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Glut of strikers but budget remains intact

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We seem to have a lot of forwards.  Stokes, Pukki, Balde, new recruit Fridjonsson, and on-loan, Atajic and Watt, while Georgios may yet stay beyond the summer.  That’s six under contract for the Champions League qualifiers, not counting Sweden’s ‘next Henrik Larsson’, who is likely to move on soon.

Quantity is one thing but cost is just as important, only Samaras and Pukki are likely to be on wages competitive with some of the richer leagues in Europe, so the actual spend on forwards is likely to be considerably less than on defence or midfield.  The manager is likely to be operating within budget for this area of the team.

What we’re missing is an on-form striker who is capable of embarrassing St Johnstone and Inverness’s finest with their goals-to-games ratio, not to mention our own free-wheeling creative-mid.  Gone are the days Celtic strikers stats are dismissed as a mere by-product of the sheer volume of chances they are presented with.  Without a class act up front, the squad is unbalanced.

There was a note of disappointment in Neil Lennon’s voice when he spoke of missing a potential signing last week. I’m almost certain we’ll sign a striker this week but if he’s more of a hunch than a certified target we’re wasting our money.  Hunch signings are fine but you can only give space to so many in any one season.  We’ve made our low-cost gambles up front, and there is never a time for a high-cost uncertified gamble.

Celtic have a bit of money burning a hole in their pocket earning 15% interest from the Co-op Bank at the moment.  The desire to spend it, from chief exec, to manager, to scouts and all other influencers will be practically unstoppable, which is why I’m so sure we’ll sign someone.  Time will tell if we experience buyers regret.

Reminder to everyone who booked tickets for the CQteN St Patrick’s Day Dinner that they have to be paid by 31 January.  Let me know if you can’t find details, celticquicknews@gmail.com

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  1. Margaret McGill on

    ryecatcher

     

     

    04:13 on 28 January, 2014

     

    Nope

     

    My English comprehension skills are on overdrive!

     

    Hows yours?

  2. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    If Celtic aren`t playing a combination of brag and poker right now ,then I would be astonished.

     

    And hugely disappointed.

     

    Any comment made publicly by Neil during the silly season should be seen in that context.

  3. Morag McGill….

     

     

    Please stop drinking with the monkeys and do keep up.

     

     

    RANGERS DIED IN 2012

  4. Macjay……

     

     

    I think the most interesting comments of the week will come from the AIMS markets.

     

     

    Trading while insolvent is serious shoite.

  5. Margaret McGill on

    heh all you mugs!

     

    Are Celtic preparing for the champions league next year or not?

     

    That is the question

     

    Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer

     

    another gubbin at the hands of Barcelona

     

    Or to take arms against a bunch of hun troubles,

     

    And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;

     

    No more; and by a sleep to say we end

     

    a hopeful 10 in a row that will never come.

     

    ok screw you guys I’m going home.

  6. I’ll take care of Griff

     

    Celts still chasing striker

     

     

    Scotland star Griffiths is keen on a move to Celtic

     

    0

     

    By ROBERT GRIEVE Published: 4 hrs ago

     

    NEIL LENNON vowed to tame Leigh Griffiths as Celtic last night weighed up a second bid for the wayward Wolves ace.

     

    Celts had their first offer for Griffiths rejected by the League One outfit.

     

     

    But Hoops gaffer Lennon is desperate to get the deal done.

     

     

    He said: “I know he has baggage off the field, but we all did. You can manage that.

     

     

    “If he comes here then he is here for the football and not the controversy. We will cross that bridge when we come to it.

     

     

    “There have been a few I have come across over the years.

     

     

    “You just have to treat every individual on their own merits. It is not a concern, not at all.

     

     

    “If you look at Leigh being back in Edinburgh last year then he thrived.

     

     

    “He did not seem to have a problem on the pitch. His goal record for a team that struggled was very impressive.

     

     

     

    Neil Lennon insists he can keep the striker in check

     

    “His overall performances were very good.”

     

     

    Lenny has other targets, but believes Scotland star Griffiths is the only hitman he will be able to bring in before the transfer window shuts on Friday night.

     

     

    Lennon added: “Maybe not this month, maybe in the summer. It will be Griffiths if anyone.”

     

     

    Wolves boss Kenny Jackett has not given up hope of keeping Griff with talks set to continue today.

     

     

    Jackett said: “We understand every player has their price, but we are not desperate to sell players here. Leigh has gone public to say he is interested in Celtic, as most Scottish lads would be when a club of that size come in.

     

     

    “But the deal would have to be right for us.

     

     

    “If not, Leigh is still part of our squad and is with us for Oldham tomorrow and Bradford on Saturday.”

     

     

    Meanwhile, Lennon has dismissed speculation linking Everton with a move to sign Hoops left-back Emilio Izaguirre.

