Celtic’s Forward Machine Gets Much Deserved Headlines After Parkhead Un-Friendly

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Today we learned nothing we didn’t already know. We miss Carl Starfelt and our defensive backup options leave a lot to be desired.

A lot of people had a good wee moan about my transfer window piece the other day; still think I’m exaggerating the immediate need for the manager to get the players in that he wants? Still think we can piss about waiting?

The manager doesn’t want to wait, which was the point of the piece. He said after the game today that we’re close on a couple and he expects them this coming week. That’s more like it. You can tell that he wants business done, I’m not writing this stuff for the fun of it.

One of those players will almost certainly be a defensive midfielder. Another, for all we know, is a backup centre back.

For me they should have been signed weeks ago, but we’re fumbling about and the longer we do the more crap stories appear like the one in The Athletic about how our transfer spending is capped at £20 million. That article is begging to be dismantled; I’ll do it later but for now this is the kind of stupid story that’s only possible because we’ve dragged our feet a bit.

You know something though? I’m not going to focus any further attention on the defensive situation; we’ll still be more than good enough to deal with any threat in Scotland and that’s the bread and butter stuff, that’s what’s going to matter.

This team just has too much firepower to be held back by any team in this country, or any middle ranking team in Europe.

If this wasn’t a Champions League season I would feel very optimistic about progress on the continent after Christmas. The elite clubs present a different level of challenge, but for all that, I nurture a little hope in my heart because of how we play.

Such was the first half attacking display today that even some of our fiercest critics in the press are now drooling over the football we’re playing.

They can see that this is a more complete unit than the one that ended the last campaign … and that must trouble some of them quite a bit. One of the things that would otherwise haunt me is the question as to what kind of season we’d have had if we’d got our starters in sooner in the last campaign … it’s probably not something other people spend much time worrying about since we were champions.

But we’re going to get something of the answer in this one.

And I think it could be an answer which leaves our domestic competition shell-shocked. The intensity we play at … God help them. Some teams are going to be on the end of an absolute going over.

Three times last season we scored six. Once we scored seven.

That’s pretty astonishing. I think we’ll top that next season. I’ll bet we score six or more in at least five league matches. That’s something to put money on. I know I’ll be doing so.

The next fortnight sees us play a couple more games before the real serious business starts; I am in a place right now where I simply can’t wait for every match that comes along. Celtic Park was an odd place this afternoon because there was nothing at stake; in a fortnight’s time the house will be rocking and we’ll be back doing the real business again.

And you know what? Nobody in this neck of the woods is going to stop us.

Blackburn did try today. They put up a fight. More than that, I thought. They came for battle, and they behaved accordingly. That has to be one of the filthiest performances from a team playing a so called “friendly” I’ve watched in ages.

When was the last time you saw three yellows for one side in a “friendly”? And it could have, and it should have, been more of course. You get the impression that this is the sort of treatment we can expect from clubs in the coming campaign.

And that’s another reason that Ange’s approach to this pre-season has been borne out; he wanted these sorts of games, these sorts of aggressive opponents.

For all that, we were equally up for the fight, and that too is good to see.

Four games in, and you can tell that the core of this team is ready.

We’re in a far better place than we were this time last year, and the levels and the intensity are growing game by game. God help the teams in our gun-sights once the real thing starts.

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  • Mark B says:

    I have said for over a year we need a LB CH and DM.
    We still need a CH and DM if a good standard to have any chance in CL.

  • jrm63 says:

    That new LB is awful. Truly dreadful. If you thought it was not possible to find a physically weaker LB than Taylor then think again. 4m down the drain. There is an awful lot of dross that needs taken off the wage bill

    • Seppington says:

      Get a grip it’s the lad’s first game at CP. Were you one of the mob screaming “Giakoumakis isn’t Celtic quality” after his first few games? Have a little patience…good things come to those who wait.

      • jrm63 says:

        The answer to your question is no. He is not up to it. He is simply not strong enough

        • Seppington says:

          And he can’t gain mass and strength? Did Ralston not do enough to show you that huge improvement is possible? Come on now, you’re massively jumping the gun here.

          • jrm63 says:

            I hope you are right Seppington. Ralston would have been walking a fine line in a competitive game with those 2 fouls today. The LB did not win a challenge with an immediate opponent all game. They simply went through him. But let’s hope you are right.

