State of the Club Report, December 2018


Empires rise and fall but it is usually not until well after the event that the signs of decline or rise are appreciated.  In April 1970 Celtic players took a lap of honour after winning both legs of the European Cup semi-final against English champions, Leeds United, before a record European crowd.  They were in their second European Cup final in four and hot favourites to take the trophy again.  If ever Celtic looked imperious, this was the moment.

Few watching that lap of honour could have imagined 33 years would pass before Celtic next beat a side from one of Europe’s biggest five leagues.  Decline came slowly, a European Cup final loss in extra time, two more semi-final appearances and four more league titles, then decades as an irrelevance in Europe.

Today Celtic are nothing like that force in Europe, but 2018 saw the club secure the domestic treble for the second successive season, the first time this has been achieved in Scottish football.  They also retained the League Cup this month and are hot favourites for both league and Scottish Cup.  No team has ever been this imperious in Scottish football, not even the Lisbon Lions.

Celtic have lost four league games this season, four more than they lost in the whole of Brendan Rodgers’ first season.  They failed to reach the Champions League group stage, losing to what proved to be a poor AEK Athens.  This year has seen significant players lost: Dembele, Armstrong and Roberts.  Although the latter two were mostly squad players when by the time they left, they still made important contributions.

The club broke its transfer fee record for the first time in 17 years to secure the permanent signing of Odsonne Edouard, but the deadline day shenanigans of Dembele and absences of Leigh Griffiths placed a heavy burden on the 20-year-old.  Filip Benkovic was secured on loan from Leicester City but further attempts to reinforce central defence and the right back position have been ineffective, while the predicted signing of John McGinn from Hibs proved to be nothing more than a PR disaster.

Form during the early part of the season was well below standards of the previous two years.  It was not until two first half injuries in the League Cup semi-final at Murrayfield to Ebouie Kouassi and Olivier Ntcham allowed Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie to take up central midfield roles, that Celtic started to play with fluency.

Three wins were secured in a very difficult Europa League group, meaning we travel to Valencia in February with a fighting chance of progressing, but you could sense the air escaping from Celtic during December, as eight points were dropped on top of a home defeat to Salzburg.

The question is, was Saturday’s arresting defeat at Ibrox a sign of Decline of Empire, or another sign of retrenchment?  To answer that we need to look at the fundamentals.

Celtic are financially stronger than anyone else in Scottish football.  We spend significantly more, not just on transfers and wages, but on scouting, sports science, analysis and any other metric you care to mention.  We may only be top of the table on goal difference, with a game in hand, but the first leg of the treble is complete and we are the only Scottish team still in Europe.
This season, the rest of the league are getting closer, but if points earned is their measurement, they are not getting any better.  Celtic’s lead is small, not because we face better opposition, or because we have fewer resources, but because some in the squad have aged and declined, while attempts to strengthen have not been good enough.

If you are searching for signs of Decline of Empire, keep looking.  This is Celtic at the bottom of the curve – with back-to-back trebles, the League Cup secured and resources available to kick on.  We cannot win every game, or play well every month.  We can’t even win every trophy, but the fundamentals of Scottish football have not changed.  Use this week to get in touch with how it feels to be second best in a domestic game.  It could be a while before it happens again.

Have a great New Year.

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  1. Paul a good article, but we still need to recruit quality and quantity.



    The deadwood is Lawells bag he needs to work his magic and get excess players to feck.



    D. :)

  2. Whilst I am repeating myself has the club made a statement yet on numerous things including Beaton and our bus being attacked.



    D. :)

  3. Liked that one, Paul67. When we return in mid January I really do hope that the first 2 names on the weekly teamsheet are McGregor and Christie. And both in midfield slots ;-)

  4. What is the Stars on

    God bless Peter Lawwell keeping the green flag flying despite the malcontents begrudgers and naysayers

  5. Oh and the continuies attacks on our players by sevco players (Moreloss) that went unpunished.



    Also the banners and offensive songs from the bigotdome




  6. All very well but any news on our Board tackling the issues of the team bus being attacked, our players being attacked on field by an out-of-control thug, a referee who was obviously not fit for purpose or those disgusting banners on child abuse? Naw didnae think so ??

  7. Ray Winstone's Big Disembodied Heid on

    Our club has a duty of care to its players both on and off the park.



    What therefore is the response to the attacks on them perpetrated by both sevco fans and players and allowed to go unpunished by officials and police?



    Does someone have to get seriously injured before something is done?



    Quite rightly there is a zero tolerance policy regarding such behaviour towards staff in numerous public organisations and many private ones.



    Why then is Celtic so negligent in this respect?

