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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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968 Comments

  1. It’s not about the Anti Brendan Rodgers debate,it’s about a lot of his team selections he has put on the park this season,which has backfired,So in my opinion if Brendan gets it tight on here,then that’s telling us that his tactics have been wrong.imagini if it was another manger in charge at Celtic,he would the one the fans would like the club to be replaced,case in point Ronny Delia.

  2. CRC

     

     

    The full hooose had money oan it – except me ( never gambled with a bookie, ever)

     

    Both daughters, Son in laws and Wife

     

     

    Hayes had decent game, last time played at Celtic Park, and did well 2nd half Aberdeen

     

    Your right about Paddy, he did have a few appearances though from Feb – May, once clear of injury

  3. South Of Tunis on

    Boyata?

     

     

    Search Italian cyberspace and you get old stories linking him with Lazio and new ones linking him with Siviglia.According to mainstream Italian fitba media Roma are competing with Inter re the signing of a 19 year old centre half from Galatasaray.Can’t remember his name but allegedly He’s a snip at 7.5 million euros

  4. Asupporterwhogotlucky on

    Haven’t posted before, but I’ve been a regular reader. So hello all.

     

     

    I suppose like quite a few others, I became a ‘serious’ supporter on 25th of May 1967, i still remember dancing in the street with my father after watching the game, pre that as a kid i’d get a lift over the turnstiles at parkhead due to persistent begging, or i would skip into firhill for the last 20 minutes if we played in my neighbourhood.

     

     

    Like a lot of others, I’ve went through the good and the bad times, but of late it’s been good, when MON took over, now BR.

     

     

    Okay Saturday was hard to watch. Everyone has bad days at work, but this team and management have had some really good days, far outweighing the bad ones, give them a break and let’s see what happens during and after the break.

     

     

    Because Celtic are financially stronger than any other club in the SPFL does not automatically give them a right to win all the time, it’s just silly to think so.

     

     

    Remember £42,000 is all it cost to bring together the LISBON LIONS, had they no right to beat the big spending Inter Milans or Real Madrids et all..? and how dare they go on (when having no financial right) to winning 9IAR also.

     

     

    It’s good to strengthen our club, but not always the wisest move to spend big to do so, I’ve been saying for years that Callum McGregor is/was the most under-rated player at Parkhead, this season everyone else seems to agree.

     

     

    HH

  5. ASUPPORTERWHOGOTLUCKY on 2ND JANUARY 2019 8:18 PM

     

     

     

    Good post mate, welcome aboard to the mad house…. hopefully the happy house again soon.??

  6. Cosy Corner Bhoy on

    Happy New Year to ALL on CQN.

     

    Beelin’ as I was following the Sevco result and even more so with our team selection and performance, I still think we will win the league again this year.

     

    Find it hard to read a lot of the inputs but to each their own.

     

    Condolences to GerrBhoy on the death of his wife’s father.

     

    MAH: It’s an omen I tell you…. Your delayed treatment day coincides with CCBs return to golf so….Caunel in St Winin’s?

  7. Asupporterwhogotlucky on

    Frambo11 you’re apparently using some other program that is using screen capture, depending on what OS you are running skygo on you need to close the other process so skygo can use the screen capture.

  8. SAINT STIVS on 2ND JANUARY 2019 8:28 PM

     

    pre season 61, celtic end half roof going up, old main stand still in place.

     

     

     

    correction pre 1939. nae floodlights to guide the german bombers

     

     

    its really 57 or 58

  9. celticrollercoaster on

    Norrie67

     

     

    Just as well it won :-)

     

     

    I hope Johnny Hayes makes it. Like any player, needs a run in the team and support from the fans to give him a fighting chance.

     

     

    HH

     

     

    CRC

  10. !!BADA BING!! on 2ND JANUARY 2019 8:09 PM

     

    To let Boyata walk for hee haw is criminal, but a £2.3m bonus gets paid…

     

     

    ————

     

     

    When you factor in AEK Athens defeat, whole episode could be as much as a £50m disaster.

