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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. Breeny on 2nd January 2019 2:59 pm

     

     

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    Could it be that because, for what ever reason, we messed about and missed our main signing targets and left it so late in the transfer window BR had little choice but sign some of these guys in an attempt to cover for the potential loss of a regular 1st team player through injury etc and to bolster obvious squad weakness. Hence we have the likes of Compper, Mulumbu and Izzy in the squad. All panic signings IMO

     

    Loans. Not sure Brendan had much to do with Arzani. Musonda had the potential to be a very good signing but due to his attitude it didn’t work out. Paddy was sadly injured for quite a while and lost his place, when fit, to a rejuvenated James F. Paddy would walk into this team at the moment if he were still with us (again if fit)

     

    Allan & Hayes were probably the best of the rest in Scotland hence Celtic thought given the low cost of purchase that they were worth a punt. I have never been convinced Hayes is good enough and Allan’s lack of progress when wearing a Celtic jersey is strange!

     

    All in all our transfer business has been utterly pish poor recently. Whoever is responsible needs to step up and try to sort it out ASAP.

  2. BREENY on 2ND JANUARY 2019 3:05 PM

     

    For the hard of understanding I will repeat my comment :

     

     

    Disrespectful, uncalled for. It’s a blog for expressing opinions on football, not on fellow posters por cierto.

  3. Back to Basics – I remember Brady. But because we have had poor managers in the past, there is no reason to dumb down our expectations of the current one or turn a blind eye to the obvious inadequacies of the team. We all want the best team we can possibly have. Due to the sevco circumstances, we have been given a relatively straightforward opportunity to leave them in the dust. Seven out of seven trophies is the stuff of dreams but it looks like complacency or weariness is being allowed to settle in.

     

    I have no problem with not winning trebles or doubles. If Aberdeen, Hibs or Kilmarnock can raise their game in a semi final or final and put us out on merit, all credit to them. It’s to be expected.

     

    But if we are losing league games because we are regularly misfiring, tactically predictable/poor and short of quality despite having a 100 million turnover, then there is a reason to be nervous. The league is what really counts and Kilmarnock and sevco should not be running us close with the gulf in resources that exists.

     

    Of course we might pull away and finish the season 15 points clear, but we might also continue to drop points on the road against Livingston, Hibs, Hearts, Kilmarnock, sevco . . . and find ourselves in a dog fight of our own making.

     

    Brendan worked magic when he arrived. He is rewarded handsomely for that. He has plenty of credit in the bank to allow for dips in form but when the blips and dips become increasingly common, then it needs to be addressed. I see no reason why he can’t do that himself. Adapt and survive.Change and thrive.

     

    If he can’t, and his time with us is drawing to a close, I don’t see why Steve Clarke can’t be our next manager. A very different man and maybe lacking in charisma but when it comes to the league, he has been the best coach in the SPFL over the last 12 months.

  4. I would have no qualms with Steve Clark being in the running as the next manager, think he would have to be, if BR leaves. por cierto.

  5. POR CIERTO

     

     

    You must have missed the comment fro Exiled Tim to me then , is that right ?

  6. succulentlambstinks on

    SAINT STIVS on 2ND JANUARY 2019 1:39 PM

     

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

     

     

    seriously have a look at yourselfs.

     

     

    Yer getting rather carried away.

     

    It’s an opinion on here. We’re no spouting it personally to their faces.

     

     

    Another treble or not, you must give your all on every game fir the shirt if you are fit. Can you say Sinclair gives his all even 2 games in a row ? Can you say lustig gives his all ? His allowance of crosses from the left allow too many goals in Europa and domestically.

     

    Can you say eddy gives his all as a young athlete ? No no no. Again only my opinion so don’t upset yourself.

