After a rocky start to phase one, it appears Celtic have finally found their form.
With 15 points from a possible 18 in their last six games, The Hoops are now four points off the top spot with the entire fixture list now more clearly favouring them from their rivals, who have just lost their manager.
The first league game of the Ange Postecoglou era left a lot to be desired with the Bhoys falling to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Hearts on the opening day of the season.
An early strike from Gary Mackay-Steven was cancelled out by Anthony Ralston’s equaliser in the 59th minute. However, a glancing header from John Souttar in the final minute of normal time saw the Jambos go home with all three points.
There were, of course, mitigating circumstances and the fans have been very forgiving … they needed to be.
Postecoglou got his first wins in the two following games, thrashing both Dundee and St. Mirren 6-0. That was not to last however, and after disappointing losses against the Ibrox club and to relegation candidates Livingston, Celtic had taken just nine points from a possible 18.
The patience of the supporters was rewarded though, especially as a few teething problems were to be expected following the Australian’s appointment in the summer.
The players are now settling into the new attacking philosophy, going unbeaten in the league since that loss to Livingston.
Performances from summer signings Kyogo Furuhashi and Jota have lit up Celtic Park, and the club have scored more goals than any team in the league so far. With the new gaffer’s style of play finally getting results, now is the time to surge for that top spot.
Celtic’s upcoming fixtures
Celtic now head into an extremely important run of fixtures in December before playing the current league leaders on 2 January. For those who think the Hoops can do it, there are an array of online betting sites available for those who want to take a punt on it, and there are a host of mouthy commentators and Ibrox fans online who might be willing to give you good odds as well … although the better Celtic get the less confident they appear to be.
That could change depending on who their new manager is … but he’ll need to hit the ground running.
First off, Celtic must navigate the League Cup semi-final at the weekend before flying out to Germany. Then they need to make sure they don’t drop anything in the SPL at home to Aberdeen. Secure the points there and December becomes crucial.
Right away, they will be out for revenge against Hearts on 2 December, followed by a trip to Dundee to face United … a match that most people expect to be a difficult one.
But it’s after that the lunacy starts; we face a rash of games in an incredibly turbulent month, with Utd followed by Betis at home in the do-or-die Europa League game and then Motherwell (home), Ross County (away), St Mirren (away), St Johnstone (away) and then Hibs at home prior to the arrival of the other lot and whoever their manager is.
The need for a big squad has never been more obvious … the hope is that we have enough to get through that spell. If we do, then January promises the strengthening required … and the manager has already laid his plans.
Which players could make a move to Celtic?
The saturated fixture list has already had an impact several key players already having picked up injuries during the campaign. Ange knows what he has to do in the January transfer market to get the team some added depth.
Highly rated Newcastle youngster Joe White is one name who’s been mentioned south of the border, and that news hasn’t been widely heard in the North, but Celtic do have their eye on him. He was first linked with a move to Parkhead in January and the club is still keeping tabs on him. The 19-year-old midfielder has impressed so far for Newcastle’s u23’s this season.
Japanese stars Daizen Maeda and Reo Hatate have also been linked with a move, and Ange Postecoglou knows them both well and wants to get business in order early after his frantic summer window. Twelve players arrived at the club after they lost star players like Odsonne Edouard and Kristoffer Ajer to Crystal Palace and Brentford respectively.
Whoever the boss settles on signing, fans can rest easy in the knowledge that all the due diligence has been done in advance; Ange has had many irons in the fire, with the January work begining the moment the summer window closed.
Needless to say, Gerrard’s departure is a huge blow to the Ibrox title chase and may allow Celtic to take advantage at such an important time of the year.
With that being said, everyone knows that this is not a foregone conclusion. What is most important for Ange Postecoglou and the team is that they focus on what is put in front of them before they think about that all-important meeting in January, which could prove to be a true defining moment in this season’s campaign.
The club is in the best shape it has been in since the culmination of the 2019-2020 season.
The high-energy, attacking style of play we are witnessing so far is a much-welcomed change from a Neil Lennon side that was often devoid of creativity.
With plenty of football left to play and just four points off the top spot, there is no reason that Celtic can’t capture the SPL title this season.
Tom Wilson is a regular contributor to the site.