Science of developing prodigious Celtic youths


It is better to win trophies at youth level than to miss out, so I was happy to see Celtic Youths beat their Newco equivalents 3-2 in the Glasgow Cup last night, six days after losing the Scottish Youth Cup to the same score and opponents.

Those who pulled on the hoops last night are the pinnacle of years of development.  Each May, their number was whittled down.  To get to this point, they have to be exceptional young players.  The harsh reality is, that if two or more of them have successful careers in the first team, this will be an outstandingly successful generation.

Jack Aitchison, who opened the scoring last night, has made only two appearances in the three years since he became Celtic’s youngest player and goal scorer.  At 16 years and 71 days he was well ahead in the developmental curve.  At 19, Jack is the age Odsonne Edouard was when he arrived at Celtic.  He needs to be playing first team football soon.

On Sunday, Karamoko Dembele will be the age Jack Aitchison was when he made his Celtic debut.  Like you, I am desperate to see Karamoko, but I would rather see him playing week-in, week-out, three years from now, than expose him to too much, to soon.

I doubt Ronny Delia did any damage to Jack Aitchison by giving him a debut against Motherwell in 2016.  Similarly, Neil Lennon may be of a mind to play Karamoko before the end of the season.  As well as looking after the player’s development, Neil has to convince him and his family that Celtic is where he will develop best.

A debut helps achieve the latter, but the science of turning prodigious Celtic youths into first team regulars is still in its infancy.

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  1. Hunderbirds are Gone on

    Happy International Workers Day



    Then raise the scarlet standard high


    Beneath it’s folds we’ll live and die


    Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer


    We’ll keep the red flag flying here





  2. The hands cant hit what the eyes cant see on

    @ CELTIC40ME on 1ST MAY 2019 11:31 AM



    The figure of £150m over 6 seasons doesn’t include Sanchez? Why is that fee carved out?



    Ajax do produce quality youth products, as does Holland as a whole. But there is no reason Celtic cannot buy in the Dutch market. After all, we picked up VVD not too long ago from Holland.



    The difference to a large extent between Ajax and ourselves in their level of re-investment in the team. Our biggest transfer fee post MON era was Ntcham at £4.5m last season, bested by Edouard this year. We have painfully reticent to invest in our team when we have received decent transfer fees.



    Forgetting Ajax expenditure, PSV spent circa £20m last year. PSV are comparable to Celtic in terms of size and turnover.

  3. 1 new self-produced player per season to make it into the majority of first team squads would be fantastic for me.

  4. jimbob71 & little Miss jimbob on

    Karamoko is a fantastic young player but I don’t think a first team start before the end of the season would do him any good.



    I don’t think he is anyway near ready for that level.

  5. Hrvatski Jim on

    I have not made this up.



    Glasgow City Halls, Monday 20th May 2019



    An Audience With Anfield Legends



    The Ultimate evening of Anfield legends, your chance to see John Barnes, Jan Molby and Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock on stage together. The evening will be full of entertainment and banter as you can well expect, so sit back and enjoy!



    This evening will give you a full insight into their careers, from previous clubs, to putting on the famous red jersey, to representing their national country. It will be a time to reflect on the season so far with personal views of the stars, this is a great opportunity to quiz the pro’s on their LFC story.



    There will be 55 limited opportunities for Meet and Greet pre show for photos and signatures. Don’t miss out on your chance to be one of those…





    ** This event has been cancelled. Please contact Box Office for further information. **

  6. In ither news………..



    “Mason David Mason Robertson and Mason son Mason Mason Robertson extend stay at Dukla Pumpherston….”

  7. glendalystonsils on

    The jump from youth to senior player is a massive one in terms of physicality. We have seen how young senior players like KT and RC are targeted by the hatchetmen of the SPL and they are much further along the road of physical preparedness than Karamoko or even the likes of MJ ,who has had some first team time.



    Integration of academy players into the first team is a complex and individualistic thing which needs smart handling.

  8. The club is only 130 years old but our science based youth strategy is still in its infancy — aye right.



    Sorry but this is just excuse based nonsense.



    We must have had a plan in place or the Kelly Kids / QSG / CN + PMcS would never have happened.



    Currently we are struggling at the youth level — we have lots of talent but little attitude, desire to win and personal development.



    Playing 16 year olds in reserve games is not improving them it is just playing to the gallery to generate some talking points. From the outside it looks as if we are developing a micro community that thinks they have made it when they arrive rather than when they leave. Not sure that the school angle is working as it seems to be developing better WAGs than footballers.



    Plus we seem to have the situation where a big element of the TFOD2.1 youth team prays towards Parkhead when it comes to football allegiance but play in Govan.



    What is that all about — we missed them or they chose to go?



    The clear out last season must have set alarm bells ringing — lots of talent that after 2 / 3 / 4 years couldn’t get a game / contract in the bottom half of the SPL.



    They must have been good to get in so why aren’t they considered good when they leave?

