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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. Well put OT67 as the Bunnet once said “being a Celtic supporter is not always easy but it’s worthwhile “

  2. I have searched the internet about the incident with our team bus, this should have been on the national news, instead we shut up refuse to highlight it, there are still photos of a female cop laughing at the situation, what have Celtic became when we ignore these things.Utter cowards who value only money.

  3. How could the Celtic bus be attacked by the scum,surely the Police were on hand to syop that happening.

  4. P67

     

     

    Very poor article — forced, partial and slanted.

     

    Appreciate the historical perspective but very limited analysis where it was needed.

     

    Today / the last six months / BR’s time at the club / the Bonus Thief and his antics.

     

     

    Today we are facing a very basic truth — a house divided will fall.

     

    PL has to go — a bonus of £2.3mill is obscene.

  5. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Timbhoy2

     

    Can’t speak for anyone else but I’m certainly not blaming anyone else for the defeat. But I do expect the laws of the game to be applied fairly and that they should apply equally to EVERY player.

  6. After perusing P67’s summary of the year, the outstanding conclusion/solution to current ills seems to be bring back Ronny Deila in a rejuvenation capacity…

  7. What is the Stars on

    Why does PL ” have to go ”

     

    And more importantly how is him leaving going to improve the team

  8. What is the Stars on

    If PL goes, who would replace

     

     

    Someone from the green brigade,the celtic trust,a random supporter perhaps ??

     

    No

     

     

    He would be replaced by someone of similar background and attitude who would carry out instructions as Peter Lawwell does.

     

     

    Get over his salary and bonus

     

     

    The players and manager earn more.

  9. The Boca team bus was attacked on it’s way to the ground a few weeks ago, they refused to play at Rivers stadium, the game ended up being played in Madrid.

     

    Sandman is right, we should have refused to play the game for fear of player and supporter safety, it’s quite simple really, stand up to them or forever sit at the back of the bus, we have cowards running the club, all they care about is your money, they don’t even give an ef for the players.

  10. Stars

     

    With respect that’s utter shite.

     

    Pedro will have a remit for sure, but I very much doubt that the rest of the board care what he does within his remit, as long as the bonuses are forthcoming at the end of the year Pedro will be allowed to do what the ef he wants, it’s just how things work in a PLC.

  11. TET

     

    Was there not an incident recently at Liverpool v Man City CL game ?.

     

     

    What was the punishment there ?.

     

     

    I assume uefa stepped in .

     

     

    HH

  12. From what I can gather, the bus was not actually attacked. Smoke bombs were let off while the bus was arriving and the players were escorted into the ” stadium ” unharmed.

     

     

    Did we not give the Salzburg team bus the same treatment at Parkhead.?

     

     

    We debated this new occurrence after the disgraceful scenes at Liverpool. We knew it would escalate.

     

     

    HH to all.

  13. I slept well on Saturday night and woke up with nae angst, since then my whole waking moments have been spent going over this game.

     

     

    I have sen us lose many games we should have won, saw us getting grubbed from other sides including deidco, stood at the Copland road subway station after Paddy Crerands last game as punters were playing flutes and celebrating that the other tarrier side Clyde lost tae the harry wraggs.

     

     

    2 games we should have won stick out though, one believe it or not was the LC final when we were 4 down at half time and yet made enough chances in the 2nd half tae win the game, how did Jock approach this defeat, well he went out and signed a former free transfer fae the buddies as he blamed our goalie that afternoon. He also decided that our shot shy forward line needed beefing up and the following Saturday night signed a journeyman centre who was serving a 6 week suspension, no not for acting like the talcum powder sniffing moron but being indisciplined, couple of weeks later we took 5 off the maryhill magyars at firhill and the wee striker went on tae be one of the most loved and sung about players ever tae play for the hoops, we also won the double that season.

     

     

    The 2nd game was when we went tae hades flying high in the league having taken 6 off that scabby mob a few weeks previously, this just as they tried tae emulate us in the transfer market by paying double tae chelski what we had for Sutton. We went intae that game minus Lambo and Stubbsy. How did MON react, he went out and bought Lenny and “Ramon the treble” as he called him.

     

     

    The following midweek still shell shocked we were heading for a 0-0 tie at 2nd place hibbees when late in the game mitb dougal gave them a penalty even though the offended player was clearly offside. MON ran down the touch line and remonstrated with the linesman who then raised his flag, penalty denied and we left with a precious point, we won the treble that season.

