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. 16 roads - Celtic über alles... on




    16:19 on 31 December, 2014






    Totally agree mate.



    They are not Ronny’s players for the most part.



    He needs to be given money to spend in January, to buy his own choices – not this moneyball nonsense at this stage of the game, not PL signings or JP signings.



    As you have stated – it’s a time thing, and time is something that Ronny doesn’t have a lot of.



    We are half way through the season.




  2. What is the Stars on



    Sorry, to address your first query. I would give a manager 3 to 5 years provided he was winning the Scottish league. I wanted ronny out from day one


    Reason for discrepancy is simple


    Ronny is not a manager

  3. time for change on

    Not wanting to create or join an argument however….



    In the summer when we were looking for a manager how so called big names put themselves forward for the Celtic Managers job?



    Ronny fitted my template for what we needed although I thought about someone from Germany. …



    As the funny season, or transfer window, is upon us I’m sure our board in crisis will be lambasted for every player rumoured to be getting chased failing to sign on the dotted line….



    Seen it all before and no doubt will see it many times more (should the good Lord spare me..)



    Now the three bears are introducing their gold…ielocks to the table we’ll see who’s left standing when the music stops.




  4. Do we forget that RD won’t hit 40 till Sep next year (at least he won’t be hurt by the barbs on CQN – he’s way too young to log on here !!!)



    Seriously though, he’s a young Mhan living away from his children in a foreign land where half the city want to kill you and eat you and the other half want to know why Common’s hasn’t yet been signed up for life.



    He strikes me as being a strong, single minded and self encapsulated individual. A he currently manages Celtic so he’s one of us for now and – as history tells us – potentially one of ours for life.



    Giving it tight to RD for not being Jock Stein makes as much sense as giving it tight to Stokesie for not being Jinky.



    I’ll support anyone in green and white if I feel they’re giving their all for our club.



    My reservations – and they are many – go much higher up the management chain and ownership. And deffo to our ‘scouting’ performance…..



    HH jamesgang

  5. What is The Stars



    PL Is carrying out a policy that Celtic as a football business have decided is the direction to go.



    They cannot pay the kind of wages that attracts the kind of quality we would all like to see in a Celtic jersey. Player wage inflation fuelled by TV income that clubs smaller than Celtic have access to is the reason. To ignore the impact of that is to ignore a stark reality.



    So you devise a coping strategy to deal with those conditions.



    I want RD to succeed for Celtic’s sake and his sake. I love it when others succeed in life, especially in challenging circumstances.



    The strategy is going to take time. The ” pressing game” by its very nature is going to leave gaps simply because the space being pressed leaves space that is empty.



    What NL did as a player and manager was deny the opposition space. I think we might be grieving the loss of the solidity of this approach whilst forgetting how much we complained about “crab” football.



    I am not persuaded that your approach, that expects reality to be magiked away because of what those responsible for running Celtic get paid, is not just another punt with no strategy to fall back on.



    I set out earlier my thoughts on where the playing strategy might be tweaked i. e. buy players from Scottish clubs who have shown they can perform consistently well against the same opposition we face, but it’s tweaking that is needed based on learning, which is what RD, The Board and support are learning from the experience of implementing the current strategy.



    Infinite patience produces immediate results.



    If I had a New Year Wish for everyone it would be to set no time on patience, life/reality marches to the beat of its own drum. If you try and set limits you miss the beat and it’s pretty amazing.



    I reckon that in 4 years RD will be much sought after and if there was ever a time to implement the current strategy in terms of reducing the risk of not having on field success anyway, then that time is now.

  6. sticksers lament on

    Serial lurker-happy new year and all the best to the Tims on here-wish you everything you would wish yourselves.



    Query-why do the Tic use Parks coaches given that the owner is pretty up front in his support for that other made up mob?



    What is the fascination the other (are they Sevco or what officially?) mob have for bus companies people on their board-could we be seeing some gerrymandering of bus passes?-do hope the Holyrood people are checking these transport companies claims eh!



    Please enjoy the new year when it comes.



    hh craigenconnor

  7. To all Bhoys and Ghirls,



    Happy New Year from the Golden West of Australia.



