Riga manager’s edge, Celtic’s high stakes


Riga’s only domestic points dropped this season came in a defeat on match day two of the Latvian league.  Since then, they have recorded 18 wins in 19 outings; the only reversal came away to Maccabi Tel Aviv in Champions League qualification.  Impressive, though a run of 17 consecutive domestic wins and one in the Europa League is, such riches do not harden you for tougher challenges, as Celtic have learned to their cost.

Last season, they eliminated Dundalk from Champions League qualification on penalties, then recorded impressive away goals wins over Polish side Piast Gliwice and HJK Helsinki before succumbing 3-2 on aggregate to Copenhagen in the playoff round.  The Danes recorded a better result against Celtic later in the competition.

Riga were formed five years ago after a merger of two clubs.  They are on their 15th manager since, none have lasted a year.  With 7.5 months tenure, current boss, Russian Oleg Kononov, will be looking over his shoulder if he does not get a result tonight.  If he looks like there is an edge to him, that’s why.

Neil Lennon’s tenure is more assured, but, if anything, the stakes are higher for Celtic, whose prevailing business model has precious few strands left, with fans forced to watch games at home and in pubs, instead of being distanced in the wide-open spaces of Celtic Park.  The most positive consideration is that having gotten so many things wrong already this season, we know where our soft underbelly is.

You are not going to hear this often from me, I’m not even sure how to start.  All four Scottish clubs involved in Europe are away from home tonight, it suits our purpose for all to proceed.  In what could be a tight and curtailed season, where squads could be hit by isolation rules, it will not help for any direct rival to have a full week to prepare for games – whether we are involved in Europe or not.

We have the strongest squad, best manager and are by far the best run club in Scotland.  Under normal circumstances, 10-in-a-row would be straightforward, but so much of what lies ahead between now and May is unknown.  I don’t want to anyone else having a week off to prepare for their Premiership game.

Normal elimination preferences will resume next season.

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  1. Any win will do. Feeling of foreboding surrounds me….



    Keep it simple Neil and play your best players in their best positions.




  2. ‘Celtic, whose prevailing business model has precious few strands left……’



    Surely the fundamental strand is season book sales. That we’ve all ponied up to ensure have sold out?🤷🏼‍♂️



    And the ‘crashing out of the Champions League to opponents you’ve not really heard of’ is now an annual event. Like the Glasgow Fair. And usually about the same date. So surely that wasn’t considered a ‘strand’ of income?



    HH jg

  3. Riga will be no pushovers tonight and I fully expect that Dallas will have tipped the mib off about who they are playing



    Any win will be a good one.

  4. Fingers tightly crossed for a positive outcome later today.



    I would respectfully disagree that we have the best manager in Scotland. However, that’s for another day.



    I’ll go for a tight Celtic win, making the most of our new set piece prowess

  5. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    “Celtic, whose prevailing business model has precious few strands left”




    Well of course there is a lot of money to be made in the Champions League. And with the size of club we are and all the advantages we have that should be fairly easily achievable with the right personnel.


    We are in a league we have won 23 years in a row and competing against teams who haven’t won it since 1985 (apologies to the same clubbists!), so we have a free entry pass to the qualification stage. But we manage to fail far too often.


    We were in a good place in the summer of 2018. Two successive seasons of CL group stages, a second consecutive treble, a high-quality coach and a group of good and improving players.


    Two or three decent additions and we could have been a regular at that level and possibly beyond. But we all know what happened next:






    The subsequent chain of events have led to us failing to qualify three years in a row. And when you stop being a Champions League team attracting and retaining players becomes way more difficult.


    That could be reversed with some good decisions and appointments, but the problem is that to be a decent Champions League team would take us too far ahead of our old firm partner club and we all know what the priority is there.


    So until such time as Partner Club improves substantially from where they are, it’s looking like – as someone once said – life in the slow lane.


    But hey – at least the old firm is stronger than it has been for ages!

  6. Not too difficult to know what Riga’s tactics will be, sit tight and hit the Hoops on the break. Lenny’s plans to deal with these tactics should be easy enough executing them will be his problem. I imagine the Latvians with their excellent home record will fancy themselves to go through but that may suit Celtic to upset the applecart.