     

     

    Lennon said: “I wouldn’t sell Izaguirre. I only have one left-back.

     

     

    “I don’t want to sell any players, the bulk of the team has been playing consistently now for this season and the previous seasons, and Emilio is a part of that.

     

     

    “I have been really pleased with his resurgence this year. He has been really consistent and played very well in the Champions League.

     

     

    “You are obviously concerned he might not get back to his previous level when you have a bad injury like that, psychologically as much as anything else.

     

     

    “But in the Champions League last year, and this year, he really put his mind to it and his qualities shone through.”

  7. Skippy and Gary turned into Euro stars..Griff can be next

     

     

    Lennon is convinced Griffiths could blossom on European stage for the Hoops

     

     

    By ROBERT GRIEVE Published: 3 hrs ago

     

    YOU don’t use a chainsaw to open a tin of peas.

     

    Just like you don’t need to interrogate Neil Lennon when he has something to say.

     

     

    Take yesterday.

     

     

    One TV reporter noised up the Celtic manager with his tone of questioning on the prospective purchase of Leigh Griffiths.

     

     

    Something along the lines of Twitterland being in virtual meltdown with Hoops fans up in arms over the idea of the Wolves striker joining their club.

     

     

    Lennon went from unexpectedly waxing lyrical about his signing target to biting his tongue.

     

     

     

    Gary Hooper scored a number of goals in Europe

     

    Rattled, annoyed even, he suddenly clammed up.

     

     

    In all fairness to the gogglebox media man, he was making a point that needed to be made — even if it could be argued he didn’t need to shine a light in Lennon’s eyes when he made it.

     

     

    It led to Lennon hitting back with a question of his own — exactly WHO amongst the club’s support is anti-Griffiths?

     

     

    But deep down he knows full well there are some people out there who question the wisdom in Celtic making a move for Griffiths.

     

     

    He knows the dad-of-four striker carries more baggage than the blokes who lug suitcases around Glasgow Airport.

     

     

    On the football side of things, he realises he’s got no European pedigree whatsoever.

     

     

    But are they issues Lennon sees as deal-breakers? Not a chance.

     

     

    The off-the-field dramas, he can handle. It’s not like Lennon’s only ever played with cocoa-drinking, early-to-bed choirboys throughout his career, is it?

     

     

    As for the question marks over Griffiths’ capabilities, it’s simple.The Scotland squad man may not be Champions League quality right now, but he soon COULD be.

     

     

    Gary Hooper and Scott McDonald are the names Lennon points to, strikers who had no European experience when they signed for Celtic but were soon banging them in against the best.

     

     

    And in his mind, if they can do it so too can Griffiths.

     

     

    Lennon said: “I think he can do a job for Celtic. And speaking to a lot of people in the game whose opinion I trust, they are in agreement as well.

     

     

    “He is not a £10million player. But I think he can turn into a very, very good acquisition for us and I do think he will bring goals to the club. I thought he was quite an exciting player to watch last year.

     

     

    “When you have got it you don’t lose it, and we just have to nurture him on and I think he will get better. He is quick, his movement has always been very good, he is a very good finisher with both feet and he scores different varieties of goals. He scores from different angles as well.

     

     

    “There is very little back-lift, a bit like Kris Commons, when he hits the ball. He hits it with real accuracy and good power.

     

     

    “He is a good player and I was really impressed with him last year.

     

     

     

    Scott McDonald believed he could play at top level

     

    “Whenever we played Hibs you were always looking at him as a threat. When you look at his goals tally it is very impressive.

     

     

    “At 23 he is the right age for us and there is plenty of scope in him as well to come and do better here.

     

     

    “Is he a Champions League player? Maybe not yet. It’s up to us to try and turn him into that.

     

     

    “McDonald and Hooper went on to play at that level because they got the confidence here.

     

     

    “They scored goals and got the elevation into the Champions League. They believed they could play at that level.

     

     

    “If you look at Griffiths’ demeanour on the pitch then he is very hard-working and he is not a sulker. He never throws his hands in the air and is always on the move.

     

     

    “He always hits the target with his shots. He has a great strike rate.

     

     

    “We watched him earlier in the season and every one of his shots was on target.

     

     

    “I think he has matured into a very good player.”

     

     

    Lennon spoke so openly about the prospect of Griffiths becoming a Celtic player before the end of the week it made you believe a deal has to be imminent.

     

     

    With negotiations beginning yesterday it seems unlikely talks will break down to the point where Celtic look elsewhere.

     

     

    Lennon, though, insists he isn’t confident of a deal being done, conscious of the fact that Wolves are notorious at playing hardball over transfers. What Celtic have in their favour is that Griffiths has set his heart on a move to Parkhead.

