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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. Yea, I know its only the 3rd Jan.. I really do know that, but I sincerely hope we are looking to add much more than an 18 year old 6 month loanee, (when will he get game time ??), a player from Dunajska Streda!! (what league are they in?? what Country do they play in??) and the status quo of Benkovic. The minute Weah gets an injury playing the likes of Motherwell (nae disrespect, but an industrial style side), Killie away on their threadbare carpet, or Aberdeen home or away, PSG will hook him.

     

    The Club has money, real money.. ship out or free those who get paid to turn up to training, and there’s the wages for a couple of decent quality, proven, experienced players.

     

    HH.. and Yes, I do KTF. Cheers.

  2. FAN-A-TIC

     

     

    It’s a matter of perspective.

     

     

    This medium rewards extremism and reality never impinges on the world of the extremist.

     

     

    My main point remains: some of the stuff on here in recent times is quite unrepresentative of the views of most Celtic supporters.

     

     

    That’s absolutely fine. But for me it’s disappointing to read blatantly biased anti Celtic smears here such as the msm can only dream of writing.

  3. Delaneys Dunky on

    MacJay

     

    Colin Hay may be a bluenose.?

     

    He is never a hun.

     

    Judge him by his lyrics.

     

    Sounds mair like a Tim to me.

     

    YNWA

  4. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    DELANEYS DUNKY on 3RD JANUARY 2019 12:43 AM

     

     

    You`re right , Garry.

     

     

    I regretted using that description .

  5. Delaneys Dunky on

    Ron Bacardi

     

    Billy Campbell fae Clydebank band The Trinkets is still to be found in Red Eye Recording Studio Clydebank.

     

    Let the People play and sing.

     

    YNWA

  6. FRITZONG

     

    I agree that it is about perspective.

     

    But what perspective do you have that allows you to label Celtic supporters haters and deluded?

     

    They may be deluded but i have never honestly met any supporters who are critical of the club to do so because of hate.

     

    Many are disappointed for various reasons and sound off but i believe this is down to loving and wanting the best for Celtic.

     

    As far of being unrepresentative the views of the wider Celtic support i am not so sure.

     

    I can only say that i have a large family and many are season ticket holders and the majority of them share the view that Pedro’s bonus is not justified, the transfer failings of the summer and the clubs refusal to stand up for the support and silence on the cheating have given them pause for thought when season ticket renewal comes around.

     

    The heart will probably win and that the plc knows gives them leverage.

     

    But hopefully a good transfer window where the team is given priority will remove any doubt.

  7. Two Rangers directors received a raise of nearly £40,000 during a year where the club recorded a £14.3million loss.

     

     

    Managing director Stewart Robertson and finance director Andrew Dickson saw their pay packages rise for the second year running, according to the Evening Times.

  8. Bada / Chairboy @ ages ago

     

     

    BR didn’t want £9M pounds in Celtic’s bank account as its no use to him its not his cash, there was no replacement player for Dedryk Boyata, and he’s said as much last summer.

     

     

    He wants his best players selectable he’s a football man and deals with the cards he’s got, Celtic get a transfer fee, he gets an empty peg to fill in the dressing room he wanted Boyata to stay but like Stuart Armstrong before, the draw of mega bucks elsewhere is too strong.

     

     

    Running down contracts happens in football BR isn’t interested in the length of a players contract and he’ll prove that by selecting Boyata till summer, just like he did with Armstrong.

     

     

    Can’t blame Celtic because players are hell bent on leaving, ‘the board’ would have been castigated

     

    if they’d sold Boyata without the BR nod.

  9. Is it true that, Brendan couldn’t defeat big Stevie Clark’s Kilmarnock, until Scott Brown went out of the team, through injury ?

     

     

    Is it also true that, WGS wouldn’t have won three in a row, if Scott Brown hadn’t gone out of the Celtic team, through injury ?

     

     

    Asking for a dear friend who’s conscience is bothering them.

     

     

    Thanks in advance. ?

     

     

     

    ????________________?

  10. Saturday still sticks in my craw.

     

    I’ve often suffered loads of disappointments against the Huns, Kai Johansson’s goal is a memory I’ve failed to suppress for 50 years.

     

    Against a team of badly assembled second rate loanees, we were bullied and intimidated.

     

    Slow to react to loose balls. Careless in passing. Weak in the tackle.

     

    Some of our players hid in plain sight.

     

    We wanted them to stand off us and allow us to control, look up and make a decision.

     

    They were on top of us, harassing, harrying, chasing and regularly pulling a shirt, leaving a boot in and following through in the tackle.

     

    Lack of effort and reaction is unforgivable.

     

    Injuries inhibiting tactical changes pre and during the game is no excuse.

     

    We were let down badly by the majority of the spineless 14 players on the park.

     

    They thought we were out for a stroll in the park.

     

    The Huns went out for a rumble, to win by fair means or foul.

     

    Where is our enforcer? Brown can’t do it all himself.