    To Neustadt Braw, a 15yo Dalwhinnie raised tonight to your brothers good health.



    Hail Hail




  8. 16 roads - Celtic über alles... on

    WITS – I don’t know if JP is a tax exile, or not.



    He was at the races on Sunday and Monday, seen him there.



    You seemed to be insinuating that he is some kind of gangster – as far as I know, he buys and sells currencies.



    He also does an extraordinary amount of work for charity, and supports National Hunt racing in Ireland and Britain like no other individual.



    If he doesn’t wish to pay any tax, that’s his decision – he more than makes up for that by contributing to the economy, through sport, and his donations to charity.



    I thought that he was resident in Ireland anyway.




  9. what is the stars



    16:28 on 31 December, 2014




    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






    Mibbee he was wondering exactly what I was…..



    a) can JG no buy a goal today?


    b) VVD is potentially an amazing player but if he was pickled herring he’d eat himself…..he’s lazy getting back……and he’s already seeing himself on fifa16 wearing an arsenal top…….and he needs a boot in the whotzits……….



    As for ‘he’s not a manager’. Well he is. He’s our manager. And I’ve seen glimpses of what he might achieve.



    He’s only given himself 4 out of 10 thus far. 4 too many for you I can imagine! But I’ll give him till the end of the season at least.



    Finally, you say that ‘a manager’ would win the league. So if he does – and I think he will, albeit unspectacularly – will that mean that you were wrong???



    HH jamesgang

  10. What is the Stars on



    I reckon in 4 years from now ronny will be a p e teacher in Oslo.


    Look I accept completely our financial constrains, I know we can’t attract top class players or even a top class manager but we could do an awful lot better than ronny.


    Ronny has many defenders on here. However their arguments fall into 3 categories


    (1) who would you have instead


    ( 2) give him time


    (3) we are top of the league etc


    Far more people are completely baffled by his tactics/ team selection,


    He is a disaster waiting to happen





    Disnae matter,bud.



    We have him in charge of our team. And as such he has my total support.



    The people who are in charge of our club,well,that’s a different matter.



    I would not like to think that a decent man is put out to dry while others get away with it.



    Seriously,how long is the guarantee on that Teflon coating that PL seems to have?



    He’s worse than Cassidy and Brown combined and useless into the bargain.

  12. Jamesgang



    There has to be questions about our scouting policy – well when it comes to goal scorers.



    The question is are the scouts not able to identify a good prospect or are they looking in the wrong places.



    It would be wrong to make judgements on one game but Scott Allan at Hibs was gallus on Saturday. The Dundee lad Stewart? gave us a hard time at CP and Armstrong at Dundee Utd impresses me over many games.



    I’d have had Russell in a heartbeat so is their a mental barrier about signing guys who have played consistently well in Scotland?



    I imagine each Dept at Celtic do regular performance reviews to identify areas we could improve. The Scouting needs such a review to improve performance. How do they measure success?

  13. WHITS


    Can you give us all a break.Come back on in 2015 with a positive thing to say about our manager.HH.

  14. What is the Stars on

    16 roads


    He is tax resident in Switzerland


    As a tax exile you are allowed spend a certain amount of time in the state, so he is in Ireland as much as he wants.


    But sure you are right, tax is only for the little people





    It’s a menagerie on FF today eh ? So far I’ve seen: Rats in the boardroom, pigs, sheep, snakes in the Blue room and of course The Three Bears. No doubt they have a goat or two tied up as well.



    You’d think the snakes would eat the rats.

  16. Burghbhoy, you’re v welcome.



    Hamiltontim, aye, we were taken to school by Maribor.



    What is the Stars, we’ll see………



    BCW, you tell that May67!



    jimbo67, and the same to yourself.



    RWE, aye, 16% of nothing is nothing. True.



    KevJungle, take care and have a good one.

  17. Cheapest Matchday food……free rolls at the Black Bull on the Gallowgate with your pint…..but it is a wee bit of a walk to CQN corner to meet your internet chums

  18. Paul



    While you’re about. A thousand thanks for creating, sustaining and putting up with this amazing place



    Happy New Year when it comes.



