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‘RIPPED APART’, ‘CLEAR-OUT’, CELTIC’S SEVENTEEN DEALS IN A SUMMER OF UPHEAVAL

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CHRIS SUTTON reckons the Celtic squad requires to be “ripped apart”, as CQN reported earlier today.

His former Hoops strike partner John Hartson insists his old club need “a clear-out” of their playing staff, as was stated last week.

There will be serious consequences for a season that promised so much in the summer going so catastrophically wrong with Peter Lawwell already reiring from his chief executive role, a position he has held since 2003.

Neil Lennon has also been in the direct line of ire from a section of disguntled fans who have not been slow to let their feelings known as the bid for the historic tenth successive title has gone dreadfully awry with so many players failing to stand up to be counted.

FRENCH LEAVE…Odsonne Edouard heading for summer exit.

Heads will roll and there WILL be massive changes. A season in which Celtic have completed a phenomenal quadruple treble can never be termed a write-off.

But the supporters have been left bewildered and enraged in a campaign which has thrown up so many inexplicable twists and turns that derailed the Hoops in three competitions before the turn of the year with exits in the Champions League, Europa League and the Betfred League Cup.

However, 23 points have been recklessly shed in an unacceptable sequence of three defeats and seven draws. That is not championship-winning form.

Coincidentally, the team are 23 points adrift with two games in hand in their pursuit of their 52nd championship in the club’s glorious history. It will take a monumental effort to complete the term in pole position, but, naturally, with 13 matches still to play, Celtic will not be accepting defeat until it is mathematically impossible for them to do something about the situation.

MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU…Celtic players celebrate their fourth successive Scottish Cup triumph.

There has been a lot of uncertainty around the east end of Glasgow in recent months, but one thing that is abundantly clear is there will be an upheaval in the playing staff in the summer.

Jeremie Frimpong has already left in a £11.5million move to Bundesliga outfit Bayer Leverkusen, Odsonne Edouard will be on his way with fellow-Frenchman Olivier Ntcham agreeing a loan deal with Marseille during the week. With 16 months still to run on his contract, it would appear judging by the midfielder’s recent quotes he has no intention of returning. The summer will bring inevitable transfer speculation surrounding Kristoffer Ajer and Ryan Christie while loan players Mohamed Elyounoussi (Southampton), Shane Duffy (Brighton) and Diego Laxalt (AC Milan) will return to their parent clubs.

There is no option to make Jonjoe Kenny’s loan switch permanent and the 23-year-old right-back will be heading back to Everton.

There will be a question mark over warhorse captain Scott Brown, who will be 36 in June, and there is the ongoing problem with Boli Bolingoli who has been on loan in Turkey. There will be other comings and goings.

But the GOOD news for the Hoops followers is that the club can be successful following such frantic transfer activity.

Neil Lennon proved that in the summer before the 2019/20 term as he prepared for the assault on the record-equalling ninth consecutive championship. The returning gaffer was involved in an extraordinary SEVENTEEN deals in a whirlwind period of wheeling and dealing

READ ALL ABOUT IT…Alex Gordon’s latest Celtic book, ’50 Flags Plus One’.

Author Alex Gordon looks at the situation in his latest Celtic book, ’50 Flags Plus One’, which has just been published.

Lennon had been appointed full-time manager on May 25 2019 following the dramatic 2-1 Scottish Cup Final victory over Hearts. The Irishman had taken the post in an interim basis the previous February after Brendan Rodgers’ swift departure to Leicester City.

In an edited chapter in Alex’s fifteenth Celtic book, he writes:

NEIL LENNON had been energetically reassembling his Celtic squad in the wake of an exodus of talent, led by Kieran Tierney. The much-admired left-back had been lured from his boyhood idols in a record-breaking £25million switch to Arsenal while the likes of Dedryck Boyata, Mikael Lustig, Cristian Gamboa and Emilio Izaguirre moved on following the expiry of their contracts.

At a stroke, the Celtic manager had been tasked with replacing three of his usual back four.

In the midst of such turmoil, four players who had been on loan rejoined their parent clubs. Filip Benkovic, an assured Croatian Under-21 international central defender, had been brought to Parkhead by Brendan Rodgers the previous summer and, ironically, caught up with the Irishman when he returned to Leicester City. Jeremy Toljan, a fairly average right-sided defender, went back to Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund, Timothy Weah, potentially an exciting front player, linked up again with Paris Saint-Germain and Oliver Burke, an erratic Scotland international winger who had previously cost over £30million in transfer fees involving Nottingham Forest, RB Leipzig and West Brom, was reunited with the Midlands club.

The industrious summer rebuild permitted very little respite for the Celtic manager. He introduced the likes of towering French centre-half Christopher Jullien, a £7million recruit from Toulouse, Boli Bolingoli, a £3million left-back from Rapid Vienna, Hatem Abd Elhamed, a versatile back-four performer from Israeli outfit Hapoel Be’er Sheva at the cost of £1.6million, an exciting teenage Dutch right-back in Jeremie Frimpong from Manchester City in a deal that would rise to £1million and Kilmarnock’s Scotland international left-back Greg Taylor for £2.25million.

Plus loan arrangements were secured for old favourite Fraser Forster, the six times-capped England goalkeeper, and Norwegian international raider Mohamed Elyounoussi, both from Southampton, and Stoke City’s Austrian defender Moritz Bauer.

Neil Lennon was no longer tweaking what he had inherited from Brendan Rodgers on February 26 earlier that year. This was his squad.

The responsibility for what was about to unfold lay with him.

The enthralling story of a memorable campaign that will live forever in time is told in insightful detail by Alex Gordon in his tribute tome, ’50 Flags Plus One’, which covers all fifty-one crowns claimed by the club since it came to life in 1888.

The tales are told with insider knowledge by Alex, who is a former sports editor at a national newspaper and has been close to those making history at the club over his many years as a journalist.

His latest publication is acclaimed by club legend and Lisbon Lion Bertie Auld as “a truly unique tribute to Celtic” and John ‘Yogi’ Hughes, the club’s seventh-highest scorer with 189 goals acknowledged: ‘It’s the amazing journey of several lifetimes.”

* ‘CELTIC: 50 Flags Plus One’ celebrates the club’s remarkable fifty-one league championships in their glorious history. To order a copy – and get a FREE book, ‘Seville: The Celtic Movement’ – please click here.

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