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Managers under pressure: the story of the 9

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On 25 May 2019 the script went like this: Neil Lennon left Hibernian, by far the better run of the Edinburgh clubs, under a cloud, with various versions of events going round, none of them particularly supportive of our manager.  He was mutually consented out of Bolton Wanderers and the halcyon days of Champions League glory against Barcelona were a seven-year-old memory.

Celtic were transformed under Brendan Rodgers, who left without dropping a trophy after bringing a level of professionalism the Scottish game had never experienced.  By contrast, Newco had a stable ownership structure, management team and a squad which performed better than expected in their first season of European group stage competition.  With a season under his belt, Steven Gerrard knew he had money to spend; this was the time to push the boat out.

It is unfair to say this of a treble winning team, but it is also true that season 2018-19 ended with Celtic looking a bit one-paced.  For all his glory, Rodgers missed more often than he hit the target in the transfer market; the squad looked in need of an overhaul.  For these reasons, at the start of the season I wrote our chances of winning the league were 50/50.

What transpired was one of the most fascinating seasons in recent memory and we’ve had a few of those.  Credit to Gerrard.  Again he outperformed expectations in Europe but this time he outperformed the expectations of many Celtic supporters domestically.  He picked his team off the canvas after Odsonne Eduard and Jonny Hayes teed up Celtic’s season with a win at Ibrox in August, competed twice a week through the autumn before two games against Celtic in December that will long be subject of debate.

Newco wiped the floor with us in the League Cup Final at Hampden.  Tactically, they controlled the game and were it not for a sublime finish by Christopher Jullien and the most impressive goalkeeper performance we have seen in 15 years; their eight-year wait for a trophy would have ended.  Instead, a substitution led to a free kick and a goal.  Celtic then faced an onslaught which both looked impossible to withstand and bizarre in its wastefulness.

What happened at Hampden informed Celtic’s decision-making when the teams met on league duty at Celtic Park three weeks later.  Odsonne Edouard was able to start up front, instead of Lewis Morgan, with the expectation that normal service would resume.  It didn’t.  Newco again bossed the game, this time winning.  Newco had a difficult December but were set for an easier set of fixtures after the winter break.  You, me, Neil Lennon and the players went off on the winter break knowing it could be March before the teams were due to meet at Ibrox and we would have a chance to make regain the initiative.  But going to Ibrox after being handed our arse on a plate at Celtic Park was a daunting task.

This exact scenario was what Newco’s confidence when they Tweeted anticipation for this season minutes after Neil Lennon’s permanent appointment was all about.  The script was written, Neil would buckle under the pressure, Gerrard had responded from the Hampden despair by tactically schooling the Celtic manager and had the means to win the title.

Let the history books show that if Newco were able to hold onto late leads against Hearts, St Johnstone and Kilmarnock, and beat Hamilton and Aberdeen at home, Celtic’s run of successive league titles would have stopped short of the record nine-in-a-row.

For 22 years I have looked back on the shambles that was Celtic early in season 1997-98 and I still cannot figure out how we won the league to ‘stop the 10’.  If anything, this season is a greater mystery.  They did not know it at the time, but all Newco needed to do to win the league was win a handful of games against opposition vastly inferior to Celtic or those they comfortably despatched in Europe.

The pandemic should have been the gift that allowed the title to go to Ibrox without the need to face Celtic a further twice.  But the script was not followed, Neil Lennon coped rather well with the pressure.  Whatever ailed him at Hibs put fuel in his tank.  Celtic were imperious, anyone who wanted their title would have to reach new heights.

At this point Steven Gerrard began looking like the man under pressure.  He questioned his team’s bottle as each reversal brought a new wave of indignity.  Instead of the pandemic gifting him the best chance he will ever have of winning the league, it probably saved his job, as performances could not continue on the path they were for another two months.

