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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. Think we should get Stevie Clarke in now ALONGSIDE Rodgers, they would compliment each other so well, Rodgers can take responsibility for PR and team morale while Clarke can take over recruitment and tactics. Rodgers and the defensive coaches have it all wrong and a clear out of backroom staff is required. The constant repeat of asking goalkeeper and defender to do what they are not capable of is bordering on lunacy . Repeat selection of underperfomers in Lustig, Forrest and Sinclair is doing us much harm. Get Stevie in now.

  2. SB- Bain is a decent GK, BR will persevere with passing the ball out from the back, Bain can do this,if you notice, opposition players don’t close him down as much as Gordon, but would you drop CG?

  3. Park Road 67 on 2nd January 2019 10:59 am

     

     

    TONYROME 10-13AM

     

     

    Morning big mhan i think we should go to Australia and do a bit of research on that !

     

     

    GUINNESSDOWNUNDER CSC

     

     

    ———————————————————————————————————–

     

     

    Do we need to take the women?

     

     

    Asking for a big feartie

  4. Happy New Year To All CQNers and Their Families – Hope it’s A Great One.

     

     

    Hi Paul67,

     

     

    Thank you for giving us CQN another year of pathos, laughter, tears, insights and wisdom…

     

     

    …awe the best to you and yours.

     

     

    Hail Hail

  5. succulentlambstinks on

    !!BADA BING!! on 2ND JANUARY 2019 1:12 PM

     

     

    but would you drop CG?

     

     

    No but I’d fine him £1,000 everytime he hoofed the baw oot the park or to opposition.

     

    Maybe then a wage of £600 after fines per week will wise him up.

  6. BREENY

     

    Why would Clark accept a secondary role anywhere/

     

    He can be his own man where he is.

     

    Brendan does not strike me as one who would share duties either.

  7. Succulentlambstinks

     

     

    Gordon cannot be blamed for Rodgers asking him to do what he cannot do. Rodgers to blame, either replace with someone who can play that way well or change tactics, simple

  8. Craig Gordon does not have the best distribution.

     

    Bain is more comfortable at this.

     

    But Craig is taking flak for many things that even the world’s best passers of the ball would struggle at.

     

    Not easy finding teammates who are rarely available due to a haphazard formation and system plus shirking of responsibility.

     

    I’m all for passing out from the back but our formation and system does not facilitate such.

  9. SUCCULENTLAMBSTINKS- i didn’t think you can teach goalkeepers of a certain age, to start passing the ball out, when they have never played that way,Bain is about 10 years younger, and the game changed when he was a teenager, so it became part of his training, and others from that era IMO HH

  10. Being a keeper is the only reason that highlights his mistakes. He probably does as well as anyone in the team for distribution to a team-mate. If he was no use at this do you think that BR would allow him to stay in the team? Remember he didn’t buy Gordon and Bain was his purchase por cierto.

  11. FAN-A-TIC

     

    Joint senior coach at Celtic is surely a step up from Kilmarnock? Rodgers has shown so many weaknesses that if he doesn’t like then move him on, he has been so lucky so far with so many failings.

  12. succulentlambstinks on

    Breeny.

     

     

    I have never seen another keeper who kicks the ball out to opposition players with stealth accuracy so much in my life. He can’t even find a team mate just once. Or it’s right out park with laser precision. That’ll be why Rodgers forces him to play out to back 4. That’s all I’m saying on Gordon.

  13. Joint senior coach at Celtic. You’re inventing a position that doesn’t exist and nor should it. BR is in charge of the Football department and what a slap in the face it would be to the coaches currently there to make a new position to bring someone else in. Not the best of ideas. por cierto.

  14. BREENY @ 1:24 PM,

     

     

    Celtic play football a certain way, these formations and tactics are used throughout the Academy, development, reserve and first team squads at Celtic.

     

     

    We need to get it right, it’s the only way we can move forward. We need to get the players in with the talent, technique, fitness and athleticism to play these formations and tactics.

     

     

    It’s now 5 years since the decision was made to go down this route (correctly in my opinion) it is high time the Manager and his staff were given the support and resources to make it work.