  8. PeterLatchfordsBelly on

    I really hope January sees serious departures too. We can’t continue to grow the squad. We don’t need over 30 players when a dozen barely feature. It’s over for De Vries, Allan, Comperr, Mulumbu, Benyu, Gamboa and a clutch of others. Sadly I think it might be over for Izzy too after being hooked at Easter Road and Pittodrie. We literally can’t afford to be wasting money on guys that don’t play. Better for them too to be playing football regularly somewhere else.

  9. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Interesting, Paul, about the financial advantage in every department. Not sure it is working as well as it should.


    We seem to lose games in the same way every time (getting pressed high) and draw them in the same way every time (unable to break down packed defences).


    Does nobody notice this? Do we work on it? Do we not have tactical variations to deal with those situations?


    Big work also to be done re recruitment and squad balancing in favour of quality over quantity. No more squad fillers. This will also give the youths more opportunities.


    We are in a good place but we mustn’t become complacent.

  10. My thoughts on the game on Saturday was, I was a bit dissapointed with the result,but looking back a couple of days after the event I started to sum up what had happened.



    The Hun who had the Majorty of the play, but they never scored a goal in 93 minutes of play,Broony was the guy who scored their goal by deflecting the ball pass Craig Gorden, did any of the rags say it was an own goal,I doubt it, all they would say is what a fantastic result against the Champions.



    Well, as I said earlier after 93 minutes of play,they were as bad as we were,Maybe had a few shots on goal but our keeper done his job well.



    It’s quite hard to play a game when the Referee? is in love with the opposition,and his two helpers are equally in love with the same team, I’m surprised that our Board didn’t put in any complaint about the selection of officials,they should have,but that’s typical of our board.



    I read some of the blog,but can’t believe some of the rubbish that had been written about the game,It’s a shame that you can’t accept Celtic can have a bad game now and again.Celtic are not infallble,in fact all teams have bad games,look at the Mega Money league the EPL, Man C, Man U,have had a few bad games lately,no team is unbeatable,it happens to all teams.



    Finally I’d just like to say I’ve supportred Celtic for 67 of my 79 years on this planet,and I can honestly say a lot of those years we were terrible in a lot of those years,but Celtic have treated me too a lot of good memories, my mamory isn’t great but I still rember the good times,and the were the good times.

  11. Ancelloti told the media he will take his players off the park if there is repeat of the racism directed against the players of Napoli, Celtic say f..k all about attacks on players and these new allegations are news to me, where are there reports of these, I am afrain our board our media output is guttless and will throw you to the dogs by their ignoring of issues, don’t get me started on Rodgers and the way he apologises when complaining about refereeing , get off your knees Celtic now.

  12. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Auldheid on 31st December 2018 2:36 am


    The Daily Record are reporting Compliance Officer will look at three Morrelos incidents (I think there were four ) on Saturday.


    To miss all three requires an explanation from Beaton and his boss and should see him not appointed to any “Rangers” games for rest of season.




    Well, let’s see. He could go with the Madden explanation of “he’s just a bit silly sometimes”.


    Or maybe the good old McRae explanation of “we need a strong Rangers”.

  13. They stitched us up again, and the time to complain has been and gone.



    For example, the right-wing extremist running the line – that should have been addressed after we beat them, not after a defeat – they will just claim sour grapes.



    They were openly mocking us by appointing those 4 bigoted rats – bad enough just one of them officiating a Celtic game, but the 4 of them in one game – laughing at us.



    Apparently the ball was out of play for over half an hour in the second half for crying out load.



    They done us up like the proverbial kipper once again.




  14. OLDTIM67 – thanks for posting and making me feel better. Hard to argue with what you have said.



    I’ve a feeling it will be along while before we taste defeat to Newco again and that this seasons Title win will be the sweetest yet.



    Keep the Faith and Happy New Year to all in Celtic.

  15. “Few watching that lap of honour could have imagined 33 years would pass before Celtic next beat a side from one of Europe’s biggest five leagues.”



    Not quite right Paul.



    We beat Cologne in 1992 and Juve in 2001 (only 31 years later).



    The argument is still sound- we were less dissatisfied Celtic fans through most of those 30 odd years in a European wilderness than we are in our more successful period from 2001 onwards.



    As for whether the Empire is in decline or not, we can still be a dominant force and lose an occasional league. I firmly believe that most of the angst is caused by the recent unremitting success.



    Because 8iar (and the Holy Grail of 10) is within our reach, we are going to be hugely critical of those that jeopardise or ruin that prospect. Even if it is the self same group of people that actually brought it within reach.



    There is a kind of sickness in football supporting that you don’t find in those actually playing sport.

