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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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2,512 Comments

  1. HT

     

     

    My point to Auldheid though was that the highest recorded attendances were in the days when football was predominately a working man’s past time.

     

     

    I can remember goint Celtic Park/Hampden/Ibrox when the terracing was a sea of Bunnets……..

  2. Dontbrattbakkinanger on

    I am flummoxed as to why the weather in East Kilbride stops when it gets dark.

     

     

    That is mighty powerful ju-ju.

  3. glendalystonsils on

    67 heaven

     

     

    Shingle bells, shingle bells, shingle all the way…………

     

     

    Not funny I know, but just trying to cheer ye up>)

  4. BOBBY MURDOCH'S CURLED-UP WINKLEPICKERS on

    EXSLAEMUIRBHOY

     

     

    No,but when we finally meet up for a beer,my Dad might tell you a tale of a welder.

     

     

    Mad Jack Allan.

     

     

    What a welder. What a madman.

     

     

    Don’t tell him I said that,btw.

  5. I think when the transfer window closes we will be greatly strengthened.I have a feeling 2015 will be a great year.

     

    Athbhliain faoi mhaise dhaoibh

     

    Hail Hail.

  6. Paul67

     

     

    Your annual report. The Curates Egg! Onwards and upwards.

     

     

    Let’s hope 2015 sees Res12 put to bed and the truth revealed and thanks for providing the platform to make it happen along with all the charitable work.

  7. 16 roads - Celtic über alles... on

    glendalystonsils

     

     

    17:06 on 31 December, 2014

     

    16 roads – Celtic über alles…

     

    16:25 on

     

    31 December, 2014

     

    Alan Stubbs is going to be an outstanding football manager.

     

     

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

     

     

    Couldn’t agree more. I can see him at Celtic one day.

     

     

    ——————————————

     

     

    Likewise.

     

     

    Alan Stubbs was always a credit to the Celtic Football Club.

     

     

    Maybe one day after he has finished his apprenticeship, he will be appointed to the helm at Celtic Park.

     

     

    HH.

  8. bournesouprecipe on

    Do you see – The Ronny Deila Game?

     

     

    Give the opposition 90 minutes of hell with relentless pressure, thanks to the sage advice of Barcelona boss, Luis Enrique. Remember players, you must believe!

     

    How to play the pressing game

     

     

    UNDERSTAND THE WHY, BEFORE THE HOW

     

     

    “It’s the coach’s job to decide his team’s style of play, how they attack and how they defend. They have to be effective at both ends of the pitch. If the team attacks well but defends badly, they’re not doing their job. The best way to defend is to have the ball in the opposition half – pressing the ball high up the pitch will achieve this.”

     

     

    GET THE TEAM TO BUY INTO THE PLAN

     

     

    “Make sure the team understands the mentality of the pressing game. It has to be done by all 11 players, otherwise it doesn’t work. The players have to move in formation together. A great trainer must convince his players to believe in his vision and make sure they do. If a player only does it because the trainer says so, that’s not good enough! The players must believe.”

     

     

    SPEED KILLS

     

     

    “With a good, fit team, pressing should start as soon as you lose the ball in the other team’s half. You want to win the ball back as quickly as possible. I’d like my team to have 100 per cent of the ball if possible. If your team is well positioned, if you’ve got the ball, the other team gets tired. Once you regain possession you need quality on the ball, otherwise it will go back and forth.”

     

     

    LEARN TO THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

     

     

    “I like my teams to press: it’s a way to force the opponents into making mistakes. But if one player does not execute the pressing – including your goalkeeper – you’ve got a big problem. The opposing team may escape your trap with their quality or by playing the long ball, so your goalkeeper must be out of his box and ready to sweep up.”

     

     

    PRESS FROM THE FIRST MINUTE TO THE LAST

     

     

    “Teams that play out from the back usually go from goalkeeper to centre-back to full-back. Chase that down, starting with the player closest to the opponent in possession. To do this for 90 minutes is tiring, but you can’t sit back. It’s a mistake when teams are winning 1-0 and change the way they play. If you’re winning 1-0, you want to make it 2-0. Why play safe?”

     

     

    Luis Enrique – Barcelona

  9. Weeman 67

     

     

    Those days have gone. Not sure what percentage of the population are women or children but they all represent a potential bum on a seat.

     

     

    Let’s get them in.

  10. 67Heaven … I am Neil Lennon ….The angels are with Wee Oscar in Heaven.. Ibrox belongs to the creditors

     

     

    17:19 on 31 December, 2014

     

     

    Ave goat shingles…..bummer…..hahahahahahaha ……

     

    ______________________________________________

     

    Ah know that we urny boosum buddies :)

     

    but, if yer kidding(I hope) then, git it roon ye.

     

    If ye are being serious….then I hope ye get well soon my mhan.

     

    All kidding aside…shingles is no laughing matter – get well soon pal.

     

    All the best to you and yours for 2015.

     

    I hope we’ll be duelling for years to come yit :)

     

    Stoap reading yon Phil guy, whit diz he know:)

     

    Hail Hail – Off oot, bye.

  11. Joe Filippis Haircut on

    If Stubbsie is a big success at Hibs and it is a big If he will head back down south just like Lennie did. These guys know where the big money is and it aint in Scotland.H.H.

  12. 16 roads - Celtic über alles... on

    sipsini

     

     

    17:38 on 31 December, 2014

     

    16 roads – celtic über alles…

     

     

    Are you citizen smith perchance:))

     

     

    ——————————–

     

     

    Lol no mate, I’m an anti-Communist as a matter of fact, probably just a contradiction in terms.

