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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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1,206 Comments

  1. saltires en sevilla on

    Good morning fellow Celts from a dry mild 4 degrees in Glasgow

     

     

    M74 clear and hoping to reach Hampshire for kick-off (tv)

     

     

    3 points is the prize…stay focused

     

     

    Not expecting anything from the mothers…thanks to outstanding recent results that dizny matter :-)

     

     

    HH

     

     

    M

  2. Morning all. Red sky here at the minute. Shepherd’s warning and aw that.

     

     

    Bless me, CQNers, for I maybe about to to commit an illicit act ( or possibly even an illegal one?): a mate has told me how to download the game today on to my PC. I’ve never been tempted before but now that I am under doctor’s orders not to attend for a while, I am seriously thinking of doing so. He tells me it is not illegal but that there is a loophole in the law which allows for it. Is he just trying to make me feel better about it?

  3. Parkheadcumsalford says:

     

    2 January, 2012 at 08:42

     

     

    Up here, red sky means the shepherd’s croft is on fire.

     

     

    ;-))

     

     

    Lyruc

  4. Morning All,

     

     

    Think Neil may rest either Sammy or young James today and go with the old Stokes/Hooper partnership up top.

     

     

    As always any win would be acceptable but it would be really nice to go into the last ten minutes well ahead to save my nerves from another shredding!

     

     

    Oh and it looks like that wee toalie novo is on his way back to poundland, says it all really!!

     

     

    Mac

  5. Parkheadcumsalford says:

     

    2 January, 2012 at 08:42

     

    Morning all. Red sky here at the minute. Shepherd’s warning and aw that.

     

     

    Bless me, CQNers, for I maybe about to to commit an illicit act ( or possibly even an illegal one?): a mate has told me how to download the game today on to my PC. I’ve never been tempted before but now that I am under doctor’s orders not to attend for a while, I am seriously thinking of doing so. He tells me it is not illegal but that there is a loophole in the law which allows for it. Is he just trying to make me feel better about it?

     

     

    share

     

     

     

    Go for it,all the pubs are openly doing it,even advertising games in the papers,I was unwell myself since Oct,and did it for all the games that wern’t on sky..I think some English landlady took it to court and won..best thing about the link is its Celtic tv comemtary..

  6. saltires en sevilla says:

     

    2 January, 2012 at 08:23

     

    Good morning fellow Celts from a dry mild 4 degrees in Glasgow

     

     

    M74 clear and hoping to reach Hampshire for kick-off (tv)

     

     

    3 points is the prize…stay focused

     

     

    Not expecting anything from the mothers…thanks to outstanding recent results that dizny matter :-)

     

     

     

     

    Take it easy on the M8. Was at Dunshanbe Bhilly Bhoy’s last night for a Ne’erday celebration – ‘oh what fun etc.’. Last year after both victories over the Orcs in the league we dropped points away to ‘minnows’. 3 points today will signal a significant improvement on last year – staying focused is the key.

  7. Rangers boss Ally McCoist could move for Nacho Novo if club sells Nikica Jelavic

     

    Jan 2 2012 by Keith Jackson

     

     

    ALLY McCOIST will attempt to strike a bargain-basement deal to replace Nikica Jelavic with Nacho Novo back in the hope of luring him back to Ibrox as he braces himself for the sale of Nikica Jelavic.

     

    The Rangers boss will meet with new owner Craig Whyte before today’s SPL clash with Motherwell to ask how much money will be made available to spend in the January sales.

     

    Jelavic’s future will also be on the agenda after it emerged that the club has given an English agent a written mandate to move the Croat on during the transfer window for a minimum price of 10 million pounds.

     

    McCoist needs to know what funds Whyte plans to put on the table and is already piecing together his first cut-price move – to bring Novo back from La Liga, 18 months after the striker left to join Sporting Gijon.

     

    Novo is back in Spain after spending Christmas in Glasgow during which time he trained with McCoist’s first-team squad.

     

    Record Sport understands that McCoist sounded the 32-year-old out over a possible return before his team lost their lead at the top of the table on derby day at Celtic Park.

     

    That lacklustre performance in a 1-0 defeat merely underlined to the manager the need to add the energy and urgency for which Novo was so renowned during his first stint at the club many years ago.

