State of the Club Report, December 2018


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. David17



    Another perspective is that the team has shown evidence of being in a state of decline and has suffered a number of damaging defeats.



    We have had a slightly larger number of away defeats than usual. The evidence would have to be tortured to tell you if this was a decline or a blip.



    It has not gone unnoticed on here over a period of time and has nothing to do with rags.



    The period of time that it (our decline) has been noted and commented upon has included each of the past 7 years where we landed the title. The prediction this year could well be accurate but , personally, I have been accused of complacency each year that I have predicted a title win. The poster Mickbhoy1888 regularly tells me to bet my house on it as he as predicted our failure and decline over many of those years.




    Nothing is guaranteed this season from here on in and in the future



    And nothing was guaranteed in the past either. All our titles were won by solid effort and by players and managers who were criticised more than they were supported. Only solid effort from the players will win it this year and, while recruitment is important, you don’t win the title for having the best transfer window, either. If the huns manage to get Steven Davis and Charlie Adam back, they will have strengthened with two experienced players. But would you make them favourites?

  2. Delaneys Dunky on

    Fan a tic


    We need stronger leadership within Celtic Park on all levels. We need to up our game in 2019 on all levels. Boardroom, Management, Players and Celtic Supporters.



  3. Delaneys Dunky on



    As the Exiled Tim has posted on here for years. “Sort the refs, you sort Scottish fitba.”





    I was just curious as to why your time frame changed.


    Also no need for apology as i enjoyed the debate and agree to differ on opinion.


    No objections on your point of winning 7 but worried that complacency will continue our dismal away record and put our title chances in peril.


    I just feel the board’s priorities need to be adjusted.



  5. Saint stivs


    Your action man story has rekindled a memory from over 40 years ago…..



    Sitting in class, the teacher asks us what we all want for Christmas. One shameless 15 yo girl pipes up ” an action man…..with gripping hands”.



    Neither the teacher or anyone else knew quite where to look!



    Have to admit -great line though!

  6. celticrollercoaster



    A major factor CRC, no doubt about it, moreso if in a close, or closer run league.


    Doubt if we as a club will attempt to change anything in that respect, Lenny got hung out to dry, still does if he tries.

  7. Delaneys Dunky on

    Billy Bhoy


    It was really you she wanted for Christmas that year. Commando ??



  8. That display on Saturday had a no excuses tag on it , it was a total disgrace of a performance . We toyed with That mob at Celtic park scored only once ,but toyed with them, to meet them later on and the tables turned by a team with Andy halliday in it is unbelievable . Teams are finding our Achilles heel , a team with no stomach for a battle, it’s a long long time since i saw the Celts humbled by that mob . We couldn,t beat allow with so many passengers . Gordon and .McGregor were our triers . Can’t think of many pass marks , maybe the atmosphere got to them ., it never got to aitken burns .brogan, auld ,hay


    These guys rolled there sleeves up to get into them , we didn t always win , but we didn’t yeald as we did on Saturday. how many times have we had the chance to pull away from them ,and squandered the opportunity, we need a lot of money spent , money we should have spent start of the season , along with money earmarked for now . I cant see the amount needed to improve our squad with quality arriving , I fear that 8 in a row is no forgone conclusion. I pray to god im wrong

  9. Delaneys Dunky on



    Hope Bertie and the other dunkys are warm tonight. Biting cold in Bankieland.



  10. @Hot Smoked



    No mate, not the same guy. I’ve been a member for years as Curlybhoy but don’t post often.

  11. We need to emulate Salzburg, no prima donnas,quick, hungry, skilful and determined.






    Very good of you, appreciate it. Will be in touch via email.



    Hail hail.

  13. West Brom enquiring about Victor Wanyama on loan…..


    I’d take him back in a heartbeat

  14. SFTB- Boyata should have been offered a new contract last January, if he doesn’t sign it,sell in the summer (10m offer from Fulham),and at least 2 CBs should have been identified then,as Jozo is unreliable. Asset management is a huge part of Lawwells job,total failure in this instance. FWIW ,u think Boyata was promised he could leave in the summer, and we reneged,as no replacement was brought in.HH

  15. Asupporterwhogotlucky on



    Thanks for the warm welcome



    SCANIEL TB was a great man, he called my Granda, Da and always left tickets for him, i last spoke to him at my Grandas funeral, a genuine star that was so humble.



    Chairbhoy No, I wouldn’t persist with CMG at left back, that decision was, for me, the biggest f*ck up since Rafael Scheidt :) still give CMG his due no matter where BR has put him he has put in a shift.




  16. CHAIRBHOY on 2ND JANUARY 2019 9:02 PM



    The team which completely dominated the Huns in August wasn’t much different from the one who performed so poorly at ibrox. Injuries and an international call up aside.



    That was far from a poor Celtic team

  17. !!BADA BING!! @ 9:31 PM



    “….FWIW ,u think Boyata was promised he could leave in the summer, and we reneged,as no replacement was brought in.HH



    Yes, that’s most certainly the case… if it had been handled properly we’d could have brought in a good CH got £10M for Boyata.



    As it happens we’re down 10M and are paying for a loanee (pretty good one as it happens but still a loanee).



    Hail Hail

  18. Name a ‘very badly run club’ with a ‘failed transfer policy’ (these are the cliches folks) that are 5/1 on, to win their league for the eighth time in a row?



    No googling you are only cheating yourself CSC

  19. Delaneys Dunky on



    Overwhelming stench of ammonia, lager and whisky on the jungle terrace. Magical memory from childhood. ??????

  20. Asupporterwhogotlucky on

    Delaneys Dunky on 2nd January 2019 9:46 pm






    Could you no have chosen a shorter moniker? ?






    Aye I think i got the moniker mixed up with the password and tried to keep it long, when singing up ;p




  21. CELTIC40ME @ 9:43 PM,



    For me we don’t have the depth of quality, so when we get injuries and international call ups we become threadbare.



    Also I don’t think Lustig is fit, nor Brown, nor Benkovic… Plus Forrest and others look leggy, unsurprisingly…



    Christie for all his recent wow factor, is relatively inexperienced and we had no striker.



    If instead of flaffing aboot, trying to make a Dollar I the Summer, we had brought in a RB, a CH, a CM at the quality required and held on to Dembele.



    We could be resting Lustig and Brown, we could have sold Boyata for a handsome profit and we’d be up a few bob and scoring goals for fun…



    We do not have a great Celtic side, I can think of ten better off the top of my head… that includes 80s and 90s teams…



    Hail Hail

  22. Asupporterwhogotlucky: Fàilte to the madhouse.



    Keep on posting.



    Going to iron my TOCSC polo shirt tomorrow.




  23. Premier League strugglers Fulham ready to make fresh bid for Celtic defender Dedryck Boyata in January


    The Cottagers had a £9million bid for the defender rejected in August


    Boyata is in the final year of his contract and could leave for free next summer


    Claudio Ranieri replacing Slavisa Jokanovic as Fulham boss last week



    Don’t Panic CSC




    Thanks for your perspective :))



    We all see things differently, personally i prefer to see things through a worse case scenario. I think our Board should see things in a similar vain.

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