As we near the end of 2016 and with 2017 just around the corner there are multiple reasons why Celtic fans should be celebrating.
The appointment of Brendan Rodgers this year has been a masterstroke by the Celtic board of whom many Celtic fans had been uber-critical, including me. Rodgers has brought a winning mentality to Celtic Park that seemed to be void under Ronny Deila’s reign. Deila’s sides won 2 leagues in a row but in big games appeared to bottle it. There was something lacking.
On that note, I’ll always be eternally grateful to Ronny for keeping us on course for 10 In A Row,
Due to fixture cancellations, Celtic were slated to face nine games in December. Three of them have taken place, with the epic encounter against ‘Well, the 4-1 victory at Firhill and Man City on Champions League duty at the Etihad.
Celtic remains unbeaten in all.
With a hat-trick of home games versus Hamilton, Dundee and Partick, Celtic could be even further in front in the title race soon, and who would bet against them? They then face Hamilton away and Ross County at Paradise before travelling to Ibrox on Hogmanay.
If Celtic take maximum point this month the league is definitely finished, contrary to what Barrie McKay believes, or says he believes. It’s the first time I can remember for a long time that I’ve been confident of going to Ibrox and securing a win.
This confidence isn’t empty or boastful.
There are key players who’ve been transformed by the Irishman. Brown, Forrest and Armstrong. Tom Rogic is showing the player that he really is too. Once we can get him performing for 90 minutes he’s a player who will reach the heights and the bids will flood in.
Rodger’s buying has been excellent thus far with Dembele and Sinclair adding power, pace and goals to the front line. You’ve got to feel for Leigh Griffiths. He was the man who scored 40 goals last season and carried us to the title.
I still see Griffiths playing a pivotal part in the title charge and Scottish Cup. Dembele will go onto stardom but of late his forms dipped. But he’s young and on a huge learning curve, not to mention having to live with all this media attention.
Question marks remain over Dorus De Vries’ ability to knock Craig Gordon off his perch. Kolo Toure although plagued by injury has added a steadiness at times and his experience has been a calming influence too. He looked well short of match fitness against Motherwell, but anyone who writes him off wasn’t watching in other games.
There’s talk – and it is just talk – in the media that Celtic could go the full season unbeaten which I’m sceptical of. There will be a slip up at one point – now that Rangers appear to have hit some inkling of form this means we will likely go to Ibrox twice and still visit Pittodrie and Tynecastle, not to mention Inverness which always proves a hard shift.
However, it’s not totally insurmountable; Rodgers has instilled a hunger and desire and this team is rag-dolling sides and not giving them a chance.
There’s a tenacity and doggedness about Rodgers side coupled with huge ability within.
A prime example of the fighting spirit was at Fir Park. Celtic looked down and out at 2-0 down but Rodgers managed to change his tactics spurring them on to a 4-3 Victory. They just don’t want to lose. Brendan hasn’t made wholesale changes to the team that played for Ronny Deila, either. I expected him to splash the cash, but he hasn’t.
Not for this guy the signing of twenty players; he’s made players already here look better.
With the transfer window due to open Celtic, who are in excellent shape, will be looking to strengthen. Up top we’re fine but I still feel we could do with an additional midfielder and definitely a defender.
Simunovic and Sviatchenko have been brilliant and the aforementioned Toure has been influential but they all seem to be prone to injury.
Stuart Armstrong and Scott Brown’s form has been fantastic as has Rogic’s.
For me, we need to look at shipping Bitton on and replacing him with someone a bit more dynamic. I like Bitton as a player but feel he slows the pace of the game down. McGregor is fine for SPL matches but needs to step up to the plate in Europe. That may be a little too critical but his awful miss in Germany will haunt him for a while yet.
Ideally, we would secure James McCarthy on loan but I won’t hold my breath.
Celtic is of course, on course for the treble, something that was last achieved by Martin O’Neill back in the day. With the way we are playing and should the momentum be continued the only team domestically who’ll beat Celtic to that feat is …. Celtic.
As James has said a number of times, only complacency can stop us.