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. The last line of this article is precisely why we will need to get used to losing more games domestically, and if we’re not careful, a championship too.






    Hubris, huns and MIBs are a heady combination of foes to face all at once. The latter two are perennial features in Scotland. The first, we will have created ourselves.



    HH jg

  2. I know that Big Chris isnae everyones cup of Tea, especially as he chucked it @ Ibrox, Everyone makes mistakes.



    IMO, he is a good pundit.

  3. Sandman @1.47


    Spot on my friend. We should have refused to play, end of. Give them the 3 points. The good which would follow would be nationwide coverage of our refusal and it would have to be investigated by all.


    Look what happenedwhen the Citeh bus was attacked by Liverpool fans.


    Time we did something instead of greeting about it though, actions speak louder than words




  4. Jamesgang,



    As I have said to G-Thang, a while ago actually, Satan is going all in these days. Dividing as much as possible.



    Almore, the Bhoy that does the drawings for the Calenders. WOW.




  5. There wasn’t 90 minutes in either Tierney or Edouard, Benkovic was carrying a knock & Rogic was called away on International duty, To top things we had two enforced substitutions by half time.


    Brendan had gambled on playing CalMac at the back, I assume his plan was to keep it tight first half when they would be all fired up. Then bring on KT releasing CalMac to his midfield role and hooking whichever of midfielders wasn’t going well, Second part of plan was as he stated post game to bring on French Eddie when the game was stretched a bit.


    The injuries put paid to the plan but to add to all of above individual players all over the Park just didn’t turn up. Lustig, Boyata, N’tcham, Sinclair had total nightmares & Brooney & James were well below their best .


    We also had to contend with Pro Hun Officials & a rabid crowd so all in all it was a perfect storm. In many respects the most amazing thing is we only lost one nil.


    The reality is we lost a battle the question is will we win the war.


    The next 2 or 3 weeks will tell a lot, we definitely need players in and we have to stop playing players on reputation and play the men who are on form.


    I am always a believer in follow the money, Celtic are still 5 to 1 on to win the Title.


    Time to stay calm & believe.

  6. Hoopy birthday Craig Gordon. A sprightly 36 years old today.



    I hope you have a book of goalkeeping distribution in your stocking. And make sure you then give it to your team-mates for when topping up their tans.




  7. “Use this week to get in touch with how it feels to be second best in a domestic game.”



    It’d have been better to use the weeks following Hearts, Killie & Hibs games to get in touch with how it feels to be 2nd best in a domestic game!!! No???



    As for “It could be a while before it happens again.” Aye maybe, only because we don’t have a n away game in January.



    Sometimes I am astounded of forehead by some of the commentary in the lead article.




  8. Petec



    Not do much masons in black as deils with whistles!








    What this Bhoy said…



    HH jg

  9. Greenpinata on 31st December 2018 3:39 pm



    Hoopy birthday Craig Gordon. A sprightly 36 years old today.



    I hope you have a book of goalkeeping distribution in your stocking. And make sure you then give it to your team-mates for when topping up their tans.









    HAPPY BIRTHDAY Craiginho.



    Who knows anything?



    ….maybe his saves Saturday will count for 1 point to win the League? hey oh



    He has been doing ma heid in howevaaaaaahhh!!!!





  10. itscalledthemalvinas on

    It’s not dreary today but the shades of night are coming down.


    Sean South of Garryowen standing up against the empire.


    DAVID66 on 31ST DECEMBER 2018 2:48 PM


    TONTINE TIM on 31ST DECEMBER 2018 2:18 PM










    Tontine Tim great post as usual sir. ??





    see every time he writes a clue about someone could you come on right away and tell us who he is talking about. eg that bevy merchant from the hill o beith.the bunnet.scottish manager who left to manage SUNDERLAND.on and on and on.i have asked him if he sits in the pub or his house and speaks in riddles.




  12. Hopefully whoever we sign in the coming weeks have a bit of character as well as ability. Said individuals won’t give a monkeys (excuse the pun) if the bus is ‘attacked’ nor worry about playing with virtually none of our supporters. Being able to deal with that wee nyyaff Morelos and other hardman (haha) like Naismith is also a prerequisite.



    Agree with all other comments regarding calling out glaring bias against us.

  13. PETEC on 31ST DECEMBER 2018 1:19 PM



    Jamesie, 1:19




    I reckon we are gonnae get the over 3.5 first half Celtic goals now most games.






    Hopefully Petec.



    I expect us to rack up a cricket score against that zombie club the next time we face them.



    HH. ?

  14. The hands cant hit what the eyes cant see on

    @ WHAT IS THE STARS on 31ST DECEMBER 2018 2:07 PM



    “The players and manager earn more.”



    Name the players who earn roughly £40k per week at Celtic?



