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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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  1. EXCATHEDRA44 on 31ST DECEMBER 2018 4:40 PM

     

    ######

     

    Only empty seats get an answer, hence the 30,000 empty seats that made the PLC board recruit Brendan.

     

     

    HH

  2. 50 shades of green on

    Reading back on here reminds me of an incident with me and my old mhan ,we had just lost to the zombies and I was in a right strop.

     

     

    My old mhan took me aside and spoke to me and to this day I always remember what he whispered to me.

     

     

    He told me to ” f’n grow up, did you think we would always win “. Wise man my old mhan.

     

     

    Maybe some on here could do with the same advice.

     

     

    H.H

     

     

    In Peter and Brendan we trust

  3. JIMMYNOTPAUL on 31ST DECEMBER 2018 4:49 PM

     

     

    Your right the assault on Christie is the main offence in front of Ross.

     

    I highlighted this today to John Fleming who has received, and read, my E mail,asking that this be addressed.

  4. David 17,

     

     

    No doubt January will be a decisive month for us. We are all agreed that we have to sign players, but it has to be the right players. Our current squad, numerically and financially demonstrate that recently we have not got value for money.

     

    We are all aware of the recent signings that populate our squad, but cannot even make the bench.

     

     

    Our scouts must earn their corn and provide us with players, not projects. I hope they are camped in Eastern Europe.

     

     

    HH to all.

  5. mike in toronto on

    Jamesgang@3:15

     

     

    Not often that I disagree with you, my friend, but on this occasion I do.

     

     

    With respect to Scottish football, Given DD’s statement in October 2012, it was not complacency, it was complicity.

     

     

    DD is not a stupid man, and doesn’t say things without thinking. So, When He made his statement about them being ‘relegated’ and them being needed, he was testing the fans’ reaction. If fans reacted badly, the Board could say ‘he was not speaking in an official capacity’, but When fans didn’t storm the gates, operation ‘save the bears’ kicked in.

     

     

    And the events since (including the refusal to appeal or seek reviews of decisions which were clearly wrong, plus the way they messed the R12 guys about) only confirmed that view for me.

     

     

    Had the Zombie Boards not been so dishonest, and their fans not so gullible, they would have had their house in order, and been much more competitive, a few season ago…. which is what everyone involved in Scottish football wanted … just as DD told us almost 7 years ago.

     

     

    As for our place in European football, now there one could argue that our Board was complacent ….

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

    @ 50 SHADES OF GREEN on 31ST DECEMBER 2018 4:52 PM

     

     

    I don’t think it’s as simple as people venting their frustrations following a defeat to Sevco.

     

     

    It’s a combination of multiple factors: our poor summer transfer window, our poor performances (particularly away from home) and the fact that following our most successful financial year ever, we are level with Sevco at New Year.

  7. GreeninbingleyinOslo on

    This Michel Vorm rumour seems to be growing legs, according to Spurs-fan sports-editor mate of mine in London.

     

     

    Just checked Vorm out on Wikipedia – decent level but my main concern is his goalscoring record, which is terrible.

     

     

    Now back to swigging cheap whisky from the bottle.

  8. GreeninbingleyinOslo on

    MIKE IN TORONTO on 31ST DECEMBER 2018 5:02 PM

     

     

    I have no problem in believing DD is as out of touch with Celtic and our support as his occasional public statements would suggest.

     

     

    I’ve been told before, by my own Owen Coyle’s Granny on the 19th Green, that it’s not Dermot who is passionate about the Celtic; it’s his son.

  9. GREENPINATA on 31ST DECEMBER 2018 4:59 PM

     

     

    We’ve had 4 months since the last window to scout players on top of the 2 years previous. We should be ready to do business now. I hope.

     

     

     

    GREENINBINGLEYINOSLO on 31ST DECEMBER 2018 5:04 PM

     

     

     

    Vorm is a keeper. Do you mean Vincent Janssen?

  10. Steve Clark is doing wonders @ Kilmarnock. Big respect for the job he is doing.

     

     

    Hibs will sign Scott Allan in January I reckon and I expect them to get right up the League.

     

     

    I cannae wait to see the Bhoys @ home again. Fantastic fitba on a fantastic surface by the Celts.

  11. Bada! Bing !

     

    In about one hour`s time, Sweet Caroline and I I will be having our first taste of the Eden Mill Double Treble you mentioned on here recently. A verdict will be announced sometime in the New Year. Which, for the benefit of those who cannot wait to offer greetings, is not for another six and a half hours or so. Antipodeans and other time zones are exempt from this implied criticism.

     

    JJ

  12. GreeninbingleyinOslo on

    DAVID17 on 31ST DECEMBER 2018 5:13 PM

     

     

    No, Vorm. The London mate says we’re in for him. The reference to his dismal scoring failure was just a joke. Which failed.

     

     

    New Year Resolution #1 – stop making jokes :)

  13. 2019 I hope will see us amalgamate our Great Home and Away form from 2017 and 2018.

     

     

    The Hun gave it Everything.

     

     

    Defo need the squad bolstered due to weary legs.

  14. In writing to the compromised Fleming the Morelos assaults should not be primary focus.

     

    The question is why did all the officials refuse to apply the laws of the game when it has been shown that at least more than one of them had a clear view of the offenses .

     

    Incredible that linesman who did not have such a clear view of goal he deemed offside fail to spot something a few feet in front of him.

     

    The ref had a clear view of stamp on Ralston and kick on Brown.

     

    Red card Ross was looking at forearm smash on Christie from a straight sightline.

     

    One decision missed maybe by the law of averages but 4 clearly blatant fouls ignored is altogether sinister.