  7. Transfer window Scottish style Guide 2019

     

     

    amendments 02/01/19

     

     

    insert

     

     

    (34) Previously referred to during protracted transfer negotiations as ‘Celtic dithering’ is to be replaced with ‘Peter Lawwell dicking about all summer / all winter “

  8. I think it’s the player not being consistent enough that’s the main problem. They must, I think, be showing it in training but not converting it onto the playing field. It was the lack of fight from a vast majority of the team that was my biggest disappointment on the 29th. por cierto.

  9. succulentlambstinks on

    POR CIERTO on 2ND JANUARY 2019 3:27

     

     

    Again another well said post. Too many Jessie’s taking it to heart on here.

  10. Saved me the trouble thanks, but I would add that the was a problem at the winter camp last Jan with Compper, this may well have had a bearing on his lack of game time.

  11. Por Cierto

     

     

    Think SC will be away next season. I am more than happy (given what I have lived through) that we are doing more than Ok.

     

     

    I am getting a vibe that because of Sevco result & them sitting next to us that there is more ‘panic’ among ‘some’ of the bloggers/fans.

     

     

    But hey ho…just MO.

     

     

    HH

  12. ADI_DASSLER

     

     

    Yes, I think you’re right.

     

     

    I also think that we have to move on more players, as we are running short of pegs if nothing else! por cierto.

  13. Breeny

     

    I struggle to see where I have been disrespectful one iota, I asked you to back up your post, you couldn’t, then I repost your original post and you post that I don’t understand, or imply that I am thick, I am many things but thick aint one of them, then another poster pulls you up for being disrespectful and you say that he must have missed a comment from me that justify’s your post, that would be the line of things, I would be interested to find out what I said that makes you think I am thick, or hard of understanding that I can’t understand what you posted.

     

    This is the problem with blogs, posters get things into their heads that are untrue and post stuff to justify the untruths

  14. POR CIERTO- agree re Clarke,Saturday was the only time we haven’t turned up for a domestic game,some of the hysterical reaction is well over the top.

  15. ADI_DASSLER

     

     

    Also, comes with the territory of being successful season after season, one or two slips and it starts a ripple of discontent and then past troubles are brought up to justify the present plight. Top of the League with a game in hand, still in Europe, and League Cup already in the bag. There are problems which need to be addressed, some of them major, but I’d rather be in the position we are right now trying to sort them por cierto.

  16. Have we signed anyone yet…

     

     

    Teams making moves already..

     

     

    We have had 18 Months to prepare.

     

     

    D. :)

  17. DAVID66

     

     

    According to the DR, which some folk take as gospel, we are already making moves por cierto.

     

     

    Also from BR Weah is ongoing por cierto.

  18. BOURNESOUPRECIPE

     

    The Pulisic deal is a perfect example of why the peoples game no longer exists.

     

    Clubs should not be allowed to stockpile talent in this manner.

     

    There should be a maximum quota of players clubs are allowed to loan out.

     

    This would stop the cynical and profitable situation being used by the financially doped clubs.

     

     

    Your latest transfer amendment is priceless.

  19. Brendan has taken the Compper window, and the McGinn window, squarely on the chin, it’ll maybe be the big Eddie ‘oot’ window this time around, with the big Eddie money disappearing up the same lumb, as the big Moussa money, because, if the PLC wait until the next summer window to get rid of big Eddie, the danger is, that it might be on the back of a failed treble treble bid, or even worse, a failed eight in a row bid, which would probably see the long awaited emptying of both, the park, and the PLC, maybe, just maybe, that is why the PLC were giving themselves such high salary hikes, because they fear that, Resolution 12 is about to pull a rabbit, or several rabbit’s out of the hat, from which, the PLC will run out of road.

     

    Here’s hoping.

     

    Hail! Hail! to all Celtic supporters. ✔

     

     

    ????………….?

  20. BADA BING

     

    Those fans who viewed the Hibs game may be inclined to differ.

     

    I know it’s subjective but in my opinion there have been quite a few games this season where we looked unprepared and only turned up in name.

