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. bournesouprecipe on




    6 feet 2.803 inches and following in the footsteps of Celtic legends, Cha Du Ri and Ki Sung-yueng

  2. SFTB,



    I am glad you are now researching the WEF. Forget their mission statement, delve deeper.



    In 2017 Klaus Schwab who heads the World Economic Forum declared



    “What we are very proud of, is that we penetrate the global cabinets of countries with our WEF Young Global Leaders. ( Including the UK. )



    This is not conspiracy theory, this is from the man who wrote the great reset.



    There are many dangers from Covid not all from the actual virus. My view on control has not changed. We must beware the Covid lockdown being replaced by climate change lockdown. Check the renewed vigour of the 15 /20 cities and zones.



    Is this just coincidence?



    Even today Professor Whitty has stated many thousands are currently dying of heart related illness post Covid. What he did not say however is if any link is confirmed between the vaccinations and high blood pressure.



    Even if it were true, would our governments tell us ?



    This country did a magnificent job with the vaccination programme and I was and am fully on board. However is there a price to pay ?



    To reiterate, vigilance is vital.

  3. St Stivs at 1.11 pm



    Yes , I noticed Rocco giving McCann an earful after his own goal and wondered why . Your assessment is probably on the money .



    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?






    It was the song “With God on Our Side” from the album “The Times They Are A-changin”.



    Apparently the melody is from a traditional tune “One Morning in May”. Behan & Dylan put words to it.

  5. DAVID66…


    Thanks for the offer DAVID Bhoy, but I not really a fan of New Year, so I will be giving it a miss, as Ive tended to do as Ive got older.


    I will send you a text in a moment, as i am watching ” ZULU”….LOL



    IF the Celts WIN on MONDAY, I WILL defo be going out to sample several Beers, but I tend to have a New Year ” By Pass” these days.


    Have a GREAT time with your Family and Friends Tonight.


    HH Mate.

  6. Just thinking ahead to Monday.



    All matches are having a minutes applause for Pele. I was wondering about Ibrox though as Jan 2 is the anniversary of the Ibrox disaster in 1971. They haven’t announced anything yet. And now we have the death of Pope Benedict thrown into the mix.



    Might we have a minutes silence – respected by all – then applause for Pele in the 10th minute as a mutual compromise?

  7. Greenpinata-



    I am eating out tonight for the first time ever on Hogmanay. So this will have to be short



    “In 2017 Klaus Schwab who heads the World Economic Forum declared



    “What we are very proud of, is that we penetrate the global cabinets of countries with our WEF Young Global Leaders. ( Including the UK. )



    This is not conspiracy theory, this is from the man who wrote the great reset.”



    Why shouldn’t this Think Tank express pride in their influence. Not just pride but open pride- not hidden as conspirators do? Eton and Harrow boast about the number of PM’s they have produced. So does Harvard Business School and Yale Law and the Sorbonne.



    You are asking me to delve deeper but there is nothing Klaus Schwab has said or done that indicates he is that powerful or deserves further scrutiny. Who are the trusted and influential thinkers who are identifying him as something more than he is? He was an obscure Swiss Professor most of his life- not the best place from which to sow evil and destruction. Now at 84 he gets paid a handsome salary for espousing what rich politicians want to hear- that entrepreneurs can solve the world’s problems better. I see no logical deduction to be made from “This is not conspiracy theory, this is from the man who wrote the great reset”



    He wrote this as one of his 6 books. He wrote it with another obscure French academic who writes novels unsuccessfully part time. Again- no indicators of evil intent or power is evident.



    What’s in this book that worries you? What influence has it had? How many copies produced, sold or read? Would you not choose a Harry Potter type of best seller to disseminate more widely?



    What he did not say however is if any link is confirmed between the vaccinations and high blood pressure. Even if it were true, would our governments tell us ?



    Chris Whitty is not the Government. If there was any confirmed link between the vax and increased heart issues- he would be publishing it and governments could not stop it. Doctors and scientists across the world are studying viruses and how to counter them. If Whitty was bought off by anyone (and you would then have to ask why- to what end?) someone else would publish their figures. There is no confirmation because there is no confirmed link (as yet- it may emerge in future but you and I have no basis for attributing this to vaccinations – we might as well blame 5G or electricity or the Jews. Your question can take you down a Trumpian rabbit hole. If the government does not tell you there is a proven link between vaxes and heart issues, is it because there is not one or is it because they are lying and paying and threatening everyone but David Icke to hide this info? Occam’s razor has a role to play here.



