State of the Club Report, year-end 2014


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. As we now seem to experiment now on a season to season basis what with loan deals and different managerial styles,if the Ronny experiment hasn’t worked out at the end of the season I would like to see Celtic approach Paul Clement and if they could prise him away from his current position give him a shot at trying to take us further in next seasons Champions League

  2. BMCUW



    If you mean St Johnstone away, I know :-(



    Right off to catch Fraser’s before it shuts.



    Hail Hail my friend.

  3. big-cup-winners



    15:29 on 31 December, 2014



    Get yerself a posh ticket and it’s all free and there is a better class of moaners in the lounges

  4. Jonnyrambo67



    You are wasting your time.



    You already answered the question.



    The fellow only wants to prove out his anti celtic leadership cognitive dissonance.

  5. “Trying hard not to be disrespectful to Aberdeen but we’re going to win the league”



    2 home games until the end of February and if the players and management have this attitude, that know matter we will win it attitude, we’re done.



    Of course we should win the league, but we should also be winning the cups and over the last few years we’ve had a few shockers.



    Nobody is frightened of playing us anymore, as I said yesterday I think it would be great if Aberdeen go on a 5-6 unbeaten run.



    Might make our board sit up and do something?

  6. HT



    I do get your point on attracting fans, I quoted Dortmund as an example, what is they do to keep 80,000 at every home game ?


    A standing area would help some ?


    Me I would sit in the fancy seats if the price was right ( as you know I dont drink so don’t pay the extra £1000 a season for the privilege, I would pay slightly more for a better seat though) – should there be more of these style seats, with more shoulder space etc ? Slightly reduce capacity, but better quality seating, making the stadium a better class ?


    Take a look at modern cinemas, with they now offer


    Time for football stadiums to move into 21st century ?


    I also believe people should be able to get a beer at kiosksin concourse, but like England, you cannot bring onto terracing or seats


    This would mean improved facilities in the concourses etc


    Point I am trying to make, make the full stadium package and experience much better


    Just for info, in Edinburgh yesterday that Whife of mine and her friends were paying £10 a drink (cocktails), having to book tables for the privilege :-) if surroundings and product is right people may not grudge what they pay ?


    You see the qeues waiting to get back into Kerrydale suite after games, expand on that ?



    I think there is lots could be looked at and experimented with ? Think out the box



    But let’s get more back in, which would in turn increase revenue



    Incidentally the Stovies were braw, and daughter No1 said same on soup, although with a cola was £8 :-)



    Hail Hail

  7. Mickbhoy 1888



    Not sure if they are better class of moaner but certainly plenty to chose from.

  8. mickbhoy1888.



    I would love to take your suggestion to big cup winners regarding buying a posh ticket, I’m sure it’s definitely a better quality of food, but to say it is free. I believe it’s about £2000

  9. What is the Stars on

    Johnny Rambo



    How many times do I have to express this



    I am not the very well paid man who makes the decisions on managerial appointments at Celtic


    If I was Ronnie would still be in Norway


    Personally I would be prepared to give a manager 3/5 years to see what progress he could make in Europe/bring back crowds.Winning in Scotland with our huge financial advantage would of course be expected


    Of course thats on the basis that the man appointed was a football manager who knew what he was doing


    At the moment I would replace Ronny with anyone.absoutely anyone

  10. What is the Stars on

    Burnley 78



    The fellow only wants to prove out his anti celtic leadership cognitive dissonance.



    I will remind you of that when Ronny is sacked and I will graciously accept your apology



    You think he is doing a fine job and you accuse me of cognitive dissonance.


    Good man


    Happy New Year

  11. Micky Dee



    Agree with everything you’ve said regarding the catering. Not impressive at all and that includes the “posh seats”. Ive had executive seats for the last 2 games and the food was mediocre. Even the tea was dire!!


    Wouldn’t have minded as much if the football had been good…….



  12. Johnny Rambo..( Great Name,pal.)



    Anyone who complains.. but.. offers no Viable Solution..


    is ..”at it.” .. as the saying goes.