     

    Did not blame 4th official as he was to busy joining in with the sectarian singing to notice.

  15. 50 Shades- I for one do not expect us to win all the time against the zombies, but I do expect us to put up a fight. It’s the manner in which we got beat..

     

    I understand Brendan had a depleted squad but….

     

     

    HH

     

     

    D. :)

  16. what a nonsense article – one words would suffice – shambles. let’s get Stevie Clarke in and sort it out – the continual playing of Lustig despite countless goals scored down his side and every team openly admitting they target him is baffling. Paddy being downgraded to Johnny Hayes or Lewis Morgan equally so. Playing your best midfielder at left back -” troi oi ” as they same in my part of the world. With the resources we should be out of sight.

     

    He got lucky with injuries and stumbles upon Christie and CalMac in centre mid. He then reverts to Brown/Ntcham and we all know where that one ends.

     

    At least Ollie Burke is coming in to warm the bench with Hayes and Morgan.

  17. Overseasbhoy

     

    Just to help you out with counting the `countless goals`, we have conceded 14 in 20 League games. I cannot say how many of those came from Lustig`s side of the field.

     

    JJ

  18. KEV on 31ST DECEMBER 2018 4:43 PM

     

     

     

    Kev are you not a Celtic supporter??? If so, you start a group for change if you feel that strongly.

     

     

    By the way a lot of what you say is right, it’s when you start with the derogatory comments towards Celtic supporters that turns people off.

     

     

    HH

     

     

    D. :)

  19. I noticed that Beaton turned away when the huns were flying in to last ditch lunges..a sleekit hun

  20. GreeninbingleyinOslo on

    OVERSEASBHOY on 31ST DECEMBER 2018 5:37 PM

     

     

    “Let’s get Stevie Clarke in and sort it out…”

     

     

    —————–

     

     

    Seriously? You want Brendan Rodgers out and Steve Clarke in?

     

     

    Dearie me.

  21. mike in toronto on

    @5:13

     

     

    Sadly, in retrospect, I don’t think DD was out of touch.

     

     

    I thought fans would storm the Bastille, but clearly the Board thought otherwise; their actions suggest that they thought that most fans want to beat the zombies (which means they have to exist), and/or if this R12 stuff got dragged on long enough, most fans would eventually just move on.

     

     

    As much as I hate to admit it, the Board were right, and I was wrong.

  22. Re assaults on Saturday.

     

    They were seen by all and sundry.Gutless observers? No.They are fans of the side who are steeped in everything anti Celtic.It will occur again unless…………….

  23. EXCATHEDRA44 on 31ST DECEMBER 2018 4:56 PM

     

    JIMMYNOTPAUL on 31ST DECEMBER 2018 4:49 PM

     

     

    Your right the assault on Christie is the main offence in front of Ross.

     

    I highlighted this today to John Fleming who has received, and read, my E mail,asking that this be addressed.

     

     

    EXCATHEDRA 44

     

    Hopefully you will receive a response.

     

    The lack of transparency in Scottish football is a disgrace.

     

    Hail Hail

  24. FAN-A-TIC on31ST DECEMBER 2018 5:31 PM

     

     

    In writing to the compromised Fleming the Morelos assaults should not be primary focus.

     

     

     

     

     

    The question is why did all the officials refuse to apply the laws of the game when it has been shown that at least more than one of them had a clear view of the offenses .

     

     

     

     

     

    Incredible that linesman who did not have such a clear view of goal he deemed offside fail to spot something a few feet in front of him.

     

     

     

     

     

    The ref had a clear view of stamp on Ralston and kick on Brown.

     

     

     

     

     

    Red card Ross was looking at forearm smash on Christie from a straight sightline.

     

     

     

     

     

    One decision missed maybe by the law of averages but 4 clearly blatant fouls ignored is altogether sinister.

     

     

     

     

     

    Did not blame 4th official as he was to busy joining in with the sectarian singing to notice.

     

     

    ========

     

    This is spot on.

     

     

    It’s not about excusing a poor performance, it’s not about sour grapes, it’s about “up with this we will no longer put”.

     

     

    No more Mr Niceeffinguy.

     

     

    No more fear of a media who feed themselves from the trough of bile they describe as a “wonderful Old Firm atmosphere” or are even Keevins and Co too embarrassed to use those words now?

     

     

    If you don’t know the effect “inTIMidation” ( (c) Auldheid ) can have on a human being, which players are, then you haven’t played football in such an environment.

     

     

    It is unquestionable now that Celtic have a financial advantage, so how do you go about levelling the playing field fairly?

     

     

    A return to the bad old days was always likely to happen, Res12 was about preventing it by proving Celtic had been cheated, thus providing leverage for change at the SFA.

     

     

    Why has that proof not emerged? Why has it taken years? If there was none that would have emerged by now surely?

     

     

    If it exists, and we believe it does, why is the leverage not being applied? Heads should have rolled in 2013 when the LNS Decision came out, delay has only put more heads on the plate.

     

     

    As a shareholder how much will Celtic need to spend to make the financial advantage count where it can cheaply be reduced by cheating?

     

     

    When will Celtic waken up to the fact that there is a cost to ignoring what has been going on in Scottish football since 2000 and say ENOUGH!.

     

     

    What is needed is a Judicial Protocol that Celtic can rely on to produce justice, not one that produces what the SFA decide is in their best interests.

     

     

    Celtic either satisfy us that the JPDT on UEFA licence 2011 has not been knobbled (like LNS was) or call for changes that assure supporters that justice applies to all clubs big and small, for without the rule of football law being upheld and applied even handedly by the SFA Judicial Panel Protocol to all clubs, the rules of football law are worthless and their uselessness presents a huge moral hazard for our game.

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