     

     

    Hail Hail

  15. succulentlambstinks on

    Pot cierto

     

    You’re inventing a position that doesn’t exist

     

     

    They invented one for Kennedy did they not.

     

    Unless he trains sinky on how to be a millionaire by doing nothing.

  16. FAN-A-TTIC

     

    Re Rodgers : Incredible failure in recruiting, much more failures than successes

     

    Flawed play out from the goalkeeper week after week, asking people to do what they don’t have the skill to do

     

    Basic training ground failures as far as throw ins, free kicks and corners are concerned, there appears no strategy in these areas, constant playing of under performing players, non selection of players he has invested in. Honestly I could go on and on.

  17. Watched the game in Fort Lauderdale CSC and from Celtic TV going down I had a feeling it was not to be our day. Great people and Ann-Maria the gooner resplendent in Arsenal top opening up the bar was great.

     

     

    Breeny I also harbour the same thoughts. Stevie Clarke would be a useful acquisition if we can get him to help with the first team including scouting.

     

     

    When SG fails like the others , the desperados will be tempted to go for Clarke ; we should head that off at the pass. If not for next season certainly for 10.

     

     

    We need to strengthen the team ; projects will not win us the league. Lawwell has been rewarded for CL failure again ( something badly wrong with the Bonus system where one guy only is rewarded for failure.)

     

     

    Brendan’s biggest challenge will be same as last two windows—— Lawwell protecting his personal interests. I predict aanother Willo Flood window from Lawwell as he lies in bed counting his shekels.

  18. how low do some of you want to go in your libelous destructive abuse of celtic players.

     

    seriously have a look at yourselfs.

     

     

    you dont like them fine, you dont think they are good then so be it, but some of these guys have been top winners for celtic , double trebles, hun skelpers, record breakers, shot stoppers. so can you please keep things in perspective.

     

     

    a defeat to something called a huns team and brendan is also in the firing line, your a disgrace thinking like that.

     

     

    hibs v celtic that first time.

     

     

    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-yqBrvp9bFCA/VgggVebOt9I/AAAAAAAATrA/naguD3zVLiw/s1000-Ic42/sump-23101888.jpg

  19. Succulent lambstinks

     

    this is what I am saying, Rodgers is copying Guardiola and insisting that we play out from the back, but if you watch the same games as me then we do not have those skills, so either change your tactics or change the personnel but this cannot continue, we almost lose a goal a game from this strategy and don’t blame Gordon, he is obviously under instruction.

  20. POR CIENTO

     

    He is doing a poor job and don’t throw titles at me, there is sooooooo much potential to improve and it is very easy

  21. Chairbhoy,

     

    Yes you are right , I suggest but we need improvement, we need more leaders (only Brown) and we need players more suited to the tough away games. Our nice little footballers are not so suited to most of our away games where we need a bit of spirit and fight that we don’t have right now. Home games we can play our nice football to win all games

  22. Slaughtering a goalkeeper for being unable to make a pass to players who have failed to find space and position in time.

     

     

    Some of you soccer fans might need to watch some more soccer…

  23. Sandman

     

    Don’t know who you are referring to but read back and you will see that I say don’t blame Gordon for Rodgers tactics

  24. I love a guid yarm me, so ah dae………

     

     

    But, The Panto stuff being flung aboooot an’ aroooon’ some Celtic employees by seldom seen pop-ups is Sun headline worthy.

     

     

    Baron Hardup CSC

  25. BREENY @ 1:48 PM,

     

     

    Here in lies the problem… the tactics we want to use are prevalent throughout Europe, most of our rivals don’t play well against this system in Europe.

     

     

    However, in Scotland the way matches are officiated in general and specifically against Celtic our opposition can “stop” us playing football. It’s frustrating but what to do?

     

     

    My feeling is get the right players in and just be so much better than them that their partial officiating isn’t effective.

     

     

    To which end, I was surprised that Celtic didn’t join other Clubs calls for full time officials and a VAR. It would at least help.

     

     

    BOURNESOUPRECIPE @ 1:49 PM,

     

     

    “What happened to the Dembele money?

     

     

    Celtic PLC run a LiLo system with the money…

     

     

    (Last in last out)

     

     

    So we need to use the Seville money first;)

     

     

    Hail Hail

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