    HH jamesgang



    16:47 on


    31 December, 2014



    Always a menagerie on there with some creatures never before seen! Maybe if we could see the rats we’d know why the snakes don’t eat them. Always seems to be some kind of animal theme going on. This guy gets his animals a bit confused (maybe not) when looking forward to the League Cup semi:



    “The players should be in the dressing room eating raw meat and be like a raging bull scratching the floor with thier paws before kick off.”



    And the Three Bears are getting the usual deferential, if ludicrously worded, deference:



    “Mr Park isn’t one of the countries most successful buisness men for a reason.”




  20. 16 roads - Celtic über alles... on

    what is the stars



    16:46 on 31 December, 2014






    If he can spend as much time in Ireland as he wishes, then why go into exile in the first place?



    Rich Ricci must be paying his taxes in full, fair play to him, he’s no crook.



    You ignored everything thing that I stated regarding JP’s charity contributions and his continued financial contributions to sport.



    How many people in Ireland and Britain are able to put food on the table because of JP’s support of National Hunt racing?



    He may well be a tax dodger, and if he is a crook – he isn’t the worst crook in the world, not by a long shot.




  21. Bobbio



    I was worried that your confession of involvement in a serious historical assault on a police officer with a hot pie might see focus descend upon you and have Ronny D summoned to a summit with Nikla S with razor wire appearing around CQN corner.



    No worries now though…..



    Your ‘don’t be a girl comment’ will ensure that minx and Dena give you the ninja treatment long before Housie’s Swat team arrive in Swindon!



    Be afraid, be very afraid……



    HH jamesgang

  22. BMCUW



    Couldn’t reply earlier to you.



    Used “very rarely” to avoid appearing to generalise, and didn’t name names as I don’t save posts for future reference, so not 100% sure of the posters, though very sure of the content, and, more importantly for my point, the lack of any response.



    The mood of the blog is good, as it should be today, as people prepare to celebrate, where possible, and reminisce, which can bring sadness, as well as happiness.



    So I’m prepared to drop this, if you are.



    Hail! Hail! And, to all on CQN, ein gutes Neujahr, prospero ano nuevo.





    My sisters read all the garbage that I put on here,but don’t post.



    My Dad has recently arrived as COSYCORNERBHOY and has really just been bedding himself in.



    Look after yourself,bud. Have a good next year,a Great New Year.

  24. Auldheid



    On the signing of SPFL players..



    Always seems to me that we are reluctant as a club to pay what these other Scottish clubs demand.



    Steven Fletcher, James McCarthy, and I don’t know how many others were allegedly wanting to come to us – but didn’t.



    I think the mental barrier you speak of is as much emotional at the club. We just don’t want to be seen as a soft touch/easy prey/poor businessmen in the wheeling dealing in our own backyard. That need to be seen as a tough negotiator seems to mean that we will walk away rather than close the deal on terms that might just make us look soft.



    Scott Brown from Hibs is now seen as good business, but for a few years there was chatter about how Petrie(I think) saw us coming. Scott took time to settle and that made some Celtic fans think it wasn’t good business by us.



    Nirly Bitton CSC

  25. What is the stars



    I understand the bafflement. We have had 4 years of denying space (which we complained about except v Barca) and now we are pressing space and leaving gaps when the pressing does not return possession.



    That possession is making lots of chances but either the cross is not finding a Celt or an excellent chance is not being converted.



    At least one “sitter” a game.



    Put them in and it’s a new ball game.



    We only had one real sitter v Ross but we got around the back on about 3 occasions when the right ball would have brought a goal.



    I do not go in for predictions as a rule but I really like a guy who knows his mind, knows what he wants to achieve and goes for it.



    They tend to be leaders.



    I watched Mowbray ‘ s teams play with mounting trepidation I’m not in that same place with RD.



    In fact as I recall NL was 3 down to Killie away from a sacking. I thought that was another Mowbray moment. RD has come no where close to either to arrive at the judgement you have.



    When we make up our minds it is natural to look for evidence to support that conclusion.



    I know that so my jury is still out.

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