  11. I realize they are linked but i feel our possession to shots on goal ratio is a bigger concern than our dropping of points this season.

     

    Against the huns we still managed 55% possession but sevco goalsie had nothing to do after saving JF’s early shot.

  12. asupporterwhogotlucky

     

     

    Welcome to CQN! No divine rights to win agreed, but I think it is fair to say that decisions taken at both board and management level have left the team weaker. We follow a model that can deliver, but it can also leave us devoid of options when changes need to be made. Anyways you are here now hope you stick around!

  13. DAVID17 on 2ND JANUARY 2019 8:39 PM

     

    !!BADA BING!! on 2ND JANUARY 2019 8:09 PM

     

    To let Boyata walk for hee haw is criminal, but a £2.3m bonus gets paid…

     

    ————

     

    When you factor in AEK Athens defeat, whole episode could be as much as a £50m disaster.

     

    ………………………………………………………..

     

    Naw, you are both mistaken, we are the best run club on the planet so we are, let’s blame Brendan.

  14. Sorry but Johnny Hayes,Morgan,Mulumba,Hendry,time for them to move on ,along with the usual suspects,also Benovcic, personally I think is to slow,and lately being caught out a few times,No time for the Board to start spending some serious money on New players, Another goalkeeper ,a big Strong Centre Half,a pacy Right Back, Another Midfielder, Striker,and Another Left winger,also sell on all the fringe players,who when they get there chance can’t hike it,in Summary a big clear out is badly needed,also another recruiting manger wouldn’t go amiss,

  15. BURNLEY78 on 2ND JANUARY 2019 7:49 PM

     

    Back to Basics

     

     

     

    Great perspective.

     

     

     

    Too many Record readers and BBC website followers not seeing the full picture.

     

     

    ———

     

     

    Personally i wouldn’t give either of those rags as much as a website click and i know many others on here are the same. Another perspective is that the team has shown evidence of being in a state of decline and has suffered a number of damaging defeats. It has not gone unnoticed on here over a period of time and has nothing to do with rags. Nothing is guaranteed this season from here on in and in the future, we must invest to reduce the risk of failing to achieve key targets as much as possible. To ignore the risk is at best complacent, at worst it is negligence.

  16. THE EXILED TIM @8-44 DAVID17 BADA BING

     

    Petdro’s BIG bonus suggest’s you’re all talking mince.;-))

  17. Brendan allegedly ? Vetoed the sale of Boyata in the summer

     

    Wanted a replacement in before selling

     

    Mind you we got Benkovic on loan at what time 23.30 on last day of window

     

     

    Another issue this summer transfer window

  18. Delaneys Dunky on

    Celtic Mac

     

    Bad decisions have been made this season, by our board, our management team and by players on the pitch. Those cumulative bad decisions came to the fore at Ibrox on Saturday. All 3 departments need to sort it in Dubai.

     

    YNWA

  19. mike in toronto on

    TET …..

     

     

    my attitude is that when we win, everyone gets the credit …. the Board, the manager, the team, and even the fans, all play a part.

     

     

    Similarly, when we fail, there is usually something that each could have done better.

  20. TET

     

     

    Was Lawwell not getting the blame the first time for trying to sell Boyata from under BR’s feet?

     

     

    Now, he is getting the blame for failing to sell him this January (even though we are only 2 days intae the windae).

     

     

    If Celtic sell Boyata in January, who will we blame if we lose the league through only having weaker CB’s left?

  21. celticrollercoaster on

    NorrieM

     

     

    Could we have not got a striker in at 23:59 to replace Moussa? :-)

     

     

    HH

     

     

    CRC

  22. celticrollercoaster on

    DELANEYS DUNKY on 2ND JANUARY 2019 8:50 PM

     

    Celtic Mac

     

     

    Bad decisions have been made this season, by our board, our management team and by players on the pitch. Those cumulative bad decisions came to the fore at Ibrox on Saturday. All 3 departments need to sort it in Dubai.

