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Celtic And The Day After Tomorrow

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The 2004 film ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ has an unusual approach to storytelling.

In most disaster movies, the main feature of the story is the build up to and the event itself, not what happens next.

However the film flips this and makes its focus what happens after catastrophe hits (in this case, the aftermath of a global super storm).

In recent times much of the focus on Celtic has followed the first pattern, focussing on whether the club can achieve certain goals (Invincibles, Treble Treble, and now the Ten) with some thought as to how this will be celebrated, if achieved.

However there is rarely any substantial consideration of what happens the day after.

Whether Celtic do – or don’t – win the Ten next May, profound changes are coming.

Let’s start from the most optimistic viewpoint; next May, Scott Brown stands holding aloft the SPL trophy as fireworks go off and cheers surround him (whether in a full or empty stadium is less clear).

What would be next for Celtic?

For sure it would see the dismantling of the current team, and the last remnants of Brendan Rodgers’ time at the club.

It is not even clear if players such as Edouard, Ajer and Ntcham will be at the club by the time the transfer window shuts in early October.

What is certain though is that they will not stay past next summer.

Other players will also leave too. Elyounoussi’s loan deal will end, Scott Brown surely at that point will either retire, or at the very least play much fewer games. If Shane Duffy does sign this year, it may only be a one-year appearance.

Other players’ future is uncertain too. Callum McGregor is regularly linked with an English move; he may see achievement of the Ten as the time to make the next move in his career.

If all this happens – and with possibly one or two exceptions, it will – then this leaves Celtic needing to completely rebuild, with first choice defenders, midfielders, wingers and strikers all departing.

In such circumstances money would not be a problem.

The departure of these players will free up significant wages and also attract major transfer fees.

So the next question is who you would want to spend the money.

The position of Neil Lennon – in the event of winning the Ten – is a curious one.

Many, many fans did not want him reappointed and yet last year the club had another very successful campaign, with European highlights thrown in.

But of course that wasn’t – and isn’t – the full story.

European high points clashed with missed opportunities, which have bled into this season too.

And the stories of player discontent which marked Lennon’s time at Hibernian have now followed him to Celtic Park.

The Glasgow rumour mill can be a varied and misleading place, but the fact that there is notable disenchantment amongst some players has been by the manager himself.

So what does Neil Lennon do, in the event of a tenth title being achieved?

On the one hand he loves the club, and has an iconic place in its history. He may believe that there won’t be other opportunities for him elsewhere.

But equally he may see this as a chance to leave on a high, without tainting any of his legacy.

And do the club believe that he is the man to carry out the required rebuild?

He was a simple choice when Rodgers left, and perhaps even to achieve Ten. Is he the man though to build the next part of the Celtic’s history?

Should Celtic win the league then there will not simply be extreme changes in the east end of Glasgow, the south side will see similar upheaval.

Steven Gerrard would clearly not remain at in the event of a third season without a league title (and possibly even a trophy). That would leave his club seeking not simply a new manager but one who would want investment to build his own team.

This may be to Celtic’s benefit, as then next summer’s Parkhead disruption will be matched by uncertainty elsewhere.

But of course next May could bring another, much less positive outcome.

Simply that Celtic’s early season problems (dropping points, cancelled games, out of the Champions League) continue and contrive to deny the club the Holy Grail of Ten.

That would lead to an even more profound set of changes at Celtic Park.

In that event, all the players who would likely move in the event of winning the Ten (if they even actually stay this season) would all go, leaving the same rebuilding job.

The manager’s position would no longer be a conundrum, it would be a fact that Neil Lennon would leave, whether by choice or otherwise.

And the boardroom would see transformations too.

Peter Lawwell’s reputation with fans is always mixed, but if the club don’t win Ten (especially if Edouard leaves before October), it is difficult to see how he could remain.

Except all of these changes would be now conducted under a very different context.

In the event that the league trophy was to move to next season, Gerrard’s status as a red, white and blue legend would be sealed, and he would not leave.

That would mean that Celtic would have to go through this transformation period at the same time as there was stability at Ibrox, making rebuilding all the more difficult.

Having a challenge when trying to make significant history – as ten-in-a-row would be – is no bad thing.

Celtic, like all clubs, has no divine right to victory.

The simple fact that no club before in Scottish history has managed to win ten successive titles – not even one featuring the Lisbon Lions – is evidence enough of the difficulty involved.

So the prospect that ten might not be achieved should not be a surprising notion.

But if it happens because of major mistakes and missteps in the club, it will be much less forgivable.

And at that point, certain people at Celtic Park might long instead for the minor disaster of a devastating worldwide super storm, rather than what else might come.

Matthew Marr is a Celtic fan and frequent contributor to this site. He is from Dundee.

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