition, it played no part in the night´s proceedings. Celtic started urgently, with Callaghan, Murray and Hay all trying to feed the front four of Johnstone, Dalglish, Hood, and Deans. The rearguard, to look after the sole Atletico forward (Gárate) was the Imperious McNeill and the indefatigable Brogan. Pat McCluskey played that night and as he showed when he scored from the penalty spot in the 1972 semi final, he was a big time player, watching the highlights again recently you see him motoring out from his own box, over the half-way line and making forward passes. Pat, who passed away only recently was affectionally known as “Fat Pat” but that should be changed to “FAST Pat”. A player way ahead of his time and therefore not appreciated by the staus quo. The twisted sisters at the SFA stitched him up the following year and he was banned from playing for his country forever, at the age of 23. Can that be the first entry….in a long line…for the SFA Hall of Shame?



    The reasons why that Celtic team did not overcome rivals Atletico Madrid are obvious but the fact that we couldn´t score in both European Semi Finals at home in 1972 and 1974 says something, we were just lacking that finishing touch….. which hopefully someone will have the composure to apply tomorrow.



    Inter and Atletico were a reflection of where European football was heading back then, with the re-emergence of more defensive/physical teams, with the lung-bursting Germans eventually winning the European Cup and the World Cup that year.

  26. BSR @ 1:39 PM,



    That’s interesting for me Brendan Rodgers is very well suited to Celtic, his erstwhile right hand man, Chris Davies is helping Ange out and I’m sure is a huge support.



    Yet BR has come in and managed to work his magic with our ongoing “backroom staff”.



    Our activist investor must be circumvented, he’s a big picture guy and although has made good high level calls, running a football Club is a details business.



    We have had buy in from everyone now on the transfer strategy and that has got to be good.



    Yet the implementation has recently been poor.



    Both Michael Nicholson and Peter Lawwell has echo’d the Manager’s mantra about the mix of players.



    Yet in practical terms we are loosing experience and bringing in prospects, why?



    When we’ve gone for a bit more experience for more money, like Palma or Nawrocki we seem to get much better value.



    Now we need to buy potential that’s for sure and we cannot risk all our capital on the throw of a dice, that’s a given.



    Yet we need experience to help develop the youngsters and we need to be better at selecting our development players.



    They will need to go out on loan to improve, like it or not, England is a hotbed of football talent and development.



    Could we have our quality prospects playing in the English conference or first division, just down the road and relatively speaking, very high level football?



    Hail Hail

  27. CELTIC40ME @ 1:58 PM, 2:11 PM,



    You make some very good points again.



    Yet you mention Ajax going through a bad time as if Celtic’s risk averse policy means it can’t happen to us.



    Well it did.



    Not so long ago we had to sack our manager and our long term CEO left.



    They presided over a carcrash and cost us a small fortune.



    Yes, we need a good positive cash flow but when it is there to cover the potential incompetence of the executive at the expense of proper investment in our core business, surly that’s bad management.



    We are a richer club than Feyenoord, we should be performing better than Feyenoord.



    Hail Hail



    Hail Hail

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