     

     

    YNWA

     

     

    ——————-

     

     

    Dont forget the bad decisions by the Referees, who are cranking up their efforts…..certainly over the last 2 games

     

     

    This level playing field we where after, appears to be beginning to slope again

     

     

     

    HH

     

     

    CRC

  23. FRAMBO11

     

     

    You need to close all programs that can capture your screen such as quick player etc. por cierto

  24. FAN-A-TIC on 2ND JANUARY 2019 7:00 PM

     

    CELTI4OME

     

     

    We have won trophies in the six years referenced in your first post.

     

     

    Why change that to 18 years in your response?

     

     

    Because I dont know about our financials before then but I do know that after we didn’t make profit in many years but won a lot of trophies

     

     

    Sorry, I wasn’t being critical of you when I was talking about it being a simplistic way of looking at things. I was talking about my post

     

     

    Performances have dipped over the last year but what really counts, always, is trophies. 7 out of 7 is about as close to proof as you’ll get that things are being done right. You just don’t get those results without a lot of smart hard work

  25. Asupporterwhogotlucky

     

    Welcome and fine first post. No better reason for becoming a serious fan. Mine was hearing the news of the 1957 league cup final. I’m guessing you’re a big fan of TB as well. Another great reason for being a serious fan. Hail Hail.

  26. CRC

     

    Not convinced the referees are any worse.

     

    The slope never really left.

     

    Both Ronnie and Brendan have suffered baffling decisions.

     

    Maybe the fact that we have struggled at times has emboldened them with a belief that they can influence the title race.

  27. ASUPPORTERWHOGOTLUCKY @ 8:18 PM,

     

     

    Welcome and a Happy New year!! Good call on Calmac… a special talent.

     

     

    Do you think we should persist with him at left back? Just seems to be oot:)

     

     

    OGLACH @ 4:39 PM,

     

     

    ….3 quality players worth a huge sell on fee (which is after all the boards mantra and raison d’être) from the ? we have signed in ? years would indicate we do not have a decent and consistent scouting system. IMHO

     

     

    Some very insightful posts from you today.

     

     

    Must admit, I’m a little concerned, some of the fholk coming on… blaming BR for Arzani and selling Dembele without bringing in a replacement (the later wasn’t today but following a similar agenda).

     

     

    Are these ghuys oblivious to how Celtic work the transfer market or are they… as ma’ aul da would say… at it!?

     

     

    Point being, you’ve hit the nail on the head with your posts… the recruitment a mess…

     

     

    We seem to be running several recruitment policies, some j7st for profit… We need to peel back and get back to basics.

     

     

    BR highlighted exactly what our priorities were in June ’18. In hindsight he was spot on, yet Celtic were juggling so many balls that our head of football was all but ignored…

     

     

    We now see him having to take the can for that, worse, we have fholk that can’t see the problem…

     

     

    We have made £55M and still have a great side?

     

     

    SERIOUS!!

     

     

    That side against A Glasgow Rangers (Sevco version, with grabbing hands) was a poor Celtic team.

     

     

    BR came, took RDs squad, sorted some wheat from the chaff brought in some quality and despite all odds were invincible in Scotland and impressive in Europe.

     

     

    A baseline was established… yet it has been down hill all the way…

     

     

    £55M profit, who does that benefit, when your being embarrassed in Ibrox? We are as poor a team as we’ve been in years.

     

     

    We need experienced quality players, five of them, we need to win the league and beat Valencia…

     

     

    If Brendan is backed he will so just that!!

     

     

    Hail Hail

  28. Watching Newcastle sitting with 9/10 men behind the ball v Man U. How frustrating would that be spending millions of pounds on a team to play that way. Geordie Quick News will be in meltdown tonight por cierto