Getting things right at a football club is more difficult than it seems, even when you apparently win everything with ease.  Celtic knew they had a battle on their hands at the start of this season, there was no complacency, but there is also a lot of corporate learning built into the Celtic Park ecosystem.  I spoke to Peter Lawwell during the winter break, he was calmer than most of us, “We have the best manager, the best squad and we are going to win the league.”  No panic, just a clear assurance that we stick to plan.

God knows what lies ahead of us next season.  It will be very different in every respect, but no one will underestimate Neil Lennon, or Celtic’s incessant winning strategy.  Congratulations to the manager, players, backroom staff, commercial team, administrators, board and every Celtic supporter who did their bit.  Our second nine-in-a-row was one of the sweetest yet!

Jackie Dziekanowski Celtic top auction

The Walk With Shay Legacy Fund are delighted to bring you a very special auction tonight. We have in our possession a signed and framed Jackie Dziekanowski Celtic top which can be seen here.

This was one of two signed Jackie tops donated by our Polish CQNer, Zbysek in 2009, during the Bringing Martin Home campaign. Zbysek had arranged to meet up with Jackie to get these tops signed. One of these tops was won in the raffle at the grand finale fundraising night for Bringing Martin Home at the Kerrydale Suite in the same year, by another CQNer, Murdoch, Auld & Hay. Stephen sadly passed away last year, and his brother Jim, kindly donated the top to us to raise funds for a future good cause.

We are therefore delighted to announce that all of the net proceeds raised in this auction, will be donated to Strathcarron Hospice, in memory of our good friend Helen Dunese Stewart (Minx 1888), who sadly passed away recently.

To bid, please send an email to walkwithshay@yahoo.com, with your bid (and indeed with a maximum bid if you wish as well). For instance your bid may be £50, but you can also say this will be up to the maximum of £100. So, if a rival bid comes in at £60, your bid will automatically be increased (in £10 tranches) to £70.

The bidding closes next Friday 22nd May at 8:30pm and the winner will be notified shortly afterwards and arrangements will be made for the winner to collect the framed top. We can also arrange for the top to be couriered to the winner, but delivery costs would need to be added.

We will of course, keep everyone informed of the highest bid as we progress during the auction.

Please note, that If you wish your bid to remain anonymous please state this when your bid.

Happy Bidding and thank you.

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  1. I spoke to Peter Lawwell during the winter break, he was calmer than most of us, “We have the best manager, the best squad and we are going to win the league.” No panic, just a clear assurance that we stick to plan.

     

     

    ____

     

     

    Let’s keep it that way. Prepare for the departures of Edouard and Ajer by signing replacements.

     

     

    If they stay on for a year we will have an embarrassment of riches.

  2. What’s your 11 from 9 in a row? Mine is:

     

     

    —————-Forster

     

    Lustig—-Jullien—-Van Dijk—Tierney

     

    Forrest—Brown—McGregor—Sinclair

     

    ————–Edouard–Dembele

     

     

    Bench: Gordon, Denayer, Izaguirre, Wanyama, Commons, Griffiths, Rogic

  3. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Hmmmm. Only nine, Paul? By my reckoning that’s now 23. Or do we now just accept all the titles won by Rangers in the 2000s were won fair and square (“on the park” as they say) and “move on”?

     

    Anything to get the old firm back and cranked up to full volume, eh? And of course if Rangers lost some titles we wouldn’t be able to have a “Going for 55” battle with them over the next few years and we might have to do something really crazy like – gasp – trying to achieve some success in the Champions League! But then that would require some vision and ambition and we certainly can’t be having any of that!

     

    Interesting point about whether we would lose another league anytime soon. Well, of course we are talking about a league where all the other clubs combined have only won 14 titles between them since football began (will drop to 11 next season), a league where you would struggle to think of more than one or two players who might get into our second team and where half the teams have spent less in their entire history than we have spent on two current players. So you would certainly hope we wouldn’t be losing too many!

