No, Celtic Is Not In Crisis, But The Conditions For One Are All There.

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Those of us who are hypercritical of the board are accused, by some, of pushing talk of a crisis. Let me dissuade folks of that notion. Nobody credible is suggesting that Celtic is in crisis. We are top of the table; we have beaten our rivals in both of our games against them this season. Our media might have fallen in love with Manneken Piss, but his team are no great shakes.

The general feeling amongst the Celtic fans is not that they might win the title but that we might conspire to lose it ourselves. Because let’s get down to brass tacks; we have the better manager, the better squad and the money to add to it. We have the lead. We have been top since we went top, and that’s important to note. At no time have they been out in front.

The reasons we have for being concerned are obvious. The team lacks that spark you associate with champions in the making. Our best striker is badly off form. The team building has been incoherent and has left us with obvious holes in the squad. Some of our backup players are miles from the standard a club with our alleged ambitions requires.

The club across the city may not be brilliant, but the abject state of some of the other sides in this league means that they might not need to be to keep winning games. On top of that, they have approached this transfer window with a clarity and purpose our club has scandalously not shared. If they get it right our room for error vanishes completely.

I know some people look at their signings and don’t see significant changes. Do you want us to bet our league title on that? Do you want us to bet that Champions League bounty on it? What if we’re wrong? What if those signings of theirs slot into the side, making them tougher to beat? Should we gamble that by standing still we can still finish in front of them?

For too long, Celtic has been getting by on doing just enough and no more. That’s dangerous in football as it is anywhere. It’s why when you’re planning something you leave room for error, you overcompensate, and the riskier the endeavour the more you have to factor in the things that can go wrong. Nobody can realistically claim we’ve done that so far in this window.

The mood in the stands is tense. It has already boiled over once this season. I know there are people who think that all talk of Lawwell and Desmond and stuff like that are the obsession of a few folk online, but I’ve never seen the blogs so unanimous in their concern, and I go to games and you can feel the tension in the air right now. This is not some theory being dreamed up in chat rooms; there is a palpable sense that this season could easily unravel.

Football fans are not daft, but people keep treating us as if we are, even some of our own. What does it tell you when fans are so jumpy even when results are going our way? This isn’t about a few bad results or even about a few bad performances; this is because many of us can sense that the club has no sense of purpose right now, that it’s aimlessly drifting, that there’s no leadership on display. There appears to be no coherent strategy.

The summer transfer window was a calamity. Ten signings were made with very little rhyme or reason to them. It felt at times like Brendan Rodgers was being handed the raw materials of somebody else’s plan, and at other times as if we were just making it up as we went along. I don’t even know what the head of recruitment was doing in between that window closing and this one opening, but you don’t get any sense that there was a plan.

When you look at the figures I posted yesterday, wherein we’re sitting at the moment on an £11 million trading surplus for the season, in a Champions League year, it’s very apparent that the manager has not been fully backed. That’s there in black and white; we’ve not properly spent money improving this side and maybe there are people in our support who are okay with that, but I would stipulate that in not moving forward we’ve allowed our rivals back into the race … and let’s not forget; their own summer transfer window was an even bigger disaster.

And yet we finished the year only narrowly in front. If we’ve stood still again, if we’ve not taken any measurable step forward, they only have to improve their situation a little bit before we have a big problem, and the difference between them and us right now is that they are prepared to take risks because they know that if the gamble pays off it’s all worth it.

If we were willing to use our strength none of this would be an issue. If we took care of our business, it would not matter what they did over there. If the gap has closed, it has closed not because of things they’ve done but because of things we’ve failed to do.

And although our fans are frequently mistaken for mugs, almost everyone who was at that game on Saturday realises that on some level, and that’s why the atmosphere crackles with frustration and anger, and if we don’t move forward in the next three days that’s anger is just waiting for a spark to ignite it, because everyone knows this season could unravel, everyone knows something isn’t right and we all see that this is a result of choices we’ve made.

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  • Kevan McKeown says:

    If the board had, just for say, brought cover in and for some unthinkable reason even then, we lost this league, the support includin me, would be thinkin at least the board had done their bit tae strengthen and the focus would rightly shift to the management, coaching and team itself in that scenario. If they, with all that money sittin there and as we’re just about all expectin now, once again take this road of a punt on some loan or prospect deal(s), or even worse do nothin, thats aff the scale, inexplicable neglect and with so much at stake, that’s totally criminal.

    • Roonsa says:

      I don’t agree with that at all. If the board had set about the steps required to bring in cover, as you put it, questions would still be asked if we chucked away the league. WHO decided who was needed because clearly it was the wrong choice? There’s no get-out here. The board have, very much, made a rod for their own back.

  • Roonsa says:

    Beautifully articulated, James. You certainly speak for me on that one. Thank you.

  • Paul Mac says:

    This is it .. I have read some comments complaining that some of the fans are bed wetters and so what if we don´t get the reforcements in .. and even so what if we lose this league?! Yeah from Celtic fans on facebook pages?! .. They seem to fail to see the big picture here … If those lot from over the city win this league .. with the 60 M they will get for entry into this new look champions league .. that will pay off their initial debts .. that will then put them on a more stable footing .. We on the other hand will either have to go through the qualifying rounds for the same chance. If they finally get their act together 1 championship could become 2 become 3 IF our board don´t react .. But hey Lawwell CSC would have you believe that he is the perfect man and without him we would have gone to the wall because of course only HE could have done that .. there is not another football administrator that could have done what he did … give me strength !!!

  • Thomas Davidson says:

    Hi James It’s rumoured that Brendan Rogers is VERY unhappy with the Board and that he left after the match to visit a ski resort in France. Have you any knowledge of this?

  • Jim says:

    Another superb article James.
    I also liked your comments on CQN, critiquing what that site has become.
    I recieved an avalanche of abuse for innocently using the word loyal in a sentence, some time ago.
    A lifelong Celtic Fan, ( and decent person) castigated as a Filthy Hun.
    Thank you for nailing it…….yet again.

  • Captain Swing says:

    Just waiting on the inevitable loan arrivals being announced – I’m guessing they’ll be a winger, another midfielder and a right back…..

  • SSMPM says:

    Seems to me that they’ll, the board, have their way again.
    Our support is divided between action and inaction, the angry and the placated, dividend benefactors and paying customers, regardless forever fans and not prepared to sacrifice my ST fans, Green Brigade agitators and Grey Brigade acceptors. Therein lies the problem.
    Those that are itching for a fight may end up fighting against a brick wall with minimal support and those that won’t probably feel they’re stuck in a recurring time-loop of been here before be here again. The season will continue regardless of team investment. One thing’s for sure once again. We’re half way there, living on a prayer. HH

  • Donald Macintyre says:

    There seems to be a common point for the malaise, Lawwell, he conspired with the ginger whinger to lose 10 and he is doing the same thing again ?. Celtic have money to buy and if they have not identified anyone to buy then it’s his son’s fault. When you are on top you continue to build, we have stopped and we are all worried, not because of the 2nd generation but the idiots at the top.

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