     

     

    He said so in a SunSport exclusive last week, going on the record with his desire to pull on a green and white jersey.

     

     

    That didn’t leave Wolves boss Kenny Jackett best pleased but it was another tick in the box as far as Lennon is concerned.

     

     

    The Parkhead boss — speaking as the Celtic Foundation launched a partnership with The Ireland Fund of Great Britain and North Lanarkshire Council — added: “That helps. I think he’d jump at the chance of coming.

     

     

    “We are in talks. We have made a bid for him. There is a serious interest there.

     

     

    “You’re never confident. Wolves are tough negotiators. We’ve known in the past when we tried to get Kevin Doyle. So I’d not say confident. But I’m hopeful.

     

     

    “It could go on until Friday. Preferably we would like to get a definitive answer in the next couple of days.”

     

     

    Exclusive RONNIE MacKAY

     

     

    LEIGH GRIFFITHS would love a move to Celtic to be closer to his kids.

     

     

    The Wolves striker has four children, Rhys, Kacie, Layla and Jacob, but admits it’s tough being away from them.

     

     

    He said: “I want to spend as much time with them as possible.

     

     

     

    Griffiths with his fellow winner Lennon at awards ceremony last term

     

    “They are growing up fast and they are not young for long. I don’t want to miss it all.

     

     

    “When I do manage to go up, I go there as quick as a flash.

     

     

    “Wolves have been good giving me four days off from Sunday to Wednesday every six weeks so I can come back up the road.

     

     

    “Every Tuesday after training I was getting the train back up the road but I was hardly spending any time with them.

     

     

    “I would spend half a day with them and then I was having to come back down the road. I try and get the kids to each come down for a home game once a month.”

  8. Morag McGill….

     

     

    Celtic might well be preparing for the Champions League NEXT year because it certainly doesn’t look like we are preparing for any qualifiers THIS year.

  9. Beck of the net – that was as good as me

     

     

    Virgil curls home his Easter Road cracker on Sunday

     

    0

     

    By DAVID FRIEL Published: 4 hrs ago

     

    VIRGIL VAN DIJK didn’t just bend it like Beckham against Hibs on Sunday.

     

    Pierre van Hooijdonk claims the Celtic star’s free-kick was also like watching Gianfranco Zola, Juninho and HIMSELF in their prime!

     

     

    Van Dijk, 22, enhanced his growing reputation with a 25-yard curler in the Hoops’ 4-0 Easter Road romp.

     

     

    Former Celt Van Hooijdonk insists NO other stopper in the Euro game would be able to produce such a spectacular strike.

     

     

    He told SunSport: “You normally only see attacking players attempt that kind of free-kick.

     

     

    “What he did reminded me of David Beckham, Zola, Juninho and myself when we played. How many times do you see a centre-half do that? Never.

     

     

    “I can’t think of any other central defenders in the game who could hit a dead ball like that.

     

     

    “Ronald Koeman was a free-kick expert in Holland but he hit the ball with power, using the top of his boot.

     

     

    “Roberto Carlos was similar. He would get bend on the free-kick but it was mostly about power.

     

     

    “When Virgil stepped up to take the free-kick, I was expecting a BLAST — not a curling free-kick.

     

     

    “But he used the instep and it was a brilliant strike. It’s difficult to do that, but his technique was perfect.

     

     

    “I also like the fact that he didn’t make a big show when he stood over the free-kick. There was no bulls**t. Virgil placed the ball, took a run and curled it into the top corner. He was focused and it was fantastic.

     

     

    “What he did was similar to my own way of taking free-kicks and that made me even more pleased.”

     

     

    The elegant Dutchman has very quickly become Celtic’s prized asset — with his form being widely noticed in England.

     

     

    Van Hooijdonk believes it’s only a matter of time before he moves on — but expects Celtic to make a massive profit on the £2.2m they paid for him.

     

     

    He said: “His overall form has been fantastic. When he first signed for Celtic I said he would be a major success and his impact in Scotland doesn’t surprise me.

     

     

    “He is performing as well as I expected. His start was a bit difficult when he had the injury. It took him a little while to settle but now he has he is one of Celtic’s main players.

     

     

    “Virgil has everything. What you see is what you get from him — he is very calm on the pitch and doesn’t make mistakes.

     

     

    “He WILL go to a higher level one day. When? Who knows, but Celtic can relax because they did some great business when they signed him in the summer.

     

     

    “Celtic will sell him on one day and I expect them to make a lot of money when that happens. But at the moment he is happy, he is playing good football and he is at the right club to develop.”

     

     

    Given that he has yet to win a full cap for Holland, his chances of a World Cup place appear slim right now.

     

     

    But Van Hooijdonk — capped 46 times — has urged national coach Louis van Gaal to take a close look at Van Dijk in the March friendly with France.