     

    Maybe the question should be, will we ever win another knockout tie in Europe? Sixteen years and counting now, which is how long our self-styled “director of football” (minus the skillset) has been in situ. Probably just a coincidence though…..

  4. I get a little frustrated when I see comments along the lines of….

     

     

    Well if they want to put an asterisk next to our title then they should put one next to all the EBT years.

     

     

    There is a false equivalency here, however well intended the sentiment.

     

     

    For multiple years oldco Rangers repeatedly fielded players who were incorrectly registered in line with association rules and who were paid using an illegal tax avoidance scheme. That is an incontrovertible fact. For every game they played even one player under those circumstances the result should have been voided. That would have led to no league wins for them in the 21st Century.

     

     

    Celtic’s league win yesterday involved zero rule breaking and the method for determining the deciding mechanism was agreed in a resolution that received 81% support. The decision that it would be impossible to complete the remaining fixtures for the year was made unanimously, and using the methodology agreed in the resolution Celtic were correctly declared Champions.

     

     

    There is no comparison between these situations to be made, so it’s not a winning argument to say if ours is asterisked theirs should be too.

     

     

    Celtic won the 2019/20 league fair and square, following the rules set down by the appropriate bodies.

     

     

    The leagues won by oldco should forever be tainted by the knowledge that cheating was proved beyond doubt, and the rules simply were not applied as they should have been.

  5. What this ultimately proves is that as long as Celtic stay in front of a team calling themselves Rangers, everything else gets a pass. Football governance, greater prosperity, success in Europe and whatever else has went on, it doesn’t matter as long as we are top dog in Scotland. If you trace back the events of the past 10 years, all roads lead to this conclusion. It will never change. It’s a bit like modern politics, it doesn’t matter if we are good or bad or right or wrong, as long as the other lot don’t win.

     

     

    That said, credit where it’s due to everyone at Celtic, particular Peter and Neil who have contributed greatly to recent achievements.

  6. …..☘️☘️☘️☘️….

     

    ☘️………………….☘️

     

    ☘️………………….☘️

     

    ☘️………………….☘️

     

    …☘️……………. ☘️

     

    …….☘️☘️☘️..☘️..

     

    …………………….☘️..

     

    ……………………☘️..

     

    …………………..☘️…

     

    ………………….☘️….

     

    ………………..☘️…..

     

    ………………☘️…….

  7. Hey Timaloy29, here’s my alternative..tongue in cheek…..version

     

     

    The worst 11 of 9IAR..

     

     

    ———De Vries

     

     

    Fisher—-Hendry—–Compper—-Blackman

     

     

    ——Tonev—–Rabiu—–Borrighter

     

     

    Kazim-Richards—–Cole———Cifci

     

     

    Subs: Bangura, Balde, Mulumbu, Janko, Tonev, Blackett, Toljan

  8. As someone who was dead against the appointment of Neil Lennon as manager let me say that I was wrong and delighted for Neil that I was .

     

    I also believe in Peter Lawwell we have the best CEO that we could ever have

  9. 2019/202 season Celtic played Sevco 3 times , they won twice.,

     

     

    We were NARROWLY beaten at home in a game where we have much more possession (57%), more shots on and off target and more corners . Oh and we also missed a first half penalty to take the lead.

     

     

    We played poorly at the LC final ona horrible day for football with no recognized striker , A bit player now surplus to requirements was our spearhead . We still won

     

     

    SMSM would have you believe different and even Paul’s version of events concurs, but Sevco were never in the same league .

  10. ST TAMS on 19TH MAY 2020 12:56 PM

     

    BIG WAVY

     

     

    You really didn’t fancy Tonev. Did you

     

     

    ——–

     

     

    Ha ha…When you chart your contribution during the 9IAR as giving Shay Logan a platform, then you know you’ve been sold a pup….

