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.

Click Here for Comments >

About Author


  1. bournesouprecipe on

    Paul 67,




    Thank you for the time and effort to maintain the best Celtic blog about.






    Has Paul got another blog?

  2. Paul 67 and your team. Many thanks for CQN, I’ve been here since the start, brilliant.


    May I wish ALL Celtic fans in the world a very healthy, happy new year, you are the best.




  3. Never miss an opportunity to have a dig at Brendan Rodgers, Paul .


    Regards recruitment.


    Summer wasn’t good enough as was proven in CL league results.


    Let’s see what the pkayers that have been recruited this window bring.

  4. CELTIC40ME on 31ST DECEMBER 2022 1:17 PM


    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.





    Hear! Hear! Many thanks to Paul 67 for giving us CQN to post our views on all things related to Celtic. It’s been a particular joy for me as ver the last 16 years since I first discovered the site.

  5. Does anyone know what is required for us to be in the new CL format, in a couple of years? Will it still be a case of league winners go straight in, if the coefficient for the Scottish league winner allows that? Or would we have to participate in qualying round(s)?






    Indeed it was. He liked a good old rebel song.





    I read somewhere a few years back that they moved in the same circles and sang in the same folk clubs. I think Dylan sometimes sang The Patriot Game.

  7. Hoopy New Year when it comes for all ‘Tic fans.



    Thank you Paul67 for all your thoughtful articles



    Celtic Quality News















    Indeed it was. He liked a good old rebel song.












    I read somewhere a few years back that they moved in the same circles and sang in the same folk clubs. I think Dylan sometimes sang The Patriot Game.






    Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan Howard Sounes mentions Dylan’s 30 years in the business concert at Madison Square Garden. The after show party was held at Tommy Makem’s pub. They kicked the party off by them sitting round in a circle passing a guitar round as they each sang a verse from a song. Apparently that’s hat they did after hours back in the day when Dylan was playing coffee houses in Soho. The first song they chose was The Bridge of Tome but for some reason Maken couldn’t remember the words so Ronnie Woods took the guitar and sang the verse word perfect.



    Dylan’s on record as saying it was the Rebs that inspired his early protest songs.



    The floor is yours..



    In your opinion what is the best Celtic blog ? I’m sure Paul 67 won’t take offence.


    Here’s me thinking I had sussed them all out 😆



    Hail hail.

  10. ERNIE LYNCH on 31ST DECEMBER 2022 2:53 PM





    Thanks for that information Ernie. I’ve seen many documentaries about the influence of Irish (and Scottish) music on the development of music in the USA and it’s great that Irish rebel songs and songs of freedom inspired such a great artist as Bob Dylan. Loved to read about Ronnie Wood knowing the Roddy McCorley on the Bridge of Toome verse.



    The influence of our Irish ancestors is everywhere.

  11. Greenpinata from earlier this morning



    First of all congrats on your steady rise in the Superbru table as I am sliding down in the opposite direction but……



    I presume your WEF reference was to the World Economic Forum and suggested we should be opposed to their philosophy.



    I went on their website (first time for me) and copied their vision statement , which is:-



    “The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.


    The Forum engages the foremost political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.


    It was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It is independent, impartial and not tied to any special interests. The Forum strives in all its efforts to demonstrate entrepreneurship in the global public interest while upholding the highest standards of governance. Moral and intellectual integrity is at the heart of everything it does.


    Our activities are shaped by a unique institutional culture founded on the stakeholder theory, which asserts that an organization is accountable to all parts of society. The institution carefully blends and balances the best of many kinds of organizations, from both the public and private sectors, international organizations and academic institutions.


    We believe that progress happens by bringing together people from all walks of life who have the drive and the influence to make positive change.”



    I can’t see anything other than pious PR there. Nothing too contentious because there is nothing too detailed about how they go about creating such Nirvanas.



    So, I must deduce that you are getting information about the “philosophy” of the WEF from somewhere other than the WEF website, as you do your own research.



    When I research, I certainly don’t have an open mind. An open mind takes things in without filters or judgements. It makes all facts equal and all opinions equally valued. And it means your reading of the WEF (or the opinions of the place where you researched about them) is only just as true as the opinion the WEF have about themselves. And, so, we are no further forward.



    The researchers I value approach with a sceptical (not a cynical), scientific mind. It asks- what evidence is there for what they are saying? Who else is saying what they say and how did they get to that position? What explicit research did they do? (reading the rhetoric of others who are like minded is not research). Who is opposed to this view? How did they get to that position? What track record do they have of falling for and promoting ill-researched fanciful and easily disproved hypothesis?