    Ronny,is still finding oot where they keep the Toilet Rolls.. He is a Stranger ,in a Strange land.



    Once he settles..n..Ah kin see Encouraging signs.. fur Ma Spies at Parkheid hiv jist Intormed me…that Ronny, his Actually.. Found oot where they Keep the Toilet Rolls…so Ma fears hiv bin proved.. Groundless..


    Ronny, will prove tae be one of oor Mair Successful Imports.



    The Aberdeen Menace will be Turned Back.


    Celtic,wull Win the League.



    N.. Peter Lawwell wull go tae sleep ,once more.. Withoot the Light bein’ On.



    Nice Chatting,pal.






  13. glendalystonsils on



    If you’re still around


    I’m almost always lurking but just back in from a walk round the park with the wee granddaughter.


    I totally agree that the new BT money is something we should do all in our power to secure. We are unlikely to do it with the present team. Also, in the extremely unlikely event of Aberdeen winning the league, I wouldn’t even back them to get through the first CL qualifying round.


    By the time next July comes around I sincerely hope that we, as the only Scottish team with any European potential, have done all we can to have a serious go at qualifying.


    By ‘we’ I mean board, management and players.

  14. 16 roads - Celtic über alles... on

    Compare and contrast, this season to last season.



    The football team done one of three things – progressed, regressed or remained static.



    It’s as simple as that.



    I’m not going to blame the manager for anything, however if the team has went backwards, then somebody is at fault.



    We should be streets ahead of our competitors.







  15. Afternoon all



    A good article Paul – one that I broadly agree with although the title is something of a misnomer as this is more of a State of the Team than the Club itself. I do though, to some extent, disagree with the proposition that ‘Trying hard not to be disrespectful to Aberdeen, but we’re going to win the league.’



    Whilst I would agree we are still favourites for the league I have seen enough of the team to think that we are more than capable of ending up with nothing this season ( or all three domestic trophies). I remain neutral towards Ronny – I cannot see that we can actually sack a manager whose team is still in three cups and does lead the league but as I have said before I have seen nothing on the field that suggests we have a manager who would have done better than, to give two examples, Jackie McNamara and Paul Hartley would have.



    I have an uneasy feeling going into the New Year when it comes to Celtic. I do not believe that the club has been particularly well run over the last few years and quietly despair when I hear and read fellow supporters accept that our strategy should be about buying players cheaply so that we can sell them for a profit. This is a strategy that can only end up in the further diminishing of Celtic. I do not think we have a particularly good team though it has its days- and that there is a complacency, even a sense of entitlement that we should win the league automatically which ill suits us. And it is a long time since we won a league when the year ended with a 5!



    Best wishes to you Paul and to the rest on the blog.




  16. Paul



    Talking of that third world view..



    16% of a sinking ship is ..actually…not very much at all.



    Love it when the emotional heart rules the sensible head



    Lucky Laxey CSC

  17. what is the stars,



    You would replace Ronny with anyone?…anyone??????



    Thank feck you are not the man in charge of managerial decisions then. If you are going to slaughter the man then at least come up with an alternative suggestion.





    You’re lucky!



    I converted a big pal fae being a Wee Free and Kilmarnock fan to a 100% converted Celt,dyed in the wool he is now.



    32 years ago,and one of my proudest achievements.



    He was 6’4″ and a wee bit careless of my instructions as to which pubs were good ideas round Celtic Park,but heyho,Neil gave me some good tales to tell.



    Most involved getting in first,running like f.. and asking him what the hell he was thinking of



    Anyway,wrong pubs I can deal with.



    We were in The Jungle one day,he went to the toilet and came back wi a pie and Bovril each.



    Everyone round about looked at him like he was styoooopit,one bite into a pie would leave you with a run of grease all the way down to your armpit!



    I bet the fella next to me I could use it to hit a certain copper-who had pi…d us off earlier-and the bet was struck-with a few.