     

     

    HH

  11. Ray Winstone's Big Disembodied Heid on

    Bob Loblaw. Spot on re equivalency. Celtic won this title based on performances on the pitch and points gained, which when taken as an average to matches played generated a comfortable winning overall total, and a deserved 9th consecutive league title.

     

     

    The spurious asterisk claim is mere deflection and obfuscation from hurting huns.

     

     

    Equally, there should be no asterisks placed against ” rangers” disguised remuneration/EBT/ discounted options scheme/ side letter titles, which were obtained unlawfully.

     

     

    These should be declared null and void and a blank attached to those years with no winners declared.

     

     

    By that token Celtic already has 20 in a row, and moreover has already established itself as the most successful club in Scottish football history.

  12. ST TAMS on 19TH MAY 2020 12:55 PM

     

    As someone who was dead against the appointment of Neil Lennon as manager let me say that I was wrong and delighted for Neil that I was .

     

     

    I also believe in Peter Lawwell we have the best CEO that we could ever have

     

     

    ……………………..

     

    First of all I’d like to congratulate Neil Lennon, his back room staff and all of our wonderful players on bringing us 9 in a row and hopefully they will go on to secure the quadruple treble when and if football returns.

     

     

    I still, however, feel that we can do better both in Europe and at home. The games against Sevco have become a bit of a lottery. We no longer go into them with confidence despite our greater resources. Neil to his credit returned from Dubai and changed our formation, playing with two up front and the team were transformed. I am very disappointed that we didn’t get to play the two remaining games against Sevco to see if we now had their measure rather than the reverse.

     

     

    Cluj still remains a major concern after we threw the game away having been in a winning position on three occasions. Copenhagen, similar to Cluj. We lost to an inferior team, again, and again at home. So, my happiness is tempered by the fact that we can still do better.

  13. Glasstwothirdsfull @ 12.30

     

     

    Is the two-thirds a dig at the number of fixtures we completed this year?

     

     

    As for :-

     

     

    “Maybe the question should be, will we ever win another knockout tie in Europe? Sixteen years and counting now,”

     

     

    The qualifying ties are knockout ties too, Fail to win those and you can be knocked out of the Europa or CL competitions. Even Group stage matches can be knock out events. The games against Lazio in Rome and CLuj in Romania this year were knockout events to determine whether we would be knocked out of the Europa League or not. So we have had knockout tie success- I assume you aare referring to CL last 16 and Europa last 32 exclusively to make your strained point.

     

     

    In those 16 years you dismiss, we have had CL last 16 on 3 occasions and 4 times in the last 6 seasins we have had last 32 ties against Inter, Zenit, Valencia and Copenhagen.

     

     

    CL last 16 is, IMO, equivalent to reaching a quarter final or semi-final in the old knockout CL and Europa Last 32 must be equivalent to more than a 2nd round stage in the old EC, CWC or Uefa comps.

     

     

    In the 20 years before Martin O’Neil got us back into European relevance, we had achieved an EC q-final in 1980, and a 3rd round UEFA cup knockout in 1984. All the other years were either first or second round knockouts or we failed to qualify. We got knocked out at these first and second round stages by the likes of Timisoara and Neucahtal Xamax- we never laid a glove on Europe.

     

     

    Our Seville experience of being losing finalists (that you rate above those 3 CL last 16’s, is a status shared in this milenium by Alaves, Midlesborough, Espanyol, Fulham, Braga, Bilbao, Dnipro AND the deid club.

     

     

    In the past 5 years the Europa Cup has become even tougher to contest as a CL monopoly elite has forced Big League clubs like Chelsea, Atletico, Marseilles, Man U, Sevilla dn Liverpool to take it seriously where previously it was dismissed.

     

     

    Our European relevance has increased in this past 20 years against this backdrop of post-Bosman, TV money, Big League domination which has created an observable glass ceiling for clubs and a tiering which sees us as a Tier 2, at best, club and probably, if we are honest, a Tier 3 club in most years, We were a Tier 1 club from 1966 to 1974 only. After that we became less and less relevant (1980 vs Real Madrid being our last near run-in with the big time).

