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. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on




    NORRIEM reminded me of the injuries he has suffered since he arrived.


    Not to mention the humiliation dished out by Naysmth as he lay injured on the ground.





    I seriously feel that in time he will prove to be the player we hoped he would be.


    Can`t be easy arriving at different class Celtic from Aberdeen.


    We are different class.

  2. N’tcham issue is connected to Brown. No surprise his only really good game recently has come when Scott was not playing vs Dundee.



    I am a big fan of our skipper both as a person and a player but I think his time has come to move on.



    The results and performances of others with and without Broony don’t lie.

  3. BURNLEY78 on 2ND JANUARY 2019 10:57 PM



    Agree with your comments on Brown. Re Ntcham can you remember when he played well away from home? I cant. Lovely player but when he needs to dig in he doesn’t cut it for me. Quite similar to Sinclair in many ways, when they going gets tough, they go missing.

  4. DD



    I think Olivier Ntcham was mugged like his team mates, and it started when the SMSM ramped up the game, Sevco took the Celtic support out of the equation, the SFA put in their placemen, and their supporters menaced the team bus.



    We were never coming out of there with anything and BR was even totally philosophical in his after match presser.



    Celtic are the course and distance club we’ll strengthen in la fenetre regroup and the gap will open up starting with three home league games.

  5. Delaneys Dunky on



    You reckon Olly is at it?


    Thought that myself on a few occasions this season but put it to back of my mind.


    He hid on Saturday and made Broonie look worse than he was.


    If what you and I suspect is true?


    Get him out our squad.

  6. SFTB- Totally agree with your reply,IMO Boyata has been POTY so far,and the ship has sailed getting money for him,he was always waiting on a Bosman ….

  7. CELTIC40ME @ 10:10 PM,



    We were total keech at ibrox, but the problem wasn’t the missing players, it was the man of the match from August and the rest of the players who had strolled through that game. Our best players let us down



    Well, it’s swings and roundabouts…



    My guess, if we all go back to August and print that team sheet and say, that’s the team for the “New Year’s” game at Ibrox, you’d be dumbstruck and expecting to lose.



    The one thing fholk haven’t addressed in all the criticism is what team would they have picked and why would their chosen team have beaten Sevco… I’m still waiting to hear.



    Also Sevco were petty much a brand new team, with a rookie manager in August. Steven Gerrard made a “team” of them and qualified for the Europa League and were far from being embarrassed at that level…



    Is that highly motivated side at home, with a Partisan crowd and hand picked officials going to be…



    …in any way, shape, or form, the same as Celtic Park in August?!



    !!BADA BING!! on 2ND JANUARY 2019 10:13 PM



    ….”the Lawwell lovers can’t have it both ways re Boyata,total mismanagement.”



    Exactly, this is a bug bear…



    We are such a well run operation..!?



    Where is our risk, benefit analysis?



    Right May 2018… Boyata doesn’t sign a new contract and wants a transfer after the WC…



    So buy a new Centre Half, we need one any way, Brendan wants some quality there…



    Boyata’s at the WC



    We need the player to be bedded in



    We have important UCL qualifiers to play






    What do we do… Buy a quality Centre Half… Right…



    The PLC: Well, no, what if we can’t sell Boyata, what if we don’t have that money coming in, what if we have to keep paying his wages and the other guys wages what if…



    Terrible risk averse attitude, a scenario a first year accountancy student could manage without the need of a Trillion Pound bonus…



    Hail Hail

  8. Never trust a player with an agent called Lichtenstein



    His representative Jacques Lichtenstein turned up at Celtic’s training ground to demand showdown talks with Brendan Rodgers on Friday but failed to get the meeting he desired.



    And he has now suggested that Boyata, who is out of contract next summer, is ready to down tools for the rest for the season.



    Lichtenstein said: “What state of mind is Dedryck in? It’s difficult, it’s impossible for this kind of pain to go away in less than a month.”



    “Entering the last ten months of his contract, everyone understands that he cannot put his career at risk by playing even slightly injured or at 95 per cent.



    “Dedryck cannot put his future and his family’s future in danger by playing without being 100 per cent. On January 1, he will sign elsewhere by being free, without reporting anything to Celtic.”



    Old News CSC

  9. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    We are all talking about players.



    To my mind , the most important ” issue ” is the mindset of Brendan.


    He would be absolutely aware of the capitulation which took place at Ibrox.



    Can he keep his head ?



    I , for one , am damn sure he can .

  10. Nothing has changed since 13/08/2018



    “The club has been in negotiations with Dedryck from last season. I think it was pretty clear we wanted to keep him. Rightly, for him, he wanted to wait until after the World Cup to see how it all went.



