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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. Right Bhoys play nice, unlike Pog I managed to blag a few tickets at the last minute for my local, so I’m heading there soon.

     

     

    I won’t wish anyone a happy new year until mañana

     

     

    Hail Hail my friends in Celtic

     

     

    D: )

  2. SFTB

     

    My mate here is a Boro fan, canny stand Pulis, thinks he is a typical dinosaur, I was extracting the urine one day and he told me that at least the footy Boro played was exiting, when I stopped laughing he conceded that it was shite and he had to delude himself else he would give up, we are blessed we have a proper manager-coach.

  3. AG

     

    Catchye soon pal. Off to Amsterdam wi my bhoy for Gerry Cinnamon gig. Guy goes fae strength to strength. Still refusing record label money. His sister and mother run his business fae Castlemilk. Magic

     

    YNWA

  4. prestonpans bhoys on

    I know this comment would not curry favour with a lot in CQN but if John Reid was still chairman then the back of the bus theme currently be holding this board would not exist

  5. Back to Basics - Glass Half Full on

    Would the result have been different if we had been playing against 10 men?

     

     

    The Sevco fan who allegedly committed a hate crime at full time – has he been identified?

  6. Pog

     

    I remember an auld tale my granny told me about red shoes and the Isle of Lewis. Was told to always wear red shoes there. Auld Wives Tales CSC. ???

  7. PRESTONPANS BHOYS on 31ST DECEMBER 2018 8:17 PM

     

     

    Agree. Whats wrong with me agreeing so often.

     

     

    HH.

  8. mike in toronto on

    Jamesgang

     

     

    I should have known better than to doubt you. Mea culpa.

     

     

    Auldheid

     

     

    There are some on our Board who better hope that Dante was wrong about circle 9.

     

     

    Hot Smoked

     

     

    Merry Xmas! (Too late for 2018, or too early for 2019?)

  9. Before the madness starts .

     

    I hope 2019 brings you lot all of your needs and some of your wants.

     

    Lang may your lums reek.HH

  10. GOTELL, FAN

     

     

    Calls for better players, but dare not name in case rubbished here. Come off it.

     

     

    What’s a driveway?

  11. PB

     

    Sure it was a Brahan Seer prophecy about Isle of Lewis being devoured by the sea in the End Times. On Red Eye McEwans Export. ???

     

    YNWA

  12. prestonpans bhoys on

    DD

     

     

    Right I’m off to find a buckie myself ?

     

     

    Have a good New Year when it comes G

     

     

    Best wishes Jimmy

  13. Thomthetim

     

     

    Very good post, excellent analysis and good solution, which you have highlighted many times re. boycotting Hampden,

     

     

    I often think the same with regards to Belfast Celtic and their folding. Why? They did this to protect their players and their name to a great sacrifice. Like today, the media support only the establishment (especially in the U.K). The Internet has changed for the better to get the truth out, but it is stymied by the current media cntrolling us and the world. eg. SKY. They control all organisations that creates the corruption e.g. UEFA, FIFA. Tontine Tim pointed this out regards Athletico Madrid, who should have been kicked out of the competition because of their thuggery.

     

     

    Lets, see how many Celtic fans would back boycotting Hampden, It would affect the SFA and the Celtic Board who would have to act. Unfortunately, it won’t happen as Celtic fans will always take the tickets. On Saturday, no

  14. MOONBEAMSWD

     

    Happy Monday night Sir :))))))

     

    Good night all and as always thank you for being here,see yous next year.HH

  15. SFTB 7.32.

     

     

    As John Lennon sang. “All you need is love.”

     

     

    As the good book says.

     

     

    1 Corinthians 13:4-8 New International Version (NIV)

     

    4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

     

     

    8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

     

    =======

     

    When Celtic lose I tend to be unhappy. When they win it is the opposite.

     

     

    But what I don’t do is to make my happiness dependent on the vagaries of 22 men chasing an inflated ball around a grass pitch.

     

     

    What does make me really unhappy is playing a match against folk for whom cheating is a way of life.

     

     

    I’m working on it but would rather I didn’t have to.

     

     

    Awrabest when it comes.

  16. no Celtic fan should have attended the game.

     

     

    Bournesouprecipe Normally agree wiith your posts, but Ajer will never make it at Celtic, why most fans think he will amazes me. He put us in trouble against them in Cup and did so on Saturday. Until he learns how to use his left foot, he is a liability. Young Hendry will be a better prospect.

     

     

    MADmitch????- what a nom de plume! some of us have long memories, possibly, you are on the wrong website. I would have the opposite opinion on all your posts, although I normally scroll pass.

     

     

    SFTB You are probably the most sensible and pragmatic poster on here. Keep up the Good WORK

     

     

    KTF CATHACH

  17. Note from Big JMcCormick

     

     

    Hi Norrie, been unable to get on blog since pre-Christmas, sent 4 requests to re- register without success so far

     

    Please wish everyone on CQN all the very best for 2019

     

    Still confident in the team, Brendan will make necessary adjustments to keep us on track

     

    Still cooking,

     

    and hitting the Gym

     

     

    All the best to all again for 2019

     

     

    J McCormick

  18. Cathach

     

     

    Kris Ajer, is 20 and being converted from a midfielder to play in central defence, so still raw.

     

     

    Young Jack Hendry, is 23, always played Central Defence, at this age he should already be established ???

     

     

    Just my view

  19. GreeninbingleyinOslo on

    A very happy New Year to one and all.

     

     

    I’ve just been on the phone to my oldest and dearest mate, who is in a care home in Edinburgh, suffering from Parkinson’s and early-onset dementia. Double whammy. He’s only 58.

     

     

    I was blathering on about the huns game and he said: “And you’re complaining? You’re going to win everything again. The huns are a chimera. Try following St Johnstone if you want true football agony!” – which he has done, for 50 years.

  20. Greenin

     

    God bless him. A true Scottish fitba supporter.

     

    Got a lot of time for Perth. Best part of Scotland is Perthshire I think. Saint John’s Toon fans always good guys I found.

     

    YNWA

  21. Madmitch

     

    What time is your presser?and are you doin it with the big lamp while the Mrs is in bed,?

     

    Nonsense =Analysis stick to yir pc manager game.relax and have have happy ny:-)

     

     

     

    God bless cqn and all who read :-)

     

    Happy New year all the best for ’19

     

     

    HH