     

    Ntcham is no replacement for Wanyama.

     

    Go out and buy a hard man Brendan. Someone to consistently win the ball and channel it to the likes of Christie, McGregor or Forrest.

  11. Re Chelsea investment in Pulisic.

     

    He has caught the imagination of the US Soccer fans after impressing in the international side.

     

    Americans love the lore of a small town home grown talented sports hero. The lad hails from Hershey PA, better known for chocolate than soccer talent.

     

    Chelsea will surely see a considerable uptick in jersey sales.

     

    Greater exposure on TV and an increase in their digital media subscriptions.

     

    Invitations and financial incentives to participate in USA friendlies.

     

    I’ve no doubt missed many more potential income streams.

     

    A good investment even if the lad can’t force his way into the first XI

  12. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    ‘GG on 3RD JANUARY 2019 2:10 AM

     

    Saturday still sticks in my craw.

     

     

     

     

    I’ve often suffered loads of disappointments against the Huns, Kai Johansson’s goal is a memory I’ve failed to suppress for 50 years.

     

     

    =======================================================

     

     

    I was there that day too.

     

     

    Davie Provan raced up the field to the hun end to congratulate Kai.

     

     

    When he returned to his left back berth at the Celtic end , he ran towards us giving us all the double handed vicky .

     

     

     

    Wee Berty reckons he was a good guy.

     

    Aye, Ok.

  13. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    My only feeling on leaving the enclosure that day was one of disappointment at the way we lost the late goal to Colin Stein ( ? )

     

     

    The TV in the pub on Paisley Rd. West changed the perspective for all of us .

     

     

    There is a photograph of Jock Stein on the field assisting with the emergency staff in the immediate aftermath .

     

    Was it too hard to include that ?

     

    Does it not fit the agenda of Big Jock knew ?

     

     

     

    https://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/news/17330200.ibrox-disaster-1971-three-eyewitnesses-remember-the-horrific-day-66-people-died/

  14. Macjay

     

    I didn’t think I could ever feel worse than after the 3-0 replay in 1963.

     

    However the ’66 was a heavier blow as for once we were by far the better side, making and spurning more chances.

     

    Added to the disappointment of the late chalked off goal in Liverpool and with Rangers breathing down our necks in the league it was a nail biting end to the season.

  15. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    ‘GG on 3RD JANUARY 2019 3:44 AM

     

     

    Glad to be reminded of the setbacks around that time . But we didn`t really expect much after the years of drought .

     

     

    The Dunfermline final was the crusher for me . Age 14 and optimism dashed .

     

    My God. We were all over them.

     

     

    Then Jock came home.

     

     

    We lose our fi

  16. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    ‘GG on 3RD JANUARY 2019 3:44 AM

     

     

    Glad to be reminded of the setbacks around that time . But we didn`t really expect much after the years of drought .

     

     

    The Dunfermline final was the crusher for me . Age 14 and optimism dashed .

     

    My God. We were all over them.

     

     

    Then Jock came home.

     

     

    Last weekend we lose our first game to the huns in about ten.

     

    A blip . Nothing more .

  17. I have a memory of Big Jock in a white overcoat like a ghostly wraith on the track after the game.

     

    Good night and God bless everyone.

  18. Good morning friends from a dry, cold but not freezing East Kilbride. Time to return for work and as I do I feel that the January window only really opens today.

     

    Anyone know when our Bhoys actually depart for Dubai?

  19. Morning all, bit of chill in the Chilterns… still mild for January…

     

     

    Both Airdrie and Coatbridge claiming Dean Ford as their own… we’ll just say he was a Monklands lad… May He RIP.

     

     

    MacJay & DD… Glad you enjoyed it, very underrated singer, songwriter in my opinion.

     

     

    BOURNESOUPRECIPE @ 1:30 AM,

     

     

    In total agreement with that…. My point was two fold really, firstly in response to fholk who’d like to pin the blame for our recruitment issues solely or mainly on Brendan, for me it is more complex.

     

     

    Secondly, if we had replaced Boyata (who we know wanted away) as soon as he refused to sign the extension, (which was BR’s stated aim) then we would have had CH in for the UCL qualifiers, we could have sold Boyata on his return… kerrrching!! Sure there is risk involved but it’s manageable risk.

     

     

    Lesson learned!?

     

     

    Let’s hope so… I’d really like to park this issue and look forward to getting some quality in this window but if the Brendan Bashers come on, I reserve the right of reply;)

     

     

    Have A good one!

     

     

    Hail Hail

  20. I have to say I have not read all of the comments this holiday season, but I have not noticed anyone mention the amount of fouling suffered by KT. There is no doubt these cumulative fouls are causing him great pain from his injuries.i attended a game in Seattle a number of years ago and a young Man Utd player took out a Celtic player.About 10 mins later Chris Sutton gave the young guy a smash in a tackle he will never forget,Sutton didn’t get a card it was a free kick, but Roy Keane was in the vicinity of the tackle and he started laughing,he knew the kid was being sent a message by an experienced pro.

