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State of the club report, year-end 2011

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My friends in Celtic, a year ago I signed off on 2010 by saying, “I have never spoken to less confident Celtic fans ahead of a game against Rangers than I have this week”.  Celtic had won only five of their previous 10 league games, seven of which were at home, but with a squad ravaged by injury, they found a formation which over several games dominated Rangers.

After three defeats and an Ibrox draw against 10-man Celtic, Walter Smith eventually got it right and beat Celtic at Hampden.  The league challenge floundered in a scrappy defeat at Inverness, the home team fought for everything and found some vulnerabilities in Celtic but the season ended on a high with the first trophy of the Neil Lennon era as the Scottish Cup was won at rain-soaked Hampden against Motherwell.

Neil Lennon, Paddy McCourt and Niall McGinn all had to deal with more serious events than football in the first half of the year.  Bombs and bullets were sent to Celtic’s three Irish stars, prosecutions are pending.  These events put Scotland on the international news circuit in a very unwelcome light.  First Minister, Alex Salmond, promised to take action but instead of tackling a century-old anti-Catholic, anti-Irish tradition, his government passed a law which criminalised all sorts of non-sectarian, non-racist activity.

Despite this initiative taking on flagship status for the Scottish Government, Salmond has steadfastly refused to re-gather and publish information on sectarian attacks in recent years.  Policy has been made without reference to facts.

The new season brought great promise.  Neil Lennon had a year under his belt and was no longer up against Rangers’ most successful manager, instead he would face rookie Ally McCoist, but a humbling by Sion, ultimately neutralised by Uefa, and poor early season league form saw the manager consider his position.

A home defeat to St Johnstone and an utter collapse at Ibrox set the tone, but it was Kilmarnock’s three goal lead which caused Neil Lennon most concern.  The story of the second half comeback at Rugby Park is likely to take on legendary status in years to come, but as with much in life, it contained prosaic events.  Celtic came out of the dressing room like a condemned team and failed to register a genuine attempt on the Kilmarnock goal for 25 minutes.  Anthony Stokes struck a free kick which would have been stopped by most defensive walls but the Kilmarnock version was made of butter and Celtic had a platform to stage a comeback.  Killie’s reserve keeper, Jaakkola, failed to reach Anthony’s shot a few minutes later and Celtic were level six minutes after they realised they had a game of football to play.

In their next game Celtic failed to score at home to then-bottom Hibernian, allowing Rangers to open up a 15 point gap over their rivals, who by then were in third place, although with two games in hand over Rangers.  Celtic then went to Motherwell and promptly fell behind, our season hung by a thread, but it was that guy Stokes who again had the stomach for the fight.  Anthony equalised within minutes and Gary Hooper scored a late winner.

Celtic have not dropped a point since, while Ally McCoist and his boss, Craig Whyte, now look like the rookies they are.  They have lost three of their last six games, completing a collapse at Celtic Park on Wednesday night.

A year ago I reflected on the 46 players who played for Celtic during 2010 and suggested we would be better starting with a blank sheet of paper.  The league challenge ended in failure but 2011 didn’t.  This year ends with a coherent team strategy which could deliver the first sustainable and successful Celtic team in 40 years.  We have a young squad, on wages the club can afford, with a scouting and management team that have delivered a clutch of players destined to achieve an enormous amount in the game.

Despite the energy and excitement around Celtic Park, attendances are down.  Football is not as fashionable as it was three or four years ago.  For much of the season, we play in a cold, wet, environment against well-organised but defensive teams; it’s a hard sell.  We all know fans who have drifted from the stands, large areas of the stadium are now scarcely populated unless Rangers are visiting, which will impact income and subsequent expenditure.

Still, the shambles of 2010 has gone, Celtic look like a club with purpose and the tools to move forward with confidence. A two point lead at this stage of the season is largely symbolic but it’s a deserved honour that your team deserves.

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  1. Mort

     

     

    Wow! Well good luck with that I’m sure you’ll be fine ;)

     

     

    Got a few modules in January so it’s been revision for me too, relieved at the break because I had all mock exams in December!

     

     

    HH

     

     

    P27

  2. kitalba

     

     

    you must allow for others with differing opinions which are not necessarily based on prejudice

  3. polishturnstile Anthony R. Hamilton

     

    #Celtic – Glenn Loovens & Kris Commons set to resume training next week

  4. kitalba

     

     

    It was a 50/50 .If it hadn’t have been Mcculloch it wouldn’t have received so much attention

  5. Paul67,

     

     

    Enjoyed reading this years a lot more than last years. ;)

     

     

    Europa League – cheated out of it by another shocking penalty decision given to an Italian team, despite this and despite the media drivers trying to tell us otherwise, the EL has been invaluable to our team this year and they done very well IMO given the nature of the teams in it. 1 defeat in a group of that calibre with such a young team really does say much more than winning in the SPL. Seen Malmo/Maritimos EL results. ;)

     

     

    Nothing has been won yet but still plenty to look forward to and not just in our own logical progression but just as much in their logical regression.