  9. Young Dembele looks to be very talented. But he’s not just a wee boy, he’s a wean. Couple of years at least, to have any chance. He doesn’t even look 5 feet, so hopefully he has a wee growing spurt. We don’t half build up some of these young players to be something they never will, e.g Feruz.

  10. THC … @ 12.35



    The teams you mention are happy to invest in their squad.


    We seem to be a bit flabby with wages rather than spend on new players.



    We should be investing £10mill pa on the football squad.



    That should be spending £50mill after taking in £40mill.


    Not spending £10mill and letting good players go on Bosmans and bad players sit in the stand until their contract runs out.

  11. Undercover cop wearing Celtic top huckles Liverpool fan in Barcelona


    Watch the bizarre clip in our player that has left viewers scratching their head







    A bizarre video has emerged of an undercover policeman wearing a Celtic top – as he huckles a Liverpool fan during disturbances in Barcelona.


    Reds supporters stand accused of pushing locals into a fountain ahead of Wednesday night’s Champions League semi-final.




    Liverpool chief executive Peter Moore has called on fans to “act in a manner befitting LFC” after the scenes in the Catalan capital.



    Videos have circulated on social media apparently showing individual supporters, in different incidents, pushing locals into a fountain at Placa Reial, just off La Rambla on Tuesday evening.




    And one of the clips weirdly appears to shows a police wearing a black Celtic training top arresting a fan.



    In it, the punter is being led away by three officers, one of whom is donned in replica kit of the Scottish champions.





    How Brighton almost beat Celtic to Virgil Van Dijk only to blunder over asking price



    Later in the evening police cordoned off the square and forced all fans back on to the main tourist strip before walking them up the street to Placa de Catalunya, a main transport hub, where they dispersed.



    And Moore has pleaded with visitors in Barcelona to represent Liverpool with distinction.





    He wrote on Twitter: “We proudly sing that we’ve conquered all of Europe. But let’s treat this beautiful city with the respect that it deserves, and act in a manner that is befitting of LFC.



    “By all means have a good time, but we are Liverpool, and as such, let’s visit here with grace and humility.”




    On Tuesday, as thousands of fans began to arrive in the city for the Champions League semi-final first leg, Merseyside Police’s dedicated Twitter account for LFC fans tweeted the advice: “Eat, drink and enjoy all areas in the city centre. Respect monuments.





    i had to laugh….The “KOP” …..”COPS” It from a COP ?



  12. Watch Celtic’s Glasgow Cup Final heroes’ wild dressing room celebrations after beating Rangers in thriller


    Tommy McIntyre’s side go crazy after lifting the silverware in the most dramatic of circumstances.



    Nothing beats the feeling of a last minute winner.



    Especially in a cup final. And particularly when it comes against your arch rivals.




    Fair to say having achieved all three last night the Celtic U20 squad will be peeling themselves off the ceiling this morning.



    Tommy McIntyre’s side lifted the Glasgow Cup with a dramatic 3-2 victory over Rangers at Parkhead and gained revenge for last week’s defeat to the Ibrox men in the Youth Cup Final.



    And the young Hoops certainly appeared to enjoy the moment with the stunning piece of silverware back in the dressing room.





    ? Championees! Championees! OLE! OLE! OLE! #GlasgowCup ??




    Robbie Deas was the hero with a brilliant 95th minute winner just as it seemed Glenn Middleton’s double had rescued Rangers and set-up an extra time decider.




    Celtic had surged into a two goal lead thanks to Jack Aitchison and Mikey Johnston .



    But Middleton dragged Rangers right back into the match with a second half double – the second of which was an absolute screamer from fully 30 yards.


    That set up a tense finale and deep into injury time Deas struck an unstoppable half volley which flew high into the net.




    @ CELTIC40ME on 1ST MAY 2019 11:31 AM





    The figure of £150m over 6 seasons doesn’t include Sanchez? Why is that fee carved out?




    Sanchez was bought from Colombia, they paid a fee for him. The £150m was for players who weren’t bought, they came through the academy.




    There is a good reason why every young Dutch player is likely to choose Ajax before us, it would be nice if it wasn’t the case but given a choice between Ajax or Celtic nearly every dutch will choose them




    The biggest difference between Ajax and Celtic isnt how much money they spend on transfers, it’s the huge discrepancy in income from transfers. One leads on to the other




    The other big difference is how much better their young players and academy graduates are.

  14. So the £150m is correct, the larger figure isn’t



    They have taken in a ridiculous amount of money in transfer fees however you break it down.

  15. The discussions on here re Ajax will be happening all over European QN’s today por cierto.

  16. !!Bada Bing!! on

    ” Female athlete” Castor Semenya has had her appeal rejected. She says she feels like she has been kicked in the balls. ?

  17. Am I the only dafty that calls Ajax , Ajax (as opposed to Ayax) ?



    My weans look at me as if I’m an eejit .

  18. The biggest issue between us and Ajax is that they would have paid £3.5mill for JMcG — no ego tripping, no moaning, no astroturf gripes to set the mood — and they would have been pleased to get him onboard.

