I rate this current Celtic team, as regular readers will know, as the most complete squad I’ve watched as a Celtic fan.
There’s a lot of disagreement over this, but disagreement is what we love here as long as it stays civil.
It’s a great subject for discussion.
The discussion may wind up being superseded by another; as good as this team is, might a better Celtic team than this be in the development stages right now? Might we have our own modern version of the Quality Street gang coming up through the ranks?
The question comes obviously to mind watching that magnificent star-turn at the weekend from young Jeremie Frimpong. And then listening to Lennon talk not only about him but about the rest of our young players. It was inspiring.
One of my fears about Lennon getting the job was that he would not promote youth.
I couldn’t remember him having a record of that back in his prior spell at the club, and over the last few years one of our great pleasures has been to watch young players break into this team. But Lennon is a far better manager than I thought he was in this regard.
His comments on how he was so impressed by Frimpong in training that he couldn’t leave him out of the team were brilliant.
And Lennon was expansive in his praise for the other young talents, and not just those we bought in the last window, but all of them.
When you consider that Ewan Henderson and others are out on loan, all with a chance of coming back and making it, and that Gutman, Perez, Oko-Flex, Dembele and a handful of other great young footballers were already here, and you add to that the signings of Frimpong, O’Connor, Afolabi and Connell there are signs that we are, in fact, constructing the next great Celtic side even as we’re still watching this one sweep aside the competition.
I think this is really exciting. I think that over the course of this season we’re going to watch as some of these guys make the breakthrough; Afolabi is on the brink, for sure and we all know that Dembele is close to being ready to play a major role.
But the decision to play Frimpong at the weekend is hugely consequential.
It is a measure of Neil Lennon’s trust in the youth side that he selected him, and it gives every young player at Celtic Park every reason to trust the manager. They will push themselves hard. They will learn faster, do better and reach heights early that they might not have scaled for years.
Neil Lennon has told them, “Work hard and impress me and you’re in the team.”
That is massive for a young footballer trying to get his career underway.
These guys will come on all the quicker with that promise in mind, and the knowledge we have a manager here who will keep it.
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