  • Benjamin says:

    James, that article in The Athletic is no hit piece. Kieran Devlin sourced that from people inside Celtic Park. And to be perfectly honest the way the board have approached the transfer window thus far does support what he wrote in the article. The Athletic as a publication isn’t in the habit of publishing clickbait – they actually don’t care about clicks per se as they don’t generate any advertising revenue. The information coming from them is generally well sourced, and while you may disagree with some of the editorial pieces, Kieran has never put out something like this without first hand sources inside the club.

    • Seppington says:

      “Sources” are not necessarily an indicator of quality, truth, or lack of agenda. Keith Jackson has sources ffs and look at the pish he writes!
      Devlin’s tightwad source will probably be Peter Lawwell, sounds like the kind of frugalist bollocks he’d be thinking….

  • JimBhoy says:

    Johnson needs loaned out, Lawal is not ready to step up. If Julien is moving and Starfelt a couple of month’s out we need cover.

    We had three good Loanees last year who are now at the club it worked then why not this term?

    I enjoyed the game today, the ref should have stamped his authority earlier but it was a very good test. Their new manager had them up for a battle and some of Celtic’s play was a joy to watch under pressure and physical opposition.

    If we want to stay in CL after xmas we need to invest now. We haven’t replaced Rogic or Bitton and we have moved a few others out so I’d hope the manager has his eye on a few players.

    Happy with the first team we have though domestically. CL will need more quality added.

    I agree with an earlier comment on the Argentinian looks more of a winger than defender but he needs a chance to step up in class at Celtic.

    No Giakoumakis again today we definitely need a striker, CB and CM for first team.

  • Johnny Green says:

    We were excellent today in the first half before all the changes were made and it is obvious that we have absolutely nothing to worry about in the short term. Ange also says that he is happy with the way things are going and expects new signings very soon, so what are you crowing about James? Everyone is cool with our progress and your recent knee jerk reactions are unfounded. By the way I would much rather have Welsh alongside CCV than Starfelt, for he is not good enough for Europe, he’s too twitchy, too undecisive and he will cost us dearly. A new quality CB is required to solve that problem. However, let’s see what the next fortnight brings before getting our knickers in a twist, we are cooking by gas for the time being, so let’s see what develops..

  • Henry says:

    I thought CCV was really poor today with wayward passing. I dont think he is CL quality, nowhere near it in fact. Why we dont move for that Bodo Glimt CB is beyond me. I would also like to know who thought it was a good idea to give McCarthy a 4 year contract. He stopped playing about 8 years ago. One final gripe – the forward line i excellent but the backup forward line is nowhere near as good. Forrest at 32 still cant cross the ball.

  • Pan says:

    I believe there were actually 4 yellow cards dished out to Blackburn players today.

  • Gerrard Duffin says:


  • Roonsa says:

    Nice article James. Your enthusiasm for the season ahead is infectious.

    However. One small gripe. Gonnae get the basics in, preferably at the start? Like the score for example. I am on holiday and would like a one stop approach to my football news needs. Thank you.

  • SSMPM says:

    A lot was evidenced today mainly that we almost have a good 1st team squad but that they need strengthening at the back and CDM as we have all been saying for ages. 1st half was exciting to watch except for another stupid goal sale at the back and only having a one goal lead at half time is not filling me with confidence for what some call impressive. Exciting but not impressive.
    Clearly we don’t have a good enough wider squad, ie 2nd eleven. 2nd half was pretty dreadful and against a lower league team we were 2nd best. We may be a big team in the small Scottish pond but defending that will have us kicked out the CL pond quicker than Matondo and won’t in my opinion be good enough to defend against the rankers. They’ll smash us at coners and set plays.
    Ange should think again about Jullien and a CCV pairing and stop harbouring a grudge, no matter how he tries to say he treats them all the same. That’s blatantly untrue. If we get a CD soon then great but right now we don’t. He should be tried alongside CCV because Starman is out and further CD injuries may arise. The combination with Welsh isn’t a combination and we leak worse than cheap versions of tenner lady.

  • Bob (original) says:

    Well the Rovers fans certainly helped create an atmosphere.
    Don’t normally go to to pre-seasons – but that was an entertaining game.

    Yes, Jota stole the show, but thought Abada was great.

    New keeper looks very decent,

    but still get nervous when our keepers drift up towards the half way line, but that’s what they’ve been coached.

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