    There is an element of sense in some of the anti-vax positions. It is obvious now that most Western Liberal Governments kept an over-rigid and over-lengthy lockdown and that some countries that were less rigorous and whose activities were less restricted, have got back to economic stability quicker than some of the over zealous countries. But, but but……..



    when faced with the casualty rate from Italy, the Diamond Princess and the secretive approach of China, they could ill afford to be anything other than zealous. They faced a clear and present danger. And it has not gone away. With Covid not having been the threat it once was, we are still finding our hospital services overwhelmed by a combination of seasonal flus, norovirus and a currently over-hyped Strep A threat. Covid or Coves two would take us back to facing the same threat again- How much and how fast should we lockdown? In the current Me-First world many young people will not comply with lockdown rules as they are quite prepared to see the elderly die in large numbers, as they did in Covid where we were not zealous enough in looking after the health interests of the hospitalised or Care Home population with Holyrood being just as complicit and guilty as Westminster in that regard. Some people are keen on herd-immunity- killing off the weak and infirm because they imagine that it won’t be them. They feel the worse they will get is some long lasting heavy cold. But next time it will be a different virus with different effects and it will not have been manufactured and distributed by the WEF or the Global Elite or the Bilderberg Group, the Lizard People, the Pizza Paedophile Ring or the Jews.



    So, while I acknowledge that some antivaxx sentiments have proven to be correct, with hindsight, the vast majority of what they and their open minded “do your own research” sites promoted was surrounded by farcical and dangerous nonsense. They did not just assert that lockdown was too restrictive and economic harm will cause more health problems than lockdown would (the bit I agree with). They seem keen to promote themselves as having been proven right because they got that bit right. You don’t hear them reminding you that they also asserted:-



    There was no such thing as Covid


    It was all a scam invented to make the rich richer and turn us all into slaves


    That Bill Gates was placing chips into your brain


    That your DNA would be altered


    Drinking bleach or hydroxychloroquine or exposure to light or any of the thousand plus snake oil “cures” promoted by quack doctor scammers who were denying the very existence of the virus, would cure you.



    That is what an over-0pen mind and “doing your own research” by reading all the rogue blogs that quote each other’s opinion in a vast echo chamber and do not expose themselves to being challenged, leads you to.



    I am not accusing you of promoting any of these dangerous views,a s to my memory, you never did.



    But….. I fear the alignment of the people who criticise this justifiable criticism with all those who promoted the ridiculous, dangerous and easily disproved – yes “conspiracy theories.



    The real conspirators conduct their work in the open- we can see them, read them and oppose them. The real global elite steal from us in plain sight and are happy to fund and offer alternative scapegoats for our anger to distract us from our real enemies.

  12. Weebobbycollins on

    I’m sure if he had been a football fan he would have been at ibrox tomorrow belting out the rebel tunes…



    I’m sure if he had been a football fan he would have been at ibrox tomorrow belting out the rebel tunes…







  14. TheOriginalSadiesBhoy on 31st December 2022 2:24 pm



    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.






    Fear not.



    We are 10 points clear as it stands and Progressing.



    If we get beat, we get beat. The New Rangers will have to play exceptionally well to dae that.



    Beat this Celtic Team.






    Lighter Lighter, raise them Higher.






  15. Happy New Year Paul and thank you for the gift that is CQN , I rarely post but its also a rare day that I don’t log on to CQN for my daily fix of all things Celtic . Informed writing , the arguments , the characters and most of all the multitude of different opinions make this a very special place ,


    we are lucky to have it.

  16. garygillespieshamstring on

    Wasn’t there a claim that Dylan nicked the melody for the patriot game for one of his own songs or am I just imagining that?

  17. Tom McLaughlin on 31st December 2022 2:00 pm



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





    Pretty sure Pele was a FORMER player mate.

  18. carrigtwohill on 31st December 2022 3:47 pm



    Happy New Year Paul and thank you for the gift that is CQN , I rarely post but its also a rare day that I don’t log on to CQN for my daily fix of all things Celtic . Informed writing , the arguments , the characters and most of all the multitude of different opinions make this a very special place ,



    we are lucky to have it.






    Yer Madeleine Albright Dani Bher.



    I think Kojo died without anyone knowing.



    SFTB is a fountain of knowledge, likewise the ruud Bhoy.



    I promise to just put a single track Next Time.

  19. glendalystonsils on



    Kwon Hyeok-kyu, is 1.9






    He’s even taller than that in feet and inches .

  20. st tams on 31st December 2022 2:36 pm



    Never miss an opportunity to have a dig at Brendan Rodgers, Paul .





    Aye, completely unnecessary. Rodgers did a lot more for Celtic than most. With a record like 7 trophies from 7, the criticism is mind boggling. Especially as Rodgers structure led to more trophies after his exit and the £9 millions was bacs transferred.