State of the Club, December 2022


My friends in Celtic, 2022 was not the transformational year 2021 was, but the heavy lifting on that front had already been done.  We saw the return of the league title, the League Cup and Champions League group stage football.  Of the main annual objectives, only the Scottish Cup escaped.

The summer’s transfer business was limited to securing loan signings who were already at the club and enhancing the squad.  None of the newly recruited players in the last window have made it to regular starter status.  Sead Haksabanovic (23) looks very much at home in a Celtic strip, while Alexandro Bernabei (21) will continue to improve.

Michael Nicholson continues his habit of signing players early in the transfer window, or in the case of Alasdair Johnston, Yuki Kobayashi and Tomoki Iwata, before the window opens on 1 January.  It is a great help to get them in early but know it will not always be possible.

We have gorged on the Japanese market.  The player count now stands at six, with a Greek-Australian manager recruited from Yokohama.  The return on investment from Japan has been significantly higher than what would be possible in the UK, or perhaps anywhere in Europe.  The Law of Diminishing Returns has to kick in eventually.  Can Ange’s sixth signing from Japan be as effective as his first?  When will a flood of others see what we are doing in Japan and close the value gap?

Football is never stable.  What works today will not work the same in future, we need to continue to learn about new value markets.  For now, we need to exploit the commercial opportunities available from having so many Japanese players on the books.  Get to Japan in the summer, Celtic.

Some years ago you and I discussed how little Big Club experience our backroom team had.  For most, Celtic was by some way their biggest club.  This meant our learning was from less-resourced places.  That changed when Brendan Rodgers arrived in 2016.  It was as though the lights were switched on.  Training and preparations were upgraded.  I heard the returning Neil Lennon was so impressed he pretty-much kept the same tune playing.

While Brendan did great things here, he never got recruitment right.  At significant expense, he appointed a head of recruitment who had bombed elsewhere and did no better at Celtic.  Brendan made players better, but his signings success or fail metric was unflattering.  As when at Liverpool, he played the fans and media to his own benefit at Celtic.  As at Liverpool, he was soon found out by both here too.

Our head of recruitment, Mark Lawwell, came from a similar role at City Group, where he worked with Ange at their Japanese stable club, Yokohama.  City Group are the best-resourced football operation on the planet.  Their knowledge led to Ange being appointed at Celtic and the subsequent flow of players from Japan.  We recruited a whole lot of corporate learning when Mark (formally) joined this year, his influence has already been transformational.

2022 did not see significant funds come in from player sales, a revenue stream that has kept the ship sailing in previous years.  This has to change going forward.  If we are to make genuine steps to improve, we have to recruit well and sell at a large profit.  Anything else is like playing Abide with Me on the deck.  Should one or two leave in January, it will be interesting to see what they go for.  This will tell you as much about our forward prospects as the league table at that time.

You can never master everything in sport.  Newco’s run to the Europa League Final (even typing this, I still cannot believe it) demonstrated what can be achieved by a club with smaller resources that we have.  Reading the reviews of their recruitment head, you would think he has failed, which is not true.  His recruits delivered a European final and some left for huge money.  Still, while we have to be respectful of what this opponent can do (including on Monday), I don’t think we should be spooked by them.

They lost tens of millions for years to keep a team together, while some players got old, some lost form and others ran down their contracts.  That model was low on short-term risk, delivering two domestic trophies and several good European runs, but left them with a squad with reduced resale value and under Uefa financial monitoring.

We will never win everything but getting the strategic direction of the club right – as I believe we have – will ensure we win more than most, perhaps more than everyone else put together.  There remains a lot of work to do to win the league and earn the lucrative Champions League qualification prize.  This cannot be taken for granted, not for a couple of days anyway, at least.  A few bad decisions, or poor form, and all could be lost, impinging on our structural dominance.

Celtic are focused on being in the right place when the Champions League restructures in 18 months.  Being there will be crucial on our prospects for the next decade.  The next step on that journey is on Monday.  Enjoy it.

Take care and have a great 2023.

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  1. Happy New Year, my fellow Tims fae bonny Scotland, made it to two games at CP this trip and will watch us on Jan 2 in the pub in Glasgow, before flying back to TX on 3rd.



    Mon the hoops!