     

    And the player will be willing to answer McCoist’s surprise SOS as long as Whyte comes up with the cash to make it happen and does not leave him dangling to the taxman.

     

    McCoist hopes Novo would be available for a knockdown fee as he is now in the final six months of his contract with the Spanish outfit and is permitted to open talks about a free transfer in the summer.

     

    But any deal will hinge on what wages Whyte can make available for a player who was the lowest earners in Walter Smith’s squad.

     

    Novo’s old Ibrox pay packet has almost doubled during his time in Spain and, although he would take a pay cut yet again to push a deal through, he is also aware that his next deal could be the last big earner of his career.

     

    A source said: “Ally would take Nacho back in a minute and the little fella has never hidden his love for Rangers. They had talks and it was all positive but it’s about getting the money to get a deal done. We have contacted Sone Aluko´s parents and suggested they start a X-factor find a player for Rangers type of television series and franchise it. Who knows in one or two years they could be as big as Simon Cowell”

     

    “The Jelavic situation is making it all a bit cloudy. That’s why Ally and Craig need to thrash out where the club is going in January.”

     

    Record Sport can also reveal McCoist is not closing in on Honduran internationals Jerry Bigbob Bengtson and Jorge Constantine Claros, as reported elsewhere. The manager was alerted to the duo in November and has since paid special attention to the form of striker Bengtson.

     

    It’s understood Ibrox operations executive Ali Russell is keen on the idea of signing them to help the club break into the Central American market but McCoist has yet to be convinced either player would cut it in the SPL having seen Oritz, Bedoya and Mc kay fall by the way side.

  8. Goian returns with a grievance over refereeing decisions

     

     

    By Tom English

     

     

    Published on Monday 2 January 2012 00:14

     

     

    RANGERS defender Dorin Goian has claimed his club’s fall from the top of the SPL table has been influenced by a series of refereeing decisions against them.

     

     

    Goian returns from suspension for today’s match against Motherwell at Ibrox, having missed last Wednesday’s Old Firm defeat at Celtic Park due to his dismissal in the 2-1 reversal at St Mirren on Christmas Eve.

     

     

    The Romanian international insists Steven McLean was wrong to send him off for two bookable offences in a match which also saw Lee McCulloch shown a straight red card which Rangers have appealed against.

     

     

    “In the last few games we have played, I have noticed that all the decisions which are 50-50 we no longer get,” said Goian. “It is only a comparison to the way it was at the beginning of the championship. I have noticed in the last month since the SFA asked Craig Whyte for some specific clarifications that the 50-50 decisions have not gone our way any more.”

     

     

    “I don’t think I deserved the second yellow card at St Mirren. The first booking was okay it always is we accept that, but not the second.”

     

     

    “I have been in Scotland for a couple of months and I’ve seen many bad injuries, especailly at Pittodrie, but sometimes the referees don’t even whistle for fouls. So to give me a second yellow card for my second foul, I don’t understand. I respect the referee, but I was very surprised by the second yellow card. I pulled the St Mirren player a little, but it was in the middle of the pitch. I wasn’t the last defender or anything like that. If you compare this with Naisy´s foul on the Aberdeen player it´s not comparable. We need consistency from the Scottish referees” Despite his sense of grievance with referees, Goian accepts that Rangers’ faltering form is the main issue to address after slipping two points behind Celtic in the title race.

     

     

    “It’s our fault as well as the poor officiating that we are not top of the league any more,” added Goian. “We were first and now we are second. Mentally, we are not very well at the moment. We need to beat Motherwell and after that everything will be okay again. We just have to rediscover our confidence and relationship with the officials, because it is missing just now. But the championship is long and I am very confident we will win it.”

     

     

    “We can do what Celtic have just done, win many games in a row. We did it at the start of the season when we were getting the 50-50 decisions. We have to play Celtic twice more, so it’s still in our hands to win the championship.”

     

     

    “We are not depending on Celtic’s results, it’s up to us. We have to work harder in training to improve our quality. Improve our relationships and if we do that we will win more games.”

  9. saltires en sevilla on

    Marcasog says:

     

    2 January, 2012 at 09:06

     

     

    Aye mo at the wheel…just catching up on the blog.

