With Euro 2020 causing a welcome distraction for Celtic fans, the Board won’t be so lucky. There is significant work required in order to return the SPL title to Celtic Park after a poor 20+ point deficit last season.
The title winners scored more and conceded fewer than Celtic on the way to their 55th Scottish league title, going the season unbeaten. Celtic will need to make changes to their squad and backroom staff in order to trump Steven Gerrard’s side and win back bragging rights.
Celtic are 6/4 to win the SPL this year according to the bookies, and in this article we’ll discuss the improvements needed to make it happen.
Celtic managed to score 78 goals in the league last season and they even had the top scorer in the division by four clear goals in Odsonne Édouard – and therein lies the problem.
Celtic are far too reliant on the French striker and it may well work out best for the Glasgow club if the rumours are true and Leicester City are interested in securing his signature. Celtic would more than double the money they paid for Édouard, and it could be reinvested in multiple prospects.
Even though Édouard managed 18 goals in the league last season, Celtic’s second top scorer was Mohamed Elyounoussi with just 10 strikes. Having such predictability on where goals will come from limits Celtic’s options when pushing forward and it’s easier for the opposition defence to anticipate how we play. Having multiple options when in an attacking phase confuses defenders and also puts less pressure on individuals to deliver as there are other players who can carry the scoring burden.
Conceding only 29 goals in 38 games would seem like an outstanding record in most leagues, but in the Scottish Premiership, the league is essentially a duopoly and every goal counts. Celtic conceded twice as many as the title winners and that played a big part in the Bhoys falling behind their bitter rivals.
Celtic stumbled to 11 draws last season, 10 of which were score draws. Angelos “Ange” Postecoglou’s squad simply does not have the required experience and leadership to take games by the scruff of the neck and command clean sheets. Defenders generally don’t peak until their late 20s or early 30s and only three of Celtic’s options are older than 24. This could work well for the Hoops in the future as they gain more minutes and iron out the mistakes made by inexperience, but it will not be acceptable to the fans who will demand immediate improvement after last season’s debacle.
A veteran centre back would be a welcome addition next year to bring a steel and solid leadership to the club. Old hand Phil Jagielka has been released by Premier League outfit Sheffield United and as the 38-year-old would not only be a free transfer but also only require small wages, he could be the ideal signing for Celtic ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.
Newly appointed boss Angelos Postecoglou won’t have the luxury of time in his new role at Celtic but according to former Bhoy Neil Lennon, he will ‘have a blank canvas’.
Celtic fans are renowned for their demanding expectation of winning and doing so in style, so Ange will have to assemble his front and backroom staff swiftly.
The 55-year-old Greek-Australian is known to believe in developing homegrown youth players and promoting to the first team which will make the most of Celtic’s young squad, but it brings its own risks if it doesn’t work. Postecoglou prefers an attacking style of football played with gusto which will be music to the fans’ ears, but who will grace the field for him is still to be decided.
Star defender Kristoffer Ajer has expressed a desire to leave and given JonJoe Kenny has returned to his parent club, Postecoglou will need extensive recruitment in his defence and will see this as a chance to make his mark at the club.
Similarly, second top scorer Elyounoussi has returned to Southampton and with poacher Édouard likely to leave, the new manager will have to persuade dynamic attackers to join his revolution.