     

    And that is what KT needs an experienced pro who lets these cloggers know they are going to pay for these attacks on our best player or players.

     

    I would also have liked to see Scott Brown play at fullback ,although I think with a fit KT and Ralston we have two guys who can fill those positions for a very long time

     

    HNY everyone

  21. Good morning CQN from a cold but dry Garngad

     

    Well 12 month of crap transfer windows and now 3 days into the current transfer window and we still have not signed anyone of any note. In fact we have not signed anyone this window.

     

     

    Our recruitment issues have remained the same, for 12 months.SHOCKING

     

    In fact it’s worse because we have allowed chasing pack to get nearer us.

     

     

    We should be signing players right away, negotiations should have been completed before the window opens…. Ffs stop pussying about and get it done Celtic.

     

     

    Rant over. Still good to be a TIM

     

     

    HH

     

     

    D. :)

  22. morning bhoys from a freezing Cheshire, agree with david66 get the chequebook out peter.hh.

  23. in ither news…………….

     

     

    Big name EPL stars will inevitably choose the rainjurz efter snubbin’ dim-witted an’ ditherin’ Celtic.

     

     

    Anything vaguely positive for Celtic is dealt with in a clipped and curt manner and always followed up by a definitive negative suggesting resultant and imminent disappointment for undeserving Tims.

     

     

    oh, and the elephant in the (blue) room is never, ever disturbed by inconvenient questioning or perspective.

     

     

     

    HH

  24. Re Transfers.

     

    Chairbhoy @ 7:49 am said:

     

     

    `…. for me it is more complex.`

     

     

    Certainly too complex for some on here.

     

    I have seldom, if ever, heard a simple, strongly worded or voiced `solution` to a complex problem that stood up to examination.

     

     

    JJ

  25. I wouldn’t be comfortable playing Boyata till season’s end if he signs a pre-contract elsewhere.

     

     

    There’s simply no way under such conditions that he will remain 100% committed. This is a guy that has already downed tools so his professionalism is very open to question.

     

     

    Sell him. Put the fee towards his replacement. Surely to God we’ve got a list of central defenders we want – time to make these deals happen.

  26. South Of Tunis on

    TONTINE TIM –yesterday ..

     

     

    Windsor 67

     

     

    Yes – Chicken Shack ( named in tribute to a great Jimmy Smith LP ) included Christine Perfect .

     

     

    Addled old bonce thinks it was a 3 day affair and also featured Donovan .

     

     

    I went to see – Yusuf Lateef / Harold McNair /Zoot Sims and Al Cohn. They didn’t disappoint ..

     

     

    I knew a guy from Brum at Yoonie . He had seen Christine Perfect and Spencer Davis performing as a duo in a church hall in Smethwick ..

     

     

    Christine Perfect –

     

    https://youtu.be/wmG24mOWZoo

  27. Bankiebhoy

     

    In Morrisons yesterday, I saw the back page headlines ( really big !) saying something along the lines of `Gers to sign Davis (SP?)` in the Sun and `Celtic will have to fight for ( some player)`DR

     

    It was more negative than that but I cannot remember precisely.

     

    No doubt, though, that that does not affect those who can make their own minds up…..apparently.

     

     

    JJ

  28. Hot Smoked……….

     

     

    There is I think a cumulative effect of the determinedly negative agenda that the sleekit rely on to encourage fear and loathing within our ranks.

     

     

    A successful, well-informed, united, harmonious Timdom sticks in the craw of scoddland.

     

     

    Lang may we choke thum!

     

     

    HH.

  29. Bankiebhoy

     

     

    `A successful, well-informed, united, harmonious Timdom`

     

     

    That is certainly the ideal scenario and, to achieve it, …

     

     

    `We`ll keep on fighting

     

    `till the end

     

    Cos we are the Champions

     

    We are the Champions.`

     

     

    Cheerio for now,

     

     

    JJ

  30. traditionalist88 on

    Not been able to check in recently, anything from Catman or LB on incoming transfers?

     

     

    HH

  31. South Of Tunis on

    HOT SMOKED

     

     

    The rags are a joke . The rags have always been a joke .

     

     

    Way back in the early 70s I had a mate who was studying at Edinburgh University . One morning he got a letter from his mother – saying what’s this ? – The this was a clipping featuring a photo from the Daily Express . My mate was in the photo allegedly demonstrating against Rent Rises in the University Provided Accomodation at Dundee University . The truth was he’d gone to visit a pal at Dundee ( who was also in the photo ) and according to him the photo must have been taken when they were queuing up to get admittance to a gig at the Students Union .

     

     

    The rags make things up !

  32. glendalystonsils on

    Looks like we will face next season’s CL qualifiers without Boyata or Benkovic , so a basic requirement will be 2 non-project , ready to go , CB’s for starters.