Celtic fans aren’t used to suffering like this.
In 20-21, on the cusp of a historic 10-in-a-row, the team has faltered. In Europe, we’ve been absolutely woeful, Ross County knocked us out of the Betfred Cup (BBC), and we’re currently 13 points behind Rangers. Albeit, that’s with two games in hand, but it’s still grim stuff.
Calls for the board to go have led to ugly scenes outside Celtic Park (Daily Record), while speculation about Neil Lennon’s position continues to grow apace.
With the Bhoys crawling to the January transfer window, here are the entries on any Celtic fan’s Christmas list. Warning in advance: the branded shoe-shine kit (Celtic Store) is not included.
A new manager
Obviously, this tops the list.
With maximum respect to Neil Lennon, who’s a club legend, he needs to go.
If his position wasn’t already untenable after the Ferencvaros debacle (Sky Sports), the meagre showing against Rangers and a combination of awful results have made the ground shakier for Lenny.
He looks utterly bereft this season. His body language has been awful, and his quotes in the press have been baffling. If the board care about him, they’re best letting him go.
If the board are to get the fans back on side to any degree, then a big change is needed. We’ve been saying this for months, it’s nothing new.
If Santa can bring a talented, adventurous head coach to Parkhead, then we’d be delighted. No harm to Neil Lennon, who came in and did what was initially needed. However, results have been poor, and you feel that a non-‘Celtic man’ would’ve got his P45 in the post by now.
A quality centre-back
Oh, Shane Duffy.
What happened, mate?
When the big Irish stopper was brought in at the end of the summer transfer window, Celtic fans were ecstatic. On a personal level, I thought he would be perfect alongside Jullien and Ajer; an experienced, gigantic head in a 3-man defence.
However, it’s safe to say that the £2m Brighton loanee (Independent) didn’t hit the ground running, so much as he sprinted off a cliff.
It’s a very sad story. Duffy said all the right things as he joined the Bhoys. As a supporter and a professional, he’ll be intensely disappointed at how things have turned out at Parkhead.
Celtic would be insane to make his stay permanent, and so it’s clear that reinforcements are needed in defence. Leadership, quality on the ball and ability to mark at set pieces are crucial.
I’ve previously mentioned Victor Nelsson as a potential transfer target, and he’d be a real coup. However, I’d be equally delighted if we were linked with a scarecrow at this point.
The defence has been absolutely torrid so far this season. It’s a grave concern to Celtic.
American Football coaching legend Paul Bryant once said “Offense [sic] sells tickets. Defense wins championships.” It’s an adage used widely in US Sports, but it applies to team sports in general.
If Celtic can snatch 10-in-a-row, it would be a success built on successfully stopping the ball entering our net. A new centre-back is an absolute must.
Depth on the wing
Mohammed Elyounoussi, it turns out, is only a human being.
I know, I was shocked to learn this, too. But it’s true. The Norwegian winger is as capable of picking up injuries as anyone. He’s dug us out of multiple holes this season, including most recently at the weekend against St. Johnstone (Glasgow Live).
To be clear, it’s not a good thing that Celtic are so reliant on a loan signing. It doesn’t matter how good he is, he’s not a permanent member of our squad.
James Forrest has also missed much of the season, and is a big miss for the Bhoys. Mikey Johnston has also been absent, while Karamoko Dembélé and Cameron Harper can’t get into the first team.
Strength in depth on the wings should be a priority for Nick Hammond and his scouting team, then. If we’re not going to use the youngsters, we’ll have to rely on the transfer market.
Diego Laxalt and Jeremie Frimpong have the capability to deputise in advanced positions. Frimpong, in fact, might be a better player further up the pitch. Laxalt, however, is another loan signing. There’s nothing wrong with signing players on loan per se, but to rely this heavily on that particular market is short-term thinking.
Improved communication between fans and the board
For a club as obsessed with PR as Celtic, this season will have already constituted an absolute disaster.
Peter Lawwell and Dermot Desmond are the primary targets of supporters’ ire at this moment in time. If you’re unsure of the reasons, ask any Celtic fan and take notes.
Their arrogance and complacency during this potentially historic season has been dreadful. They’ve called for unity, then put up barriers. Literal barriers.
They talk about ‘our culture’ and ‘our cause’, but there’s a clear disconnect between the board’s priorities and those of the fans. In fact, you could call it a total breakdown by this stage.
The board continue to refuse Celtic fans the opportunity to voice legitimate concerns. This situation led to protests outside Celtic Park, which have been discussed at length in the media.
Rather than communicating to fans, Celtic have largely used the Daily Record and Sky Sports reporters to ostensibly leak info. They’ve trotted out the same old clichés about togetherness, but seem to have no interest in actually involving supporters’ groups in the decision-making process.
The Celtic board are unlikely to move on any time soon. They’ll point to our recent trophy haul and ask what the problem is. If they’re to stay, they need to involve the fans more. If not, we’ll continue to see mass protest and unrest. And that’s not a good look for our football club, or any football club.
Celtic Shoe Shine Kit
Alright, I lied.
Branded with Celtic’s iconic logo, this kit contains “a variety of brushes, a cloth and 2 black wax polishes.”
At just £18, that’s significant value. You’ll want your shoes or boots to look their best when fans are allowed back at Celtic Park, and if you ask me, this is the best way to ensure shine for your footwear.