     

     

    For the years 1980 to 2000, we were a tier 4, 5 or 6 club. We did not trouble the scorers in any event.

     

     

    Our Euro efforts flounder on the same glass ceiling every year and, while there are years we could and should have done better e.g. Copenhagen, AEK , Cluj, Malmo and Maribor were also bad defeats against teams where we could and should have won a majority of those knockout ties and that must be legitimately held against our management reams of the time. Against that record, however, we must balance our triumphs against Man U, Benfica, Milan, Villareal, Spartak, Barca, Ajax, Anderlecht, Leipzig and Lazio (and our draws with multi-billionaires Man City). Where were the equivalent results in the 1980 to 2000 period- an occasional win against Ajax or Sporting and that’s it.

     

     

    Whatever you are comparing with, apart from 66-74, this is a period of relative success and cannot be diminished by your jibes on Europe. Again, with the exception of, possibly, Basle, I defy you to find a club from a peripheral league that has outperformed us.

  14. Big Wavy

     

     

    A bit unfair on both Darnell Fisher and Saidy Janko, to be in that company. Both have shown that they are footballers since leaving us. Darnell is the regular right back for Preston who are in the play off spots in the Championship and Janko is with Young Boys who are joint top of the Swiss league.

     

     

    Even Toljan has gone on to be fancied by Roma after impressing at Sassuolo n Serie A.

     

     

    They don’t belong with genuine failures like Boerigter, Compper and Balde

  15. In a season when the 9 was paramount, we still managed to win every domestic tournament that was completed , finished top of a difficult Europa league group beating a team with a genuine chance of serie a home and away, and had a record in the SPL that compared very well with any season in the last 20 years.

     

     

    It’s easy to forget the pressure at the start of the season, never mind after the home defeat. I can’t remember such a draining season, I was in bits before every game, sometimes before theirs as well. To have had to deal with the pressure of winning the league while still winning in the cup and performing in Europe, to have played that much football and still come out so far on top that no one was in doubt that the league was ours shows an incredible determination and strong-mindedness on the part of everyone, but Lenny in particular

     

     

    Given the circumstances, I can’t think of anyone who could have done better. He was 100% the right choice for the job at the time

  16. West Craigs Tim on

    I don’t post much on here and I might be a wee bit late to the party. However … I just wanted to echo the congratulations to the manager, players and staff. We are living in bizarre times and I appreciate that in the grand scheme of things we are, after all, only talking about football. However… being of a certain vintage I’ve now had the pleasure and privilege of witnessing two 9IARs, 2 European Cup Finals, 4 European Cup Semi Finals, McNeill (my boyhood hero), Johnstone, Larsson and many more top notch players and memorable occasions too numerous to mention. I have a son who has now witnessed his very own 9IAR. All of these things have brought me joy. Thank you Celtic. Here’s hoping me and the boy get to see and celebrate the 10.

  17. prestonpans bhoys on

    Notthebus

     

    My thoughts exactly, rookie up front, no forward and down to 10 men for a hour, thats the LC for you. As for the league game I don’t need to repeat your stats. Given our arse to play with my arse

  18. The league could be smart and issue the fixtures for next season, without adding dates to them, just to annoy the huns (all shades)

  19. The originalsadiesbhoy

     

     

    That’s a high water mark for success. The Huns may well indeed win one-off battles in the future, as will others in the SPFL. Judge us on prizes and since 2012 this incarnation of der hun have competed agauinst us in 17 competitions and won NONE…

  20. SFTB – Well done on taking the time to respond to the previous poster will a very well constructed comeback re our European performance. Some folks don’t like the facts getting in the way of a good narrative.

     

     

    We live in marvelous times as Celtic supporters. Can’t wait to see the bhoys in action again.