    “Different to Tom Rogic, who wanted it signed and sealed before he went. The agent wanted to see their options. Put it on hold because he was away. And obviously now there have been one or two offers for him.



    “But if we lose a centre-half of that quality at this vital stage we have to be able to replace him.



    “So, rightly, the club will look at that – and I have to look at that as the manager – to see if all the timing is right.



    “He’s a player we don’t want to lose. He may run his contract down but, unless there’s something other than that, we want him to be here.”

  11. BSR- given that Boyata hadn’t signed a new deal,and the World Cup was happening, we should have made our intention known, that he was for sale,but as no replacement was brought in, he spat the dummy out, but to be fair, i think he has been POTY so far.

  12. Delaneys Dunky on



    How can Celtic no sign a good Dubliner?


    Even Liam Brady was a shite manager.


    The north of the Isle seem to suit us better.


    Three of my favourite Celtic managers were born in the occupied 6 Counties.


    Martin, Neil and Brendan.


    Irish Celtic heroes






    Agents get a pretty bad rep…



    But I’ve got to say, on this occasion I’ve got some sympathy for the guy.



    To have spent so much time and energy, completing a deal between Fulham, your client (Dedryk) and Celtic, just ready for all agreed parties to sign off the deal…



    Only to find that no one had actually talked to and agreed the deal with Celtic’s head of football…



    Much as I love Celtic, but that is amateur hour… the keystone cops of football…



    A very low point indeed…



    Hail Hail

  14. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on








    How can Celtic no sign a good Dubliner?





    Absolutely sure Brendan is up for that. Johnny Hayes fitted that bill .


    He has also stated that he wants to sign Jocks and has done so.


    I am very hopeful for Hendry .



    I feel that Brendan has taken some calculated risks in his team selections in relation to ” saving ” players for Euro games .


    He will have learned that Ibrox ( Mikey ) is not the place to be doing that.



    The Ibrox humiliation will turn out to be a good thing as the penalty kick loss to the buns turned out to be a good thing.


    All we lost was face.



    Hopefully :-)

  15. Delaneys Dunky on



    I am sorry to report that Jack Hendry is rotten and a total waste of £1.5m.


    My post the day we signed this lump of wood.


    What is happening wi Celtic recruitment???

  16. BSR


    A blast from the past there: Emva Cream. A close relative has some strong memories – uncle huey…! HH

  17. CELTIC40ME @ 11:34 PM,



    I’m not at all sure that you have.



    When? & Where?



    No more prevaricating…



    Hail Hail

  18. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on




    Haven`t seen enough of him to judge , mate.



    But the price was right , imho :-)

  19. from a position of strength we sure shoot ourself in the foot.



    i dont think it will change with pl or his replacement.



    a ridiculous amount of bonus money.

  20. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    FRIESDORFER on 2ND JANUARY 2019 11:40 PM







    A blast from the past there: Emva Cream. A close relative has some strong memories – uncle huey…! HH






    Not to mention uncle Ralph .




    God Bless Billy .

  21. Delaneys Dunky on



    All the very best for 2019 for you my new pal. See you for an ale soon.





    I only recall one poster suggesting Brendan be sacked.


    Thats hardly a distinct thread.


    Do people who share a different viewpoint from you have to be haters or deluded?

  23. CELTIC40ME @ 11:34 PM,



    You have not answered my question, you stated some innuendo as if fact, why?



    Not very nice to be so accusational without backing it up is it?



    Perhaps you could also elaborate on your thesis it was Brendan Rodgers who sold Dembele without making provision for an adequate replacement…



    Can you elucidate?



    Hail Hail

  24. Delaneys Dunky on

    Friesdorfer and MacJay


    My uncles were Ralph and Shooey and Boabbbb.


    Whitey reminiscing ???????

  25. Delaneys Dunky on



    Time to change the subject.


    Judith Ralston or Lucy Verasamy?


    Lucy in the sky wi diamonds for me. ???



  26. Delaneys Dunky on



    Colin Hay has written your Australian National Anthem wi that song. Magical


    ACDC Thunderstruck in reserve. ??



  27. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on



    Youre right.


    I called him a hun.


    That was unkind.




    And the `fishel National Anthem.


    “Advance Australia Fair” is the national anthem of Australia. Created by the Scottish-born composer Peter Dodds McCormick, the song was first performed in …

  28. Delaneys Dunky on



    That version of Overkill wi the choir was immense.


    Thanks for introducing me to such musical bliss.



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