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State of the Club Report, year-end 2014

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2014 saw Celtic win their third consecutive league title, but we didn’t reach either cup final.  A period of significant change got underway during the summer when we said farewell to Neil Lennon.

Neil took over from Tony Mowbray, his first managerial appointment after working with the Youths at Lennoxtown.  His first season was the one that got away.  Defeat at Inverness with the title within their grasp, Walter Smith’s Rangers took their third successive title against the third difference Celtic manager.

Three months into the next season, Celtic were 10 points behind a Whyte-McCoist inspired Rangers, but that was overcome, with interest, by Christmas.  Celtic went on to win the league by 20 points, although 10 of them were as a penalty for Rangers incurring an insolvency event.

Thereafter it was plan sailing for Neil.  He never looked back in the league and reached the Champions League group stage twice, progressing to the knock-out stage on the first occasion.  He learned the managerial ropes at Celtic and did enough in his four years here to establish himself as a European-class manager.  He was our third unqualified success in four appointments.

By this summer it was evidence to all, including Neil, that significant rebuilding was needed.  The job was handed to Ronny Deila.

Ronny’s first challenge came in the Champions League qualifiers in the form of Legia Warsaw.  Despite the record books showing Celtic progressed after a 3-0 default home win, Legia wiped the floor with Celtic home and away.  Celtic looked like a team of strangers, unfamiliar with the system they were asked to play.

That was, of course, true, the system was unfamiliar, but it’s execution was miscalculated, the on-field results were deserved.  The Champions League playoff round against Maribor was unusual inasmuch as Celtic dominated the away first leg and deserved more than the 1-1 draw, but the Slovenians arrived in Glasgow with their game face on.  Celtic were outplayed and out of the Champions League.

Things slowly got better, although home performances against Motherwell (by my measure the worst) and Hamilton Accies (who were impressive), and latterly Ross County indicated there is still a long way to go.

Ronny’s Celtic found their feet in the Europa League, where they finished second behind a very accomplished Salzburg.  The away performances against Salzburg and Astra gave an insight into how things could be for this Celtic team.

It was, to say the least, disappointing not to qualify for the Champions League.  It denied the club millions of pounds and shaded our trump card in to be used in attracting players, but in reality we’re not a Champions League team this season.  The Europa’ gave us an opportunity to play European football on our level, pick up coefficient points and extended interest after Christmas (if you’re young this won’t mean much, if you’re my age, you’ll recall this being our Holy Grail).

Inter Milan await in the next round.  They are also going through a rebuilding exercise and are as vulnerable to lesser-resourced teams as Celtic – so unlike Juventus two years ago – we have a sporting chance.

The tactical direction of the club is visibly distinct from what went before Ronny.  Is this a good thing?  Probably.  Neil Lennon and his players over-achieved in their first Champions League season on a scale it’s difficult to measure.  That squad had no right to reach the levels they did; theirs was a herculean effort.  Play Matthews at left back, alongside a central pair of Wilson and Ambrose.  Put Miku up front, with Mulgrew and Ledley in the middle – then go beat Barcelona.  It was beyond impossible.

Barca, Ajax and Milan were prepared for Celtic last season; we finished bottom, out of ideas and direction on that stage.  We needed to change, same again wasn’t going to wash.

Ronny’s played a high-pressing game, mostly with players who are unaccustomed to the demands of this game-plan.  This has been a mistake on several occasions, most notably against Legia and Maribor.  He’s working on player fitness, but in all likelihood it will take the next two transfer windows before he can craft the squad into the shape he wants it to be.

We’re halfway through the season and, with Aberdeen playing before us tomorrow, there’s a chance they could go top of the table, for a couple of hours, anyway.  That’s not good enough, by any measure.  Notwithstanding the revamp, we should have done better in the Champions League qualifiers and we should be further ahead in the league, but the fundamentals remain intact:

We needed to start post-Neil Lennon with a new tactical strategy.
Trying hard not to be disrespectful to Aberdeen, but we’re going to win the league.
We’re in both cup competitions.
We remain in the Europa League.