     

     

    Pierre said: “It’s not too late for him to make the World Cup squad. I believe he deserves a chance to win a cap.”

  10. Confirmed: Arsenal & Man City Want €9M+ Defensive Asset

     

    SAMUEL HEFFERNAN JANUARY 27, 2014 0

     

     

    Since moving from FC Groningen to Celtic in the summer of 2013, Dutch under-21 international Virgil van Dijk has been a frequently impressive performer in the iconic green-and-white kit. His recent run of form for the Glaswegian club has seen him persistently linked with Premier League clubs just 6 months after his first introduction to British football.

     

     

    Two of these clubs are Manchester City and Arsenal, the two clubs who currently lie separated by just 1 point at the summit of the Premier League.

     

     

    Voetbal International reports that the two clubs are ready to battle for the £10 million rated player in an effort to bolster their defences ahead of what promises to be one of the most competitive Premier League climaxes in recent memory.

     

     

    Manchester City’s need for defensive reinforcements perhaps seems evident; despite their devastatingly precise forward play that has seen them quickly amass 103 goals on the season, they remain vulnerable defensively.

     

     

    The Premier League win against a struggling Cardiff City side emphasised this as Martin Demichelis was left exposed on numerous occasions; injuries to Nemanja Nastasic has left the aging, rather immobile Argentine partnering Vincent Kompany, and continued the necessity for the team to simply outscore their opponents.

     

     

    Manuel Pellegrini clearly does not rate Joleon Lescott, who has entered the final 6 months of his contract and can be expected to leave the club during the January transfer window.

     

     

    However, given the quality and youth of Pellegrini’s first-choice centre-backs (Kompany is 27, and Nastasic just 20) Manchester City clearly have a long-term plan for their defensive unit and it is tough to see the logic of van Dijk moving to the Etihad.

     

     

    While a talented defender, van Dijk could not reasonably be expected to challenge for a starting berth as Pellegrini aims for instant success in all four competitions. With the expected departure of Lescott, Manchester City will be happy to move forward with Demichelis and Micah Richards as able backups to their formidable first choice pairing.

     

     

    In addition to this, City’s defensive frailties can largely be blamed on their system rather than their personnel; Pellegrini favours a highly attacking 4-4-2 that allows for energetic attacking movement and passing, but can leave their back four sorely exposed against mobile forward players.

     

     

    Europe’s elite sides will exploit this fact should the Chilean coach persevere with his favoured system in the Champions League, something exposed by Bayern’s ruthless 3-1 win at the Etihad in October.

     

     

    For Arsenal, the immediate need for a central defensive signing is also difficult to see. Arsenal’s impressive run to the top of the table has been built on the solid base of defensive frugality, as they boast the joint-best defensive record in the division with just 19 goals conceded.

     

     

    Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker complement each other extremely well; Mertesacker’s game relies on intelligence, positioning and timing whereas the quicker, more aggressive Koscielny is adept at early interceptions, second balls and last ditch challenges.

     

     

    Along with diligent coaching from Steve Bould, the duo have established one of Europe’s best defensive partnerships, discussing and practising game plans well in advance and executing them precisely on the pitch. When the two have completed 90 minutes together, Arsenal have not lost in over 2 years.

     

     

    The form of the Franco-German duo has led to the exile to the bench of fan favourite and club captain Thomas Vermaelen, who after overcoming long-term injury troubles has proven to be an effective deputy for either of the two. Should he regain his early form for the club, Arsenal will boast a trio of versatile defenders who complement each other and their team very well.

     

     

    However, given their ages (all in their late 20s: Mertesacker 29, Koscielny and Vermaelen 28) it is certainly necessary for Arsene Wenger to plan for the future. Ignasi Miquel (currently on loan at Leicester City) remains a potentially interesting prospect but has yet to entirely convince, and given van Dijk’s impressive performances in the SPL, combined with extended Champions League playing time means that Wenger should certainly entertain the idea of signing the young Dutchman.

     

     

    If signed either in January or the summer, van Dijk would be able to join a squad with a healthy blend of youth and experience and learn from three highly intelligent defenders in Mertesacker, Koscielny and Vermaelen.

     

     

    Van Dijk certainly fits the Wenger-ball mould; he is a tall, powerful specimen but also possesses significant technical ability, something emphasised by his fantastic solo goal versus St Johnstone.

     

     

    He has the ability necessary to turn defence into attack with measured passing, good ball control and a burst of speed, while his physical presence will ensure he is able to keep pace in the Premier League.

     

     

    While he remains fairly raw, a move to Arsenal would see him receive excellent coaching, and Wenger’s willingness to quickly incorporate youth players into his senior squad could see van Dijk’s talents being showcased to the nation sooner rather than later.