  2. Shameless repost – Good morning all Tim’s across the globe from a lovely mild Hogmananny in the Garngad.


    BRRB lay off the Tennents lager the morra I do not want a shortage in the city for Monday for the game.


    D :)

  3. 67 European Cup Winners on

    Paul67. Thank you for all your time and effort. CQN is the go to place (well for me anyway) to keep up to date with all things Celtic


    Wishing you and yours a very Happy New year




  4. Thanks Paul67. We might not all agree on the opinins but you can’t say there’s a better place in the internet to find such intelligent and well-informed writing about Celtic



    Happy New Year to you and all good Tims everywhere

  5. Regards Japan, I don’t think it’s an entirely untapped market. Looking at the Japan starting 11s at the Workd Cup it looked like all their best players were already playing for good overseas clubs. I think we might be benefiting from the knowledge that Ange and ML have about the standard of the players just below the best, understanding that they’re good enough to be the best in Scotland and collectively do a great job for us in a slightly lower standard league.



    Get them in young and with our great coaching and facilities they can become the next Japanese stars.



    A trip there and a tie in with a club or even an academy there sounds like a good idea.

  6. Downunder, we’re within 30mins of the bells.


    HNY to all CQNers when it comes and to you Paul and your blog and mod team.


    Cheers and Nitol.



  7. Name: Patrick Welsh


    aka: Pat Welsh


    Died: 12 Aug 1899



    The Tailor who suited the CeltsWelsh, Pat – Pic


    In 1867 Pat Welsh was a young Fenian activist looking to escape capture from the British by escaping through Dublin docks. At the Pigeon House Fort on the Liffey he was discovered by a Sergeant Maley, an Irishman in the British Army. Welsh promised the soldier that if he was allowed to escape to Scotland he would give up his revolutionary activities – and was set free.



  8. Paul 67,



    A very happy New Year to you and yours when it comes. Thank you for the time and effort to maintain the best Celtic blog about.


    Do you prefer being described as host or influencer 🤔 ?



    Agree, we must find the time to head to Japan. Potentially we can have half our team or more hailing from ” Nihon”.


    I remember vividly the excitement of a Japanese drinking companion after the Hibs game at Parkhead. He was over from Japan for a business meeting in London and flew up for the game. It was a joy to behold.


    Unfortunately poor Lauren was on her bestest behaviour in front of her boss. No singing, no shouting and no dancing. She was unrecognisable, hopefully it was worth it to make such a good impression.



    It would be impolite not to visit Japan. Oyasumi for now.



    Hail hail, to the 14 hour journey.

  9. P67


    I see that you still have a go at Rodgers for poor transfers yet are strangely silent on your big mate who conducted the transfer business and signed players the manager didnt want or messed about in typical Lawwell fashion the absolute shambles that was John McGinn, who was Rodgers main target that summer.


    You remind me of sevco fans who say that their club miraculously survived, by quoting new rulings that the 5WA drew up which your big pal was a party to, but we all remember the facts as and when they happened.


    Its similar to yourself, you blame Rodgers incessantly but everyone knows the part that your buddy played as we all remember.

  10. Happy New Year to those Bhoys and Ghirls in OZ.



    Just under another 11 hours to go here til the Bells in The CALTON.


    ( I’ll be in my bed).



  11. CELTIC40ME on 31ST DECEMBER 2022 12:20 PM


    Thanks Paul67. We might not all agree on the opinins but you can’t say there’s a better place in the internet to find such intelligent and well-informed writing about Celtic.






    Couldn’t agree more with the above – Paul has provided a great service to me over nearly decades, where I’ve been overseas – always appreciated 👍

  12. E-Tims Retweeted










    Charlie McCann played for Ireland up until U18 level



    He then switched to Northern Ireland and moved to Rangers



    He scored an own goal today vs Celtic



    Watch Celtic and Ireland’s Rocco Vata laugh in his face after the OG 😂😂😂



  13. TEXASTIM on 31ST DECEMBER 2022 1:10 PM



    I think we sometimes in the rush to be right we forget how much work Paul67 puts into CQN and how little we need to contribute for the benefits it brings to our Celtic supporting lives.

  14. Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou sees “no great urgency” to move back into the transfer market having made three signings ahead of the January window.



    Midfielder Tomoki Iwata was secured from Postecoglou’s former club, Yokohama F Marinos, on Friday.