I was happy with the direction we took in appointing Ronny Deila and remain so.  The problems of the last six months could be classified as First World Problems.  We’ll get over them, while others watch on from the Other Worlds.

Have a Happy Celtic New Year, strap in and enjoy the ride, I promise it’ll be a great one.

Sale on at CQNBookstore, fill your stockings.

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  1. Back in again afore ah really go off oot…..

     

    ___________________________________

     

     

    BOBBY MURDOCH’S CURLED-UP WINKLEPICKERS

     

     

    13:49 on 31 December, 2014

     

    ________________________

     

    Aye and no matter how hard they – huff or they puff – they’ll still no make KevJungle jump into a bottle.

     

    Not too many folk going around these parts can say that, eh?

  2. Just reading about Big Sam telling his players to go down in the penalty area if contact sufficient.

     

    This is killing football right now as well as the grappling at corners.

     

    I listened to Carlton Palmer the other day and he said that Ron Atkinson would fine his players for diving as he wanted reefrees to know that if his players went down then it was genuine.

     

    A good approach me thinks that could be adopted throughout football.

     

    As for the grappling, not sure what approach to take on that.

  3. masty is neil lennon and both of us are supporting wee oscar on

    mincey

     

     

    agreed, seen 1 last night in the leeds derby game, totally embarrassing..

  4. Not convinced by our team at all however as it stands we’ll win the league despite ourselves. Aberdeen are not a great side.

     

     

    A big window (aren’t they all) for Ronny and I hope he gets backed.

     

     

    HH

  5. masty

     

     

    The talk in England is apart from video 4th official involvement, that a hand picked 3 man, ex player, ref and manager would sit on a Monday or Tuesday and be able to review incidents and have the power to impose cards or rescind them.

     

     

    Apparently Mr Howard Webb and the PGMOL are not doing a very good job.

  6. Paul67

     

     

    Many thanks for CQN.

     

    You should be very proud sir.

     

    Hat doffed & Happy New Year when it comes to u , your family and all CQNers

  7. Joe Fillipi,

     

     

    That would only have been of benefit to the huns finances if the 3 bears had bought shares in a new share issue.That money would have gone to the club.The money they paid is going to Laxey.Not a penny to the club.As far as I know,the indecent haste to sell Mc Leod was to meet this months wages.

     

    They are no better off.Still penniless,but with another warring faction to join the unholy war.

     

    Sit back and watch the fun.

  8. Richie #TeamOscarForever on

    Happy New article :-)

     

     

    An hour I won’t get back reading the last few pages of the previous comments.

     

     

    I know it’s hard not to react to that fool’s ramblings but I think it’s the only way to minimise the damage he does.

     

     

    Opposing views are one thing, insulting trolling is another.

     

     

    #blankthemcsc

  9. masty is neil lennon and both of us are supporting wee oscar on

    turkeybhoy

     

    theres feck all holy about that mob..

  10. 16 roads - Celtic über alles... on

    If we don’t at least win the title this season there will be a revolution.

     

     

    In reality we should be at least ten points clear at this stage regardless of who is in charge.

     

     

    I’m not worried – yet.

     

     

    Still have bad memories of the last time we were going for the 4-IAR when Peter Lawwell and Strachan contrived to squander it.

     

     

    It cannot be allowed to happen again.

     

     

    HH.

  11. bournesouprecipe on

    Ten hours until the ole transfer window slams open * how does it open then – creaks wrenches or what?*

  12. excathedra44

     

     

    13:45 on 31 December, 2014

     

    Stringer Bell

     

    13:25 on

     

    31 December, 2014

     

     

    Any luck with tickets ref my post around 12:30

     

     

     

     

     

    Sorry mate, missed you post. Was off the blog for a wee while and didn’t read back due the the troll taking the joy from the pages…,

     

     

    I had a wee look, but not sure I can do the away end thing again. Did it for 2 years in the late 90’s (there are some stories to tell from those days!) but think I’m too long in the tooth now.

     

     

    Many thanks for your response to my original post. Much obliged :-)

  13. Auldheid

     

     

    I’d agree with all of your suggestions in that last post.