     

     

    Time to go now, not wishing anyone a happy new year as I don’t like all that new year nonsense. The best two days of the year were last week.

     

     

    God bless everyone on CQN and thanks for putting up with my spontaneous nonsense in 2014.

     

     

    Laters.

     

     

    HH.

  13. BOBBY MURDOCH’S CURLED-UP WINKLEPICKERS

     

     

    a suspect we may already hiv shared a beer, me residing in Irvine noo

  14. bournesouprecipe

     

     

    17:41 on 31 December, 2014

     

     

    Do you see – The Ronny Deila Game?

     

    ———

     

    Nice post, Luis Enrique and Ronny are just two of many who are wanting to play the game like this now.

     

     

    Ol Jose is almost the opposite of this, he will abandon all just to get a win though can still play decent football from time to time, but is amazingly successful.

  15. To all the RD moaners,I will continue to beat out the same old tune.We are top of the league,and in 3 trophies going into the New Year.Some saying,Jackie or Paul Hartley could have done the same.Sheer conjecture.Lenny found it almost impossible with his own team,so are Jackie and Paul better managers than Lenny.Somebody just posted recently,we could win the league,and the League

  16. BIG-CUP-WINNERS on

    KevJungle

     

     

    Stoap reading yon Phil guy, whit diz he know

     

     

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

     

     

    He knows why he writes on a blog for a start………….

  17. Joe Filippis Haircut

     

     

    If Stubbsie is a big success at Hibs and it is a big If he will head back down south just like Lennie did. These guys know where the big money is and it aint in Scotland.H.H.

     

    ————-

     

    Yep, Lenny has more chance of getting an EPL post doing a good job with Bolton than he ever did with Celtic.

  18. Best wishes to all bloggers and P67 and all your respective family’s for a safe and happy 2015.

     

     

    ——-

     

     

    bournesouprecipe

     

     

    17:01 on 31 December, 2014

     

    the names Bond James Bond.

     

     

    BSR – you ever been on Sean Connerrys Facebook page? Full of shelve pictures !! You’d have thought someone would have told him!!

     

     

    ShoorlyshummishtakeCSC

  19. auldheid

     

     

    17:41 on 31 December, 2014

     

    Weeman 67

     

     

    Those days have gone. Not sure what percentage of the population are women or children but they all represent a potential bum on a seat.

     

     

    Let’s get them in.

     

     

    ——

     

     

    Auldheid

     

     

    I’m actually quite pleased to see that your sagacity doesn’t extend to chat up lines…..wholesome Bhoy that you are.

     

     

    ‘When I look into your eyes darling I see…….a potential bum on a seat…..’

     

     

    ;-)

     

     

    Aff oot. Chinese to collect.

     

     

    67 Heaven hope you don’t have shingles and get much better soon if you do.

     

     

    HH jamesgang

  20. Awe_Naw_No_Annoni_Oan_Anaw_Noo on

    If RD wins the league good enough for me. The two tin cups I dont give a fug about.

     

     

    What if fails to qualify for the CL ?

     

     

    HH

  21. Beatbhoy

     

     

    I remember a Hogmanay past, when I invited a mate and his girlfriend to the house, where my parents were throwing a wee party.

     

     

    He arrived bearing no gifts. No kairry-oot on a Hogmanay!

     

     

    Nothing worse, eh?

     

     

    Wrong. As I put some other guests’ coats in a room, a coat slipped off the bed. As I grabbed it, a bottle of Vodka fell out. No prizes for guessing whose coat!

     

     

    Don’t drink vodka, and didn’t back then either.

     

     

    But that bottle was leaving the house empty.

     

     

    To be honest, the 2 days of suffering that followed weren’t worth the vengeance for his tightness!

     

     

    End of a beautiful friendship.

  22. Sorry,mad laptop,

     

    Cup,but get knocked out of the Scottish Cup!!!!!!!!!!!!.

     

    We could also sign Messi tomorrow.

     

    Making predictions to back up an opinion is ridiculous.All that matters is now,and I am happy with where we are now,even if many are not.

  23. bournesouprecipe

     

     

    17:16 on 31 December, 2014

     

    Who’ll get the Brentford sell on fee for the Scottish Messi? – the Rangers, the the Rangers or the the the Rangers.

     

    ———————————-

     

    Charles Green probably.

     

     

    Good evening all you Bhoys, and Ghirls, in Green!

     

     

    Dena29, my ST arrived safely today.

  24. ‘ it’s great to sign for a club with electricity and hot running water ‘

     

     

    Lewis ‘messi’ McLeod

  25. 67Heaven … I am Neil Lennon ….The angels are with Wee Oscar in Heaven.. Ibrox belongs to the creditors

     

    Get well soon

     

    Had them when I was 27 ,not funny

  26. BMCUW,

     

     

    Welding….tried it as a first year apprentice…set my fringed jeans on fire, a lucky escape.

     

     

    Going for a kip before the big party.

     

     

    B, have a good one mate.HH

  27. love the summing up paul – it’s always good to see the big picture when we’re poor. The crucial thing of course is new strategies need new players.

  28. glendalystonsils on

    the_huddle

     

     

    Agree with all of that.

     

     

    The days of managers like McGrory and Stein are over. It’s not only players who see Celtic as a stepping stone to Southern pastures.