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 to Paul 67 and his family and all CQNrs worldwide.



    2022 was the worse year of my life where I lost 3 of my family including my lovely wife of 52 years.



    I hope everyone has a happy, healthy and successful year in 2023. God bless all of you. HH

  2. garygillespieshamstring on

    Happy New Year to cqn’ers everywhere.



    Paul67, thanks for another year of this great blog.

  3. A Happy New Year to one and all , especially Paul 67 who gives us this place to post our rubbish about all subjects , to Jobo for his work on P.O.T.Y. and Setting Free The Bears for the superbru competition .


    Up The Hoops .

  4. Happy New Year Bhoys and ghirls!



    To those we have lost…raise a glass!


    To those who remain…hold them close.



    Weefra – sorry for your loss mate!



    AoW 2023

  5. AoW 1.24am



    2022 hasn’t been that kind to you …



    Hope 2023 brings much joy to you …



    Take care and hope to see you soon



    Weefra same to your good self, hope 2023 is good to your good self



    All the very best to all on here 🍀

  6. Almore on 1st January 2023 12:17 am



    ScullyBhoy: keep posting here. You are a very positive contributor to this site and I always enjoy your posts, even if I don’t respond to them.





    Cheers mate! I was born into a Celtic family and I support Celtic because it is a way of life. Celtic were born out of



    I think I would rather live under an Ireland under Sean South than under a UK under Maggie Thatcher?????



    Anyway, love to all Celtic supporters—and the non-supporting Celtic supporters??????? Who somehow managed to watch the World Cup in Qatar??? – well?????????

  7. GFTB – thx mate. Whilst not being great there are those who have had tougher than me to put up with. I count my many blessings



    But 2022….Tata and gtf!



    Hope 2023 is great for you and yours….


    …annus mirabilus!

  8. Team for Monday:






    JJ CCV Carl GT



    Hatate Cal Mac



    Matt O



    Jotta Kyogo Maeda






    D :)

  9. David66 2.34am



    You won’t be far away with that team .. Abada over Jota in my opinion … I would go Jura .. but for some reason I think Ange might go with our new Canadian fullback



    Am always confident going into these games .. even in the 90s… :-)



    Although it’s pretty decent going in knowing losing we are still 6pts (7pts with the GD)



    But eff that … I want us to hammer any entity that emanates from Ibrox :-)



    And … I think we will

  10. Happy New Year to all on CQN, May the New Year bring you new strength, new hope, and new dreams.

  11. DAVID66 on 1ST JANUARY 2023 2:01 AM


    Happy New Year to every Tim across the globe from the Garngad.




    Happy Hoopy New Year to my Pal DAVID66 and his Family. Thanks again for the very kind offer of joining your Family Party last night, but I havent been out or had any Drink since Wednesday 28th December.


    I watched NETFLIX on New Years Eve, fell asleep on the Sofa…and then went to bed at 12.01am.


    I had a few sips of a Can of Coca Cola.



    I will hit the Beers on Monday….IF Celtic beat The ANIMALS ?


    HH Mate and I hope to see you on Friday IF you can make it ?


    HH to you and your Family.

  12. Happy Hoopy New Year to BRRB and BELMONTBRIAN….


    and to ALL the other GOOD Guys that I have met on here over the years.



    That also includes the other Good Guys that I havent met….Yet.



    Happy New Year to PAUL67 and his MOD Crew.



  13. Ive had a good sleep until 6.30am this morning.


    Its now Time to try and Pick a few New Year WINNERS at the the Horse Racing ?



    Happy New Year also to SCANIEL and the GOOD LOOKING ” Big Jimmy” who he looks after….and ALL the other beautiful Animals that he tends to all year round.



  14. Goooooooooooood morning Timland from a rather damp underfoot and chilly Garngad.



    Big Jimmy – Happy New Year.



    1 smore sleep to go before hopefully putting these bigoted, cnuts back in their box.



    Well maybe 2 more sleeps for me because the Grandweans are coming up today and I might catch another napp before they get here.😂




    D :)

  15. bigrailroadblues on

    Good morning and a happy New Year to you all from Govanhill.


    Big Jimmy


    I’ll moida dem beers. 😂

  16. A Guid New Year to One and aw ( In a John Grieve kinda voice). Let’s Hope It’s A Good One!


    BTW – CRC posted another heartfelt eulogy to his Mum, but not just his Mum – to all who have lost loved ones this year. Sorry, can’t do the link, but the sentiment is there for all to share, as per usual with CRC.

  17. A good new year to everyone and especially to Weefrathetim and others who have lost loved ones or suffered illness in the past year and to the people of Ukraine and anyone caught up in someone else’s wars.



    My thanks to Paul for continuing to provide this forum for us despite the sniping that he gets in return.

  18. Wishing all Tims a happy New Year.



    My wife has had sciatica , so whilst enjoyed festive it has been busier than usual for me and kids. Mrs is now starting to move about more freely.




    Santa says to wee girl


    What would you like for xmas?



    Wee girl replies a unicorn.



    That is impossible says Santa pick something else.



    Wee girl says i would like Scotland’s referees to be free from anti Irish bias and anti Roman Catholic sectarianism.



    Santa asks little girl what colour do you want your unicorn.



  20. A very happy New Year to Paul67, his family and the CQN family.



    Thank you, Paul, for CQN, the only Celtic blog I have looked at since I discovered it about 15 years ago.

  21. Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way


    Oh what fun it is to ???? the Huns on New Years day

  22. Happy new year to all true Celtic minded folk …give us the start to 2023 we all want Celtic …full concentration and assert your dominance …Ps the new noble charity single the glory and the dream is first class 🍀

  23. stpatricksbhoy on

    Happy New Year to Paul 67 and his family and all on CQN.Paul thanks for all the hard work in 2022.Roll on tomorrow. Hail Hail. ☘

  24. When I call the Huns ” The ANIMALS”, it is NOT meant to be disrespectful to Animals.


    I love many Animals….but I dont like….Spiders and Snakes…or any Reptiles….or Sharks or Paranhia Fish etc…



    ” SPIDERS and SNAKES”….was a good wee Song many years ago by JOIM STAFFORD.




  25. Aw naw they are going to release £20m Morelos on us !!!!….Cameron get your pockets ready …

  26. BELMONT BRIAN…..and others of course…


    This is a FAB Song…


    ” STOP THE ROCK”……..By APOLLO 440.


    Would someone kindly Post a Link.


    Brian and young Martin….and JANE of course…


    I hope you like the song ?


    At the beginning it sounds SSSOOO like Status Quo.



  27. Celts when you step into the cauldron of noise and hate tomorrow remember you are winners and they are losers..relax and feel the positive vibe and energy of your vast fan base from all over the world willing you on …YNWA