    I’ve never seen a suggestion on here or any other Celtic site that any of our players earn close to circa £40k p/w. I imagine Rodgers is the only one near that figure and at least he is deserving of it.

  15. Jamesie,



    No mercy now on that field of play.



    Flex the Muscles Celtic and do unto Feyenoord what PSV did.



    Celtic were really sh!t Saturday.



    Double figures games are coming, IMO.



    Callum pulling the strings.



    Winners having to stew for a few weeks before getting the go ahead again.



    I’m encouraged by Paul67s Leader Today, I was totally annoyed with his Rudi Vata in the Summer and Truth be told, posting on Saturday efter the game.




    The Irish are the core. If you can Jamesie get wan of Almores Calenders. INCREDIBLE.

  16. thomthethim for Oscar OK on

    Just in case I haven’t mentioned it before.



    There are only two ways for Celtic to effectively deal with the corruption, cheating and bigotry within the sweet little country of Calvinistic Scotland.



    The example was laid down by the honourable Board of Belfast Celtic.



    They refused to continue in such an evil, State sponsored environment and dult resigned from the League.



    Another response was made by the Board of Derry City. They were invited into a less hostile environment, thereby removing the club from the cess pit.



    Celtic have only those options. Anything else is complicity.



    To continue in the SFA setup, is to tacitly endorse it.


    The club have no power to change this.



    However, all is not lost.



    ALL the power lies with the paying football fan.


    How much does the Scottish football supporter want a clean game?


    Enough to make a stand and withhold the funding ?



    Enough to sacrifice the desire to watch and fund a crooked game?



    No? Well forget about howling at the moon or throwing stones at the Hampden windows.



    The football authorities only laugh at us as we clamour for tickets at Hampden or Ibrox.



    Ask not what your club can do for you,……….

  17. altern8



    Wiz my sonics last night. Pretty good mix, likely big licks for the nostalgia.



    I stopped a closing set by Dave Clark once I thought about things 12 minutes in…. that the Tube had suggested.



    Still listened to Dave efter.



    C’mon the Leather Belts.

  18. Corkie



    I hope one day I’ll get to shake your hand in person and buy you a wee libation.



    HH jg

  19. thomthethim for Oscar OK on

    ……another thing.


    If the Daily Record and Sky are highlighting Morelos’ misdemeanors, for the attention of the CO, it would indicate that he is on the move.



    They have spent the first half of the season keeping him and other Sevco employees away from disciplinery sanctions . Now they appear to be ordering the taxi for him, in the assumption that any suspension will be served elsewhere.

  20. betting without Celtic Killie are 11 to ! to win SPFL, In other words 11 to 1 to come 2nd. Sheep 12 to 1 to come second.

  21. Jamesgang I’m getting long in the tooth & lately haven’t been feeling the Mae West not sure there are too many more Glasgow trips in me.

  22. Alternative State of the Club Report 2018



    Craig Gordon



    Probably the best unpopular keeper we’ve ever had Celtic’s No;1 causes


    an unease with the ball at his feet, too frequently.



    Scott Bain



    Decent keeper looks comfortable when called on.



    Mikael Lustig



    Good career running out of contract and lives, at Celtic, ‘he gets it’ but will likely be retired to Scandanvia,when Celtic finally sign the RB, we should have signed some time ago.



    Cristian Gamboa



    Not played much at Celtic ( or West Brom ) puts in a good shift for Costa Rica,third choice in a problem position says it all.



    Anthony Ralston



    Suddenly in from the cold to cover transfer market deficiency, looks every inch a development player.



    Jozo Simunovic



    Bang average when he plays, the unreliable Croatian defender is not the type to


    build a Celtic defence around.



    Filip Benkovic



    Good signing and easy to see why EPL hyper inflation was tempted at Leicester, eleventh hour loanee who has helped save our season so far.



    Dedryk Boyata ,



    Became our best bet at CB will do well to attract a mega contract elsewhere, which is more likely in summer, so BR will play him to the end.



    Kris Ajer



    Great potential,comfortable on the ball and definitely one for the future which might be sooner than we think.



    Jack Hendry



    Surprise signing, thrown into the deep end because of the already ‘unreliables’ and took the heat for defeats, learning the game at Lennoxtown will serve him well.



    Keiran Tierney



    All been said about his worth to the team and his injury has caused unforeseen chaos in the side, despite upgrading his contract more than once, should be offered a Henrik Larsson contract.



    Emilio Izaguirre



    Impossible to cover Tierney with like for like sat on the bench, Izaguirre will be back to cover again due to our more urgent need for a RB



    James Forrest



    One of the better of our players this season matured and settled on long term future, plays best when he’s hungry, and tucks in head in his shoulders, upgrading his contract was good financial management



    Ryan Christie



    Revelation of the season and one saving grace for Brendan Rodgers keeping us top of the league and securing the league Cup upgrading his contract was good financial management



    Scott Brown



    Arguably the best £4M Celtic ever spent and way too early to be written off, Brown has humped both Rainjurz and Sevco so often, he’s probably suffering from boredom, more than form loss, could retire happy on eight.



