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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. 67Heaven ... I am Neil Lennon..!! Tick Tock !! on

    Did hearts player get booked for celebrating with the fans…??

  2. nice 2 nil win today would be lovely.

     

     

    any info on the horses today bhoys ?

     

     

    hail hail

  3. 1-0

     

     

    sorry 1-1

     

     

    GIRFUY diet huns

     

     

     

    btw McGowan celebrates in a fashion that many CFC players have been booked for

     

     

    Murray was too busy celebrateing to notice …perhaps

  4. Imatim and so is Neil Lennon on

    ….PFayr says:

     

    2 January, 2012 at 13:30

     

    Imatim

     

     

    given Motherwell`s recent performances against the Hun …i cannae imagine you`d get a big price

     

     

    ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

     

     

    2110 Never Again

     

     

    I know it goes against the grain….but if enough people had a wee flutter on it…it might just cause a few waves if it comes to pass….and we all know McColl will do his duty to the hun cause

  5. The Smallest CSC says:

     

    2 January, 2012 at 10:44

     

     

    Is there a format for getting bold text, italics and underlines in the comments? In google talk I would do *bold* and _italics_ with asterisks and underlines. The RTC blog supports emoticons as well.

     

     

    HTML Syntax Reference Sheet

  6. Ten Men Won The League on

    I see Hearts fan Calum Murray reffing his boyhood heroes today. Yet again

     

     

    Refusues to book McGowan for causing a crush of bodies down at the Hearts end, then allows him to headbutt Sproule in the stomach with no card whatsoever

     

     

    He is a stick on for the Huns away game in March

  7. Jobo Baldie says:

     

    2 January, 2012 at 13:29

     

     

    I understand that, but the “Saturday Rule” is, I think, only relevant due to other games scheduled for that time slot.

     

     

    Therefore, why are they sanctioning a televised game in opposition to a full card, if such is the case?

     

     

    My underlying point is, if they can allow a televised game @3.pm. today, why not every Saturday or Bank Holiday, which Saturdays, more or less, are?:>)

     

    ,

  8. Ten Men Won The League on

    Is Murray saving giving his boyhood heroes any cards whatsoever in lieu of an SFA fine for bad behaviour for Hearts having the worst disciplinary record in the SPL?

  9. Sorry forgot to add.

     

     

    Tweet from James Grady

     

     

    Jelavic not at ibrox! Healy starts! #hash splayedhislastgame?

  10. Disgraceful from referee Calum Murray there but no sanction will be taken , I spoke to a former grade 1 who is as supervisor now, in the aftermath of the game at CP last year that Murray referreed when he sent of 3 of their players his take on Murray he is a nice guy and wouldn’t want to cause trouble for the players, disgraceful and Hibs should complain

  11. BT

     

     

    superb performance from self confessed jambo and obvious hun sympathiser Murray

     

     

    Goal ..offside

     

     

    Goalscorer celebating with fans no booking …we get booked everytime for this

     

     

    Mcgowan headbutts Sproule ..no card …i remember Brown being sent off for less

  12. A happy new year to everyone on the site. I hope you all had a great holiday week (and no, you don’t have to remind me you enjoyed the 28th lol) May the best you had last year be the worst you have this year.

  13. Lindsay Herron reports from Ibrox

     

     

    NIKICA JELAVIC is not in the starting line-up for today’s clash with Motherwell and that means David Healy will make his first SPL start of the campaign.

     

     

    Healy will partner fellow Northern Ireland star Kyle Lafferty up top as the Light Blues aim to bounce back after consecutive defeats to Celtic and St Mirren.

     

     

    Jelavic had a fitness test ahead of the Old Firm clash and could well still be feeling a problem in his knee.

     

     

    Of course over twenty English clubs are reportedly interested in the striker and we will have more on this story when we get it.

     

     

    Healy has only started once this season – and that was the League Cup defeat at Falkirk – and he has had five sub appearances will try not to kick any filthy wee fenian today

     

     

    Lee McCulloch has also failed to make the match after suffering an injury in the derby and his place has been taken by Mo Edu.

     

     

    Boss Ally McCoist also makes two switches at the back with Kyle Bartley moving to right back, meaning Kirk Broadfoot is out of the game all together, and Dorin Goian returning to centre back after suspension.

     

     

    Sone Aluko keeps his place on the right side of midfield and Lee Wallace continues on the left.

     

     

    RANGERS: McGregor; Bartley, Goian, Bocanegra, Papac; Aluko, Davis, Edu, Wallace; Healy, Lafferty.

  14. Hooptastic says:

     

    2 January, 2012 at 13:48

     

     

    Sorry forgot to add.

     

     

    Tweet from James Grady

     

     

    Jelavic not at ibrox! Healy starts! #hash splayedhislastgame?

     

    share

     

     

    ——

     

     

    Oh that would be funny :)

  15. Edward Ursus says:

     

    2 January, 2012 at 13:54

     

    A happy new year to everyone on the site. I hope you all had a great holiday week (and no, you don’t have to remind me you enjoyed the 28th lol) May the best you had last year be the worst you have this year.

     

     

     

    You are a good guy,,,all the best to you m8,,,but not your team :D

     

     

    Hail hail

  16. Webster scores for mini’s.

     

     

    Should have been sent off earlier for an elbow in the face.

     

     

    Lubo.

  17. bbc right on cue with some positive spin – ratboys rehab going well (allegedly).

     

     

    Wonder if the huns will be bringing their giant foil reality-deflection blankets along again today.

  18. glendalystonsils on

    I’m sure the huns won’t miss Jelavic as they are bringing back Ratboy from Spain. Only problem is he won’t be able to play right away as he’ll have to spend some time in quarantine.(Rodent section)