State of the club report, year-end 2011


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. ^^Last part, not even a sentence.



    That will happen, almost, but not quite ever (as we live with the SFA). PeeMyselfLaughin, lest crying CSC

  2. stephbhoy says:


    2 January, 2012 at 00:33



    No. You pick me up wrong.



    2-3 academy players, 2-3 bought in players.



    Gives us 50% failure rate of the 4-6 players (total) each season.



    Published on Monday 2 January 2012 00:32





    IT might be a different year to the one when Celtic defeated Rangers in their last league game, but Johan Mjallby has stressed that the same rules must apply.




    Celtic’s title bid stuttered badly last season in the league match following a well-earned Old Firm win. Points were dropped at Hamilton and Motherwell after, respectively, a 2-0 win at Ibrox and a 3-0 victory at Parkhead.



    Though a later reversal at Inverness – just ten days after a 0-0 draw at Ibrox that looked a better result for the visitors – is regarded as the outcome which sank Celtic, these slips earlier in the season proved just as critical in the final analysis.



    It is clear that the intensity of the fixture can take its toll in the days following an Old Firm match, in much the same way as it tends to do in the aftermatch of a tough European fixture. It works both ways. Rangers dropped two points at home to Inverness Caledonian Thistle after a fine 3-1 win at Parkhead in the first Old Firm clash of last season.



    They were also dumped out of the League Cup at Falkirk just days after beating Celtic 4-2 in the opening Old Firm clash of the current campaign.



    Mjallby insists the hard work starts now as Celtic seek to defend a two-point lead in the championship race after chasing Rangers for what feels like so long this season. “We never panicked and always believed in a turnaround,” he said. “We are proud of them [the players].”



    However, the Celtic assistant manager is well aware of the need to treat Dunfermline Athletic, today’s opponents, with the same caution afforded their great rivals, even though the hosts have conceded ten goals in their last three home matches and languish at the bottom of the league.



    “Mentally, you can be fatigued after an Old Firm game and the players need to know it’s not just about those matches,” said Mjallby. “You can understand why some players get more fired-up for the Old Firm [derby] because it is such a big game. It’s important, especially for the experienced guys, to make sure the young ones understand that three points at Dunfermline is as important as [against] Rangers.



    “In a way, the hard work is just starting and we need to keep the momentum going to show that all the hard work we’ve been doing needs to stay there,” he added. “It’s a tricky game at Dunfermline, with all the pressure on us. The boys need to stay focused and do the same as they did against Rangers. We are not going to get carried away because it’s only two points with 17 games to go. We need to keep doing the right things.”



    There is a momentum propelling at Celtic after nine successive league wins. It all feels very different to Celtic’s nadir this season – at half-time against Kilmarnock in October, when Mjallby admits the heat was firmly on the management team, himself included.



    It has been reported that Lennon delivered a career-defining half-time talk, although Mjallby believes the shame of the situation was the main spark for turning it around in the second half.



    Celtic came out and scored three times to salvage a point. “Neil’s had a few good team talks,” said Mjallby. “But the Killie one was more important because we felt embarrassed. No disrespect to Killie, but we kept shooting ourselves in the foot by giving away ridiculously sloppy goals.



    “We were upset in the dressing room, but there was no fighting. Strong words came out and Neil, being the most important guy, told them that they had to turn it around. It didn’t matter how –just turn it around. We all have a say, but Neil is the manager and the voice. If me or Alan [Thompson] have something to say we will chip in as we’re not yes men, but Neil’s the main man.”



    In a way, the Swede felt as uncomfortable as Lennon, since it was the Celtic rearguard who underperformed that day and, indeed, had already had many questions asked of it.



    “We work in all areas of the pitch, but, as an ex-defender, I took it to heart when we were not performing defensively,” said Mjallby.



    They are looking far more solid now. Many of the best performers against Rangers last midweek could be found in defence. Nevertheless, Lennon has added another defender, Mikael Lustig, to the squad, although the Swedish full-back will not be involved at East End Park today.



    Lennon is also still on the look-out for another centre-half. Thomas Rogne came into the team against Rangers and worked well with Charlie Mulgrew. Mjallby admits that Celtic are still looking for a settled partnership in the middle of defence.



    “You don’t want too many partnerships at the heart of the defence during a season as you want them to get used to each other,” he said. “It’s just about finding the right balance.”



    It helps to have someone who can step back into defence from midfield in the event of an emergency, as Victor Wanyama has done. Mjallby praised the 20-year old for adapting so well to the Scottish game.



    “It’s a luxury for us to have a guy like Victor, who is equally good in defence or midfield.



    “From day one we could see this was a guy who could play anywhere in the world with a top team, given time.



    “I struggled with the pace [of Scottish football] when I signed and got about 10 bookings in my first 20 games. But Victor is different from me in the way he plays with composure on the ball. He sees himself as a defensive midfielder but he never moans when we move him back to centre of defence.”



  4. Tricoloured Ribbon on

    My first post on here folks ,so hello to you all and a Happy New Year and best wishes to you all from Free Doire.

  5. dirtymac says:


    2 January, 2012 at 00:44



    think 50% success rate is to low if scouting from 10 to 21 years old is of a high enough standard



    do you think we should be selling guys like ki etc… over several years to build more revenue streams and to make going to games etc… cheaper more comfortable?

  6. Tricoloured Ribbon on

    Pretty shocked at that Blantyre Tim.I’m from Clydebank son and married and living in Derry for years.There are a few Bankie posters on here and I’m certain they know who I am and if not I’ll not be long in declaring myself.Settle down son.