  11. CELTIC: UNBEATEN YET UNAPPRECIATED?

     

    0 POSTED BY PHELIM WARREN – 27/01/2014 – THE JOURNAL

     

    Being an Irish-based Celtic fan, I’m looking for enlightenment from those of you who go to watch Celtic week in/week out, home and away, or as often as you possibly can. My assessment of this 2013/14 team is based on what I see on television. I’m also curious (I know it’s fraught with danger) to know if the unhappiness with Neil Lennon’s transfer policy on Twitter also fuels Celtic fans’ perceived (mine!) unhappiness with Celtic’s overall performance this season.

     

     

    I’ve just been assessing the League stats. Played 22, won 19, drew 3, lost none! That should have Celtic fans pouring praise on Lennon’s lads and running out of superlatives. It’s the end of January with no league defeats and as of yesterday’s drubbing of Hibs at Easter Road, nine successive clean sheets and 22 goals scored with a 7-0 demolition of Hearts in the Scottish Cup thrown in for good measure among those League wins. It should be reasonable at this stage to expect the team to go the rest of the league campaign unbeaten. We’re still in the Cup but the League Cup defeat to Morton again puts the Treble out of reach. Yet it seems to me (from what I’m reading) that a good portion of Celtic fans are underwhelmed at those statistics and results.

     

     

    The Champions League campaign was admittedly and glaringly disappointing. I still feel however that we got spoiled with over-achievement in the 2012/13 Champions League and the loss and inadequate replacement of Hooper, Wanyama and Wilson proved fatal in Celtic attempting to emulate the feat of qualifying again for the last 16 this season. Put simply, we were found out this season at the top level and mistakes were ruthlessly punished. One win and five defeats (I had actually forecast six defeats when the draw was made) was depressing but not altogether surprising in my opinion.

     

     

     

     

    We (rightly) criticised Ambrose last season for some kamikaze displays. He has been superb this season alongside the cultured and classy Virgil Van Dijk. Kris Commons was awful last season but has been on fire this season and scored his 20th goal of a remarkable season yesterday. Lustig (until his injury) had been outstanding. Izzaguire has looked back to his best after that awful leg break in 2011. So there have been some brilliant individual consistencies in this year’s team.

     

     

    Now the bad news: Anthony Stokes’ goals have dried up despite being awarded a new contract. Samaras’ heart and mind look elsewhere. Pukki (in my opinion) isn’t good enough despite yesterday’s goal. Ledley is likely to depart. Mulgrew (again just my opinion) seems to have coasted rather than pushed himself on. Balde just doesn’t seem to have Lennon’s trust regardless of the others form up front and when Balde does get on, he tends to score. Baffling.

     

     

     

     

    Every season sees its share of ups and downs. Last season’s Champions League highs were often followed by a dip in the League form. It’s been the opposite this season. Five Champions League defeats yet no League ones!

     

     

    So why do I feel Celtic fans are still unhappy?

     

     

    I fully understand and get the feeling of unhappiness over the Green Brigade controversy and the ludicrous behaviour of stewards at Celtic Park. I also feel the anger that the fans feel increasingly isolated and unappreciated by the current Celtic board. I share the frustration of the underwhelming transfer names being bandied about (Leigh Griffiths being the latest doing the rounds). Given all those understandable grievances, surely the team’s current run deserves more praise and celebration than it has received up to now? The League is always the primary aim at the start of the season. That aim has again been realised (bar the world ending). The team is still unbeaten. Clean sheets almost a given at this stage. What more can the players do?

     

     

    I’m only asking!

     

     

    Article by Phelim Warren – @freewheeler12.

  12. TBJ Praying for Oscar Knox on

    Mags

     

     

    You musta been in the same bar as me

     

     

    So bhoys n ghirls.. cqn is unanimous on the signing of leigh Griffiths.

     

     

    Leigh or Lee as he is sometimes known here .. is maybe good enough or not for us.

     

     

    He is 23 and at that age must have grown up or maybe not.

     

     

    He scored plenty last season in the spl for a poor team and is a full international but that might not be good enough for us.

     

     

    He has a twitter account and makes nsughty comments unlike our staff who never do that or get targetted by the smsm for their indiscretions

     

     

    He is a fast skillful player with an eye for hitting the target proven by the fact he has 4 kids to 3 girls and that’s an impressive scoring ratio in anyones money for an ugly wee baldy racist

     

     

    At between £300k and £2m he provides value for money but it might be best that we keep the cash and put the pie vendors wages up.

     

     

    Hes clearly not the managers first choice but hes definitely united the cqnrs on this issue.

     

     

    So the decision has been made peter……. work that one out ya sharp suited big man ;)

  13. From the Herald

     

     

    Offer for teenager rejected

     

    Staff Writer

     

    Tuesday 28 January 2014

     

    Celtic have had an offer turned down for Dorin Rotariu, the young Romanian winger and target of Manchester United, according to his father.

