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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. James Forrest is Lennon on

    Happy New Year brothers and sisters!

     

     

    Great Celtic team selection. Stokesy back in the team. Excellent.

     

     

    Astounding team selection at Ibrox. Astounding.

     

     

    What the Hell happened to Bendickson, for a start? He’s off to Tromso? I thought he was this year’s big name signing?

     

     

    No Jelavic, even on the bench. And David Healy up front. What the Hell??

     

     

    Nacho Novo linked? Worse than the Kris Boyd rumour.

     

     

    Oh Good People … they are in free-fall with a manager who seems like he’s accepting the inevitability of the sack.

  2. GourockEmeraldBhoy HAILS THE KANO FOUNDATION on

    Doctastic says:

     

    2 January, 2012 at 14:15

     

    How did the linesman not give sutton offside for the 3rd goal, he was 5 yards ahead of the last defender

     

     

     

    You must be still hungover ;-)

  3. brimmer 'kano 1000' on

    bournesouprecipe etc..

     

     

    I know why you may feel this way, but relax. It’s not Real Madrid we’re playing.

     

     

    4-0

     

     

    brimmer

  4. Well bhoys off out for the last few holiday beers of the festive season, enjoy the game.

     

     

    Couldn’t resist a wee fiver on Motherwell at 8/1 am I asking for tooooo much.

     

     

    Hail hail

     

     

    Bada get the beers in.

  5. “1419: Rangers midfielder Tomas Bendiksen has gone back to Norway, says Chick Young. Ibrox boss Ally McCoist had been hoping to keep him at the club where he had been beginning to get a game” (BBC)

     

     

    One more future superstar bites the dust.

     

     

    BTW, if Novo signs for Rangers is that the first ever occurrence of a rat joining a sinking ship??

  6. James Forrest is Lennon on

    And you Mr Morris!

     

     

    Hope it was a beauty! You missed Stephen out of his face. Was a sight to see!

  7. i for one aint buying into the latest crisis at rangers,this is the media tryin to gee the team up by reading that article in t he daily ranger,anyway why are some on more concerend about rangers,talk up the hoops on here not them

  8. Doctastic says:

     

    2 January, 2012 at 14:15

     

    How did the linesman not give sutton offside for the 3rd goal, he was 5 yards ahead of the last defender

     

     

    You must be still hungover ;-)

     

     

     

    You going out for the game today?? with tommy gemmell

     

     

    share

  9. ratnovo and monster munch will both be back getting away with murder again. We should pay a lot of attention to this. Because if they dont sign them, hunageddon is closeer than we thought. MM got found out as soon as he moved, no bias ref = no goals.lol cant climb cant push cant pull or use elbows. see ya MM.

     

     

    KLV

  10. Would Hertz have won today if the officials had done their job according to the rules ?

     

     

    2 offside goals and a Hertz player who should’ve been sent off a la Brown/Laughatme at ipox ?

     

     

    Calum Murray another from the Dallas clone conveyor belt.

     

     

    When the huns are liquidised i want our board to demand foreign referees and foreign supervisors or we’re leaving.

     

     

    It’s a rigged corrupt league why would we want to stay.

     

     

    I hope and pray that the non attender at the agm is working quietly and dilligently away in the background enabling a move to the EPL.

     

     

    Oh how i’d laugh.

  11. GourockEmeraldBhoy HAILS THE KANO FOUNDATION on

    Doctastic says:

     

    2 January, 2012 at 14:26

     

     

    Unfortunately not, I’m working till 5 then home for a cold one.

  12. Motherwell at 8 to 1 looks a great bet. Jellyfish is out they are starting with Clogger Healy and his loyal brother Laugherty. Bring back Novo I say.

  13. Gordon_J backing Neil Lennon says:

     

    2 January, 2012 at 14:25

     

     

    “BTW, if Novo signs for Rangers is that the first ever occurrence of a rat joining a sinking ship??”

     

     

     

    Absolutely brilliant :)))))

     

     

    HH and Happy New Year

  14. Lenny tinkering again. lets see how VW and SB play in the middle together. VW might make brown better in CM.

     

     

     

    KLV

  15. bonbhoy says @ 13:39

     

     

    HTML Syntax Reference Sheet

     

     

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

     

     

    Thanks. My web development expertise stopped developing at HTML 1.0, but I can probably manage simple tags.

  16. James Forrest is Lennon on

    Is that “Don’t Stop Believing” playing at Ibrox?

     

     

    Are they THAT desperate, that they’re resorting to raising morale like that?

     

     

    Dear oh dear.

     

     

    Chick Young now talking about Celtic winning the treble … Wow.

  17. Afternoon Celts and Edward….. happy New Year Ed!

     

     

    I agree with Bournesoupe-thingy, a weakened midfield is a mistake we make often under Lenny, win the midfield battle and then win the game is the way IMO.

     

     

    I hope we change it at half time because all the pars will do is go heavy against our two midfielders, cut off the supply to our attacking players……..

     

     

    I wish Izzy was starting, Ledley in midfield and I’d be a whole lot happier.

     

     

    Vinny

  18. theweegreenman on

    Mrs TWGM just said she hopes TFOD don’t give Putrid Vienna their money either!

     

     

    GIRUY.

     

     

    That would funny. LOL

  19. Always wanted to travel from north India to south by train. Watched a programme many moons ago, Great Railway Journies of the World, and a first class ticket was something like 5 rupees. The guy presenting the show had the whole carriage to himself cos your regular Indian preferred to pay 1 rupee to travel on the roof. Anyway, he says you could recognise each region you passed through without once opening your eyes. Different regional curry smells could tell you exactly where you where. One day………