     

     

    Lower ticket prices

     

     

    Improve catering and subsequent pricing

     

     

    Make the match day experience more enjoyable

     

     

    However, I despair at some of the ‘examples’ of modern football.

     

     

    Supporters having season tickets suspended for standing.

     

     

    Supporters threatened with season tickets being removed for lateral movement.

     

     

    Images of players scoring goals and the background is awash with spectators who can’t applaud because they’re too busy taking pictures with phones and iPads.

  14. Afternoon everyone,

     

    just getting ready to drive down south to surprise my sister at the bells,

     

    would like to wish you all a happy and prosperous new year when it comes,

     

    wont be back on until after the game tomorrow,

     

    so heres hoping for 3 points and a happier blog

     

    HH

  15. bournesouprecipe

     

     

    14:10 on 31 December, 2014

     

    Ten hours until the ole transfer window slams open * how does it open then – creaks wrenches or what?*

     

     

    Doesn’t open until Saturday in Scotland

  16. 16 roads - Celtic über alles... on

    Ronny has experimented enough with this season already with his high pressing game, whatever it is.

     

     

    Time to start being a bit more pragmatic.

     

     

    Play a basic 4-4-2 system and put our strongest team on the park, get the title wrapped up first then let him experiment with systems and formations until the cows come home.

     

     

    Results.

     

     

    Winning games is all that matters from here on in.

     

     

    HH.

  17. Paul67

     

     

    A fair analysis.

     

     

    However, I don’t agree with your assessment of the Maribor tie.

     

     

    In my opinion they were prepared to sit back for the first 45 minutes in the away leg and see what we had. They allowed us to have the ball, retreated in numbers only pressed us once we got into the final third.

     

     

    After the break they were like a different side.

     

     

    In addition their coach had clearly learned more from the first leg than Ronny.

  18. 16 roads – Celtic über alles… 14:08 on 31 December, 2014

     

    If we don’t at least win the title this season there will be a revolution.

     

     

    In reality we should be at least ten points clear at this stage regardless of who is in charge.

     

     

    I’m not worried – yet.

     

     

    Still have bad memories of the last time we were going for the 4-IAR when Peter Lawwell and Strachan contrived to squander it.

     

     

    It cannot be allowed to happen again.

     

    —————————————————————-

     

     

    I could stomach not winning the league if it guaranteed we could get rid of the huns in our boardroom which in my opinion is all of them.

  19. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on

    As timbhoy2 said now is the time to end our contract with Parks buses.

     

    Me, Im letting the train take the strain…

  20. Repost for Glen if he’s lurking.

     

    Glendalys@13.25

     

    Big challenge but a lot more money available in the qualifiers for Champions league proper as well. Quids in for getting that far. That’s why I feel it’s a nonsense to countenance anyone other than ourselves winning Spl this season. HH

     

    Auldheid

     

    That strategy has been more than successful in the NASL, a league that was withering on the vine.

  21. A high-pressing game,its about time this nonsensical phrase was consigned to the dustbin.What does it mean? We have witnessed some of the worst football this season since the nineties.Coaches who over complicate the game rarely succeed.

  22. kilwinning_loyal

     

    Believe the Hype.

     

     

    True Blue

     

     

    15,417 posts

     

    Gender:Male

     

    Location:kilwinning

     

    Posted Today, 11:47 AM

     

    Hope it is true we need to stabilize our club for ever rather than lurching from crisis to crisis

     

    #5 The Beast

     

    UoF, RST, SoS GTF

     

     

    True Blue

     

     

    3,353 posts

     

    Gender:Male

     

    Location:Second star to the right and straight on till morning

     

    Posted Today, 11:57 AM

     

    Hope it is true we need to stabilize our club for ever rather than lurching from crisis to crisis

     

     

     

    I will be glad to see the end of the boardroom saga if that’s what it leads to.

     

     

    I will be hugely unhappy if the likes of Paul Murray gets a foot in the door but I will continue to support the club regardless.

     

     

    What can’t be fixed are the divides in the fanbase. There are some of the prominent players who I will never ever forgive and will despise for the rest of my days.

     

     

     

    Still the most gullible,stupid,ignorant,fans in the history of the game.

     

    I luv it.

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