    Defenders Alistair Johnston and Yuki Kobayashi will also officially join the Scottish champions on 1 January and could debut against Rangers on Monday.



    “That was probably our priority at this stage,” Postecoglou said.



    Visit out Celtic page with all the latest news, analysis and fan views, and sign up for notifications


    “I’m really pleased with the three boys we have brought in. But the transfer window hasn’t even opened yet, so what we have got to obviously be aware of is there might be departures as well.”



    Johnston’s arrival from Montreal means they already have a replacement should Josip Juranovic leave after the right-back’s impressive World Cup performances for Croatia attracted admirers, while Kobayashi’s capture from Vissel Kobe adds to the competition in central defence.



    “I guess the pleasing thing from my perspective is that we are in a good position now with three incomings, so whatever happens, we can make decisions that are best for the football club,” Postecoglou said.



    “We will see what January brings. My view on these things is that, if a good opportunity comes up that will make us stronger, and it makes sense for us, then we will move on it.”



    With Anthony Ralston still missing with a back problem and Juranovic yet to feature since his return from Qatar, Johnston could be handed a derby debut as long international clearance is forthcoming.



    “Tomoki is in Japan, so there is zero chance he will play,” Postecoglou said. “With Alistair and Kobayashi, they are available like everyone else.”



    Sead Haksabanovic misses out again with a foot injury, as does fellow midfielder David Turnbull through suspension as Celtic visit the side sitting nine points behind in second place.

  15. glendalystonsils on

    CELTIC40ME on 31ST DECEMBER 2022 1:17 PM



    The rush to be right I can kind of understand .



    The insults , bile and sarcasm our host sometimes suffers , I cannot .

  16. Big Jimmy you are welcome at the Howgait for the bells.



    It’s a ticket affair but if you let me know I will call the managress and get you slotted in.



    D :)

  17. There should be a minutes silence or applause on Monday for the recently deceased head of the Catholic church.



    If there is one for Pele it should be made clear it’s for Pope Benedict as well.



    Happy new year to all Oz Tim’s.



    D :🙏

  18. Football clubs buy and sell players, celtic have had some great successes and notable fails. Its always a gamble. The gamble lessens when your picking up guys aged 24 to 27 because they have presumably played more games and have more experience than 19 to 21 year olds.



    The risks of failure are less with older players and they generally offer greater stability in preformance which in turn makes it more likely to get consistently better team results and more proformance related money I.e. champions league group stage money. The downside is that the financial resale reward on older players is not so great. Against a more competitive domestic challenger the current approach is best.

  19. Guys,



    A minutes silence for the deceased pope at Greyskull. Wow.



    It would play right into the hands of the bigots who would realish the chance to play the ” In a box ” chant.




  20. Just to add that does not mean you don’t buy/ promote younger players into the squad, just make sure that the basis of the squad has a core of experienced players to get the results and to help the younger ones along.




    Me neither. Its part of the job unfortunately as someone else once said. Paul doesn’t receive the same financial rewards, though, which makes this Labour of love for Celtic all the more impressive

  22. Absolutely no need for a minute’s silence at Ibrox for FORMER Pope Benedict. Stop using an old man’s death for mischief making.

  23. It shows a mark of human decency, the right thing to do would be a silence or applause.



    Anything else is DISGUSTING.



    D :)

  24. Weebobbycollins on

    Who said…?


    “I got to be friends with Liam and began going after-hours to the White Horse Tavern on Hudson Street, which was mainly an Irish bar frequented mostly by guys from the old country. All through the night they would sing drinking songs, country ballads and rousing rebel songs that would lift the roof. The rebellion songs were a really serious thing. The language was flashy and provocative–a lot of action in the words, all sung with great gusto.”

  25. I always get uneasy when we are going into a game as hot favourites against THEMS.



    My worry for Monday’s game is Barasic’s crosses into the box. I saw his cross for Morelos’s goal the other night and it was a beauty. He also took the corner which Goldson scored from with a header.



    I think Beale has probably watched our 4-0 win against them and noted that it was a weakness for us. If you think back to the game, although Abada destroyed Barasic, Barasic still got down the wing and fired in 5 or 6 great crosses which they squandered. Colak got his head on one and it beat Hart and our defence but went narrowly past our back post. There’s been talk about both Morelos and Colak playing. I think this will be Beale’s big game plan.



    We need to stop Barasic getting crosses into our box.

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