  6. saltires en sevilla on

    Dushanbe

     

     

    ….cracker and I’m yer man

     

     

    cheers mate have a great day ..love and best wishes to all yer clann

     

     

    P.S. who is clashbhoy ..he one of the Pinner bhoys??

     

     

    HH

     

     

    M

  7. row z \o/ (O) Mississippi Burnin Nearer Home on

    ernie lynch says:

     

    31 December, 2011 at 13:09

     

     

    Enrie

     

     

    Yes on leasehold. I’m no expert but a going concern can sell on a lease. A busted flush cannot. A nearly busted flush in administration has no control and in theory an administrator can sell on. If RFC are in administration they still exist. The newco would then need to be in place to take it on prior to RFC demise.

     

     

    I would expect the owners to have a direct interest and veto power on any lease sell on if such power exists.

     

     

    However, this is not a ‘normal’ commercial transaction. The owners have entered into a single explicit agreement (presumably not for commercial purposes). In such circumstances it might well be that there is specifically no lease sell-on agreement in the paperwork since the owners do not wish to ‘maximise’ the transaction but merely facilitate an operation.

     

     

    I am of course merely speculating on all of this.

  8. PFayr:

     

     

    Oh I do mate but when people refuse to view all the evidence and to condemn on what is pre-conceived regardless of what is being offered to them… then the game is a bogie. As a lawyer don’t you agree.

  9. notthebus

     

     

    I support Celtic FC

     

    not Celtic PLC…

     

     

    We can as usual agree to disagree on the subject . o)

  10. NEILMCCALLUMLENNON on

    Happy New Year from Oz to you Paul and all the bloggers. It has been a most magnificent few days and after watching the game on Celtic TV down in Bright Victoria I have enjoyed logging in to the site over the last few days.

     

    Hail Hail

  11. nothing without fans says:

     

    31 December, 2011 at 13:23

     

     

    Disagree with your assessment re height of McCulloch’s leg. As he was going in his leg was raised high enough to make contact just above an ankle. Upon collision with the ball, his leg naturally rebounded up – note that Kayal’s did not, his rebounded downward and under the ball (dangerous to self, in that studs often catch in the turf).

     

     

    McCulloch’s technique was abysmal and his straight leg retention in the tackle was outright dangerous – again, Kayal’s leg, upon collision with the ball, folded naturally at the knee.

     

     

    Using Kayal’s technique I’ve seen, and performed, ‘ghost’ tackles on the touchline to keep a ball in play and continue a run without breaking stride too much. McCulloch would have slid out of the park with the ball – again sloppy techniwue.

     

     

    Essentially, at best, McCulloch is (and I think we can agree on this) a poor player and at worst, a vicious player.

  12. Paul 67,

     

     

    Mail to you.

     

     

    Thanks for everything you have done for us, no doubt at some personal and considerable financial cost.

     

    Have a happy and successful New Year.

     

     

    Cheers!

     

     

    HH.

  13. “I’m guilty your honour” said the accused.

     

     

    “No you are not” said the jury.

     

     

    Justice by prejudice.

  14. McGregor, Davis and Jelavic have lost it

     

    By Mark Hateley on Dec 30, 11 08:18 AM in rangers

     

     

    NOBODY in their right footballing mind would now say Rangers haven´t a hope in hell of winning the title.

     

     

    For the past three years when Walter Smith’s side dug in and won games, dug in again and won, and dug in again and so will Coisty’s

     

     

    The slight worry this season is I can’t see anyone coming in who can bolster or reboot a Rangers side that lacks creativity and inspiration.

     

     

    It’s the be-all and end-all and clear for everybody to see.

     

     

    Coisty now faces the biggest challenge of his entire career just to stay on Celtic’s tail. The spine of the team that needs to be strong, confident and able to stand up has evaporated.

     

     

    Allan McGregor looks nervous and not the Allan McGregor we know. He’s a big character but against Celtic he was nervy and it spread around the team quickly.

     

     

    That he and his partner had a fight on Christmas morning about her gift should have been forgotten about a full three days later.

     

     

    Rangers title ambitions cannot hinge om the size of a padded bra.

     

     

    Steven Davis is struggling for form, a shadow of the creative and driving force from midfield who would chip in with a goal.

     

     

    There was never a hint of him being the man to play the killer pass at Parkhead that was going to test their centre-halves.

     

     

    Even if you have been paid late due to Christmas bank holidays and such like as a professional you have to remain focussed on the job in hand.

     

     

    Coisty’s first question in the aftermath of the Old Firm defeat should be to ask Nikica Jelavic if he wants to be at the football club.

     

     

    If he does, great. But he has to make that clear and get back to making a contribution and preferably with a smile on his face and an occasional wave to the support.

     

     

    I know that if you are going through a bad patch especially at Ibrox it helps to smile and give the fans a little wave. It helps to raise the decibel levels.

     

     

    If he wants to leave he has to go and allow the manager some funds in to take a punt on someone who may revive Rangers’ season. Regardless of how much he loves the club he has to be made to leave.