     

     

    Correct on the 3 points. They will signal that important lessons have been learned…you will remember a late season trip to Fife in ’98 with sticky McG?

     

     

    Let me guess… Dunshanbe strummed a few mike scott toons? Has he learned the new Simon Lynch yet…;-)

     

     

    Have a great year

     

     

    HH

     

     

    M

  10. My 2012 wish list

     

     

    Celtic win treble

     

    Neil Lennon leads Celtic to CL last 16

     

    James Forrest and Victor Wanyama sign 5 year deals

     

    Aiden returns to re- sign for Hoops

     

    Standing areas introduced at CP

     

    SFA introduce foreign refs to Scottish game

     

    ——————————————————————–

     

    A newly amalgamated company called Dublin/Vatican media buy BBC Scotland and all Scottish media rights. (Awe Naw is appointed editor in chief)

     

    Rangers enter admin and are resigned to lowest division with 30pt handicap for next 5 seasons

     

    Kyle Lafferty is struck with severest form of dysentery just as he lines up to strike penalty in crucial televised league game v Albion Rovers with score poised at 0-0

     

    A massive row breaks out over decision to allow Rangers’ Ramsden cup tie v QOS to go ahead at Ibrox on the same evening Celtic play Barca in the CL QF at CP

     

    Dermot finally works out how to operate his sat nav and attends the AGM

     

    The green brigade refuse to accept their OBE unless it is presented by Bill Leckie

  11. Imatim and so is Neil Lennon on

    2010 Never Again

     

     

    Anyone know the odds on the huns winning by 3 or more goals against the mothers? The statistics say it must be so <:-))

  12. saltires en sevilla on

    Traffic warning M6

     

     

    Anyone planning to drive be careful black ice ..TWO cars spun off road both directions 50 miles north of Preston

     

     

    Road is clear

     

     

    Slow, slow, slower

     

     

    HH

     

     

    M

  13. Goian’s remarks show they are running scared. How any hun can possibly think that referees are against them is amazing.

     

     

    He argues that his first yellow last week was deserved but that the second, for exactly the same offence, wasn’t because it took place in the middle of the pitch! Perhaps he has been watching the Rangers’ midfield commit foul after foul without picking up bookings?

     

     

    Still, if we keep winning it doesn’t matter what they do. Three points this afternoon will maintain our lead at the top.

  14. !!Bada Bing!! Kano 1000 on

    Techy help required- Broadband at home is down til 11Jan, can you connect a 3G mobile via USB to a laptop for internet/wifi access? If so what setting on the laptop enables it? I think a regular bhoy on here posted something similar a few weeks ago.Thanks in advance.HH.

  15. How spoiled have our “sportsmen” become when 2 darts players walk off stage because of a draft blawing on the stage??

     

     

    Changed days indeed. Now, when I was winning the ‘Gothenburg Open’ many moons ago I had to contend with much worse. Pensioners clattering dominoes down just as I was about to throw, drunks ducking under the board on their way to the loo, fights breaking out in every corner, my feet sticking to the oche due to several pints of spilled lager and a paper boay interrupting my check out to try and sell me the Pink paper. (behave)

     

     

    Spoiled ah tell ya – spoiled.

  16. fergus slayed the blues on

    Now that CW and the ragers have categorically stated that Jellylegs is going nowhere and is staying at Ibrokes ,

     

    who do you think will be the one or two to be sold instead

     

    hail hail

  17. BOBBY MURDOCH'S CURLED-UP WINKLEPICKERS on

    FERGUS SLAYED THE BLUES

     

     

    David Healy has a superb goalscoring record at international level,and must be worth at least £15m in anyone’s eyes.

     

     

    Well,in Pat Nevin’s eyes anyway,after his comments on Wednesday night…..

  18. fergus slayed the blues says @ 2 January, 2012 at 10:11

     

     

    Now that CW and the ragers have categorically stated that Jellylegs is going nowhere and is staying at Ibrokes ,

     

     

    ===================================

     

     

    Really? Perhaps no-one has come forward to pay the 50M asking price and, being a man of principles, the MBB will not be held to ransom.