  21. glendalystonsils on

    !!BADA BING!! on 2ND JANUARY 2019 3:46 PM

     

    POR CIERTO- agree re Clarke,Saturday was the only time we haven’t turned up for a domestic game,some of the hysterical reaction is well over the top.

     

     

    If it had been anyone but Sevco we didn’t turn up for , there would have been much less hysteria , even with the same display and scoreline.

  22. succulentlambstinks on

    Most seem assured that sevco won’t catch up and go above us. Where’s the proof in that ?

     

    Say we lose our game in hand and a few others while they pick up points with help from officials ! Brendan states he wants to improve the team year on in. That has NOT happened. Losing to hearts killie hibs Huns, drawing wi the Wells because players don’t turn up and do what they are handsomely paid to do.

     

    It’s as simple as this…. play your heart out every game. If we get beat fair enough. But to be beaten because we don’t compete is completely unacceptable.

  23. mike in toronto on

    Fanatic

     

     

    I think FIFA recently floated the idea of limiting the number of players that can be loaned out to 8. At present, Chelsea have over 40 players out on loan.

     

     

    I haven’t looked into this too deeply, but I do have some concerns that attempts to restrict could be seen as restraint of trade.

     

     

    To use the Chelsea example, clearly they are signing many of these players simply as investments, that is, knowing that they will never play for Chelsea, but, with the intention that they be viewed as commodities, whose value appreciates.

     

     

    They buy a young player for 10 million, pay 3 million in wages over a few seasons (or have the wages paid by the borrowing club), and then sell the player for 20 million if and when his value appreciates, and pocket a 7 – 10 million profit. .

     

     

    My gut doesn’t like this, and thinks it will just further widen the gap between the richest clubs and everyone else. But my head is saying that it would be hard to restrict this, particularly, if the big clubs were to fight it in court.

  24. i wish paul would close the comments capability while the windae is open.

     

     

    another 3 weeks of the quality of contibutions by some of the posters today would make you weep.

  25. Por-Cierto I will rephrase that, do we know any of the targets, are any of them not works in progress?

     

     

    D. :)

  26. succulentlambstinks on

    Ok so to dry your eyes … Celtic are amazing, fantastic, gonna win the quadruple this year, Peter lawwell is magnificent.

     

     

    Boo hoo to all the trolls.

     

     

    What else can I post to keep you happy ?

     

    In fact il give you my login if you wish to post beautiful opinions of you want.

  27. FAN-A-TIC @ 3.52

     

     

    Indeed.

     

     

    And to quote the man himself ‘ hyper inflation ‘

     

     

    Man City have already been pulled up for it, Chelsea are famous for it.

     

     

    Celtic fans ( myself included ) look at the price, others look at the height, what school they went to, etc, etc, and not the player himself.

     

     

    Bayo for example as seen on the internet from what I can gather plays in a league that looks like the Scottish 1st Division?

     

    his transfer fee should be commensurate with the level of football he plays ( and we will not be held to ransome.) by the European equivalent of Rod Petrie.

     

     

    When we sell someone they look down at the SPL this has to stop, and it’s began with Stuart Armstrong.

     

     

    We’re unlikely to spend large chunks of the ‘Dembele money’ in January more likely punts and loans yet Celtic fans would rather Bayo was priced at £5M because we’d be seen to be spending our stashed cash.

     

     

    There will be no panic buying,…….just panic.

  28. Bayo is known to Kolo, he is far from the finished artical but for the kinda money we are paying I hope he isny another Balde or Bangura, the quotes in the rags if true weren’t very comforting.

     

    Things like this…..“We try to work on his first touch, left and right-foot shooting from six and eight metres, skills, dribbling and he must improve on all of that.”

  29. Think Chelsea are heading for a transfer ban

     

     

    Might explain why they are paying £58 M and loaning back

     

     

    and why they knocked back £25M bid from Germany for one of their

     

     

    never to be seen youngsters.

  30. prestonpans bhoys on

    Kev

     

     

    What’s going on m8, there was no mention of the £49 tickets in your post. Standards slipping?

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