    Target,napper,helmet flying as the grease slides down his neck.



    Now,I’m not proud of such behaviour-though sadly I have done worse-but I’ve always regretted never being invited to the world pie-throwing championships.

  19. Micky Dee



    £1400 including all home domestic cup games a bit over priced for the fare on offer but considering some of the prices for the cheapest tickets in the EPL ,£1014 for a club that’s not even moderately successful, that would probably be the average if we fulfill some peoples fantasies of joining the same EPL

  20. What is the Stars on

    16 roads


    From the other night


    JP mc manus is a tax exile, he is resident in Switzerland for tax purposes. I got the impression that you didn’t beleive me the other night

  21. Hamiltontim





    No doubt Legia ripped us a new one. RD make huge mistakes. We were wide open. Berget was anonymous, Commons and Mulgrew shocking, I wouldn’t blame the defence as they had no protection versus a rampant Legia, and Efe’s red card was a result of that.



    However for all the mistakes made, I would mitigate that by saying Legia are a pretty good side, they topped their group with 15 points from 18, and have a couple of outstanding players. They were a far far better side than Karagandy, who played us off the park in Kazakhstan, and came within the width of a crossbar of putting us out the CL the year before.



    And this is the crux of the problem. Strachan and Lennon both had equally disastrous starts in Europe. They both presided over some brutal domestic performances. But with time and a few transfer windows they both came good.



    So why is RD not awarded the same support? Because people(not saying you) didn’t want him in the first place? Give the guy a season and a chance to bring in his own players.



    At the end of Strachan’s reign the football was so tedious, I believe that is when and why the support started to drift away. The only way to get them back, is to play the kind of football that entertains the fans, they type of football we’ve shown glimpses of the last few weeks(saturday apart), the type of football that’s supposed to be in our DNA.



    I don’t want to play dull football and win 4 nil every week. If we can’t win in style, then it’s not worth winning at all. Obviously that is harder to achieve in Europe, but I’d rather we attempted it than park the bus. Wigan and Swansea kept their philosophy when playing against the top 4 in England, and on many occasions were able to dominate the ball and compete against teams with far higher resources.



    It doesn’t happen overnight, maybe RD will never get there, but it’s damn sure worth a try.



    And if Aberdeen have managed to get to 37 points after 18 games, a points total that matches Strachan and Lennon’s 3rd seasons on their way to the title, then good luck to them.


    16 roads – Celtic über alles…



    We are undeniably poorer.



    But the massive change ain’t going to bear fruit overnight. The comments, mines included are mostly about the lack of any sign of progress.



    Time is the ponderable issue?

  23. What is going to be classed as success? At times it seems like RD could win the treble and still be considered a failure by some on here.



    If we get a credible performance against Inter over two legs it’ll be due to something other than RD. Or so they’ll have you believe.

  24. What is the Stars on



    As I have repeatedly said, it’s not my job


    I have lots of ideas about who could or should be manager

  25. WITS



    You say you’d give a manager – any manager – 3-5 years to implement a transformation and yet you’ve wanted rid of RD since when? Day 1 or pretty close to it?



    Me thinks the latter reality rather undermines the former claim.



    As for those talking about the Motherwell away match. The first half was uber easy on the eye and if JG had had his boots on and the linesman had had his specs on we’d have won by a barrowload.



    That we didn’t and that we were holding on at 1-0 at the end while VVD decided he played in Allan Shearer’s position sums up the conundrum that is celtic 2014-15 thus far for me.






    HH jamesgang

  26. What is the Stars on



    Credible performance over 2 legs against inter would be acceptable. It won’t happen though

  27. If Ronny D fails to win the league this season but manages to lift the other 2 Domestiic trophies on offer would that be considered a successful season in comparison to the sole trophy we lifted last season

  28. 16 roads - Celtic über alles... on

    Alan Stubbs is going to be an outstanding football manager.



    I said that when Hibs made the courageous decision to appoint him.



