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. POR CIERTO on 2ND JANUARY 2023 8:25 AM




    Hopefully a Celtic VICTORY will really Perk You UP this afternoon.


    Happy Hoopy New Year to you and the family Mate.





    “For all you weather watchers ;) it was a sticky 25 Cels overnight. The bay beckons for a dip later this morning.”



    Hate yer guts!! :))) por cierto




    Thank you.



    and a Very Happy New Year to you and yours, may all your bets be winners in 2023! :))



    por cierto

  4. 3.30 kick off for me.Which is great.Take the Dug to the Beach.then a couple of beers at the bar.Glorious here today,20 degrees.Not usually like lapping it up.


    No forecasting the score.could be anything.Depends on us,but we WILL gub them.

  5. Top of the morning so there is a minutes silence let’s hope it last 90+ mins apart from the 700 bhoys in the corner. HAIL HAIL



  6. We have better players, we have a far better manager.


    We should win this one today, perhaps even by more than a single goal.


    Main worry are the on and off field refs. If we’re not talking of them post match, it should be a good day

  7. POR CIERTO on 2ND JANUARY 2023 8:38 AM




    “For all you weather watchers ;) it was a sticky 25 Cels overnight. The bay beckons for a dip later this morning.”



    Hate yer guts!! :))) por cierto






    LOL, Por Cierto ;)) Cold change now has the gauges at a chilly 19C !



    You’ll be happy to hear there was storm force winds at the beach so the only ones game for the watter were the mad kitesurfer dudes; amazing to watch them skite across the waves powered by their thin parachutes: turning cartwheels on a wave ramp!! Some haw maws on they lads!







    REO, CAL and MATTY





    Pls Ange; any formation that mollocates The Tribute Act !

  8. Off up to Dundalk to watch the match with my wee bro.



    C’mon the HOOPS




  9. Good morning all from a freezing -2 G67


    Good luck to Ange and the hardy 700 going today .


    Any win will do , although I would be happy not lose



  10. Gooooooood mooooorning all Tim’s across the globe from a cold and frosty -2 Garngad.



    But it’s always a greeeeeat day to pump sevco.



    Come On You Bhoys In Green



    Watch out for no ball boys, disrupt our game and frustrate us and a dodgy decision by officials to help out their beloved KKK Klub.



    But still fancy us.



    D :)

  11. Family Fortunes host Gino d’Acampo asked 100 Rangers fans to name a fish that began with the letter ‘S’ ??



    Top answer was Single 😂😂😂




  12. PeterLatchfordsBelly on

    Woke up with the pre-match butterflies…



    My immediate thought was one of confidence. I think O’Riley might have a big day today. And Maeda.



    I also foresee Beathun giving a one-sided display of officiating for the ages. Jack and Lundstram unleashed…



    C’mon Celts. Show your superiority and class and put gobshyte Michael Squeal back in his cockney geezer box.

  13. Set my alarm for 1:30 to get a few hours shut eye before the game but no use, lying here thinking about Celtic exploiting sevco “having a go” at us. Too many options for the hoops to score. Can’t see anything but a Celtic win even with video assisted ragers.

  14. We’re the finest team in a Scotland.



    Now let’s go put this lot back in their box…



    1-3 to the good ghuys




  15. Hoopy New Year folks



    Beautiful day, great conditions for fast flowing football the Ange way.



    Looking forward to this !




  16. Will we see a repeat of the hilariously over the top ’Old firm’ branding at the Victorian lavvy today from ‘hangingontoourcoattails.fc?

  17. Good morning all and a belated Happy New year to everyone too



    Condolences to Frank McGarvey’s family on your loss. An unpredictable player who seemed to find the hard things to do on the pitch easier than what should have been easy to do he was one of the most wholehearted players I have ever seen. RIP



    I have rarely been especially optimistic going to Ibrox – other than one game in 1983 when we won 2-1 and Rangers had a caretaker manager and the two games Caixinha was in charge when we visited I’d just about always say a draw is a good result. And today is like that- as long as our team does not think like that we should leave Ibrox at least 9 points clear.




  18. I hate feeling too confident before these games but it’s a lot better than the feeling of dread laced with a tiny bit of hope which we had 88-97.



    It is one of the best feelings in the world being at Ibrox and seeing us win. I have been lucky to do that on many many occasions and from all 4 stands and the wee corner. My dad never saw ut once.



    I have never once watched us win at Ibrox on tv as I have always been there when we have won at any time in my lifetime.



    Hopefully today sees that duck broken.

  19. theBHOYfromU.N.C.L.E on

    Woke this morning with Moth’s in my stomach…… only a little nervous, for now.



    queserasera csc

  20. Right bhoys 10 mins to we walk down to pub.



    If we play to our strengths we win.



    If we draw it’s not to bad for us, obviously I want to pump them right enough.



    Anything other than defeat is a win…..well you know what I mean.



    D :)

  21. Parkheadcumsalford



    Know the feeling well – even at the 6-2 game, wasn’t comfortable until it was 5-2 !

  22. paulsthroughball88 on

    Celtic have not even played a dozen games against Sevco at Ibrox, a fixture with such a long and illustrious history.

  23. CELTIC: Hart, Johnston, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor, McGregor, Hatate, O’Riley, Forrest, Kyogo, Maeda.


    Subs: Bain, Giakoumakis, Abada, Mooy, Jota, Kobayashi, Bernabei, Abildgaard, Juranovic

  24. BURNLEY78


    Just a catchup on ur posts a bit back…



    You made me recall Raymie Donaghy was a good [punk] pal of mine but quickly lost contact as we went different ways re careers. Smashing lad. As was Hovis.



    I’ll email Moderator and ping an email so’s not to bore the other CQN’ers.



    And yes, my teach was Mrs Mullen – a saint compared to that savage Mrs Stevenson ;))



    I hope young Ally Johnston’s robust approach doesnt encourage Mr Beaton to take stern action and I pray we’ll be too strong for them today; Said it before, our win by 2 goals.

  25. A World Cup full back on the bench.


    A World Cup full back in starting XI.


    A baptism of fire for the Canadian..

  26. glendalystonsils on

    I don’t think we’ll lose today but I have a feeling Beaton will be a major talking point after the game . He will be on a promise of several pints at the Crown.

  27. HNY


    Conflicted about selection today – JJ is a sure thing and has experience of Ibrox etc. what risk the new man?


    Forrest I like a lot but Barasic is terrified of Abada so why not start him?


    Man for man we are better so no compromise Celts – ram it right into them…..

  28. Melbourne Mick on

    That’s it, my abstinence is over, humongous glass of the


    rid biddy to slurp my way through now, nerves jangling


    just a little, so let’s go bhoys.


    I think we are all mostly in agreement, the hun will come


    out kicking, gouging, elbowing, and screaming at Beathun.


    Weather it, combat it, then play our football.


    Class should tell at the end.


    H H. Mick

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