     

     

    The 18-year-old has caught the eye at Parkhead after scoring five times in 17 games so far this season for Dinamo Bucharest.

     

     

    Though United have been strongly linked with an interest, his father says the only offer so far has come from Celtic.

  14. Talk Celtic.

     

     

    It was the summer of 2010. Celtic were once again in the rebuilding process following an insipid campaign. Despite an encouraging turnaround following Neil’s late and temporary appointment, the 2009 team were incapable of wresting the title from Rangers grasp. Fans were impressed with what they had seen, nonetheless, and were excited at the prospect of the Irishmen in charge of their team. Much damage had been done under Tony Mowbray’s tenure, but the Lurgan man was determined to not allow it to continue.

     

     

    Weeks following Neil’s full time appointment as manager, the club secured the signing of Joe Ledley on a free transfer. It was to prove to be a masterstroke by the new manager. The player would arrive from Cardiff City, who were experiencing an unusual high, backed by youth talents such as Aaron Ramsey, and eventual Celt, Adam Matthews. The Welsh Wizard was an integral figure for the Bluebirds, guiding them to the ’08 F.A. Cup final.

     

     

    The likes of N’Guemo and Crosas had proven to be poor fits for the demands of a Celtic midfielder, so it was key that the club acquired better and quickly. Performances such as the Ross County cup defeat would not be tolerated by anyone in association with the club, especially not someone with the hunger to win, like Neil Lennon.

     

     

    Joe Ledley arrived with minimal fanfare, despite his exploits south of the border – taking Cardiff to the brink of Premier League promotion, and attracting the interest of no less than Italian greats, Roma. However, the Welshman decided to choose Celtic as his next step in his football journey. The Welsh international started his new career in the worst kind of way, being part of the Celtic team that lost 3-0 away in Portugal to Braga.

     

     

    His efforts could not be faulted, as he was often played in a left back position, a role very unfamiliar to the man who had almost single-handedly taken Cardiff to the riches of England’s top division, scoring multiple times with his long bursting runs into the opponents half. The acquisition of Emilio Izaguirre was to prove to be a form of mercy for Joe, as he was freed up to return to midfield. It would soon see Ledley become an important figure in the new look Celtic team. The side were playing some of the best football fans had seen in years, and Joe was at the heart of some of the best play.

     

     

    The league cup final against Rangers would not prove to be a day to remember for the young midfielder, despite getting on the score-sheet. Unfortunately, Neil Lennon’s team lost in Extra-time despite a brave and spirited effort in a difficult game, following Izaguirre’s dismissal.

     

     

     

    Injury would cruelly rule him out for the rest of the season and rob him of a chance to appear in another final for the Celts. Happily, the team would prove to be victorious, but Joe’s day in the sun would have to wait. The following year would see Joe continue to assert himself as a key man at Scotland’s greatest club. Ledley proved to be influential in improving Celtic’s fortune away from home in Europe, emerging as a scorer in a tough game in France versus Rennes.

     

     

     

     

    More highlights were to follow in the season, as Ledley became a hero in the December ’11 Old Firm derby. His solitary goal would see Celtic take command of the league for the first time that season and take a pivotal step towards reclaiming the title – their 43rd in total. As Neil Lennon had promised, “This isn’t the end, this is just the beginning.” 15 points off their rivals at one point, it did not appear likely that it would be their year, but Joe Ledley would have a big hand in preventing that from happening.

     

     

     

     

    Goals in Old Firm games rightfully help cement a place in the hearts of the fans, and Joe Ledley definitely secured his place as a Celtic hero that season. The team were unsuccessful once again in a second successive league cup final, but the title was theirs, as they sealed victory by demolishing Kilmarnock 6-0. It was the perfect finish to an electric season and the club’s first championship in four years.

     

     

    The following season would prove to have as many highlights, as the Celts were on the European road to conquer. The team took a lot of confidence from their efforts the previous season, and relished the challenge of rising to the occasion in Europe’s biggest stage. Joe was a key figure, once again, in a tough campaign, helping to lead Celtic to the Last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.

     

     

     

     

    The Welsh wizard’s place alongside Victor Wanyama in the heart of Celtic’s midfield was well deserved, as he helped Celtic combine and hold precious possession. Joe’s anticipation and positional sense, as well as his eye for a pass, made him an important player in keeping hold of possession – a priceless commodity in the Champions League.

     

     

     

    Whether Joe Ledley decides to renew his Celtic contract, or seek newer horizons, most Celtic fans will continue to hold him close to their hearts. Since joining the club he has given nothing but 100% for the club, been versatile, and a constant professional. If any player deserves a new contract, Ledley is that man.