    He had worked miracles with Everton development sides, and Everton supporters conceded that his departure would be a blow to their club.



    Granted, he made a slow start with Hibs, but they are improving and progressing well.



    He didn’t have much to work with on paper, and there’s a lot of youngsters in that Hibs team.



    Steady as you go is Alan Stubbs, he’s doing a grand job.



    I’m still supporting Ronny though.








    Yer a girlie,don’t complain. Sort it yourself.



    Btw,I wouldn’t be brave enough to say that to either of my sisters even though they would know I was kidding.



    And I hope you do too.



    I returned to Scotland in 96 an egged off in 01. I manage about four or five games a year.



    I manage to avoid the catering every time.



    Celtic really need to look at the US model of fire them out quick and cheap.



    Because I have never ever ever heard anyone say that the catering at Celtic Park is good,much less any better than that.

  30. Dontbrattbakkinanger on

    History show that only exceptional Celtic teams win the treble; and this is far from an exceptional team.



    However, it’s the only one we’ve got.



    I think we will win the League [eventually] ,and possibly the League Cup.



    I think we’ll be out of the SC before the final.



    And next season we will improve markedly, especially in Europe.



    DBBIA/Mystic Meg CSC.

  31. Laxey had bin grossly uninformed.



    They should Never had bin involved wi the Sevco Mess.



    Noo ..They ur noo free ,, Thanks to the Generosity of the Three Demented Monkeys.



    Ah fully expect.. that Speaking of Monkeys..


    n based of the Auld Adage..



    Monkey see.. Monkey Do..



    That Mr. Newcastle .. will Soon Follow the Example of The Laxey Partners..





    Liquidate his Sevco Shares.. A.S.A.P.



    Why No?



    He has bin thwarted in his Grand Plan to take over the struggling Club..


    n run it as a Business..no .. as a Ludge.



    So..he would be foolish tae remain subject tae the Machinations of the New


    Three Stumblebums.



    Remember Mr.Newcastle is a Businesman.. Ah am told he is..anyway..



    n.. a Businessman must do whit he his tae Dae..in order tae



    well.. watch his Brass.






  32. What is the Stars on



    Thanks for your comment.


    The motherwell game away is the kernel of the ronny issue for me. One up and cruising, should have been six ( ok these things happen) against ten men. Game over, keep your shape, keep the ball. Oh no centre halves and full backs bombing forward, motherwell almost equalise. That is shambolic


    But we won hooray


    You have to wonder what the manager of a professional football team is thinking if he presides over that

  33. Life as a Sevco player according to Sebastien Faure. It’s all about dedication:



    “At lunch after training every day, you’ve got all the sauces you want: mayo, barbeque, whatever. They aren’t going to be policing what you eat here. And what’s more, it’s a buffet! …… you can eat what you like. You can even get second helpings… If a French coach came over here they would go absolutely mental at what the players eat (laughs)! At Lyon, we were really restricted, and the coaches watched what you put on your plate, monitoring to see if you hadn’t put even just the slightest bit too much. I remember at Lyon, with (Claude) Puel and (Remi) Garde (coaches), you couldn’t even approach them to talk to them. Here, on the first day of my trial, McCoist spoke to me in French and said “See you tomorrow my pal!”. I said to myself, “What’s going on! This is Ally McCoist, not just anyone! And he’s talking to me!” Puel and Garde would never come and eat with you, but here, McCoist showers with us (laughs)!


    Not to mention that he finished a training session by putting himself on the goal line, pulling down his shorts, and making you all hit shots at him because he missed a one on one in the training game…


    (Laughs) Me and Bilel fell on the floor with laughter. It was insane. The manager who shows his *rse to the whole team is one who really is one of the boys… In the changing room before the games, there’s laughter and chat, we have a coffee. At half-time, me and Bilel are sometimes amazed because they drink tea! Blacky is the worst for it. He takes tea and some biscuits at half-time (laughs). It’s much different in France, there’s no comparison.”

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