    Conspiracies are hard to organise- few ever remain hidden for long. But conspiracy theories exist because people want to believe. Trump does not believe an election was stolen- he outlined his “stolen election” arse-cover because he thought he was going to lose and wanted to remain in power to hide his corruptions, which are now getting uncovered. His followers still believe in the assertion he made even though he doesn’t but won’t say. They will ignore the evidence unpaid taxes, his Mafia links, his Russian links because it does not fit with their echo chamber views. Meanwhile they believe the Dems are running a paedophile ring and rich rogue Evangelical preachers are backing them.



    Klaus Schwab may not be an admirable man- I certainly see no evidence of that- but neither is he the modern Blofeld or Shylock.



    Aff oot

  8. itscalledthemalvinas on

    The shades of night have came down on this New Year’s Eve.


    Hail Hail Sean South !


    A brave rebel driving us on to a United Ireland and hopefully an Independent Scotland.

  9. SFTB,



    Enjoy your meal and hogmanay.


    A possible discussion for another day , perhaps.



    Tonight is to make merry and hopefully welcome in a better 2023 to all.



    Cheers and HH.

  10. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    “Brendan made players better, but his signings success or fail metric was unflattering. ”




    Thankfully the disastrous Rodgers era is well and truly behind us now. Decent enough coach but it was patently clear that however long he stayed he was never going to improve his trophy winning record which was stubbornly stuck on 100 percent.


    Professional as ever Celtic conducted an exhaustive search to identify the best quality candidate to push forward from where top-half EPL-bound Rodgers had taken the club.


    Topping the list of name was none other than former Bolton Wanderers and Hibs manager, Neil Lennon.


    Appointed for his “eye for a player” Celtic were able to recruit the likes of Barkas, Ajeti, Bolingoli and Duffy under Lennon, extending the run of top two finishes.


    Now it’s Ange. A man with real ambition for the club. What could possibly go wrong…….

  11. Big Jimmy – No problem pal.



    All the best.



    Thunderbirds are go for Friday.






    D :)

  12. SFTB



    You have long been the most considered and best contributor to CQN IMO.



    Please do enjoy your dinner and have a great Hogmanay.



    I do think after clearly pinning his colours to a particular mast Prof W would not be out there shouting about any links such as you suggest right now.



    As Greenpinata says well worth a robust discussion another day.



    Hopefully post a very happy 2nd Jan.

  13. In an interview, Liam Clancy reckoned he knew all the words of 500 songs and could sing a verse or two of another 200. For proof he asked the interviewer to name any girls name and he would sing a song about her.


    The interviewer said his wife’s name was Persephone.


    Liam thought for a moment and then burst into song.


    ‘Happy Birthday to you ………….. Happy Birthday dear Persephone….’



    Can I take this opportunity to wish Paul 67 and all the CQN clan a very Happy New Year when it comes.



  14. AN DUN



    Pele was indeed a former player.






    Monday at Ibrox is a FOOTBALL match, not a religious pilgrimage.



    I you’re going to call for a minute’s silence for Benedict, at least be honest about your reasons instead of hiding behind pseodo decency.

  15. 🤣🤣🤣



    Some peoples distain for a large part of our support and beliefs and a large Christian community around the world not just Scotland is disgusting.



    Why should we as a country not show that we care.



    Anyway I will now try and hold my own counsel on the matter.



    D :)

  16. Onto Monday, I have never enjoyed these games against Sevco. Yes I have been to the away games at the hate filled bigotdome, but never really enjoyed them if truth be told.



    As I have got older I realise the importance of pumping these bigoted feckwits. It isnt just a sporting thing. As we all know they think they are superior in all walks of life.



    In short….just do them Celtic.



    D :)

  17. glendalystonsils on

    DAVID66 on 31ST DECEMBER 2022 7:11 PM



    Since the bigoted feckwits you refer to includes not only Sevco and their fans , but a huge chunk of estiblishment Scotland and almost all of the media , I could not agree more .


    Like you I love beating them but don’t really enjoy it while the result is in doubt , because it’s about much more than football for us .



    The shades of night have came down on this New Year’s Eve.





    Hail Hail Sean South !





    A brave rebel driving us on to a United Ireland and hopefully an Independent Scotland.








    A united Ireland of the type Sean South would have wanted?



    No thanks.

  19. itscalledthemalvinas on

    It’s coming Ernie bhoy,trains coming down the tracks. Demographics will sink the unionists in the north





    I think you may have missed my point.

  21. Back to the fire and a New Years Eve Quiz.



    Thank you, Belfast Joe, for the books!



    Keep it lit An Tearmann


    and would like to bump unto you sometime DalriadaBhoy



    Have a nice 2023 and would accept a 0-1 tomorrow.