     

     

    Fans may never view Joe as a truly exceptional talent, as we have had the great fortune to see the likes of the Three Amigos, Moravcik, and Larsson in recent years, but the Welshman remains a Celtic Hero.

  15. Macjay

     

    I know it’s only paper talk but I could have done without that Virgil speculation. It’s put me right aff my porridge!

     

     

    Griffiths in – has split the camp.

     

     

    If it turns oot——-Griffiths in and ——-Virgil oot —— well, disnae bear thinking aboot!

  16. TBJ Praying for Oscar Knox on

    Virgil won’t be going anywhere this month … unless a real mental offer in the region of £15m comes in

     

     

    Hes in no rush to leave and the club know his value will rise in the summer

  17. Sorry to change subject away from tabloid transfer crap

     

     

    Has some relevance to fitba, this is the bank culture that allowed the deid club to borrow ridiculous amounts, our taxes have bailed this shambles out, staggering levels of corruption and greed

     

    by RORY REYNOLDS and MARTIN FLANAGAN

     

    Updated on the

     

    28 January

     

    2014

     

    01:25

     

     

     

    Published 27/01/2014 17:44

     

     

     

    THE Royal Bank of Scotland is facing full-year losses of up to £8 billion after it announced last night that a further £3.1bn is being set aside for litigation and consumer compensation claims.

     

     

     

    The taxpayer-owned bank also confirmed that its senior executives would waive millions in bonuses as a result.

     

     

    The sum for compensation claims includes £1.9bn to cover mainly US action over mortgage-backed financial products and an extra £465 million for customers mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI).

     

     

    The Edinburgh-based group has also set aside an extra £500m in relation to allegations of the mis-selling of complex financial products, known as interest rate swaps, to small firms.

     

     

    Chief executive Ross McEwan told a news conference last night that “fronting up to our past mistakes is very

     

     

    expensive”. He said: “I have agreed with my executive committee that we will not pay bonuses to them for 2013.”

     

     

    The announcement applies to eight senior employees. Mr McEwan has already said he would not take a bonus for 2013 or 2014.

     

     

    Last year, six executives on the executive committee were handed £6.7m in performance-related bonuses.

     

     

    He went on: “To me this is about leadership. I know this team is not responsible for the past mistakes … but we are the leaders running this company.”

     

     

    RBS put out its unscheduled statement late yesterday, shortly before the financial markets closed. Shares fell by 7.3p to 332.39p, cutting about £900m from the value of RBS.

     

     

    Mr McEwan said: “At the peak of the financial crisis, RBS was the biggest bank in the world.

     

     

    “When the crisis broke, the bank was involved in a number of different businesses in multiple countries that have subsequently faced heavy scrutiny by customers and regulators.

     

     

    “The scale of the bad decisions during that period means that some problems are still just emerging. The good news is we are now a much stronger bank and can manage these costs while still supporting our customers.”

     

     

    He said that the sheer scale of the cost of claims from customers who have been mis-sold insurance was not originally

     

     

    anticipated.

     

     

    Mr McEwan said: “Billions of pounds have been spent to resolve conduct and litigation issues in recent years. Costs on this scale were not predicted by anyone when RBS was rescued in 2008. After five years of hard work and tough choices, the path ahead for RBS is much clearer. I am confident that we will build a great bank for the UK and I will have more to say on this in the coming weeks.”

     

     

    Ian Gordon, of Investec Securities, said the announcement was not entirely unexpected, but the amounts involved were.

     

     

    Another City analyst said: “The scale of these provisions will clearly impact RBS’s reported results for last year substantially.

     

     

    “But the somewhat better news is that they do not have a direct impact on RBS’s underlying trading performance.

     

     

    “The downside is that complications like this do tend to make it a little more difficult to value the shares in future and therefore has implications for any timetable of re-privatisation.

     

     

    “It does not wipe out the positives that there is a new man at the helm [in Ross McEwan] and may hopefully prove a new broom in terms of underlying performance.”

     

     

    Finance director Nathan Bostock would not comment when asked whether the losses announced in November and yesterday would amount to £8bn, which would be the largest since it lost £24.1bn in 2008, the biggest annual loss in UK corporate history.

     

     

    Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Treasury select committee, said: “RBS is still paying a heavy price for past misconduct. So too are its customers and taxpayers. It is crucial for the recovery that lending, particularly to SMEs, (small and medium enterprises) is not constrained as a result.”

     

     

    Despite waiving top executives’ bonuses, RBS has indicated it may request permission to pay bonuses of up to double an employee’s salary, which Labour has asked the UK government to block, as the largest shareholder.

     

     

    Chairman Sir Philip Hampton yesterday confirmed the bank had been having a “shareholder consultation” over the issue “but that the ability to pay competitively … is fundamental to the prospect of getting to where we need to be”.