  16. Who do the Celtic Board complain to? The very people who appointed the officials. The SFA. Have we learned nothing. To complain about referees gets Celtic nowhere. We have been the victims of this for 130years.




    What do we complain about and what evidence can we provide. ? that bad boy Morelos had 4 off the ball attacks on our players.




    Waste of time, its all an opinion,




    For Celtic to get anywhere we need support of other clubs which we never get. Other clubs are happy to see decisions going against Celtic.

  17. The media are only calling out Morelos as a squirrel to deflect from a hear no evil see no evil performance from the 4 official on behalf of their team..


    When he gets a slight punishment not befitting the 4 separate incidents the press and authorities will close ranks and put the situation to bed claiming justice has been served.


    The four cheats with flags and whistles will carry on the same way knowing their views and willingness to cheat in the hope that sevco win the league has been rubber stamped and approved by mssm and authorities.


    Celtic’s focus should be on the officials refusal to apply the laws of the game when images prove they had a clear view of incidents.

  18. for once i will come out and say kev 100 percent right the gut less wonders of lawell and desmond, and obrien will say and do nothing as is typical of croppy lie down attitude mentality disgusting and any one who tries to justify theirjob at licking sfa arses is no better godbless na godforgive them for they do know what they do.

  19. Paul 67.



    I’ll have to call it a day if that Curries advert keep appearing on my computer.


    I can only read one lineat a time as the Curry advert takes up the rest of the computer,get rid of it or you’ll get rid of me.

  20. Good end of year stocktake/inventory article, Paul67.


    It’s 2019 down here in Oz; thanks to you Paul and all the CQN posters for helping keep me connected to CFC, one of the great passions in my life. Happy New Year to Celts all over the world. HH KTF

  21. The referee was appallling, he allowed them to constantly foul our players and was overly keen to penalise ours, often wrongly. To miss 3 red card offences is unacceptable. The linesman gave the offside against Calum but it was a guess at best, at worst an instinct, had Calum been level I have no doubt the flag would have been raised anyway.



    Brendan is too soft with the officials to the extent that they are blentantly walking over the top of us. I worry about we are heading down Tony Mowbray Avenue. Brendan should have nailed Collum after Aberdeen. It was the perfect opportunity to put a marker down after having fought back to win.

  22. BIGBHOY on 31ST DECEMBER 2018 1:21 PM


    Sorry Bigbhoy but it’s that very attitude that has got us where we are!


    Sitting back in acquiescence, or back of the bus syndrome means you will be sitting at the back of the bus for the rest of your life – ask Rosa Parks.

  23. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Maybe they will give MoreLoss a one game ban to be served in the Scottish Cup against a third division team (at home, naturally). Followed by a statement from Sevco about how he is victimised and then resume as normal……

  24. The Battered Bunnet on

    “This is Celtic at the bottom of the curve”



    That’s the worry, Paul. We’re at the bottom of the curve 2.5 years into BR’s tenure, the very time when we ought to be reaching a peak.



    Player recruitment has been the biggest drag on performance, and we head into the 2nd half of BR’s third season knowing, without factoring for player sales, that we need a right back, 2 centre backs, a replacement for Broonie (if that position is to be maintained), and a centre forward. Someone who can deliver a corner and a free kick would be tidy too.



    All that before we entertain the notion of Champions League qualifiers, and presupposing that we have indeed hit the bottom of the curve such that we pull out of it before we gift a title to someone.

  25. I think that a lot on here,need to stop pussy about Celtics performance against Sevco,we were beaten by the better team on the day,all these poor excuses ie referees,need to stop,the Problem is Brendan Rodgers and his coaches are the one responsible for fielding that team against Sevco,oh I forgot it’s everyone else fault,

  26. DAVID66 on 31ST DECEMBER 2018 11:55 AM



    So they attacked our team bison entry to the park before the game.. Fifa






    We should have an actual team bison – a mascot Broony can lead onto the park before slapping it on the erse and loosing it among the screaming Orcs.

  27. If Celtic say nothing about the bus attack, the assaults, the matchfixers and their imaginary & missed fouls then guess what, they’ll double down re the officials at Celtic park when we next face them and in all our games preceding it especially away from home, to try and give them a leg up. We need a wee bit quality & experience, if we add to the squad properly and aim to put Valencia out of the Europa League then I’ll believe we’re up for smashing Seethins Sevco

  28. If Celtic were going to do anything about the team buds being attacked, the time to do it was before kick-off; refuse to play.



    As for the rat pack in charge of officiating – I find it difficult to get irritated by that obvious play.



    They would have been an insignificance had our lackadaisical players brought application and commitment to the party.

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