     

     

    Both Jock and Martin stuck up for our club, neither were born Celtic supporters, the big mhan as a lad favoured deidco while Martin Sunderland, but like WGS grew tae love us, Brendan is a self confessed supporter, it’s time he acted like one,

  14. What is the Stars on

    Exiled

     

    So a replacement for Lawwell would splash the cash and bring in wonderful players who would win the treble and qualify for the champions league and probably only want half of Pedro’s salary for so doing.

     

    Hows that for utter sh**e as you so eloquently put it.

  15. OldTim67 – if you’re still looking in, send me an email at jobobaldie@yahoo.co.uk and I’ll reply with pretty easy to follow step by step instructions which worked for me (with regard to no ads, slow pages, etc on CQN). Oh and anyone else can do the same if they are so inclined. Heading out but will check later this afternoon.

  16. THE EXILED TIM

     

    Was a good opportunity to take what’s going on in the best wee country to an international audience.

     

    We will never see justice in the bitter confines of Scottish society.

     

    Forfeiting the points would have left us on the same number we have today.

     

    But it would have highlighted police Scotland for the sectarian organization they are.

     

    We could have cited the health and safety failures of them and the club called sevco that put our staff’s safety in jeopardy.

  17. BADA BING

     

    Maybe they have balls but their buried deep in their cash filled pockets?

     

    Kev has a point in separating them from their gravy train might force a reaction?

     

    At the very least they may be able to reach their balls as the pockets empty.

  18. I was unaware that the Celtic Team bus had been attacked (as mentioned earlier in a couple of posts). Does anyone have a link to this?

     

     

    Wishing Paul, and all CQN readers, a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful New Year. And, of course, a treble treble.

  19. Stars

     

    You know fine what I meant, I apologise for missing the :-), I meant to put one in after the utter shite quip, there is more than one way to skin a cat as the saying goes and imo Pedro has outlived his usefulness, we have cash in the bank in spite of him, the players and the manager are responsible for the 30+ mill we have in the bank.

     

    ………………………………………

     

    Adi

     

    Man city should have refused to play the game, they didn’t, so let uefa off the hook.

     

    ……………………………………….

     

    Fan

     

    For sure, but as we have money grabbing cowards running the club it’s never gonna happen

     

    …………………………………………………….

     

    Laters, things to do in a town far away.

  20. BigYininMilan

     

    Google it the mainstream media Star sun record covered it,I’m not posting links to their sites.

  21. GREENPINTA

     

    Considering the medias outrage at Celtic fans letting off smokebombs i would have expected it would be highlighted in the same publications?

     

    This was portrayed as endangering life.

     

    Personally i do not approve of them.

     

    Would be interesting to see if the police actually arrested anyone at the incident?

  22. TONTINE TIM on 31ST DECEMBER 2018 2:18 PM

     

    ——

     

    Tontine Tim great post as usual sir. ??

     

     

    D. :)

  23. A Happy New Year to all when it comes ( and to those already in 2019). I’ve not been as peed off with a result for a long time. As per many of our away displays we were bullied and our set up and personnel were wrong. I hope 2019 brings us a few quality additions, we get rid of the deadwood, I.e. Compper, Allan, De Vries and we get away from bringing guys in from the cold to play only for them to disappear just as quickly, I.e. Kouassi, Hayes, Izzy, Gamboa.

     

    Have faith in Brendan but he has to speak out about the referee decisions that, in any other walk of life, would be under greater scrutiny. You can’t always win on the park with pure football if the refs are he’ll bent on denying you fair play.

  24. Cosy Corner Bhoy on

    Thoughts two days later after reading some of the inputs on the blog:

     

    ‘’’ Heaven knows no rage like love turned to hate,nor hell a fury like a woman scorned’’

     

    W Shakespeare

     

     

    ‘’Nothing compares to the vituperation heaped upon The players and management of Celtic when they lose to the Hun at their twelfth attempt’’

     

    CCB

  25. I’m glad that I know nothing about anything, If I knew anything I’d go insane in the Memb….

     

     

    As sure as eggs are eggs, there is nae way Celtic can keep on being Dominant, especially coming from so little (but so large) – Mustard seed and all that.

     

     

    Celtic have, Thankfully, been Blessed. And that is in Respect of All the Great teams applauded after playing cracking fitba @ the Holy Ground – even beating Celtic.

     

     

    I had nae idea Tyson Fury was born premature weighing in @ 1lb.

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