  19. Interesting to find out that L/pool have the same “CUZ” problem that we have.


    Austerity has a lot to answer for.

  20. Karamoko Dembele



    I was appalled when they played him in the U21s when he was 14. Completely unnecessary publicity and pressure for all.



    having watched him closely twice in a week we need to realistic about the fact he is miles from first team football. He clearly has wonderful close control, decent decision making and good speed.



    But physically and in terms of game intelligence, not ready yet, Which means he needs careful management re next steps to be ready for first team football in a year or two.



    Of those that played last night we know Johnston can contribute to some extent. Oko-Flex would also be worth a “development” run.



    Other than that no obvious stand out first team ready candidates.

  21. What is the Stars on

    MADMITCH on 1ST MAY 2019 1:40 PM


    The biggest issue between us and Ajax is that they would have paid £3.5mill for JMcG — no ego tripping, no moaning, no astroturf gripes to set the mood — and they would have been pleased to get him onboard.



    Eh…..No they wouldnt !!!!!

  22. WITS @ 1.53



    Dutch version more specifically.


    Local player with a growing reputation and a huge amount of talent …



    I think they would.



    If they had better then it might have come down to squad management.


    But as noted by others they are not scared to spend big on good prospects.


    We faff about and fight amongst ourselves in a “big swinging dick” competition.

  23. The hands cant hit what the eyes cant see on

    @ CELTIC40ME on 1ST MAY 2019 1:15 PM



    While Ajax do produce a lot of youth players through their academy, they also do buy a lot of youth players or get them when they first sign a professional contract. Christian Erikson for example was purchased for around £1m but put straight in the youth team for a couple of years and sold for a large profit at a later date.



    While Ajax have received higher fees over the years than Celtic, they have shown a willingness to reinvest in their squad (Suarez was purchased for around £7m from another Dutch team and then sold for a large profit).



    This approach has not been replicated at Celtic. We received around £28m in transfers in the summer (and VVD money the January before). Our signings consisted of Edouard for a fee, followed by a loan, a St Mirren player for £100(?) and Mulumbu on a free. This was on the backdrop of record turnover and profits.



    Ajax spread the net wide and pick up players from Holland, Belgium and Denmark. No reason Celtic cannot do the same.



    Notwithstanding this, PSV who do not have the same reputation as Ajax spent £20m this year while Celtic were parsimonious and got dumped out of Europe.

  24. Celtic’s record at producing players is very decent. It could be better but in order to be more successful We would need to:



    Be able to identify the best local, national and international youth players and be able to show We are their best option i.e. opportunity and footballing education:



    Grow our youth development network to ensure We know all the best players within our reach and We can offer best opportunity to them:



    shift the outlook of supporters away from the quick fix solutions of buying players all the time:



    Accept that development players often, if not always makes more mistakes than seasoned pros:



    have a stable group of clubs We can loan our top prospects to if We feel more development is needed for individual players to make breakthrough:



    Have a colt celtic team in lower league, if possible:



    Reduce the squad size to accommodated our best youth players:



    The aim of the celtic should be to producing 2 first team celtic players every 3 years anything better than that is grand.




  25. Irishmaninporto1973 on

    This issue with youth players is an interesting one. I have just returned from Nyon after filming the FC Porto U19 team beat (no thrash) Chelsea 3-1 in the UEFA youth league.


    Today here in Portugal the papers are all talking about how at least 5 or 6 of the team are being called up for pre season training with the first team. The U19 keeper Diogo Costa was in the squad for the last first team match. The centre half partnership of Diogo Queiroz and Diogo Leite (yup they do like their Diogo’s in this country!) are regular starters for the Porto B team (which plays in the Portuguese second division with the proviso that it can not get promoted) One of the others being called up is 16 yr old striker Fabio Silva who big things are being expected about but you can see that in comparison with the others he really is just a kid… Chelsea had a few scots in their team including the one who escaped from Murray Park Billy (surprise) Gilmour…

  26. BSR Karamoko Dembele is 1.6 MTRS. From my lofty height of 1.66 he’s got a bit to go.


    Thought he was not too happy at being subbed last night but his reaction after the winner was great to watch. Hope he can take a growth spurt as he looks an excellent prospect..



    Mad Mitch


    “We should be spending 50 mil after taking in 40 mil. ? How many years do you expect this ( or us) to last?

  27. Jack Aitchison is already playing first team football at Alloa, Paul 67, some home work required.


    I get a detailed review of his progress after every game.


    He only managed to break into Alloas first team at the start of April and has scored 1 goal.


    A really nice lad with a good attitude who is miles away from Celtics starting 11, imo.


    These lads suffer from the physicality aspect compared to the likes of Edouard, its like boys v men, they simply aren’t ready, physically.


    I’d imagine Jack will go back out on loan at championship level and try and make a career at that level a bit like Paul McMullen at Dundee Utd.

  28. !!Bada Bing!! on

    Nominations for player of the year


    James Forrest


    Callum McGregor


    Alfredo Morelos


    Ryan Kent

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