     

     

    Rangers need to have someone who can score 15 goals between now and the end of the season to give Coisty a chance of competing. They need to compete in every game but if you take the main scorer away you can’t bank on someone like Kyle Lafferty getting those goals. Until the boy grows up and instils some self discipline he is going nowhere fast.

     

     

    Rangers just don’t have the personnel who can supply goals at the moment and any punt on Kris Boyd would be a big fat mistake.

     

     

    It’s clear the absence of Steven Naismith alongside Davis has taken away the creativity and further forward the strikers are struggling to create chances or get into scoring positions.

     

     

    Rangers can still win the league but it’s a tall order.

     

     

    There is the possibility of Celtic going on another spending spree but the squad they already have will be very difficult to compete with and that’s compounded by Rangers’ short term financial problems.

     

     

    Points will be dropped by both teams but it’s about who can stay the distance and that’s how championships are won.

  15. “That he and his partner had a fight on Christmas morning about her gift should have been forgotten about a full three days later.

     

     

    Rangers title ambitions cannot hinge om the size of a padded bra.”

     

     

    Whit???

  16. Brogan Rogan Trevino and Hogan supports Kano 1000 on

    Row Z

     

     

    If the ground at Murray Park is held on a lease- – though see the posts of the Hat from last night as he is adamant that the ground was bought outright by way of heritage– then an insolvency event would trigger the irritancy clause and then any continued involvement by Rangers is absolutely at the discretion of the landlord!

     

     

    This piece of ground would be off interest to many with the existing use– but there are those who say Rangers PLC have a heritable title. I had long held the view that their interest was leasehold.

  17. nothing without fans on

    dirtymac at 13:38

     

     

    Not sure what we are disagreeing about. McCulloch’s studs-first follow through was going to be dangerous whether his foot bounced up off the ball or continued on the original trajectory.

     

     

    Kitalba is correct to say that much/all of the damage to Beram’s ankle was probably self inflicted, but I just can’t see it as a fair challenge.

  18. dirtymac:

     

     

    He is not one of the best that has pulled on a Rangers strip. If the truth be known he is not one of the best that ever got himself out of bed in the morning without last weeks pants still on. Regardless, bad as he is, this tackle was fair, he played the ball, what happens after that is fate. You cannot tackle like that and predetermine the outcome.

     

     

    >Celtic – Rangers

     

     

    30:09 to 30:30.

     

     

    After this I GIVE UP.

  19. row z \o/ (O) Mississippi Burnin Nearer Home on

    Aw Naw

     

     

    Methinks you are inserting again (so to speak)!

     

     

    HH

  20. THE EXILED TIM says:

     

    31 December, 2011 at 13:16

     

     

    I tried to email you the accumulator this morning but the email we spoke on before is coming up post delivery failure. A few of the games have kicked off now but I’ll catch up with you for next week.

  21. Paddy Gallagher on

    I heard he took her out for their Christmas meal.

     

    The meal was going great, they were drinking and laughing then the starters arrived.

     

    “Excuse me,” said the waiter to Shagger, “would you like some ginger with your melon?”

     

    “Naw,” he replied, “the burd got me some wine.”

  22. kit

     

     

    i think it was a malicious dangerous tackle …you may think different

     

     

    that is your perogative

  23. Celtic are confident of keeping their star players. Johan Mjallby, the club’s assistant manager, stressed that the board and management are “on the same wavelength” in wanting the team to be as successful as possible.

     

     

    He also advised James Forrest, a player likely to be at the centre of any transfer interest, to stay, although Mjallby seemed to suggest that Celtic could be resigned to losing the 20-year-old in the summer. Forrest is under contract until 2016, but has been in irrepressible form of late.

     

     

    “He just wants to play and I think, no matter what bid comes in, will want to stay at least until the end of the season,” said Mjallby. “I think it would be good for him. James is doing great and taking his game to another level. Arguably, he’s been our best player this season. He’s enjoying training and enjoying his football with his team-mates. That’s something you don’t want to disrupt.”

     

     

    An unwelcome consequence of Celtic’s good run of form is attention from elsewhere. A raft of managers and scouts from England were in the main stand at Parkhead on Wednesday night to watch Celtic go top of the SPL with a ninth consecutive league victory. Beram Kayal and Ki Sung-Yueng have also attracted admiring glances. “We know some of our players are going to be linked with other clubs, especially down south,” said Mjallby. “Of course, we want to keep all of our best, especially now we are in a good position in the league.

     

     

    “We are still in three competitions and we need a big squad to mix the team around. We’ll brace ourselves and see what happens. But it’s a discussion the board and the manager will be having when some bids are coming in.

     

     

    “I’m quite sure the board and the rest of us are on the same wavelength in that we want to win trophies. To win trophies, you need to keep your best players.”

  24. Happy to see Commons resuming training, he’ll be needed in the second half of the season. Injuries and suspensions as always deplete your top team and if he finds form it’s another good option for Neil.

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