    Tom Rogic



    Superb player, a pampered thoroughbred, will always play in fits and bursts, dodgy knee earns him the enigma label (played a good game once) upgrading his contract was good financial management



    Scott Sinclair



    Carreer seriously affected by Coronation Street’s decision to give his girlfriend an new contract.



    of all the terrible things to happen on the Street, the worst is affecting Sinky’s Celtic career



    Odsonne Edouard



    Record signing a steal at the price, whatever it was, forced to play lone striker doesn’t assist him and he needs a foil, to play off.



    Olivier Ntcham



    Moody Frenchman blows in and out of the side loses effect when forced played wide where you need more pace than he has, upgrading his contract was good financial management.



    Callum MacGregor



    Star man this season a player who was made in Lennoxtown upgrading his contract was good financial management




    Lewis Morgan



    Looks confident on the ball, not afraid to shoot on sight restricted chances, one for the future





    Jonny Hayes



    Squad player unlucky with injury couldn’t cover when needed in a big game?



    Leigh Griffiths



    It’s O.K. not to be O.K.



    With modern help he’ll be back upgrading his contract was good financial management.



    Marvin Compper



    Got a mention at the AGM, enough said.






    Team creaking to the break, as predicted by many CQN posters, and lurkers, but all good players we’re keeping, are on long term contracts.



    Everything including the kitchen sink being thrown at Celtic where more than one wise poster said ‘the only thing that can stop us is ourselves’.



    Tonight Matthew!- ‘we’re going to be Rainjurz’ are second for Christmas, and with Celtic to play now on four games at Parkhead and some of the home games we should have had in October and November, the treble is still well and truly on, despite the mibbery and shootery in the footery.



    No new Right Back in this window and its the car park protest shirley?, two strikers required © BR and with the CB situation unknown at least one newman there could be required.



    We couldn’t blow the SPL to teams with a lesser budget could we?



    It’s not as if Celtic ever managed to win it, in these circumstances did we?



    Anyway, adelante to 10 in a row.

  23. I do not know if Messrs Bankier and Lawwell write to Ian Maxwel,l the new head honcho at SFA, or to his head of Referee Operations John Fleming, to express their concerns.


    If they do not do this from an official position then all the CQN,and blogging traffic means nothing as they will consider that no official complaint received.



    Celtic should be doing this on our behalf,I have written to this end today.



    BR also has to be a bit more pointed,his joking comment after Shinnie dived,lacked purpose,as it could have cost us,and was a serious wrong call.




    However, as a supporter,paying good money to watch a contest,with rules applied equitably,then I also have every right to question dubious decisions and appointments.



    Unless they understand formally then you may as well call the laughable DR hotline.





    John Fleming


    Head of Referee Operations


    Scottish FA


    +44 141 616 6008 | +44 7802 772 453



  24. If Celtic supporters, who prop up the Irish tory rich kids, who prop up the Old Firm game, and its £49 tickets, if these Celtic supporters, stopped, and, tried to answer this question for me, I’d be grateful.


    The question……


    Why is it that, since Celtic PLC stripped, £27 million of quality from the product on the pitch, without reinvesting any of the stripped £27 million, back ‘onto’ the pitch, in the previous transfer window, why is it, that since that money seems to have disappeared, why have we not heard one story about, the impending ibrox financial doom ? Am I looking the wrong way, from which, the Celtic Irish Tory rich kids would prefer that I looked ?




  25. When you drill it down in simple terms, for the Board it’s about understanding the risk. Do they actually understand the risk? What is the risk? The risk is blowing 10 in a row, utter humiliation, Halliday and Morelos running around with the SPFL trophy and the Huns in the Champions League.



    So the question is, what are the Board going to do to minimise the risk? I suggest we could start by investing the Moussa money and tapping into that £30m that is sitting there for a ‘rainy day’.

  26. Hmmm.


    The press appear to be highlighting 3 of Morelos’ misdemeanours but not the most obvious red card, in my opinion, the forearm smash on Ryan Christie. Is this deflection at its best?


    Dermot Gallagher has already said, he doesn’t think the Broonie incident and the touching of Christies balls are red card offences.


    He said he has questions to answer about stamping on Ralston.


    As we know, that one, it’s difficult to prove intent.


    That leaves the forearm smash on Ryan as the most likely retrospective red, yet that’s the one they are all ignoring.


    Is there anyone out there surprised, classic squirrel behaviour.


    Hail Hail

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