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State of the Club Report, December 2018

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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. Happy New Year Paul67 and all CQN. The trebel trebel will be one to savour. Have fun whatever that means to you and stay healthy and happy. Hail Hail

  2. Good morning, friends, from a dry, c;ear skied, mild and opTIMistic for 2019 East Kilbride.

  3. Happy, healthy, and prosperous new year to all on here. It’s going to be a very interesting year, methinks.

  4. If you read the match report

     

    In Mondays Daily Star written by Iain MacFarlane

     

    There was only two thugs on pitch on Saturday

     

    Kristoffer Ajer and Scott Brown.

     

    ” Kris Ajer and then Scott Brown picked up booking

     

    Late in the game when they realised the only way to stop

     

    Kent was with Brutality ”

     

    Happy New Year to all on CQN.

  5. To all my friend on Planet CELTIC.

     

    I truly hope you and wish for you all to have good health and happiness for 2019 and beyond.

     

    Think too of those around us whose health is not so good as it should be and wish them a speedy recovery.

     

     

    KINGLuBO

  6. I would like to take this opportunity to wish all posters, lurkers,songsters, gamblers.£49’s those with a heated driveways & big bonuses & those without any thing at all but a genuine love of Celtic fc a very Happy New Year in 2019

     

     

    As my own personal circumstances dictate I will be starting clinical trials for my illness on the 7th January which were held back due to foot infection which was rather inconvenient

     

     

    MAH

  7. Athbhliain faoil mhaise dhuit.

     

     

    HH Bhoys and Ghirls, let us hope that the new year brings us a couple of 1st team ready players.

  8. HSJJ,

     

    What kept you??

     

    We are now going into one of my two least favourite times of the season – the transfer window. We need to get in and out of this one quickly with no fannying around Peter. You got your bonus now deliver ours! You might think it’s your money Peter but it’s not it is ours because without us there would be no Club and no PLC.

  9. Watched the firework display at Stirling Castle and Wallace’s Monument in tandem last night

     

    Hoping the next fireworks we see are Celebrating with fellow Celtic fans

     

     

    Hail Hail to all Celtic fans and all the very best to one and all in 2019

     

     

    YNWA

  10. Pog

     

    10:47am on the day after isn`t too bad :-)

     

    Hope to catch up with you again in Coia`s sometime.

     

    Cheerio for now.

     

    JJ

  11. A Happy, peaceful and prosperous 2019 to you all and your loved ones.

     

    MURDOCHAULDANDHAY, was just going to message you, I hope and Pray that the clinical trials are successful.

     

    Until we meet again…

     

    Keep the Faith!

     

    Hail Hail !

  12. Happy New year to all Tims. As the priest at mass this morning finished by saying,

     

    “Health, happiness, peace to all and success to Celtic in 2019!”

  13. Not out at the Bells last night,dueto “The cauld”,so forbthe 1st time in 10 years watched the BBC Hogmanay s

  14. Sorry,

     

    shows.Dear God,what was that.Some idiot,Gay nonentity getting paid to run around LA,being as unfunny as possible.No problems with him being Gay,but seriously,the worst ever.Followed by,Only An Excuse.Dire.Followed by,The Bells show.Only highlights in more dire TV,the still fragrant,Jackie Bird,and the fireworks.Shocking TV.Never again.Jools Holland was brilliant though.

  15. If any of these deals we are hearing about fail because of PL,penny pinching,I will personally fly over and do serious damage to his reproductive parts,with Turkish made tacketies.

     

    Ollie Mc Burnie !!!!!!!!!Really?Whats the thoughts.Never seen him.Heard of him.

  16. Turkeybhoy, Couldn’t agree more, the BBC stuff was poor. Jools Holland show was brilliant.

  17. Hi Bhoys

     

     

    A very Happy New Year to one and all on this planet who have a love and respect for THE FAMOUS GLASGOW CELTIC.

     

     

    MAH

     

     

    Hope everything goes in the right direction come Monday. Good luck and God bless.

     

     

    KEEP THE FAITH

  18. Happy 2019 to all cqn’ers! Here’s to a barnstorming 2nd half of the season and the 8!!!!!

  19. 50 shades of green on

    Happy New year to all you CQN Tims.

     

     

    Here’s hoping for a Treble Again, and a decent crack at Valencia.

     

     

    Lurking Huns can get to——‘ o wait my New Years resolution,,,,,looks like I picked the wrong year to be nicer to zombie pals,,,,,

     

     

    H.H.

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