     

     

     

    Martin Flanagan: Light at end of the tunnel is just another trainload of charges

     

     

    THERE was supposed to be light at the end of the tunnel for Royal Bank of Scotland. Instead the bank faces another financial train of one-off charges clattering down the track.

     

     

    If the new boss Ross McEwan didn’t appreciate what he was taking on when he succeeded Stephen Hester last autumn, the latest

     

     

    £3 billion of provisions has ensured he knows the scale of the challenge now.

     

     

    Suddenly the hoped-for re-privatisation of majority taxpayer-owned RBS from 2015 onwards looks like a pipedream. Although most of the latest wrongdoing did not happen on Hester’s watch, some did, and he cannot be totally exonerated. His presumed legacy has been that, while RBS continued to face operational and public image restoration problems, at least he had done the heavy lifting of sorting the group’s onerous financial yoke and complicated structure.

     

     

    Yesterday’s unscheduled announcement from his successors, with finance chief Nathan Bostock already known to be leaving , shows that Hester streamlined RBS’s complicated over-reach of operations globally. But it is clearly premature to say the corner has been turned on financial legacy issues.

     

     

    No wonder the bank said yesterday that the remaining eight members of the bank’s key executive committee had waived any bonuses for 2013. McEwan had already gone public that he did not want to be considered for a bonus for last year.

     

     

    RBS, beset by government pressures given its share structure and the general opprobrium of the public towards the industry generally, can be forgiven for seeking any public relations low-hanging fruit like refusal of bonuses it can get.

     

     

    The latest provisions had the City speculating that, with previous announced one-off hits, RBS could be heading for an £8bn loss in 2013. If so, that would be the worst performance since the record £24bn loss in 2008, the year the group was bailed out by the taxpayer.

     

     

    It pours cold water on the bank’s recovery story without totally derailing it. Headline provisions are not the same thing as underlying trading health and that has been going in the right direction.

     

     

    The story is also still unfolding, and nobody at the bank is saying that a line can be drawn under provisions.

     

     

    After six long years, no change there, then.

  18. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    twists n turns

     

    05:08 on

     

    28 January, 2014

     

     

    I`m afraid I tend to ignore all the speculation.

     

    I trust the representatives of my club to do what they consider to be in our best interests.

     

    How can I have an informed opinion when I don`t have information?

     

    Nevertheless,the steamie will talk.`Cos it`s fun.

     

     

    Virgil appears to be a footballer of the highest quality but it`s early days.

     

    Can`t see him moving under any circumstances.

     

    Leigh`s attitude I like. 100% effort.Doesn`t like losing.Full on.

     

    A package like that often comes with a downside.

  19. TBJ Praying for Oscar Knox on

    Sipsini

     

     

    Fky to Goa Friday st 7am. Woke up early today so decided to pack my case as got the matcht tomorrow night

     

     

     

    Speculation in some rags about Virgil being a target for city and arsenal

  20. West Wales Celt on

    If the ‘we can spend £6 million on a player’ was a play in the battle of the budget it looks like uber prudence has won out. Griffiths might well score goals but I’m feeling as underwhelmed as others. So underwhelmed in fact that I’d now be excited if Stevie May arrived. One thing’s for certain; we‘ve come an awful long way from Finbogasson…

  21. Gene's a Bhoy's name on

    Good morning from a wet and windy North Staffs

     

     

    LG -i must admit i was expecting a bit better – buying from a league that we are loaning players to?

  22. macjay1 for Neil Lennon

     

    07:53 on

     

    28 January, 2014

     

     

    Surprised a link to Pete Seeger from you ?

     

    His agenda paralleled the concerns of the American left: He sang for the labor movement in the 1940s and 1950s, for civil rights marches and anti-Vietnam War rallies in the 1960s, and for environmental and antiwar causes in the 1970s and beyond. “We Shall Overcome,” which Mr. Seeger adapted from old spirituals, became a civil rights anthem.

     

     

    I think ole Pete would have been a GB member given the chance, below is a very early Seeger song ahead of its time asking for civil rights & end to bigotry, he would have loved the GB stance against fascism

     

     

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDTupEmWLuw&feature=youtu.be

     

     

    HH

  23. Wet and windy in South Staffs.

     

     

    Bit like North Staffs really.

     

     

    2 cheeks of the same erse.

  24. Ok so where are these great international £6m rated strikers who see playing in a 3rd rate league with no competition and very little exposure in Scotland as an obvious next destination to further their careers ?

  25. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    lionroars67

     

    08:10 on

     

    28 January,

     

     

    Surprised a link to Pete Seeger from you ?

     

    His agenda paralleled the concerns of the American left…

     

    ————————————————————————————

     

    I don`t believe in the terms left and right.

     

    I believe in principles.