  21. SFTB

     

     

    I was judging them by their contribution to the cause over the last 9 seasons….Carlton Cole was a West Ham legend elsewhere…..they thought he was a player…

  22. Paul67 et alk

     

     

    Fact is Paul had the season played out Celtic would have won the league by twenty points

     

    No mystery there…

  23. BIG WAVY on 19TH MAY 2020 12:54 PM

     

    Hey Timaloy29, here’s my alternative..tongue in cheek…..version

     

     

    The worst 11 of 9IAR..

     

     

    ———De Vries

     

     

    Fisher—-Hendry—–Compper—-Blackman

     

     

    ——Tonev—–Rabiu—–Borrighter

     

     

    Kazim-Richards—–Cole———Cifci

     

     

    Subs: Bangura, Balde, Mulumbu, Janko, Tonev, Blackett, Toljan

     

     

    _____

     

     

    ooft

     

     

    Some really horrors in there. Well done for remembering Rabiu at all! Completely escaped my memory.

  24. When you look back at the horror signings from this 9-year journey its amazing how many are strikers…

     

     

    Olly Burke, Kazim-Richards, Carlton Cole, Nadir Ciftci, Stefan Scepovic, Teemu Pukki, Amido Balde, Lassad, Miku, Mo Bangura, Morten Rasmussen, Pawel Brozek…

     

     

     

    That’s why we need to hold on to Eddy if possible. Trying to find another one could be really tough….

  25. Celtic Mac

     

    Did you check out that offshore company

     

    That owns that home in Skye? Scandalous.

     

    Good letter in test Herald bout the spanks

     

     

    Hope your good ma man

     

     

    HH

  26. BIG WAVY on 19TH MAY 2020 2:08 PM

     

    The originalsadiesbhoy

     

     

     

    That’s a high water mark for success. The Huns may well indeed win one-off battles in the future, as will others in the SPFL. Judge us on prizes and since 2012 this incarnation of der hun have competed agauinst us in 17 competitions and won NONE…

     

     

    ………………………….

     

    Fair enough response if you’re satisfied with just remaining ahead of Sevco. Look again at the list of achievements documented above by WEST CRAIGS TIM. I’ve been fortunate enough to witness all of those in my life time too. We were once a European team. Through neglect, we fell on hard times, became a European irrelevance and almost went out of business – but we didn’t. Instead Fergus and Celtic supporters saved the Club. We have grown again to become the strongest and best run club in the country with a strong infrastructure, money in the bank and we have rebuilt our reputation. We are now at a point where we need to think bigger and be more ambitious. If things progress as they are at present, then we will eclipse the number of titles won by Rangers (1872) within the next couple of seasons. That will be very satisfying but we need to become a team that is genuinely feared in Europe. I would gauge success as being a team that regularly reaches the last 16 of the Champions League or last 8 of the Europa League, say in 3 out of every 5 seasons. I don’t think that level of ambition is unrealistic or beyond us.

  27. The OriginalSadiesBhoy,

     

     

    I’ve never experienced 9IAR and I’m going to enjoy it without overanalysing. The we deserve better debate around Europe can wait another day – I agree to an extent by the way – but as I can’t wipe the smile off my face, I’m remaining blissfully in that place for now.

     

     

    HH

  28. BIG WAVY on 19TH MAY 2020 2:49 PM

     

    The OriginalSadiesBhoy,

     

     

     

    I’ve never experienced 9IAR and I’m going to enjoy it without overanalysing. The we deserve better debate around Europe can wait another day – I agree to an extent by the way – but as I can’t wipe the smile off my face, I’m remaining blissfully in that place for now.

     

     

     

    HH

     

    ………………………..

     

     

    So you should too. I’m enjoying it second time around too. I’ll enjoy the 10 next season (hopefully). I’m a very happy Tim at the moment but

     

     

    ST TAMS on 19TH MAY 2020 12:55 PM

     

     

    got me to thinking that we can improve further.

     

     

    Enjoy the victory! Hail! Hail!

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