  7. Glasstwothirdsfull


    Take a bow , great post. We should be going into a game like this feeling confident of a reasonably comfortable win . That we aint is further proof of no vision from your DDs and PLs of the world

  8. glendalystonsils on

    We are becoming serial underachievers in Europe , having shot ourselves in the foot so many times we have no toes left.



    Lesser teams from lesser leagues on smaller budgets have every right to fancy their chances , so we will have to be at our mistake-free best.

  9. Not buying the one the Latvians are a good team. This should be straightforward and comfortable. That is of course we want to be in this competition.



    It’s the lacksadasical attitude and unpreparedness for the CL qualifiers then the panic for a competition with a fraction of the resources i can’t understand.

  10. Roddy, At this stage of Competition we normally will have spent multiples more than our opponents.


    So don’t blame Desmond or Pedro.


    The blame for Cluj last year and the Hungarians this year is down to Lenny & the team.

  11. Europe is sooooooooooo important for us this season.



    The Scottish league will undoubtedly shrink in both finance and stature.


    Europe keeps us in the mix, attractive and viable for any future reconstruction.



    I am glad we have taken a 24 man squad, we must win this game.



    HH to all COYBIG.

  12. Corkcelt



    Not if the personnel we need don’t arrive until AFTER we go out, that is a planning and recruitment problem, granted the manager has to take his share of the blame.

  13. Pingback: Riga manager’s edge, Celtic’s high stakes Paul67 - Celtic FC News Aggregation

  14. Glendalystonsils………..Agree Celtic should not be going into a game against a team like Riga with an iffy attitude but you just cannot underestimate any of these teams as we have unfortunately learned to our cost so many times recently.


    Conversely, we cannot forget our fine run in Europe last season.

  15. I read last night’s and this mornings posts,very strange read.We even had Ernie on congratulating himself on his”One liners”.None of them Celtic related,of course.Always have the impression of Ernie,when I read his posts,of him sitting in a wing backed chair,in his Pseuds Corner,dressed in smoking jacket,cravat,thinking up his little whimsies,and chuckling to himself,as he addresses the keyboard,thinking By Jove,Ernie old chap,you are a wit,this will confound the plebs”.


    Of course,maybe that’s just me.



    I also came across another strange line,especially for a supposed Celtic fans site.Another self proclaimed wit,calling anyone who has the audacity to try and support current players,instead of barracking them,IE,in Greg Taylors case,as “Taylorettes”.Could be a very useful way of slagging off anyone supporting players,you,yourself don’t rate.We could have “The Forresters”,”The Brownites”,and God help us if he has a poor game,”The El Hamedians”.


    Anyway,enjoy the game tonight,can’t decide on a correct score,but leaning towards 3-1.Nae injuries.

  16. There was a side article on CQN a few days back asking “How far can Celtic go in Europe?”


    Riga is pretty far no? Used to be behind the Iron Curtain.


    Back in the day….Back in the USSR

  17. TURKEYBHOY on 24TH SEPTEMBER 2020 1:15 PM





    We can only play 11.








    Plus subs.



    I would wager nobody will guess the team correctly.

  18. CorkCelt


    Yes I agree , mainly about Neil…….appointed by DD and PL because it was a cheap easy option , and it cant be dressed up any other way in my opinion. Dont get me wrong I am 100% behind Neil ……..but he makes it difficult at times . The number of times we have failed to quaify for europe with our resources is getting beyond a joke. Any other business ( thats what we are in the powers that be eyes ) with our turn over and status should be holding internal enquiries on the amount of money wasted over the years. They dont as they know the problem is themselves. Never progress unless we have change at the top…..in my humble opimion of course

  19. Only a fool would guess that Celtic team tonight so here goes






    …….El Hamed….Duffy….Ajer….Taylor…..












    Don’t care who plays as long as we play 4 at the back in Europe one offs CSC

  20. Well, I for one, am going into this game confident of a comfortable win….then hopefully, the huns will scrape through, as well as Aberdeen and Motherwell…

  21. I was surprised to get an email from Celtic saying that tonight’s match is covered by the Celtic Pass. Pass the word.

  22. Grrrr…was still catching up on last thread when posting this



    Gotta say am uncharacteristically nervous about tonight…my only prediction is a 4-2-3-1 formation




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