  7. theweegreenman says:



    2 January, 2012 at 00:22



    They could be refused a licence on any of the grounds under the various ariticles.



    A 47


    Audited Accounts and



    A 47


    Audited Accounts and Minimum Disclosures (If they have no audited accounts of any description ready by 8th April)



    A 48


    Reviewed Interim Financial Statements (the ones at A47 are the unaudited accounts currently overdue. The ones at A48 are those that will be required (audited) for licensing purposes in the coming round and so are dependent on getting the current set audited and themselves being audited by 8th April.



    A 50


    No Payables Overdue Towards Employees and Social/ Tax Authorities.


    This is the one that covers unapaid tax. There are of course two tax bills. The wee tax bill is clearly overdue and could only be considered as OK by the rules if there is an appeal against it. There was not at the time the licencing was done last spring, but it has been reported on the RTC blog that Rangers put in a late appeal at end of November(?). Since then nothing, although RTC suggests the fog arou7nd this one will clear this month. Given that porkies were probably told to the SFA to get it exemption last time, and given CW’s reluctance to answer SFA questions, it is unlikely the wee bill will continue to be viewed as exempt at 31 March 2012. If so Rangers either pay it or are denied a licence. This gives the SFA considerable leverage in getting answers from CW.



    HOWEVER. The big bill might not crystalise until after the 31 March when the FTT gives its ruling, so it is likely to be viewed as exempt from being treated as unpaid under Article 50 and so will not be a reason of itself to refuse a licence.





    A 51 Written Representations Prior to the Licensing Decision requires that written representation be provided of information to the Licensing Committee on any events or conditions of major economic importance that have occurred and that may have an adverse impact on the licence applicant’s financial position since the balance sheet date of the preceding audited annual financial statements or reviewed interim financial statements (if applicable )



    AND A 52


    Future Financial Information


    Refers to information in respect of the financial performance and position of the club in the reporting periods ending in the years following commencement of the UEFA club competitions, i.e in this case up to the end of season 2012/13.



    The last two are to protect UEFA from a club going belly up in the middle of a CL or EL tournament next season and the UEFA by now are very much aware of Rangers situation and what a risk they represent. On top of all that qualified audited accounts that might express “going concern” reservations either bring in other UEFA hurdles or make it difficult to pretend there is no problem under the ones quoted. The term gets 14 mentions in the UEFA FFP rules that the latest SFA ones incorporate.



    I do not fancy Rangers chances of getting a licence for any UEFA competition in the circumstances they find themsleves. I’m not even sure the have the administrative dexterity/experience to even supply or adhere to the rules which the SFA will have to apply with rigor to satisfy UEFA. That has never been the case before.

  8. Tricoloured Ribbon


    It is a tradition on here where new posters are asked the hun question.


    BT was only trying to get you to volunteer a wee bit more info.


    It is a fairly regular time of night for those who are hurting and going doon the lavvy pan soon to make their appearance.



  9. Tom McLaughlin on

    So, the first day of the transfer window draws to a close and we have signed nobody except Lustig, who was on a pre-contract agreement.



    Sack the board.

  10. Tom McLaughlin on

    Happy New Year to every Celtic man, woman, bhoy and ghirl the world over.



    Hail Hail.

  11. Tricoloured Ribbon on

    For your penance BT say three Hail Marys and Bankiebhoy and Johnnybhoy ye better be from the top of the hill and swally in the Ranch.

  12. Tricoloured Ribbon.



    as you know it is part of cqn to give you the hun question…



    BTW what is your parish in Doire? o))

  13. for anyone fussed


    cowboys against the giants on vipbox.tv


    just about to start


    loser gets papped oot !



    here’s kenny miller on SSN on Wed 28th Dec …


    no gigglin there at the back






    cheer up kenny

  14. Tricoloured Ribbon on

    How did ye know I went to Mass? St.Josephs in Galliagh.Fr.McGirr the man.Or maybe the vigil in St.Brigids Carnhill.Fr.Harkin.This is fecken worse than Castlereagh.Fire away lad.Only joking.

  15. Tricoloured Ribbon says:


    2 January, 2012 at 01:25


    Tracys,Peadars and the Gweedore tomorrow BT,The Radnor a fortnight ago.



    I’m jealous mate , I have loads of family there , was back home in Derry


    last month with a mate , spent most of my time in Peadars , great boozer…


    Enjoy yer day.



    Hail Hail.

  16. Tom McLaughlin on

    Back to work tomorrow after the festive break, and faced with a 1am kick-off v the Pars. For supporters in NSW and VIC it’s a 2am start.



    Still, wouldn’t miss it for the world.



    Hail Hail.

  17. Tricoloured Ribbon on

    Jesus Christ mate yer pulling ma plonker.I’m over 50 yrs of age son,an old Jungle man and I’m only taking a stab at this.Why? I dont know.If I get it wrong am i heading for the chair? Orange?

  18. stephbhoy says:


    2 January, 2012 at 00:54



    50% success rate is based on 2-3 players moving from u19s to 1st team plus players bought in, i.e. 4-6 players moving to the first team overall each season.



    10yos to cover such in future years would surely number several hundred youngsters imo.



    Essentially if we moved, over a ten year period, 30 young lads from the u19s to the first team, we should be looking to make something worthwhile out of 15 of them, yes? Similarly, if we signed 30 players over a ten year period, we should look to make something out of 15 of them?



    On that, I wonder what is acceptable ‘success rates’ for each pool and how this depends on perceived outlay.



    Very much interesting – discuss.

  19. MWD Defo orange. Remember it well. Time we (as the Celtic family) reclaimed that colour!



    The Planner




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