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. CELTIC BY NUMBERS @ ( ages ago )



    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.



    Completely agree with this.



    Wee Karamoko looks like a wee bhoy even when he’s playing with other wee bhoys.



    Celtic should shut down the hype on him. and just develope him.

  2. WITS



    Hi WITS



    Been trying to text you but keep getting failed message. We have the grand kids tonight i’m probably doing something wrong. I’ll leave it till tomorrow to get in touch. I’m under pressure we these crazy kids.




  3. big packy 1 on

    hi ghuys, I wont be watching the Barcelona v Liverpool game tonight, my wife is a scouser and Liverpool fan but if Glasgow celtic are not invoved im not involved, she says im jealous well in all honesty I probably am but if my team got that tv revenue that Liverpool got plus our worldwide support we would be competing with Barcelona tonight and not Liverpool. you bet im jealous.ill be walkin the dugs when its on,hh,

  4. !!Bada Bing!! on

    Clyde trying to do the soft soap Boabby Madhun interview, Nobody’s buying it……..whats next Beaton doing the GBX on Saturday night? Except it will be the KBX….

  5. Why cant they have continuous hoops on the new strip ? , will still get it , but i don’t like the broken version .

  6. jinkyredstar on

    The new broken hoops are something we could boycott – lots of other mech to buy so not punishing income just getting a message across to The limo writes ‘designers’




    We’ve had a few iffy strips through the years and although i get them , i hate when they mess with hoop size .

  8. Dembele is playing at a level he is able to player at, he was part of an under 20 team that beat another under 20 team. He has played a few reserve games since turning 16 about two months ago. He has done well and shown some flashes of his ability. He has great ability and moving him up the age groups quicker is hardly a new thing. We should not hold him back because he is wee. There is a very good chance he well only grow another 2 or 4 inches overly the next few years. Fulltime training well help him to physically develop overly the next year or so.




  9. SB @ 8.30



    KD should not be starting reserve games at his age and with his level of development.


    Huge talent but we are treating him like a circus act at times.



    Give him more time playing against a wider range of players of his age.


    Then move him up to provide a challenge — not a week in week out chore.




    Look at KT and his injury , was this a result of to many games to soon?



    The kid has talent but way off first team , patience in bringing him through is the key for me ..imo , , a lot off pressure has been placed on the bhoy with all the hype .

  11. bankiebhoy1 on

    FWIW I like the new top, the collar especially looks good…….



    My fave “tap” however is the Away “Black magic”…………………..



    Opinions CSC.







    Kt has played non stop first team football for 4 years solid. Kt has a pelvic injury which is common with over use, but also something that can be resolved. He broke is leg prior to making his debute in the first team while playing an unders game, injuries happen.



    i am not advocating running dembele into the ground. i am saying let him develop at his own pace and if you watch his in game it is clear He can cope with reserve football at this stage.



    You also need to balance the level of football. Lower level age grounps generally means Lower quality team mates and opponents, that is the worse of 2 worlds.



    I feel the same applies to oxo-flex albeit He is stronger and more physical. Sure you can play him in under 17 but it would not be good for his development.




  13. voguepunter on

    JIMTIM on 1ST MAY 2019 9:16 PM


    Anyone know what time big Billy is expected at Celtic park tomorrow .




    You’ll be standing yourself mate….. it’s Friday around 1.30 pm




    I get what your saying but as said think preventing his development could be worse and he has not being playimg every reserve game despite that somehow becoming a fact

  15. Re development of academy or youth players.


    To ensure players develop physically and mentally we should be pushing the SPFL to allow us to field a junior side in a lower division. No promotion obviously.


    Regular competitive games, improvement in crowds in lower leagues, financial assistance to smaller sides, better competition and development for the lower league sides.


    Any negatives?

  16. Tontine Tim on

    From the boys brigade corporation:



    When Van Dijk was expected to stand tall… He’s been a pedestrian for both goals Liverpool have conceded.



    Van Dijk has had a hand in both goals… lazy defending from the Dutchman twice.



    Van Dijk just stopped playing right there… Anyone who thinks he is close to being the world’s best defender is delusional…



    *didn’t we see this against Malmo home an away.




    I agree , he has a lovely touch and his vision a weight of pass is spot on .


    Okoflex needs more urgency when he beats his man , imo ,, also , he


    needs to be more of a team player and not try to do it all by himself , i’m sure the coaches will deal with these little issues.



    I think there’s a few that have a chance.




    ps… my concern with Dembele and the hype (pressure)…you just have to look at Calvin Millar at the same age .


    Need to go , enjoyed the chat.

  18. TT.


    I said something similar to the other half at half time.


    I said he was being found out. Believing his press.




    Agree about the hype, but its outwith our hands, its the world we live in with the internet and social media.



    Take care




  20. glendalystonsils on

    I don’t mind the retro look and actually quite like the new socks and green collar , but I do not like the white shoulders . We have had broken hoops before and I hoped we would not see them again . The club should place certain stipulations on new strips (home especially) and proper hoops that go all the way round should be one of them . Just a matter of personal taste , of course.

  21. SB @ 9.12



    You are making my point in a roundabout way.



    I would rather KD / AOF / CH — to name but three — played against the best players in their age groups rather than lower quality players 2 and 3 years older than themselves.