  19. Good shout Vmhan, remember waiting anxiously for my old man and uncles getting home. Let them rest in peace.

  20. ClashCityBhoy

     

     

    I am sorry I have just got a hold of my son and he had given the concession to a friend. I am sorry about that.

  21. BOBBY MURDOCH'S CURLED-UP WINKLEPICKERS on

    VMHAN,JACK REGAN.

     

     

    My Dad and his mates knew nothing about the disaster as they were driving home,and straight into the pub.

     

     

    The barman refused to serve them until they had each gone home and reported in.

     

     

    Dreadful,dreadful day that could probably have happened many a time before and since at various grounds.

     

     

    For one,I remember trooping down the damned steep stairs at Love St in the 80s to be met by a locked gate. How a repeat of 71 was averted is down to a few sturdy lads wrenching it off. Incredible. The crush at the front must have been frightening that day.

  22. Rangers boss Ally McCoist admits he would be delighted to let David Weir move on if the defender wants to leave.

     

     

    By Thomas Jordan

     

     

    Weir recently admitted that he may have to quit Ibrox if he fails to break into the Rangers starting line-up.

     

     

    The veteran stopper has been unable to force his way into McCoist’s first XI since recovering from blowing out his candles on his birthday cake.

     

     

    The 42-year-old found himself on the bench again for the midweek Old Firm defeat to Celtic and McCoist can understand Weir’s frustration and will not stand in his way if he wants to leave.

     

     

    “I haven’t spoken to Davie about January but would not have a problem in the slightest if he wants to go,” McCoist told the Sunday Mail.

     

     

    “Davie has a family living in England and it make sense for them to maximise their time together with him being so old. He has been a great servant and a great captain to this club”

     

     

    “He hasn’t indicated that fully yet but if he did I think he has earned the right.”

     

     

    “He hasn´t a cats chance in hell of obtaining a pay off.”

  23. Just wait until the big clubs hear that they will need to pay big bucks to lure Jelavic away. The eight figure cheques will be lined up in seconds. And the whole lot will be paid up front of course. No problems there, Mr Whyte.

     

     

    Meanwhile back on planet earth … who pays top prices when everyone knows that the sellers are desperate to deal?

  24. fergus slayed the blues on

    BOBBY MURDOCH’S CURLED-UP WINKLEPICKERS says:

     

    2 January, 2012 at 10:17

     

    Is that the first time Healy has hit the target since joining them ,don’t know if he has scored for them but I have always felt wee JF was targeted when playing them .

     

    They really would get FOOTBALL stopped

     

    hail hail

  25. !!Bada Bing!! Kano 1000 on

    Awe naw- Im not too techy and not sure mate,my PC is saying internet is on,but my Broadband is down thanks to Sky mucking it up.Mrs Bing has done her back in and hoping to work from home tomorrow.I thought a 3g mobile phone connection would act as a dongle? Thanks for reply HH.

  26. BOBBY MURDOCH'S CURLED-UP WINKLEPICKERS on

    FERGUS SLAYED THE BLUES

     

     

    Get football stopped?

     

     

    I uttered those very words yesterday about Everton,and they scored the blinkin’ winner while I was waliking home!

  27. !!Bada Bing!! Kano 1000 on

    BMCUW- I remember the crush going in to Love St that night,terrifying.Nottingham Forest away in European Cup was similar.A friend of mine went to Ibrox that day,we thought he was lost but he managed home about 10pm.

  28. fergus slayed the blues on

    The Smallest CSC says:

     

    2 January, 2012 at 10:18

     

    Exactly the 10m price tag is surely a big GTF to all clubs even going to watch him

     

    hail hail

  29. WEST BROM boss Roy Hodgson last night insisted he won’t let Scotland star Graham Dorrans move to Ibrox.

     

    By Matthew Lindsay

     

     

    Rangers boss Ally McCoist has admitted he’s keen on the midfield ace, 24, but when asked about a possible move, Hodgson said: “No, I’m not interested.”

     

    The Baggies gaffer did admit an interest in Gers ace Nikica Jelavic but added: “I don’t think our name is at the top of Rangers´s list of preferential candidates. When commencing a public auction West Bromwich Albion is not the most exciting name in the hat”