This is my first ever article for the blog, and let me start this off by saying I am a season book holder and have been for many years. I love Celtic like every one of you reading this article.
This season of all seasons, 10 for me was the holy grail.
I remember going to Hampden in ‘95 under one of my heroes, Tommy Burns. It was good to win something but whilst it was a nice triumph, I knew the league title was a massive ask.
However, I went to every home game and as many away games as I could, being optimistic that we could stop them.
Roll on Wim Jansen in season 97/98, and we did manage to stop their run to 10.
But it was tough getting there. I remember going to East End Park & saying to James Forrest “I am going onto this park when the full time whistle goes” only for Craig Falconbridge to ruin my day.
We were to be denied, however, and Henrik and Harald brought me and many others to tears on 9 May 1998. Wow oh wow, how that day felt, stopping them from eclipsing our nine in a row. That meant everything to me. To be there with my old man and my sister, celebrating what felt like a life time of pure and utter upset, was just amazing.
Fast forward to 2020/21 and it was now our turn to go for the 10.
I was excited as the season started but I am never one to think it’s in the bag, I felt a strange mixture of optimism and doubt.
I thought if we spent our money wisely on the right players then we could win it, but that if we spent it poorly then we could be in trouble.
Neil Frances Lennon is a man I will always hold in high esteem. Let’s face it this guy has been through more than most, but I was always of the opinion that he shouldn’t have been appointed permanently the second time around. We should have gone for (dare I say it) an appointment similar to Brendan Rodgers and thanked Neil for all he had done.
We really needed a manager who was going to come in and continue to build on the success that we had become accustomed to. We needed someone who could continue to progress the players we had and bring on some of the younger players that we believed so much in.
Other than Stephen Welsh, we haven’t recently brought much forward from our academy and that’s a shame. But more painful than this is that the players we brought in just didn’t seem to live up to the standards others had set, or maybe it’s because they haven’t really got the chances they needed. It doesn’t really matter now.
Turnbull excepted, what players have we progressed?
Who has shown they can cut it in the SPL?
This would be bad enough considering the money we’ve spent, but there are a few other things that I have felt frustrated with during this season.
Substitutions, they have been baffling.
We seem to make changes that are like for like rather than being positive or capable of changing formations and systems.
An example is way we’ve taken to swapping Turnbull for Rogic when a more positive change may have been to bring on Griffiths or Ajeti. He didn’t even make the bench today.
What’s more annoying even than this is when it’s plain to see that a player is off the boil in a game, and we still don’t take him off.
Even after Neil’s departure, this doesn’t seem to have changed much.
Today’s game is just an example of this. We waited until the 79th minute to make a change.
We had been in complete control and could have made positive moves that had far more influence on the outcome of the match. We could have taken Christie off for Forrest and maybe even brought on Griffiths for Elyounoussi or Turnbull.
The changes altered nothing about our team-shape. The last couple were just ridiculous. It is just one of the reasons why John Kennedy will need to cut his managerial teeth elsewhere.
Under Rodgers we pressed teams relentlessly. We don’t do that as much as I would like to see. Today, I was screaming at the TV for us to press and put the pressure on. When we did, mistakes were made.
I am by no means a Ralf Rangnick but like most people I like to read a match and see what’s going well and what isn’t. When we can see it why can’t our coaches? This is what good managers do. They are capable of seeing what’s wrong and making the sort of changes that improve the outcome. How long since you believed someone at Celtic could?
On another note and whilst this is no excuse, has anyone else noticed how the refs in this country give petty decisions so easily against us these days?
Does this have something to do with having no fans inside the stadium? I personally think it does. Take todays stonewall penalty decision for Eddy as an example; it was terrible from Collum and I think his decision might have been different (maybe not) if the fans had been in the stadium.
So much has gone wrong. It has been a very frustrating season and whilst I said I would never have taken the victory for granted, I would have hoped for a much better fight than we’ve shown, something similar to that which we put up in the 1997-98 campaign to halt Rangers.
From here we must move on, and I hope that this is the week when we appoint our new director of football and then the first team manager/coach not long after. We need the fresh start.
This seasons disappointment is only temporary; we have to move onto next season and start looking to the task of taking back our trophy.
We as fans deserve so much better than this, but I for one am looking forward to next season and in particular getting back into the stadium. As long as the right decisions are made, I think we can retake our crown. This is the time for the fans to stick together as one. Whilst never believing that anything is in the bag, I am ever optimistic.
We have a lot to look forward to.
“Let’s make some noise for the bhoys”
Stephen Black is a Celtic season ticket holder from Glasgow. This is his CelticBlog debut.