    Need to mix it up — regular tours / tournaments to play the best at their age group.


    Plus some games against older opponents to provide a different challenge.



    On the subject of a B team it surely is the way to go.


    If the SFA blazers don’t want to play ball then it is surely time to get AR on the phone.


    A full squad would offer more chances for players to get involved with CFC.


    Opportunities for 18 / 20 year old slow developers to shine on a bigger stage.


    Two and three year contracts would not be that expensive — £1Kpw as a base — and the carrot of a move up would be quite an incentive to really give it a go.



    Plus it would price the TFOD2.1 out a market they are currently working to the bone.



    We need full time youth teams but the wastage rate at the moment is quite shocking.


    Either we can’t pick them at 15 / 16 or they start to believe the hype and lose focus.


    Consequently a B team and a B team stadium would be great.



    My thoughts are that Helenvale could be rebuilt as the bus garage is on the way out.



    Failing that there is always the possibility of re-starting Parkhead Juniors and going back to the mid 60’s when half the youth team had a season in Kiltoon.

  22. Fool Time Whistle on

    Only saw the BarcelonaLiverpool game to the first goal.


    Hospital visit & stuff.



    The part of the game I saw I was disgusted with the Barcelona players.



    After 7mins Suarez should have been red carded for his deliberate studs up challenge into Milner’s left ankle.


    The rerun shows clearly that he lunged in initially only to find that Milner was too quick for him.


    At that point he then redirects his right leg towards Milners left ankle with his studs front & centre.


    It was as deliberate a kick as you will see, but the ref simply gave a foul.



    Quite how Rakitic came through the game with no card (according to the BBC) against him is another UEFA mystery.


    His foul on Keita was horrible – a jersey pull AND a two footed scissor tackle round Keita’s left leg – all at the same time.


    Keita’s groin was damaged in that tackle & he had to be subbed off on 24 minutes.



    Messi too embarrassed himself on several occasions in that first 30 mins.


    An upper body collision between him and Milner near the touchline led to him throwing himself to the ground & rolling over several times pretending to clutch some part of his lower body in feigned pain while emitting a howl with appropriate facial contortions. He immediately sat up in search of the referee & when he saw him he held aloft the imaginary card to coax the official into producing a real card for Milner.


    Time was we were told that doing this was a booking, but not in you’re Messi in the Camp Nou apparently.



    I’ll repeat what I said yesterday on another topic – children will mimic tomorrow what Messi & Suarez do today. Suarez is an animal, not in the hun sense or even in the jungle sense – he’s just an animal of a human being when he’s on the football field. He hasn’t mellowed and is still the nutter he was when he was biting his way round the EPL & the World Cup. Messi is a gifted footballer but a flawed person – both were on show tonight.



    In a week when we’ve lost 2 real heroes, men who retained their humanity & dignity in defeat as much as in victory, it sickens me to see the self indulgent vicousness & rampant cheating in what is supposed to be a showcase occasion. Barcelona’s men may be millionaires but they”ll never be as rich as Billy or Steve – ever.



    The gushing prose about Barcelona in this game on the BBC website is frankly repulsive & symptomatic of how idiots with no idea about the game are allowed to report on them. Saj Chowdury’s grovelling tribute to the winning team signifcantly avoided the merest hint of a mention of their unlawful & odious excesses.



    There are undoubtedly very good footballers in that side but what awful cheats they’ve managed to become. It would have been justice for them to be down to 10 or even 9 men with Messi on a yellow by halftime. Since one of those cards would have been for Suarez the Biter the score would have been at least 0-0.



    Liverpool had chances but always seemed to lack the composure that their opponents had in front of goal.



    They need an Istanbul type of 2nd leg but I think the tie is already over.



    Come on Ajax or Spurs in the final.




  23. Fool Time Whistle on

    A take of two players.



    Both thought of as gifted, skilful and capable of being matchwinners.



    Now we find “they’re only human after all” – copyright Level 42.



    Karamoko Dembele is a very, very good footballer. Celtic, in an effort to avoid another Islam Feruz failure, are nurturing him AND exposing him in equal measure. Just enough to show how much the club value him, but not enough to burn him out or get him blootered by a much older & bigger opponent. In the Glasgow Cup game he showed in flashes of what he can do, but as someone else said, he expected the same time on the ball as he usually gets. He didn’t get it & at times seemed unsure as to what he shoud do next. You learn more from failure than victory is very true & he’ll hopefully have learned that he actually is only human – so far. I suspect that he won’t show the ball in future quite as much as he did in that game when faced with similar opponents.



    Virgil van Dijk has just won the EPL Player of the Year award but at times in the little I saw of him tonight looked more fallible than we thought possible. He is a great player, but if he too is not extended by those he faces every week then it’s hardly surprising that he seemed to struggle at times against superior players. Messi has made the world’s best defences & defenders look leaden footed & clumsy, so maybe Virgil too will learn more from his defeat tonight.



    We bum players up then seem surprised when they stumble & fall. I know I took some pride in Virgil’s award simply because of his connection with us, so I can cut him some slack when he seems mortal in the face of The Biter, The Diver & The Brazilian.



    They’re both still the people they were the day before the game.




  24. Let’s not lose sight of Ten In A Row. All other projects can be kept on ice whilst we skate on Der Huns squirming throat. Fidem servate. Ave Ave

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